Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Number 1755: John Stanley: Three beyond Lulu

After  John Stanley left his magnum opus, Little Lulu, there were other series. None of them lasted as long as Lulu, but they are still classic for being written by a master of comic humor. I am posting examples of three today.

First, a late fifties Stanley version of the Ernie Bushmiller newspaper strip, from Nancy #170 (1959). Next is an example of Stanley’s inspired and bizarre Melvin Monster, written and drawn by him from issue #5 (1966). Finally, the first story in the short-lived Gold Key series, O.G. Whiz. When I found this on the comic book spinner, on its first release in 1970, I knew Stanley’s name and unmistakable style. I owe that to Don and Maggie Thompson’s excellent fanzine, Comic Art, circa early 1960s, which is where I first read Stanley’s name.

Always highly recommended, the Stanley Stories blog by Frank Young.


Ryan Anthony said...

I've not commented in a week, so I figure I should post something. The first story was cute. Hey! Another castle brought over from Europe, like in the piece last Wednesday! If there had really been as many of those things transplanted to the U.S. as there were in golden-age comics, our country would look like Europe, too. I knew what Rollo was gonna do before I even got to that point, but I guess it was obvious.

I didn't really like the second story, and I wasn't crazy about the third one. Not sure I can explain why. Maybe the jokes felt forced. Maybe they were a little too weird, though that doesn't usually bother me. I know story #3 was published in '71, but it looked and felt very much like a 60s comics, especially because of the color scheme.

Did Stanley never get credit for his work? And how do scholars like the Thompsons go about identifying the creative personnel?

Pappy said...

Ryan, John Stanley was one of those people who labored mostly in anonymity, although early on people who notice such things, noticed his particular style, including the use of the word YOW! It's been a long time since I read that particular fanzine, but as I remember it was an industry professional who read it and identified John Stanley to the Thompsons. They may have referred to him in a column as "the man who writes Little Lulu," or something similar, and gotten a response.

I did not know his name in the late fifties, but immediately recognized Nancy as being written by the same person. I think a friend told me to check out that comic. I probably would not have looked at Nancy without someone pointing it out.

Russ said...

Another comic that I really enjoyed was Dunc and Loo, written by Stanley and drawn by Bill Williams. Ostensibly a teen strip in the Archie mode, which may have been the assignment, it has a big city setting that's almost Eisneresque and characters that feel like they fell out of a Hal Roach comedy. Stanley can't resist throwing some little kid scenes into the mix. It was a post-Western Dell comic and I only had one issue, but it was a big favorite.

Pappy said...

Russ, I have posted a couple of Dunc and Loo stories. Here is one I posted that I titled "Sexy John Stanley".

Daniel [] said...

Having friends and acquaintances who are genuine experts about John Stanley, while I have only a passing familiarity with him, makes me view commenting with trepidation.

What I notice in the work that I've seen is how often it has an element of horror to it.

His world is bleak. Concern for others doesn't get much beyond a “Poor thing.” or a “Tsk, tsk!” Children are left to dire fates, unless they manage to extract themselves — and they pretty much just accept that order. They are often drawn as if marching to what they expect to be their doom. It's easy to imagine “The Monster of Dread End” or “The Werewolf Wasp” drawn by Stanley and with Tubby as the protagonist.

I don't know what I would have done, had I been an adult with child in the range of six-to-ten years old, and found that she or he were reading these things. I would have started, though, by putting my arms around her or him, and trying to speak words of reassurance.

Russ said...