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.


Sherm said...

Hey, Chris Duffy! Thanks for posting this!
So refreshingly odd to see characters acting in unexpected formula here.
Judy Junior's so charmingly obnoxious!
I like how Judy is a few inches away from getting run over on Page one.
I also LOVED her calling Jimmy's mother rude. But tell me, Chris Duffy... why the heck do these characters keep incessantly repeating each others' names?
It's so over-the-top, Chris Duffy, that it starts to become hypnotic. You know what I mean, Chris Duffy?

Rodrigo Baeza said...

Thanks for posting this, Chris. I agree that the art seems to have been done by Stanley: the artwork (and also the lettering, I believe) seems very similar to the artwork in Stanley's MELVIN MONSTER (which I loved as a kid, not knowing it was done by the same guy who wrote LULU).

I was amused to see that the "running away from home but am not allowed to cross the street" joke is taken from a PEANUTS strip featuring Linus.

Periscope studio said...

John Stanley's comics are just incredibly cool. Thanks for taking the time to post them.

-Steve Lieber

Chris Duffy said...

No, thank YOU, Steve Lieber (and Sherm and Rodrigo).

sdestefano said...

welcome to the blogosphere, Chris Duffy.
While you know I am a fan of John Stanley, I also like the comics work of...Chris Duffy!
Please do post some of your fine drawings!

Chris Duffy said...

Stevie DeStephanose!
My silly drawings go on my

and at my
WebComics nation site.

Don't know why I feel I must spread myself so thin...but I do!

YOU are the one who needs to put more drawings on the webb!
Christofer Duphy

Stuart Moore said...

That's a great strip. It's got a casual, surreal rhythm to it, the way it starts off and ends by talking about the Fairyland Bus (or Buzz). I don't think I've ever seen Stanley's non-Little-Lulu work before.

I love the elf panel too...but I wouldn't put too much deep analysis into the coloring. It's just as likely that the engraver didn't notice the elf, back then, and just slapped some yellow over it.

Chris Duffy said...

Hi, Stuart!
Yeah, I'm sure you're right about the coloring. Comics coloring and "intent of the artist" don't really go together until way after this story was published.

Say hey to Liz!

Ray Davis said...

Unutterably brilliant, unless that counts as an utterance. Thank you.

Marc Crisafulli said...

Of all the issues I have, the best one is at the end of issue fourteen, where Judy Junior dismantles Jimmy Fuzzi's snowman to make her own... WHATEVER it is. YOW!

Chris Duffy said...

Oh, man, that sound great! Thanks, Marc!

Stuart Immonen said...

Hey Chris,

Thanks for joggin my memory about these strips. This is maybe the best (oddest) of the lot-- you've already hit on why.

I'm scanning my whole Judy Junior set now:

Including the snowman strip.

Stuart Immonen said...

Dang, the link isn't all there.

Judy Junior!

David King said...

Thanks for posting this stuff, Chris!--I don't think I've ever read any of this John Stanley stuff in spite of those Dark Horse book being relly cheap.

And what's funny is that I call my cat Fuzzy Jimmy all the time

David King said...

Oh, and thanks for the link, Stuart Immonen; I can't wait to dig into all those Judy Juniors of yours

Marc Crisafulli said...

I'm changing my exclamation from YOW to WOW!
Many thanks, Stuart!

Peggy said...

Just got back from a sort-of vacation. Stuart! what a boon! Thanks!

If it lasted 30 issues or so, then there are even MORE Judy Juniors out there. Maybe we can get them all on the web!

Stuart has called for a John Stanley Wikipedia page. There isn't even a stub! Not even a nubbin!

Who among us will take the first step?

I live ten minutes north of the town Stanley lived a lot of his life, Peekskill. Craig Yoe, editor and cartoonist, says he knew STanley personally. I may try to get a photo of the house he grew up in...

I mean, why not?

Sherm said...

Hey, Stuart...thanks for posting those Judy stories on Flickr! I like the way Flickr's slideshow viewing mode makes it really convenient to read them on the web.