The Strangest Pictures I Have Seen #2

Posted by on May 25th, 2010 at 12:31 PM

That’s right, I’m posting more comics from the Garrity/Farago Memorial Library.  Ready?

Little Lulu
by Marge

Lately I’ve been reading a ton of John Stanley.  Between the Dark Horse Little Lulu reprints and the whole John Stanley Library project, there’s plenty out there.  I’ve been into Stanley’s Little Lulu for a long time, but I’d never seen many of the original Lulu cartoons drawn by Marge Henderson Buell for The Saturday Evening Post.  I even dismissed them, thinking of Marge’s Lulu as the primitive, forgotten forebear of the much more famous Stanley version.  I questioned the wisdom of Friends of Lulu naming its organization after a character who, although female, spunky, and created by a woman, was popularized by the blood, sweat and work-for-hire tears of a male artist.

Then a friend sent me this slim 1936 collection.  Crap, Marge’s Lulu is good stuff!

This Lulu is slim, silent and out for trouble.  Most of the Marge cartoons depict her as a stone-faced hellion, methodically breaking things, endangering her peers, and opting out of the social niceties.  Stanley’s rounder, friendlier Lulu was a significant departure from the disaffected-teenager-in-the-making who wreaks havoc in Marge’s moody ink-washed drawings.

I admit to being a sucker for 1930s-1940s magazine cartooning, whether it’s the inhuman crispness of Gluyas Williams or the funky scribblings of William Steig–or Marge’s style, which is somewhere in between.  I can see why Seth and those guys want to draw like this, but honestly, you can’t fake it with a modern line.  It’s about more than men in walrus mustaches and matronly women with triangular noses; you’ve got to capture that understated wit that says, “It’s the Depression, people–we can’t waste a single ounce of comedy.  Also, we will be very grey.”

Anyway, look! Primeval Tubby!

Okay, a few more cartoons before I go.  Little Lulu smokes and goes to a strip club.  If that doesn’t put a smile on your face, I give up.

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