Happy birthday, John Stanley!

I’d like to bring to your attention that on March 22nd, 1914, more than a hundred years ago, John Stanley, American cartoonist and comic book writer extraordinaire, was brought into this world. He died in 1993 at age 79, but he left an undeniable mark on this world. (At least I hope it’s an indelible one.)

I won’t talk about his artistic parcours, as people far more erudite than I have already done it. For an enjoyable gallop through Stanley’s multi-faceted and staggeringly productive career, head over to the Comics Journal and read an excellent article by Frank Young. Want to read some stories (and have a few hours, if not days, to spare?) Visit Stanley Stories, a truly impressive blog by the same Frank Young, who scanned tons of comics and perceptively analyzed them for our great enjoyment.

Me, I’m just an devotee who likes to curl up and read his comics. I’ll share some images. The art is by John Stanley, unless otherwise specified.

Marge’s Little Lulu no. 10 (April 1949). I recommend « John Stanley: Giving Life to Little Lulu » by Bill Schelly, published in Fantagraphics in 2017, which pieces together Stanley’s transformation of Little Lulu into the beloved, iconic figure she is today.  I’ve never felt the need to have female characters to relate to, yet Lulu’s a great role-model for mischievous little girls who can pitch a mean snowball as well as any boy!
Marge’s Little Lulu Tubby Annual no. 2, March 1954. Cover by Irving Tripp from a layout by Stanley. Tubby’s series is an offshoot of Lulu’s.
Page 8 from « Guest in the Ghost Hotel », from Tubby no. 7 (January-March 1954). Looking for ghosts, ghouls and monsters? Look no further than Stanley comics.
John Stanley took a stab at Krazy Kat stories when Dell revived the comic in 1951. Krazy Kat Comics lasted for 5 issues (presumably poor sales doomed it), all published in the same year. This is Krazy Kat no. 1, 1951.
How do Beatniks while away the hours? They compose nonsensical poetry, noodle it out… and dig girls, of course. Kookie was John Stanley’s creation; the series was written and laid out by him. Unfortunately, it was very short-lived, running for a grand total of 2 issues. This is Kookie no. 1, February-April 1962. The handsome painted cover is by Bill Williams from a layout by Stanley. You can read the issue here.
Dunc And Loo no. 6, April-June 1963. Cover by Bill Williams from a layout by Stanley.
Lou (of Dunc & Lou) was apparently destined to be a newspaper strip, but never made it.
Melvin Monster no. 2, July-September 1965.
O.G. Whiz no. 1, February 1971.
An inside page of O.G. Whiz, with very typical madcap Stanley action.
It’s not all fun, though: « The Monster of Dread End », written by John Stanley for Ghost Stories no. 1 (Dell, September-November 1962), is genuinely scary. Art by Ed Robbins.

And I haven’t even mentioned Stanley’s Nancy, nor her friend (and my favourite character) Oona Goosepimple. Next time… pick yourself up a copy of Drawn & Quarterly’s Nancy: The John Stanley Library, and happy reading!

From Melvin Monster no. 1 (April-June 1965).

~ ds

6 thoughts on “Happy birthday, John Stanley!

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