Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lulu and Tubby's 1957 summer camp epic, pt.2

Here's installment two of the Dell Giant Lulu/Tubby Summer Camp book of 1957.

It's a pity these summer camp comix have never been reprinted. It would be impossible to chop these up into isolated stories. Stanley, in these giant books, remarkably weaves a simple, casual narrative. Each story's events quietly pushes the story along its arc, like a local bus that makes many brief stops.

Each vignette depends on what's come before it--and what will happen beyond it--to properly work.

In a sense, these summer camp giants are prehistoric graphic novels. More-so than any other giant comix of the era, Stanley's make a conscientious effort to stay on-course, and to tell a story from start to end.

This subtlety has doomed them to extinction, it would seem. I don't know if Dark Horse, or Drawn + Quarterly, plan to include the many giants Stanley wrote between 1955 and 1962 in their respective reprint projects. If not, modern-day readers will miss out on some of Stanley's best writing.

"Camp Shakatot," our opening story, offers a first page of intense verbal humor. It rivals "Two Foots Are Feet" [see earlier post for that story] in its carom of repetition.

Therein, we meet the obese, oblivious Ada Bump, a sort of female Tubby. Our hero indulges in some non-PC fat jokes, but leavens them with absurdity and more wordplay. The story's climax is like Samuel Beckett--only funny.

Tubby and bratty Alvin spice up "High Dive Expert," which is an otherwise slight story, distinguished by some delightful status switcheroos. Stanley indulges in more naturalistic kid chatter, as well.

Here's a page of Tubby-pleasing tips on how to prepare snacks in the wild--even in your backyard or airshaft!

And for our final feature today, "Paddle Your Own Canoe" shows the other side of the status fence in the girls' camp. A so-so story, it has some late instances of "windmill action" in the canoeing scenes. This Stanley device was largely abandoned after the late '40s.

More camp comix tomorrow, depending on how my lower back holds out...

1 comment:

Myrrpage said...

This is great - haven't seen these stories in 50 years. Thanks.