Thursday, October 29, 2009

The John Stanley Library: Melvin Monster

John Stanley
.
With Halloween fast approaching, I couldn't think of anything better to read than this classic. The first book in Drawn & Quarterly's line celebrating a cartooning legend, The John Stanley Library, features a little green monster named Melvin who lives in Monsterville with his Mummy and Baddy. To be honest, it took a few comics to grow on me, but once it did, it wasn't too hard to see why people have enjoyed these stories for decades. Melvin Monster is a charming naive little guy who wants more than anything to be a good boy, but Monsterville (and certainly his Baddy) won't have it. It's a Bizarro World of sorts, with morals flipped around so that anything he does that's not destructive or cruel or painful is considered bad behavior. And since he's grown up in such a foul environment, when he visits a city in the human world and is treated horribly, he thinks nothing of it. This really is a cute comic, with obvious echoes of Casper the Friendly Ghost and The Addams Family, and is drawn fantastically, with clear storytelling and top-notch cartooning. It is a little old-fashioned, but I think it still holds up and kids anywhere would probably love to read this sort of book. I know I certainly did. It's just a charming, endearing premise and there's plenty of opportunities with it to do some great things, which Stanley obviously realized and took advantage of. One of my favorite ongoing gags is of the monsters' pet crocodile Cleopatra who lives with them in their run-down mansion. Melvin's parents think that Cleopatra just adores Melvin, especially since she's always in a hurry to see him when she hears him, but it's really because she wants more than anything to eat him, which Melvin realizes and thwarts her attempts every time. This may not be for everyone, but if anyone's looking for a silly comic series to read for Halloween, and perhaps share with the family, this is an ideal title.

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