cover image John Stanley: Giving Life to Little Lulu

John Stanley: Giving Life to Little Lulu

Bill Schelly. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-60699-990-5

Pop culture historian Schelly (Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America) bolsters this biography of Little Lulu creator John Stanley with a portrait of the business side of the comics industry from the 1940s to the 1970s, an examination of the mechanics of Stanley’s storytelling, and a chronicle of the burgeoning comics fan culture of the 1960s. The sprawling focus is partly due to a paucity of primary-source material; Stanley was very private and bitter toward the comics book industry, and rarely spoke publicly about his career. There are parts of the book where it’s clear the research wears thin, and so Schelly speculates about events and motivations; for example, he writes that Stanley and fellow comic Jack Kirby most likely met and “maybe worked side by side” because both were employed by Fleischer Studios at the same time. The volume’s ample illustrations from all stages of Stanley’s career—including some rarities, such as pages from the infamous, censored “Bogeyman”—will please die-hard fans and readers looking to broaden their knowledge of Stanley’s work. Color illus. [em](May) [/em]