The full rules of the fabulous Five-Card Nancy game, as written and circulated by its inventor Scott McCloud.

1. Making the Deck.
Find a reprint book of "Nancy" comic strips. Photocopy a good portion of the book onto white card-stock (with permission of course), and cut up the copies so that you end up with lots of small rectangles of paper, each containing only one "Nancy" panel. They should all be the same height. It's a good idea to make a few extra "transition" panels (like a wordless panel of Nancy walking, Nancy smiling, Nancy in silent contemplation, etc...)

Important: Only prime Ernie Bushmiller Nancy strips will do, say from 1946 onward.

2. Beginning the Game.
5-Card Nancy can be played with three or more people. Place all the panels face down in a pile in the center of the table. Shuffle and deal (or just let everyone pick) five random panels of varying widths for each player. Pick a single panel from the pile and place it face-up on the playing surface, upper left-hand corner. This is Panel One.

3. Basic Play.
Like most card games, play moves clockwise around the table. Each player picks one card from their hand which they think would make a good "next panel" and places it to the right of the panel(s) already on the table. A judge or judges (usually your opponents) will decide if your choice is a good next panel. If it's judged worthy, the panel stays. If it's rejected, you must take the panel back. In both cases, the next player then moves (i.e. there are no repeat turns).

In a given turn, if any player feels they have no good next panel they may pass by taking one panel from their hand returning it to the bottom of the pile and choosing one from the top.

At the end of a given round, if one player has gotten rid of all his/her cards, that player is the WINNER.

If two or more players have gotten rid of all their cards, the game is a TIE (see "tie-breaking" in part 5 below.)

4. Judging.
Criteria for judging is entirely subjective. A "good" next panel can mean anything you like. Maybe it's logical. Maybe it's funny. Maybe it reveals hidden secrets of the Universe. Maybe it's just endearingly lame.

In large groups, the judging may be done by spectators, but often, the players themselves are the judges. 5-Card Nancy is as collaborative as it is competitive.

5. Miscellaneous
Tie-breaking can work in various ways. My favorite method (i.e., the only one I can remember just now) is that each tied player takes five new panels from the pile and selects one candidate for the LAST PANEL . The remaining player(s) choose the best panel; its owner is now the WINNER.

Variations abound. We sometimes allow 2 panel bids, but they have to be damn good! Once in a while a panel is placed that completes the strip so well, the players may vote unanimously to end there, at which point, the player with the fewest panels wins. Multidirectional Nancy strips are a brave new frontier; unfortunately, the varying widths make this a bit awkward. You decide.

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