Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: THE JOHN STANLEY LIBRARY: NANCY, VOLUME 4 by John Stanley and Dan Gormley (Drawn & Quarterly, 2013)

D&Q's STANLEY LIBRARY series must be getting pretty close to winding down; MELVIN MONSTER wrapped up some time ago, and this volume is the last in the NANCY series.  NANCY VOL. 4 covers issues #174-177 (1960) of the Dell NANCY title, and it's pretty clear at this point that Stanley is engaged in the creative equivalent of punching the time clock with these characters -- and when I say "punch," I literally mean "punch."  There is a mean edge to a number of these short tales that even the sharpest stories in the LITTLE LULU drawer cannot match.  NANCY's "nasty rich kid" character Rollo Haveall doesn't just play pranks on Nancy and Sluggo, he does things like throw hundreds of pies at Nancy while the latter is stuck in an expensive vase at the Haveall mansion.  (No prizes for guessing what happens to the vase.)  Nancy's resentment of her weird friend Oona Goosepimple gets more and more transparent as time goes on, even though it is clear that Oona really does appreciate Nancy's friendship, in her own twisted way.  Nancy screws up her Aunt Fritzi's dates with scarcely a note of regret.  And so on.  The stories are still quite fun to read, but you'll have a tough time identifying someone to "root for" here.  From Stanley's increasingly sour perspective, perhaps that was the whole point.

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