Steve Bissette was first to break the news that Irving Tripp, collaborator with John Stanley on many of the great Little Lulu stories, died in November at age 88.
Tripp was an artist for Dell Comics in the ’40s and ’50s who teamed with Stanley. Stanley would write the Lulu stories in thumbnail fashion and Tripp would pencil, ink and sometimes letter. He also contributed covers — and worked until his retirement in the ’80s. While Tripp certainly drew in the style of Stanley, he contributed his own fine line — often just the angle of a line was enough to connote some shade of an emotion that took a panel from funny to hilarious — that was Tripp’s work.
The most common reaction to Tripp’s death among comics scholars was “He was still alive?” Comics Comics goes the extra mile and finds the only extant interview with Tripp, from the long out of print Another Rainbow Little Lulu collections. It is well worth reading in its entirety for the light it sheds on the comics world of the ’40s and ’50s, and the Lulu work of other contributors, such as Arnold Drake and Virginia Hubbell. As critical acclaim grows for John Stanley (who died in 1993, largely embittered by the way the industry had treated him), I’d suspect a lot of people, myself included, are sad that Tripp never got a chance to bask in some of the spotlight he so greatly deserved. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t stop trying to find these “lost cartoonists” before it’s too late.