- Posted by Johanna on June 18, 2006 at 8:47 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by John Stanley with Irving Tripp
- PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Books; $9.95 US
It’s tough talking about any individual volume in this series, because each contains a sampling of creative and funny stories without any particular theme, so they’re interchangeable. (The only one I can identify off the top of my head is book two, and that’s only because a story I particularly remembered from reading as a kid was misprinted and it took a bit of trouble for me to find a corrected volume, since Dark Horse didn’t label them in any way.) That’s not a bad thing, that each book is consistently entertaining and enjoyable in any order. I picked this one, number nine, just because I remember laughing a lot while reading it. It collects Marge’s Little Lulu #33-37.
There are several classic types of stories from this series:
- Lulu outwits a group of boys, usually after they’ve tricked her or her friends or told her she can’t be part of their club
- Lulu tells an imaginative story to little pest Alvin
- Tubby stories, where he does silly things to make the other boys think he’s special or attract Gloria’s attention
This book opens with the first type, complicated by Tubby thinking he’s clever. He claims to have invented a gold finder, and the gullibility and greed of him and his friends is shown up by Lulu. However, Lulu herself isn’t above being shown the sin of being prideful, as the next story begins with her self-congratulatory “I’m never late” to school. The reader immediately knows that by the end of the short piece, she’ll have learned a lesson.
The first Alvin story in this volume features Lulu shrinking in the rain until she’s only two inches tall, which leads to some wonderfully silly art with the tiny girl. There’s also one about Lulu Van Winkle, who lived on nothing but beebleberries, and another in which Lulu stops a giant from menacing a town and becomes mayor.
One of the tales that doesn’t fit the pattern is an odd little ghost story. Lulu and Tubby decide to sneak into the cemetary at midnight in order to touch a special tree and get a wish. They plan to fool the ghost guards by wearing sheets so they look like one of the gang. When Tubby is late, Lulu goes ahead and meets a real ghost — only she thinks he’s Tubby. It’s a very strange story that sticks with the reader longer than its conventional ending would suggest.
Another touching two-pager revolves around snobby girls snubbing Annie because she only owns one pair of shoes. Lulu doesn’t care and works out a way to support her friend without breaking the parents’ rules.
Overall, the stories aren’t the important part, although they’re charming. What’s key is the way everything, the plot, the characters, and most especially the cartooning, is as simple as it can be while working together as tightly as a well-crafted clockwork. The craft is impressive but noticeable only if you look for it, as the best work is near-invisible.