Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jules Feiffer: Tantrum

A one-time assistant to Spirit cartoonist Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer went on to achieve fame as a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and a writer for the stage and screen. As such, he serves as a link to the then-underappreciated, now-revered golden era of narrative graphic storytelling, and to the form's more widely appreciated current phase. It's fitting, then, that 1979's Tantrum, back in print after a long absence, can be regarded as one of the earliest attempts at a graphic novel. It's also fitting that the book has aged as well as it has. The story concerns a 42-year-old man who, in response to a mid-life crisis, wills his body back to the age of two, a condition from which he can shamelessly indulge in every selfish impulse without shame. From this vantage point, he's able to reassess his position in life and discover that both the past to which he wants to return and the freedom for which he yearns aren't what he had imagined. Beautifully illustrated, with nearly every page dedicated to a single panel, Tantrum is an engaging, complex, fable-like work about maturing beyond mere adulthood. It's a lot of fun, and it deserves its second life.

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