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13 January 2006 — Little Lulu (5)

Some people are addicted to alcohol. Some people are addicted to cigarettes. (Some people are addicted to both.) My vice is comix. I love comic books, I love cartoons (single-panel comix like The Far Side), and I especially love comic strips. (Classic comic strips are my favorites.)

I'm amazed how huge the field of comix is. I'm always discovering new gems, some of which were sitting in plain view, waiting for me to notice. One recent example is Little Lulu.

For the past year, I've heard raves about Little Lulu all over the comic book world. "What's the big deal?" I wondered. "It's just an old kids book, right?" Well. I recently bought a volume, and now I understand the raves. Little Lulu may have been a kids comic book, but it's a kids comic book with class. These stories from the forties and fifties exhibit a charm and intelligence (and a sense of spunk) completely missing from the Richie Rich comics I grew up with. They do a remarkable job of capturing the feel of a bygone era, not to mention a sense of childhood. Most of all, they're just plain fun.

Lulu is an eight-year-old girl with a terrific imagination. Her neighborhood is populated by other children, including a gang of boys (the most notable of which is her friend Tubby), and various other girls. A little boy named Alvin lives next door to Lulu. Alvin is a pest: he often wants Lulu to tell him stories. And lord, what stories Lulu tells!

Here's a short example from a recent volume of reprints:




I love this bit (and the rest of the story, for which I do not have scans), and bored Kris by recounting it once on the way home from a grocery trip. I love the little details that reveal what life was like sixty years ago (the self-service market has replaced the old-style market, for example, or the fact that you might bring your own shopping cart from home). I wish you could see the gag on the next page where Alvin keeps stashing cabbages on the bottom of some woman's cart. It makes me laugh.

There are several great Lulu pages around the web, including Michelle's Little Lulu page,Bob Pfeffer's Little Lulu page and John Merrill's Little Lulu page. Apparently, the HBO Family channel (who knew there was such a thing?) airs an animated series called The Little Lulu Show featuring Tracey Ullman as the voice of Lulu Moppet.

I've managed to track down seven Little Lulu comic stories on-line, and am hosting them here in order to share them with the world. The seven stories are:

If you'd like to read more Lulu, Portland's own Dark Horse Comics has begun a Little Lulu reprint project. They're reproducing a large number of her early adventures in small, affordable black-and-white volumes. I own several. They're wonderful. I think they're perfect for boys and girls who are just beginning to read. (And for their parents, too!) These delightful books can be had for only $10 each from Amazon (just use the links below) or from your local comic book store. (Also, Tales of Wonder has them for $8 each.)

  1. My Dinner With Lulu (Four Color 74, 97, 110, 115, 120)
  2. Sunday Afternoon (Four Color 131, 139, 146, 158)
  3. Lulu in the Doghouse (Four Color 165, Little Lulu 1-5)
  4. Lulu Goes Shopping (Little Lulu 6-12), from which the first three pages are excerpted above
  5. Lulu Takes a Trip (Little Lulu 13-17)
  6. Letters to Santa (Little Lulu 18-22)
  7. Lulu's Umbrella Service (Little Lulu 23-27)
  8. Late For School (to be released in February)
  9. Lucky Lulu (to be released in April)

I often refrain from discussing comix in this forum, but one of my goals in 2006 is to cast off this inhibition. Every month or so I will share some comix-related feature that really makes me happy: Little Lulu, Little Nemo, Peanuts, Flash Gordon, Krazy Kat, early Wonder Woman, Micronauts, Rawhide Kid, and more.

I know this will bore some of you, but I hope that others will get to glimpse the greatness of an art form that often gets only disrespect.

On this day at foldedspace.org

2003Something Awful   In which I rant about the political situation in this country.


Comments
On 13 January 2006 (10:50 AM), Mourningdove said:

Very nice. Thank you. What is this rage to return to this "sense of childhood"? Did we miss something, or just love the past and want to return? And is it the charm an illusion? For myself, I have been mesmerized by the pure innocence of the Alice and Jerry books...the children were independent with a sense of freedom to explore mysteries in the fields, sidewalks and wild areas nearby, and without the watchful eyes of parents every minute. Yet parents were always respected. I think the real problem in today's culture is that we no longer feel that freedom.


On 13 January 2006 (11:38 AM), calmnsense said:

You've got great taste & welcome to the family of LL fanatics! My brother and I have collected 'em for years, purely for our own (and family's) enjoyment and edification. It is truly a timeless strip that was also (in some ways) ahead of its time. You had Super links in this posting - thanks!. My only worry is that as more and more rediscover our little heroine and all her pals, the back issues will be rarer and rarer (great for investment-minded collectors, but bad for us "real reading fans"!)

But to keep the charms of Lulu (or rather John Stanley, the genius behind most of the best Lulus) a secret from the masses would be a travesty. Here's hoping Dark Horse succeeds to the point of green-lighting the Little Lulu movie one day (BTW, the long-time series that used to run on HBO is pretty disappointing).


On 16 January 2006 (06:47 AM), dbm said:

No doubt, these Dark Horse reprints are briliant.


On 22 July 2007 (02:38 AM), J.ALMEIDA said:

I CAME UPON THIS SITE NOW.REMINDED MY CHILDHOOD.JUST AMAZING AND A WORK OF ART. CONGRATRULATIONS.


On 28 July 2007 (09:46 AM), R.Smith said:

As an old comic book addict as a child who wishes he had kept his entire Marvel collection - who knew, it was fun to find this site. I had been trying to remember the name of the litte witch in the Little Lulu comix and finally got around to googling it. Littl itch of course and witch Hazel. I did enjoy Little Lulu and many other comics and yes I think my generation grew up with superior values and sense of adventure because of it. That's where I started my love of reading which is a life-long experience and I read books right along with the many interesting comics. Tales of the Crypt- oh my!