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Melvin Monster, Volume One [Hardcover]

John Stanley

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Book Description

April 28 2009 Melvin Monster (Book 1)
Drawn and Quarterly is planning to launch an extensive reprinting of much of Stanley's work in discrete volumes. The first in this series is the two-volume Melvin Monster collection featuring all ten issues about the oddball monster boy who just wants to be good, go to school, and do as he's told. Designed to fit nicely with Drawn and Quarterly's reprinting of Tove Jansson's Moomin series, these comics are great reading for all ages. Stanley's reputation as a great storyteller and visual comedian is richly deserved - few golden- or silver-age comics stand the test of time the way these comics do.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly (April 28 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189729963X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299630
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 19.7 x 28.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #560,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Stanley (1914-1993) was a journeyman comics scripter in the 1950s and 1960s. He is most famous for his scripts for most of the Little Lulu comics produced by Dell, and is considered by many comics historians to be the most consistently funny and idiosyncratic writer to ever work in comics. He left comics bitterly sometime in the late 1960s, never to return.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content, yet incomplete... Dec 26 2009
By Diamonddulius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Drawn & Quarterly (much like Fantagraphics) has championed artists rights and the artistic merits of cartooning/comic books since they came into existence. So how in the world could they think leaving the covers out of this collection is a good idea? It seems like a DC/Marvel decision to me. No real historical text about Stanley, the comics industry at that point or the importance of the Melvin character in general. The cover and design (by Seth) are handsome, but sorely lacking without the covers and other stuff mentioned. D&Q similarly dropped the ball on the Nancy collection. Please D&Q, get on the ball with the remainder of this series!!!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monstrous Fun June 20 2009
By Gord Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The John Stanley Library from Montreal's Drawn and Quarterly has been the talk of 2009, as fans look forward with eager anticipation. The first volume, Melvin Monster, is out at last, after a 32 page teaser comic for Free Comic Book Day that was half Melvin/ half Nancy. That comic gave a pretty good preview of things to come. Like the Library, it was designed by Seth, who gave such a retro look to the Peanuts hardback sets The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Box Set. Unlike the Peanuts sets, however, the Melvin cover depicts a stylized design by Seth, rather than Stanley cover art.

Melvin Monster was published by Dell from 1965-1969. There were only ten issues, and the tenth is a reprint of the first. This hardback, color volume includes the first three comics, so there could be two more volumes to cover the entire run. However, unlike the Another Rainbow Little Lulu Library, you don't get the original comic covers, only the stories. There are about a hundred pages of color comics, printed on quality paper, but which looks like the original newsprint, in a handsome, library quality 11 X 8 inch hardback binding. Certainly more archival than the original comics.

Collectors will still likely want the original issues, as some of the covers, at least, have Stanley art. Everyone else may be wondering what's the big deal about John Stanley? In the realm of humorous kids' comics, he was simply without peer, and most of the exceptions one might name turn out to also be by him. The last page in this volume includes a brief bio, and he turns out to be the motive force behind not only Little Lulu and Melvin, but also Dell's Nancy, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Woody Woodpecker, and a half dozen other titles. Not to mention his own teen comics, Thirteen Going on Eighteen, Dunc and Loo, and Kookie, in which he hit his stride, with a deft hand and easy style.

Melvin Monster is not to be confused with Atlas Comics' Melvin the Monster (Dexter the Demon), an offering in the mischievous kid genre, along with Marvel's Peter the Little Pest, neither of which were monster comics. Drawn and Quarterly lists Melvin Monster under "Comics and Graphic Novels/ Horror" but it could also be "humor", hailing as it does from the 'sixties, when the zany monster craze was at its height. Gold Key's The Little Monsters was another whimsical entry in the monster antics genre.

