Friday, September 9, 2011

Comics Review: LITTLE LULU, VOLUME 27: THE PRIZE WINNER AND OTHER STORIES by John Stanley and Irving Tripp (2011, Dark Horse)

My home computer has pretty much died, so I'm posting this latest review from Stevenson's super-soggy Greenspring campus, aka "Seattle East." (At least the forecast for tomorrow -- and SU's first home football game -- is promising.) My new Kimba post will probably be delayed for a bit until we can get the new home machine set up. I'll still try to post the promised football report using Nicky's laptop, though.

Dark Horse is now combing the corpus of John Stanley's "miscellaneous" LITTLE LULU work. This latest volume collects the entirety of two Dell Giants from 1957, LITTLE LULU AND TUBBY AT SUMMER CAMP and LITTLE LULU AND TUBBY HALLOWEEN FUN. You can read and view much more about the former of these hefty quarter-dollar mags here, and I suggest that you do, since SUMMER CAMP hangs together a lot better than does HALLOWEEN FUN. The structure of Stanley's signature chain of short features is relatively predictable -- kids get ready for camp, kids go to camp and meet new kids, kids scheme and have (mis)adventures, kids go home -- and there's no psychological quirkiness to wade through on the order of Charlie Brown developing a baseball-like rash on his head and becoming "Mr. Sack" or the PEANUTS gang visiting a weird camp for "born-agains," as they did in 1980. The little tales and vignettes link together quite nicely, however, and the sense of completing a satisfying whole is palpable. HALLOWEEN FUN is a bit more erratic; since there are only so many tales you can tell about getting costumes, cadging candy, and holding Halloween parties, we get a few Witch Hazel stories thrown in here and there to help "make weight." One of these last is a rather strained explanation of how Lulu's "poor little girl" character accidentally devised the name of the Halloween holiday. Suffice it to say that it's a surefire groan-inducer. The climactic Halloween-party story, though, is Stanley at his web-weaving best, combining several plots and subplots in a way that leaves you marveling (not to mention smiling) at the end. There are still several Giants to reprint, so we haven't quite seen the last of these Dark Horse collections -- and a good thing, too.

2 comments:

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Have you been following the Tubby reprint volumes (the fourth of which just came out)? Somewhere around the middle of the second book, Stanley begins to dial back the narrative ambition as well as the fantastic elements (though they never completely disappear), which is a little disappointing, but it's still highly entertaining stuff in the same vein as Lulu, but with a welcome extra bit of loopiness to it. I must applaud Dark Horse for going so much further with their reprints than Another Rainbow did in the eighties--though admittedly, some auxiliary materials WOULD be nice.

Chris Barat said...

Geo,

I've been getting the TUBBY volumes, plus the Stanley material from Drawn & Quarterly. I do see what you mean about the change in focus in TUBBY; the setup of stories in the latest volume seems casual at times. Maybe Stanley's workload was telling on him a bit by this time?

Chris