Wednesday, May 27, 2009

that Little Lulu 'n' Tubby summer camp thing III

As promised, here's part three of our '57 Summer Camp Funfest.

I've decided against including all the activity pages. They eat up too much space. Altho' said pages may have nostalgic oomph for those who read this giant as a kid, they're low on actual do-I-really-need-to-see-this value.

Here are the next four stories in this epic shebang.

These stories have a less hard edge than contemporary pieces in the monthly Little Lulu magazine. This is not a complaint; it's an appreciation.

100 pages of high-octane sitcom might wear out its welcome, even on the staunchest reader. Thus, it makes sense to turn the intensity down a notch or three. Focus is more on characterization than boffo gags.

Stanley makes the assumption that the reader is hep to the relationships, social status, and personalities of his cast of characters. The subtleties of these stories are much better appreciated by those who know the lay of Lulu-Land.

"Package From Home" is part of a group of stories in which objects and individuals from the real world intrude upon the sexually segregated Eden of Camp Shakatot. You'll recognize the terrifying instrument that turns up in Tubby's from-home box.

Someone in my crowded urban neighborhood just got a puppy. The poor canine suffers from seperation anxiety. Night and day, he/she makes noises much like the ones I imagine emanating from Tubby's violin.

This story uses a Stanley device I haven't discussed here before. Throughout his career, and particularly later on, Stanley is fond of having his characters utter either "We're doomed... doomed... DOOMED!" or "you are doomed... doomed... DOOMED!"

Usually meant for comical effect--an over-reaction to a difficult but repairable crisis-- doomed...doomed... DOOMED! gains a more sinister edge from the late '50s on.

It deserves to be added to my list of Stanleyisms. Someday soon I'll do a revised post of Stanleyisms here, and include excerpts from various Stanley stories as illustrations.

"How To Handle Girls" plays upon the arrogance of Tubby and his clubhouse pals. More outside intrusion, in the form of sociopathic Wilbur Van Snobbe, befouls the lads' assumptions that they have the upper hand on Lulu, Annie, Gloria, et al.

Status shifts and social frustration are the themes of this story. Laffs galore via table-turning humiliation. The Wilburs of the world are always there to upstage the rest of us.

"Little Itch's Singing Lesson" provides the required fractured fairy-tale. Lulu's purgatorial duty is to tell these improvised stories to bratty Alvin, in a (usually wasted) attempt to calm him down. Alvin would be on some major anti-depressants today.

Stanley indulges in more verbal-visual comedy here. It's a shaggy-dog story.

"Surprise Visit" is the gem of this batch. Lulu's father is brutalized while trying to engage with his daughter in the increasingly dangerous--and socially humiliating--world of Camp Shakatot. While laughing at Mr. Moppet's misfortunes, the adult reader can easily sympathize with the surprisingly realistic mishaps that occur. The business with the oars is particularly spot-on.

"Stormy Night" provides an apt coda for this third helping.

In our next post, we'll wrap up this 100-page fracas. See you then!


refemdabd said...

Hi! I have been a Lulu and Tubby fan since my childhood days. Can you please answer me some questions? If so, thank you so much; if not, well...thank you the same!

These summers camp adventures (my favorites) will it be published within the latest Dark Horse publications? If so, which volume?

Why can't I find Dark Horse Little Lulu volume #19, #20, #21 and #22?

Thank you, so, so much for your time.

Best regards to you,

Pedro Veiga Grilo.

Frank M. Young said...

Hi Pedro,
Thank you for your kind comments.
I was contacted by some folks at Dark Horse, earlier this year. They wished to know which of the Dell Giant LITTLE LULU comics were written by John Stanley. (I told 'em.)
I guess those books are in production.
Check for more information.
As for Volumes 19 on of the Dark Horse LITTLE LULUS... those are color volumes. Again, visit and type in "little lulu john stanley" at the search engine. You'll find 'em!

refemdabd said...

Hi Frank,

Thank you so, so much for your kind and so fast reply.

It's wonderfull news, thank you.

Ok, so I already got those in color, nice!

Being Portuguese, I've read Little Lulu, Tubby and the rest of the gang from brazilian comics back in the late 60's until the mid 80's. Those comics of mine suffered a lot (I know, I should kick myself), so I've been collecting the late Dark Horse editions. How I wish I could have them all in deluxe hardcover library edition. Still, very happy to get to read it all again.

Your Blog is just fantastic, I drool on just about everything. Sorry for the mess :)