John Stanley

awards_2015_fingerawards_stanleyJohn Stanley was born in Harlem, NYC on this date in 1914., so happy birthday, John Stanley.

Stanley is one of my all-time favorite comics writers,  the most consistently funny, the most consistently idiosyncratic, and the most handsome writer to ever work in comics.




Stanley  worked as a journeyman comics scripter from the 1940s through the 1960s. He is most well-known for his long-running Little Lulu comics – a character originally created by Marge Henderson Buell –  produced by Dell.

For a long period, he wrote and drew ‘Nancy and Sluggo’ stories for the comic books based on Ernie Bushmiller’s newspaper comic. He also wrote original scripts for the licensed characters Tubby, Deputy Dawg, Clyde Crashcup, Choo Choo Charlie, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Oswald the Rabbit, Andy Panda, Krazy Kat, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Nellie the Nurse, Woody Woodpecker, Melvin the Monster, Heckle and Jeckle.

A voracious reader, he had a natural feel for language, lending an air of realism to his writing for titles about children, and as he was able to successfully mimic the slang of children of his day. Stanley elevated the genre of kid’s comic from one notey cutesy with his command of colorful language, airtight plotting, and dark wit, often peppering his strips elements of tthe macabre.

Towards the enDUNC1_01d of his career, Stanley went all out and launched a series of truly terrific teen-centric comics: Thirteen Going on Eighteen, which is fantastic, Around the Block with Dunc and Loo (whose stories take place in an urban tenement apartment building which is totally awesome).


kookie2cvrIn 1962, Stanley collaborated with Bill Williams on a comic I love called “Kookie”,  inspired by the beatnik culture. Kookie was a wholesome young woman from mainstream America who is a waitress in a coffee shop. Her world turned upside down by goatees and berets, rambling poetry and absurdist art. It made the Archies look like Nowheresville.






Stanley’s dark wit eventually extend into full-blown horror stories as Stanley would go on to write for Dell both the one-shot Tales from the Tomb and the first issue of Ghost Stories, both in 1962. The latter contains an exceptionally well regarded and legitimately scary horror story, “The Monster of Dread End.”


John Stanley left comics sometime in the late 1960s never to return. His comments on the comics – including his own work – was rather bitter. In the final stages of his career, he worked for a silk-screening company in upstate New York He died in Sleepy Hollow, NY 1993 of esophageal cancer.

If you want any more information on John Stanley’s work, there is a super nice site with a virtual comics library devoted to his stories and art: Stanleystories

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We know our letters just fine, and we know our numbers to a certain point, but books were always the realm of four-eyed poindexters with bowler hats and cravats. That’s why it pleases us so that America’s proud illiterates are finally stepping up and pushing back against the crushing tide of education that threatens to swallow us all into its gaping maw of checked facts. Champions of the Ignorantiat will not like it here.
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