Thursday, January 1, 2015

Permalink for The John Stanley Bibliography E-Book Purchases

I have some new posts to do here, but I didn't want to obscure anyone's chance to purchase the 1960s John Stanley Bibliography. It's priced at $4.99. Here's a PayPal payment button:


You can also buy it, bundled with the earlier 1940s Stanley bibliography, for six dollars. To do so, choose this button:

If you want to purchase only the 1940s volume, for $2.99 USD, look to your immediate right.

These files will be sent to you via Dropbox.com, which offers high-speed downloads that work well. You'll receive your files as soon as I get word of your payment! Please be sure you have a correct e-mail address so I can send the files to you PDQ!

This link will sit here, above newer posts. Thus, I won't have to run sales-pitches into the body of the regular posts. Please enjoy the other posts on this blog, and if you're interested to know more about the artist and his work, these resources are available. Thanks!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Post-Mortem Post 002: The Enigma of "Knotknee"

In doing the research for my upcoming 1950s John Stanley bibliography, I was reminded of a couple of curiosities. Among them is the enigmatic filler feature "Knotknee," which first appeared in the 15th issue of Marge's Tubby.

The title already had a secondary feature, "Alvin," which guaranteed its eligibility for special periodical postage rates. I've made mention of this postal law, which is the reason for filler pieces in 1940s and '50s comic books, elsewhere on this blog.

Why "Knotknee" was created is a puzzle. The character does not otherwise appear in any "Tubby" or "Little Lulu" stories. Nor was any attempt made to explicity connect it with those characters. Long before 1956, when this oddity debuted, John Stanley had mastered the art of pantomime comics gags. Little Lulu, from its trial start in Dell's "Four Color" series, is rife with such pages.

Occasional multi-page pantomime stories appear in Lulu, and in earlier Stanley projects such as New Funnies. For a writer as in love with language as was Stanley, his fluency in using mute images to tell a story is a pleasant surprise.

By 1956, the panto pages were feeling a bit phoned in, and "Knotknee," which I hesitantly attribute to Stanley, suffers accordingly. Here is the first page in the series:
Knotknee's shtick was being very fast on his feet. He was chosen to star in Tubby's one- to two-page text fillers, which are very clearly not written by Stanley. Here is the first text page, from this same issue.
This prose, utterly drained of enthusiasm, typifies the 1950s comic book text filler. You can feel the writer's gnashed teeth in every line.

100% independent of the world of Tubby and his clubhouse pals, Knotknee faced similar interests (sports, girls) and fears (bullying, loss of social status). Thus, these pages line up with the other contents of the series, even tho' they seem mutually exclusive.

That "Knotknee" is drawn in the Marge Buell style blurs the boundaries further. It might have been jarring to readers to have a filler page drawn in a different look and feel. The feature, as it stands, must have puzzled Tubby fans (those who noticed, that is).

Here is a selection of other "Knotknee" pages. The feature ceased, as a pantomime comic, with Tubby #31, but soldiered on as a text feature.
 When that Dell Pledge to Parents is wedged into a page, its non-importance is guaranteed.
 The feature broke from its muteness just once, in issue #24 of Tubby:
 This is the last episode in the comics version of the feature:
Though a one-note concept, "Knotknee" has some occasional faint charm. He was never destined to have his own series, or speak beyond the one line given him in Tubby 24. As the most obscure and little-known creation of John Stanley's Lulu-Tubby tenure, "Knotknee" rates a brief mention here.

I'm about halfway through the '50s bibliography, slogging through the task of synopsizing each "Little Lulu" and "Tubby" story of the decade (along with all the other stories and series with Stanley's work). I'll be glad when I don't have to type "Witch Hazel" again for awhile.

More in this occasional series of post-posts sometime soon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In The Works... 1950s John Stanley Bibliography

I've been slogging away at this, the middle volume of my John Stanley bibliography, and I think it will be 2015 before I get it finished. There's a lot to do here. This will be the thickest of the three volumes, and it has required the most detective work and judgment calls on my part.

Just doing accurate synopses and story page counts for every issue of Little Lulu from 1950-59 is a formidable task. I've gotten 1950-1954 completed, plus many spots afterward.

To take a break from all the culling, counting and writing, I designed the cover. Here it is.

I'll have some more good news about my John Stanley projects to share very soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fun For Sale: Two New Publications!

This has nothing to do with John Stanley, save that one of them is comics-related, and the other traffics in a curious sense of absurd whimsy. Perhaps you'll consider purchasing one or both.

First up is The Dark Carton, a refinement of a surreal-dada private eye novel I wrote, in weekly installments, for a weekly giveaway called Capital City, published by Walter Dodd in my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida.

Written on-the-fly, in the wee hours of the morning, this book might be described as "Raymond Chandler meets Twin Peaks," if I were a Hollywood sharpie doing an elevator pitch. Considering that it was written in 1987, well before David Lynch's cult-favorite TV show, one might say that it was ahead of the curve.

Years later, I re-typed the original chapters, from the faded newsprint versions, and added several new sections, as they suggested themselves--again, very much on-the-fly.

