"A Short Happy Life" is a bittersweet story with a cynical, satirical bent that reminds me of Gilbert Shelton's best work. There are faint echoes from Little Lulu's world in this story, but the outrageous corporate actions of the Tikkletoy Company steal the show here.
Our last O. G. Whiz story--and Stanley's final published comix work--drives deeper into Shelton-esque territory. Both the shrill sitcom-stereotyped General Ponko, the colorful baddie of "A Tough Customer," and the battery of highly literal sound effects would fit just fine into any vintage "Wonder Wart-Hog" or "Freak Brothers" story.
Its seems highly probable that John Stanley's comix influenced Gilbert Shelton's profoundly dry, absurd style of humor--well before 1971, of course. I'd be surprised to learn of any 1971 underground cartoonist having noticed, or read, this particular comic book.
Cultural stereotypes seemed to reach some kind of zenith in the 1970s. As a side-product of "awareness" and "tellin' it like it is," florid-but-harmless caricatures like General Ponko were standard fare. Ponko is just a means to an end--a forceful figure to cause comic mayhem for a few pages.
Well, Jim, I hope you enjoyed this two-part post. And, of course, the same goes to everyone else. These stories aren't available anywhere else on the Internet, so save 'em for later enjoyment!