Consider this post a teaser for Drawn + Quarterly's forthcoming first volume of the John Stanley "Nancy and Sluggo" stories.
I've wanted to feature this story for a long time, but this issue of Nancy, along with #170, is significantly harder-to-find than the rest of the Stanley run.
This isn't the best copy in the world--the pages are quite yellowed--but the story itself is a total mind-fudge.
Here, read it and see for yourself...
The opening page of "The House With Everybody In It" is among the talkiest of Stanley's career. It reminds me of some of those Al Feldstein-scripted EC stories; the dialogue threatens to crowd out the characters!
Stanley uses this ocean of words to set a nervous rhythm. The collusion of Nancy's rope-skipping count and Oona's stake-raising introduction puts us, the reader, on a speeding path into utter chaos and uncertainty.
Once we enter the Goosepimple house, the hinges fall off the doors of reality. I love the moment of Nancy's head-clearing tantrum:
At the heart of this story is a dark, edgy fairy-tale. The elderly witch, caught in the Sisyphian trap of feeding toasted marshmallows to the tiger, reminds me of something from Roald Dahl. I wonder if Stanley was a reader of Dahl's fiction.
There are startling similarities in both writers' work--most strikingly in their casual treatment of traumatic material. This story is a prime example. Trauma piles atop trauma. Each incident blends tragic and comedic elements. It is the passage of a vulnerable but indefatigable heroine through this maze of chaos--and her final escape, having undone the worst of the chaos--that compels us through this darkness.
I wonder, as well, if Dahl secretly read Little Lulu. There's a snapshot I'd like to see!
Dan Gormley's artwork is properly agitated--its linework borders on fury. One can see Stanley's drawing style peer through Gormley's assimilation of the Bushmiller style. He negotiates the nightmarish twists and turns with a dancer's grace.
I'll post another story from this issue tomorrow... we all need a breather in the wake of this one!