Something I loved especially about the Little Lulu comics were the stories-within-the-stories she told Alvin, the “poor little girl” fables which were always inventive and funny. “Lulu In Distress, a Tragedy” is from Dell Four Color #110 (1946), early in John Stanley’s brilliant career as Lulu’s scribe. He did the artwork for the story, also.
Stanley set many of these stories in a Dickensian world of poor children. In her narration, Lulu makes herself the main character. As befits the word “tragedy” in the title, Lulu is a poor child living with a wicked stepmother, forced to do all the work. Lulu has it so bad that even though the candy store owner cries at her plight, he also chases her out the door! Man, that’s some bad times! What usually happened in these stories was that Lulu prevailed in the end. She showed that smarts and pluck will win, and smarts and pluck Lulu had in spades.
Another Lulu story-telling time story. Click the thumbnail.
I'm currently writing a post on my own blog about a cartoonist other than Stanly, but in passing I mention the Little Lulu comic book as being "for kids." I'm referring to the target audience and not whether or not an adult could enjoy such a comic. As an adult myself, I can tell you I enjoyed that IMMENSELY. I laughed out loud several times, and smiled when I didn't. And that final panel is great.
Kirk, my personal experience with my own father was he loved to read Little Lulu comics to me. He cracked up over the stories Lulu told Alvin, and it gave me the feeling those stories were special, appealing to all levels.
I'm also aware that Lulu was in a special category of comics, according to my brother-in-law, who was in high school in the early fifties. He said the real cool comics were Mad, Pogo and Little Lulu. The humor was on a level that sophisticates as well as kids could enjoy...a very delicate balance.
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