An art professor at Florida State University asked me, back in the day, if I wanted his help in getting this book published. A callow know-it-all of 23, I of course declined his kind offer. Many years later, as I realize what a sap I was no say no, I've published the darn thing myself, in the hope that it may amuse and confound the millennial masses.

An informative essay would make it appear that this confection really was published in 1940. You be the judge. Even I'm not sure anymore...

Available on CreateSpace and Amazon.com, The Dark Carton can be had in both print-on-demand paperback and e-book download. This link will take you to the Amazon page, where you can preview the book.

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Over the past few years, I've put together chronological compilations of some of my favorite early comics material. I've shared these with friends, and have been encouraged to offer them, for a nominal sum, to others. My latest effort is a collection of the first half of Basil Wolverton's run of his classic, hard-to-find "Powerhouse Pepper" series of the wartime 1940s.

I've written an introduction, offering my views on Wolverton's work, and where it fits into the comics universe. This 151-page e-book, available in CBR or PDF formats, is a mere $4.50, and can be purchased over at another of my comics blogs, Comic Book Attic, at this link. You'll find links to some other comics comps done by myself and by Paul Tumey. Perhaps you'll find something of interest among those, as well.

It's wonderful that we can self-publish. The hard part is getting the word out. Hence, this post. I hope this isn't an intrusion, and that you'll find one or the other of these efforts worth your while. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Post-Mortem Post 001: Sluggo goes Peanuts: two super-obscure Stanley stories

I warned you that I'd come back, from time to time, after "officially" ending this blog. As I make new discoveries, or find new information that either confirms or corrects my past presumptions, this blog will remain on life-support.

If/when I complete and publish the John Stanley bibliography for the 1950s, it will consist of 11 years of stories. Near the end of that era come two small surprises from a semi-likely source.

For years, I've suspected that Dell's
Peanuts series might hold some John Stanley material. No one had bothered to scan these comics and share them on the web until last month. Said it before, saying it again: kudos to the folks who scan old comics and remove them from obscurity and inaccessibility. Their work is a powerful help for today's comics scholars.

In a just world, Stanley might have been assigned Charles Schulz's characters, rather than the cast of Nancy and Sluggo, in 1959. Schulz understandably wished to keep the comic book version close to home. His friends Jim Sasseville and Dale Hale wrote and drew the new material, in the spirit of the mega-popular daily strip. You can read an interview with Dale Hale about his work on the Dell Peanuts title HERE.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stolen Snacks, Balloon Boys and Hallucinations: the last Little Lulu one-shot, 1947

As has been evident for the last year-plus, this blog is winding down. I've said pretty much all I have to say on John Stanley, short of a larger study, such as a book.

But with no visible interest in the publication of a book on Stanley, this blog is the testament of my years of thought and detective work. Perhaps Michael Barrier's forthcoming study of the Oskar Lebeck-edited Dell Comics, Funnybooks, will change this apparent apathy. Time will tell.

To complete a series on this blog, here are the three stories that comprise the final one-shot Little Lulu comic book (#165 in the Dell Four Color series), with a publication date of October 1947.

This issue would be followed quickly by the first official bi-monthly edition of Marge's Little Lulu. That short launch time speaks to the popularity of the Lulu one-shots. Carl Barks (and other artists) did 25 Donald Duck one-shots before Dell committed to a regular numbered series, four years later.

The Disney character was, arguably, a more potent commercial property than Marge Buell's magazine cartoons, but the decisions of publishers, then as now, remain a mystery.

Team Lulu is in great shape throughout this last trial issue. Charles Hedinger provides finishes to Stanley's script/pencils. John Stanley's understanding of the character of Tubby comes into sharp focus in the first two stories. All that remains is the entrance of artist Irving Tripp to complete the winning formula.

Monday, April 28, 2014

"Indaboopadilly!" (or "Baby, It's Cold Inside"): John Stanley's Last "Tom And Jerry" Story of 1946;Our Gang Comics 22

John Stanley's first run on his first regular comic book series, "Tom and Jerry," ended abruptly in early 1946.

The runaway popularity of his "Little Lulu" comics, still part of Dell's one-shot monthly "Four Color" series, took its toll on Stanley's other comics efforts in this year.

Stanley stuck with his New Funnies features through 1947, as other writers and artists were phased into his shoes. He would return to Our Gang, in 1948, for a brief but brilliant second act that remains one of comics' hidden gems.

His first departure ended a remarkable trifecta of talent in Dell's Our Gang Comics.

For roughly a dozen issues, lucky wartime comics readers got a knockout combo of Walt Kelly, Carl Barks and John Stanley with their purchase of this ten-cent comic. They also got Charles Hedinger's "Flip 'n' Dip," which approached the high level of this work with its sharp drawing and keen knockabout wit.

As with Stanley's work for New Funnies, the "Tom and Jerry" stories are a mixed lot. With this post, all of his first run of significant Our Gang stories are available on this blog. Some of them are little masterpieces; others betray late deadlines, disinterest or a bad hangover.