Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Book Review: THE JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY: MELVIN MONSTER, VOL. 3 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011)
By the time these stories from MELVIN MONSTER #7-#9 (1967) were published, John Stanley had pretty clearly fallen out of love (or, given that we are in the twisted "monster world" here, perhaps I should say "fallen out of hate") with the project. With the solitary exceptions of two gags at the end of MELVIN #9, "human beans" are nowhere in evidence in these three issues, so we get no further enlightenment on how the denizens of Monsterville interact with the human world. Instead, Stanley seems content to "ring the chimes" ("toll the bells"?) on a small handful of themes that are just sturdy enough to sustain extremely brief stories. We do get a little bit of closure on the theme of "witch-teacher" Miss McGargoyle's trying to keep Melvin from attending grade school; the old bat finally gives in and allows Melvin to "graduate," but soon the kid is back, asking to attend high school (made so because Melvin raised the "Little Black Schoolhouse" off the ground on boulders; not one of Stanley's more inspired moments, I'd say). Also, the story "Supermonster," with its theme of a giant monster who needs to be pacified at regular intervals to prevent him from waking up and wreaking havoc, bears a frankly unsettling resemblance to the Gummi Bears episode "Let Sleeping Giants Lie". A childhood comics-reading memory bubbling up in the brain of the TV writers, perhaps? Still, even half-speed, deracinated Stanley is better than the majority of works by other comics writers. I'm still hoping for the second volume of THIRTEEN GOING ON EIGHTEEN, D&Q!