lördag 15 januari 2011

John Stanley: Little Lulu's Pal Tubby Vol 2

Finished John Stanley's "Little Lulu's Pal Tubby Vol 2: The Runaway Statue and Other Stories".

Stanley, born 1914, died in 1993, but he lives in the annals of comics thanks to his comic-book version of Marge Henderson Buell's "Little Lulu". Dark Horse publishing has done lovers of comics history and good kids' comics a good deed by reprinting it chronologically, and now they're, as an added bonus, reprinting Marge's Tubby as well. This collection reprints issues #7-12, originally published in the mid-fifties.

Basically, the plots revolve around another of those eternal love triangles – Tubby's fond of the pretty blond Gloria, who usually can't stand him and prefers the obnoxious rich brat Wilbur. Usually, Wilbur, sometimes aided by Gloria, pulls some mean prank on Tubby, who somehow manages to come out on top in the end. The stories are often quite imaginative – and not entirely infrequently, the involve some element of the fantastic, like ghosts or little men from Mars – and surprisingly enjoyable. Dark Horse's PR blurb that "Tubby is sure to tickle the funny bone of comics fans of any age!" is not entirely correct, though. The plots are too clearly aimed at a younger audience to be fully enjoyable to the adult reader, and they also frequently fail to deliver the customary plot twist or clever zinger in the last coupla panels; instead, they frequently just sizzle out. That's forgivable, though, because usually the story itself has  been rather charmingly enjoyable – not least thanks to Stanley's excellent command of language. The lines spoken by characters ring true and effortlessly contribute to the flow of the story.

Tubby is well worth reading if you're prepared to accept that you're not going to get Carl Barks-quality plots and drawings (the figures are often a tad stiff), but rather a pretty clever and charming kid's comic – and hey, it's a classic, so you really ought to at least have read a couple of issues.

(So when's Dark Horse – or anybody – going to do a full reprint of Sugar and Spike?)

Recommended, but not entirely without reservations.

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