Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: THE JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY: MELVIN MONSTER VOLUME 2 by John Stanley (Drawn & Quarterly, 2010)

My review of D&Q's first MELVIN MONSTER collection could just as easily stand as my review of this SECOND collection (issues #4-#6, 1966-67). Stanley continues to mine the "good little monster" vein with fair success but never really comes to grips with how, exactly, the world of "Monsterville" interacts with the world of "human beans." He can't even get straight how one travels from one sphere to the other. Case in point: In "Broom Ride," Melvin falls off his "ghoul-friend" Little Horror's broom and plummets into what appears to be a "human bean" city park. He then gets back home by another application of broom power. This suggests that you need some sort of magic to "cross the border." Later, however, in "Pickapicnic," Melvin and Little Horror (wouldn't it have been great if Stanley had gone for a direct Harvey Comics parody and named her "Little Loatha"?) go on the monster version of a picnic (to wit: getting food by stealing it from others) and run smack into a family of noshing humans. No broom power or magical transport is on display anywhere in this story. This is a good illustration of my friend Brent Swanson's observation in his Amazon review of Volume 1 that Melvin's milieu never really "coalesces." A few more long stories might have fleshed things out a bit, but Stanley sticks like glue (perhaps, the very same glue that caused a number of pages in my copy of Volume 2 to be stuck together) to the six- to eight-page format that served him well during the LITTLE LULU days. D&Q includes no accompanying text, which is a pity.

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