Friday, August 17, 2007

JUDY JUNIOR in "The Fairyland Buzz" by John Stanley

This 4-pager is from THIRTEEN "GOING ON EIGHTEEN" #13, November-January 1965

I'm assuming it's written AND drawn by John Stanley (because the style of the comic matches the cover art, which is signed by Stanley). This is a backup comic--presumably the adventures of THIRTEEN's costar Judy (who is a teen) as a pre-schooler. I do some blathering after the comics, if you have the patience.
fairyland buzz 1
fairyland buzz 2
fairyland buzz 3
fairyland buzz 4

There are a several reasons why I love this comic and felt compelled to share...

*It made me laugh several times throughout.

*I've never seen it reprinted before.

*"Deconstructing a famous character"--It's not really that, but there are enough parallels to Little Lulu comics (the comics Stanley was most associated with) that it has a fun "Little Lulu as a bullying little psycho" feeling.

*I love the WAYS she is crazy--the "iron elf," making Jimmy Fuzzy run away FOR her, calling Jimmy's mother rude...

*I identify with the suburban feeling--having to "play" outside in cold weather and being left to the mercy of whatever other kids live in your neighborhood.

*I can't shake the notion that if this comic had been a prose short story it'd be in 20th century short story collections alongside humorous "kids are bastards" stories by Thurber, O. Henry, Salinger, Shirley Jackson, etc. !

*Finally, there's that amazing, but easy-to-miss detail in this panel on page 3. (The arrow was added by me, in case you didn't guess.)
fairyland CLOSEUP
I mean, what the--?

On the pretentious end of analysis, that one detail moves the whole comic into magical realism--the world really does have elves. The story enters completely into the world of children. True!

A less excitble critic might point out that Stanley wrote at least dozens of stories where Tubby has adventures with tiny men from Mars. So little magic dudes are nothing extraordinary in kids comics. Also true!

But, it's the WAY Stanley pulls it off that's interesting. The struggling little elf is thrown into one panel, with no commentary, and it's colored so you almost miss it. And unlike Tubby and his tiny pals, Judy doesn't even see the little elf...and anyway, he doesn't really match her "iron elves" and "fairyland bus" ideas. So it comes off like: yeah, there are elves, there's magic, but it's not like this crazy girl and put-upon boy even notice.

I may be making too big a deal out of the one panel. So sue me. Stanley's comics always reward a closer look and that's why people are still blabbing about his comics 40 years later.

If anyone else has read a lot of Judy Juniors (I've only read two or three) and wants to share their thoughts, I'd love to hear them. I'm funny like that.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Special message for vacationers: Don't be an idiot.

I lied.

No John Stanley this time, but a timely message from one of those Golden Age comics PSAs that gives you advice so obvious, you wonder if the real message is "our readers are cavemen." (One clue: The "advice" is given to humans from a dog.) This is from a coverless humor comic from the 40s from National Periodicals. (One of the funny animal titles, don't know which one.)

You have to feel for Terry. Maybe he could accidentally "go missing" at a rest stop and find a family that remembered to load film in their camera (and packed some kibble).

I also feel a little bit sorry for "Dad." He makes all the mistakes, but I don't see anybody in his family helping. Give your brain-damaged father/spouse some help, gang!

PSA vacaton002