Finding a Childhood Gem March 26, 2021
Searching for an old book I had loved as a kid, of course a mainstay in the book industry would lead me to it. And my faith is restored in my internet sleuthing skills.
As a kid, I read my first Far Side comic on a ski trip to Vermont. My Dad had rented a cabin for us and the owners of the place had a collection of it that I ended up loving! I had the entire Far Side collection in my Amazon shopping "save for later" list for quite literally years. Might have been a decade, actually. I don't remember when I actually added it! It's a pricey book, and I saw it at $100 and didn't buy, then saw it soar to upwards of $200. This wasn't every day that I was looking but a few times a year. Finally I saw it at $93 so I snagged it!
But this post isn't about The Far Side.
On another trip to New England, this one to Bar Harbor, Maine (or as you have to call it, Bah Hahbah), in a gift shop, I picked up a cartoon book. And I read it and loved it for years! Then it was lost to time and quite physically lost. I could have it somewhere but I'd rather search the internet for it than my house. Chances are I don't have it though.
Funny how these two cartoon loves came from trips to New England. It wasn't all loves that came from trips to New England, however, as I had a very good few years with Big Nate as a pre-teen and early teen, even "adopting" (stealing) the art style for my own cartoon drawings.
So this book; it was a collection of single frame cartoons usually, from what I remember, heavily pulling from the author's intimate knowledge of his region, New England. And it was hilarious! And the art style reminded me of The Far Side, so it was an extra hit.
But finding it on Google proved to be a freakin nightmare! Such terms that were of absolutely no use were "New England Comic" and "New England Cartoon". I was a kid so I added "1980s" and "1990s" to it, and all I got were old pictures of the New England Patriots' logo. Then I remembered some of the cartoons that were in it. One was cars driving North, and the big highway sign said "[Some NE city] and Points North, Begin Dropping Your R's". Which I admit I didn't really understand as a child, but it became clear to me eventually! Searching for this resulted in one cartoon that was like that, but it wasn't it. Otherwise it was a bunch of useless crap.
Another cartoon that came to mind was a teen writing a poem, and it started "There once was a girl from Nantucket". While that search proved fruitless, I remembered Nantucket was a big part of it! We may be on to something!
But wait, I thought... if there's one spot for books, book searches, etc, back in the day Amazon used to only be books. Or at least, that's all I ordered from them back at the turn of the century. And in college people were like, "don't buy books at the book store, you can get them cheap from a site called Amazon". This was in 1998.
What a brilliant idea! Once I considered Amazon, it was a matter of minutes. A single search for "New England Cartoon" had "Don Bousquet" as one of the top 5 results, and that name... Like, you know when you found something you're looking for... that click in the brain, I was like "that's him!". I knew it immediately. It wasn't the right book, though.
So I then searched Google with "Don Bousquet" and found his Wikipedia page, which then listed his books. I saw "The New England Experience (out of print)" and my heart sunk! But there are copies. You can always find copies. Of anything. The price wouldn't be guaranteed and could be high, especially if everyone loved the book as much as I did! But I had just spent $93 on The Far Side, so I was prepared for anything.
So back to Amazon I went. Of course, Amazon had it. And it was $5.92. Sooooo it's on the way :)
And it is amazing. I can't wait to read it again! With a full admission that 10-12 year old me might have different tastes as much older me, but I must have it! Plus my daughter might love it like I did.