Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Camp, 1957-style, with Lulu and Tubby , pt. 1

Summer rapidly approaches. Here in the Pacific Northwest, while sunshine has mostly replaced rain and overcast grey, the temperatures remain in the highly reasonable 50s, 60s and (at worse) 70s.

I'm no fan of warm weather, so that's as hot as it ever need get for me. Alas, it will get hotter, and brighter, and increasingly less pleasant in the months to come.

I have no real cause for complaint--I live in one of the most temperate climate zones on this continent. If it's any consolation, I spent most of the first 30 years of my life in the dank jungles of the Southeast--Florida and Georgia--and I know all too well what summertime in a southern clime is like.

That said, John Stanley's summer camp comix transcend my adult perceptions of the season. How enjoyable summer seems in this handful of Lulu and Nancy summer camp giants! Tho' often fraught with peril, Stanley's camp comix capture, in crappily-printed words and pictures, the meaning summer has to kids.

To celebrate what little positive spin I can put on the upcoming season of squint and sweat, I'll be posting the entirety of Stanley's much-beloved, ne'er-reprinted 1957 Lulu and Tubby summer camp special.

I'm gonna try to do five posts, each with 20 pp., including all those easy-to-solve puzzle pages (which usually bear the ancient, frustrated scrawl of the c.1957 child who valiantly attempted their solution).

I'll write more actual commentary as the posts roll on. One thing that immediately strikes me is how formulaic these summer camp comics of Stanley's are. They tend to follow the same overall plot arc:

1) kids excited about immiment summer camp departure; attempt to take all personal belonging with them; action denied by sensible parents

2) one child, usu. aggressive male, denied camp attendance; said child sinks into isolation, depression

3) neglected child, via clever ruse or godlike financial endowment, gets to go to camp; is reunited with chums, regains status

That's about as far as we get in the first two stories presented here.

I'm fascinated by the work of cartoonists who are creative within strict formulae. This is something John Stanley and George Herriman share as comix creators. Come to think of it, Barks, Kelly, Mayer, Eisner, and Kurtzman also thrived while hewing to formula plots and hard-set guidelines.

Well, as said, there's more to come...



Kevin H said...

Thank you very much!

Marc Deckter said...

Love these Little Lulu comics - thanks for posting.

Pappy said...

Frank, I have two stories from LITTLE LULU AND TUBBY AT SUMMER CAMP #2 scheduled for June 19 at Pappy's Golden Age. They'll make a good adjunct to your postings. I don't have the issue you're showing and I'm looking forward to reading the rest. I'll be providing a link to this posting.