That said, Stanley's writing in Melvin is freewheeling, as few writers before or since, and his art style might be described as primitive. In the Halcyon days when Dell and Gold Key ruled the comics racks, however, it was merely perfect. What Stanley lacked in intricate artistry, he made up in vigor and verve. If this volume included the covers, I'd give it a five. That curious omission aside, here's the series Stanley fans have long waited for, and he may at last take his rightful place in comics history.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, wish it was complete... May 28 2009
By G. Syn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Melvin is an underrated and underlauded creation of the monster crazy 60's by artist/writer John Stanley. The art and especially the humor of these stories really holds up however. Melvin's journeys, "through the looking glass" from Monstertown to "Humanbeanville", create a bizarre and hilarious little mythology that I enjoyed today as much as I did when they first came out. The presentation in this volume is beautiful, but I wish it contained more than three issues for volume one..
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must be a monster to fit into a monstrous world... June 23 2009
By OAKSHAMAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This collection was a very pleasant surprise. I actually remember when these first issues of Melvin Monster were originally published. There was a heck of a lot of "funny monster" material back in the 60's- with a few rare exceptions most of it was pretty forgettable. But not Melvin. Looking back at these stories from a four decade perspective I think I know why they are so memorable. These aren't primarily monster stories, but are really stories of dysfunction and alienation. Don't get me wrong- these are extremely funny stories, it is just that the humor flows from deeper wellsprings...

First of all, Melvin's family is the perfect picture of dysfunction. There is "Baddy" who can barely contain his disappointment and rage at having a son like Melvin. Then there is bandaged, wounded, remote "Mummy" who goes along with "Baddy" and gives no real support. The family pet constantly dreams of killing and eating him, so there is no comfort there. Even his relationship with his cute little witch girl friend is essentially a masochistic one- Melvin is so starved for affection that he puts up with the abuse. Even his guardian demon can't remember his name.

Then there is the fact that monster society (which runs parallel to human society like a monster "ghetto") is absolutely at odds with all of Melvin's instincts. He tries to do what he feels is right and good but it is always condemned as weird and abnormal. The best example of this is the way all "real" monsters are expected to hate school and play hooky. Melvin on the other hand loves school and shows up everyday- only to be punished and scorned by the teacher.

He doesn't fare any better in human "bean" society either. While his impulses should win him admiration and respect, he is instead automatically rejected and feared simply for his appearance and the fact that he is a monster...

That's the whole thing about Melvin, he follows his instincts and tries to do good but he is everywhere and every time rejected by a sick, dysfunctional society that he never made. There were a lot of baby-boomers that could identify with that situation...

I wonder if there wasn't a lot of John Stanley in pointy-headed little Melvin. After all, he worked hard for most of his life to do his best work in an industry that neither appreciated nor adequately rewarded his efforts. In the end he became "Baddy" and could not contain his contempt and rage at the system- even rejecting his own creations.

One last thing- Stanley is often criticized for a lack of originality. Some say that his best work was in embellishing other people's creations. Well, these stories are purely original. They are so original that I didn't even recognized they were his work for many years- and even as a kid I could usually recognize most artist's work even if I didn't know their name. For instance, I could always spot his work on Little Lulu and Nancy. Come to think of it though, I probably should have made the connection between Melvin and Stanley's "Oona Goosepimple" work in Nancy. They share the same sort of weird, wonderful originality.

This also a well-designed book. The scan really does not do it justice. The silver lettering on a black background is sharp, as is the emerald green graphics by Seth. There is no jacket, it is all printed on the leatherette cover of the book. There is an especially nice large silver seal on the back cover for the John Stanley Library. Oh yes, this book also has more nice custom endpapers than I have ever seen on a single volume. The paper is thick and of good quality- there is no "yellowing"- any background coloration appears to be an exact reproduction from the original newsprint.
4.0 out of 5 stars Charles Addams meets minimalist cartooning Nov. 27 2013
By George Hagenauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Melvin Monster is fun sort of Charles Addams meets minimalist cartooning- somewhat dark humor and silly stories. It is nice to have these issues back in print but you can find complete copies in rough shape at many comic book shows for less money.

This is a good way though to introduce children to the fun of Stanley's Melvin Monster

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