Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bucolic Battles, Noxious Neighbors and Sob Sisters: Three Stories from Little Lulu "Four Color" one shot 146, 1947

It's been nearly a year since we continued the series of posts on the early one-shot issues of Marge's Little Lulu, before it was granted its own regular series at the start of 1948. Have crowd, will please!

The previous one-shot, 139, is fully covered on Stanley Stories. You may read "The Hooky Team" HERE, and the other two stories in that issue HERE.

Cover-dated May 1947, this Lulu one-shot was written and penciled by John Stanley. Charles Hedinger, a significant interim artist, did the inked finishes.

Hedinger brings a distinct energy to the table. His Lulu stories have more visual energy than those of Irving Tripp, who would very quickly join Team Lulu. That said, they lack the bristling vigor Stanley's own artwork gave the series. It's a pity Stanley had to cease the finished artwork for Little Lulu.

Without that break, he may not have developed such a sharply focused role as writer, as the series reached its early 1950s peak of all-ages popularity. With a need for consistent high-quality writing, the magazine needed a more focused, in-control Stanley. His presence is just felt enough, through the stagnant-but-effective lens of Tripp's stable, static artwork, to still energize the series.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Weekend Plug-O-Rama

My friend and colleague Thad Komorowski has big news that I eagerly share here: Sick Little Monkeys, his book on the rise and fall of John Kricfalusi, Ren & Stimpy and Spumco Animation is now available. Full disclosure: I was the book's editor, and I also colored and co-designed the cover with Thad.

That said, it's his work all the way, and as I edited the text, I was fascinated with this darkly humorous, sometimes painfully tragic real-life story.

As I recently experienced with my work on the graphic novel The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song, some real-life stories are so vivid, dramatic and striking that it is a privilege to tell them. I think this is true of Thad's account of John K's manic spiral of a cartooning career.

Thad did his homework very well, with many insightful comments from the various Spumco survivors he interviewed. This book will enrage some fanboys: it's a no-nonsense, decidedly frank look at an obviously talented man who made some great animated cartoons, but had certain personality quirks that brought the walls tumbling down around him.

Thad acknowledges John K's genius, but details the chaos and confusion of his world. I think that even those who don't like Ren & Stimpy would still find this book's historical narrative gripping. It's a remarkable achievement--well done, Thad!


Might as well plug some recent antics of mine. I occasionally review 1940s and '50s film noirs for the blog, Noir of the Week, which is loosely affiliated with the Film Noir Foundation. This week, I review the thoroughly nutty 1945 sorta-noir, Danger Signal. You might enjoy reading it, and the four other reviews I've done for this blog.

Over the holidays, I put together a collection of some of Dick Briefer's Frankenstein comic-book stories, from public-domain issues of Prize Comics, with an introduction and supplementary features written by me. I am asking a nominal $3.99 for this 146-page e-book, which I think is a bargain for the quantity and quality of the work within, and for the time I put in touching up and sequencing the stories. If you'd like to learn more about this project, visit Comic Book Attic, the blog I share with Paul Tumey, who currently unearths early comics history in his marvelous Masters of Screwball Comics blog. Check out his new essay on pioneering cartoonist/painter Gus Mager.

Note: this post does not count towards the official 250 for this blog.