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Thursday, May 15, 2008

The next great reprint project (explained)



JOHN STANLEY.

Perhaps the single best writer in comics before R. Crumb changed everything. Best known for his scripting of Little Lulu comics (easily the best kid's comics of all time--do you own those Dark Horse collections? Get them!). I began reading these to my daughter Georgy a year ago and kind of expected well-crafted kid's stories in a Barks ducks sort of way--fun for kids but lacking something if you were an adult (Barks fans, please don't write me angry letters.) I was completely unprepared for how off-the-wall and laugh-out-loud funny these comics were. The characters are vain, selfish, petty, boastful, and most importantly hilarious. The stories zip along with a manic energy that is the kind of comic book ideal we all imagine but few achieve. I knew of John Stanley and was aware of his higher profile comics (mostly through Seth's TCJ profile on Stanley) but hadn't gotten around to tracking them down and reading them. So far, nearly everything I've read by John Stanley has a charm and wit that is all his own. Even his Choo Choo Charlie comic!

We'll be starting off with a three volume set of Stanley's Melvin Monster. During the "monster" craze of the Sixties, Dell Comics launched this short-lived but hilarious and weird series about a good little monster boy and his disappointed family. While primarily know as a writer, Stanley actually wrote and drew all nine issues of this series. This series will be designed by longtime Stanley champion Seth.

Next up, a three-volume set of the Stanley "Teen" comics--Thirteen going on Eighteen, Around the Block with Dunc and Loo, and Kookie. These frantic comics about teenagers and beatniks remain compelling 40 years later largely because of the skill that Stanley brought to his pacing, joke-writing, and character development. Thirteen is again almost all Stanley written and drawn and is one of the great "lost" treasures of silver age comics. Dunc and Loo and Kookie feature other artists (notably Bill Williams) finishing Stanley's layouts but still maintaining that manic quality that was a Stanley trademark. Again, Seth will lend his design talents to this set.

I'm pretty excited about this and will post more on the set and John Stanley, in general in the coming months.

{Thanks to Frank Young for his excellent Stanley resourse site link above several time. Also, thanks to Pappy's Golden Age for same.}

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