The D&Q blog runs this picture of cartoon master John Stanley when he was a teenager. It’s always refreshing to see a great artist captured in the full bloom of youth; our ideas of Stanley are mostly of the older, curmudgeonly but still insightful playwright of the heart.
Jeet Heer takes the oppotunity of D&W’s thrilling announcement of more John Stanley reprints to take on the great debate:Stanley vs. Barks:
There are not many cartoonists who have claims to greatness; perhaps a dozen or a score. Of this elite group, the least known to the general public and most underrated even by the cartooning cognoscenti is John Stanley (1914-1993). To the extent that he’s remembered at all, Stanley is known as the writer for the Little Lulu comic book series published Dell Comics. Stanley worked on the series from 1945 till around 1961 but during his long tenure at Dell worked on many other titles, ranging from characters created by others (Tubby, Nancy, Andy Panda) as well as characters he himself invented (the horror-spoof Melvin Monster, as well as teen comics like Dunc and Loo, Thirteen, and Kookie).
Heer judges Stanley to be the better writer, an assessment we agree with but only by a whisper. And that whisper could change when the wind does. Such comparisons are not really necessary — in the shorter stories of Walt Disney Comics & Stories, even those starring bit players like Gyro Gearloose and Gladstone Gander, Barks showed a mastery of relentless destiny and stinging irony that few could surpass. Let’s just say they are BOTH great and reprint everything they ever did in living color!