Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thirteen "Going on Eighteen"

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Thirteen "Going on Eighteen" (Drawn & Quarterly, 2010)

Thirteen "Going on Eighteen" was a teen girls' comedy series written, and mostly illustrated, by John Stanley. It was originally published in quarterly issues by Dell between 1962-1967 and the first nine have been repackaged, with truly satisfying design work by Stanley-phile and Bookshelf fave Seth, by Drawn & Quarterly in a really nice, heavy chunk of a hardcover.

Honestly, the ongoing budget crisis - well, I suppose it isn't really a crisis, I just don't have as much disposable income as I once did - meant that I intended to leave this one on the shelves for now, but I showed a copy to my daughter to see whether she'd like it. Just as her brother fell for Stanley's Melvin Monster, my daughter, at age eleven the perfect audience for this comic, insisted that I take it home. If I didn't, she probably would have thrown back her head and hollered "BAW!" at me.

I remain a little frustrated with D&Q's choices about how they're managing their reprints. Melvin Monster's nine terrific issues are being spread across three hardcovers, and here's a nice big book with the first nine issues of Thirteen. On the one hand, I wish D&Q had simply packaged all of Melvin Monster in a book this size, but on the other, I can see that in the case of Thirteen, they would have been shooting themselves in the foot by only reprinting the first three, which really aren't very good. These stories were drawn by Dell regular Tony Tallarico, and they're just plain dull. Stanley's scripts weren't very engaging, either. He took over art duties with the third issue, but it's not until the fourth that I started laughing. I didn't stop until the end, either.

Val and Judy's world of chocolate shoppes and moptops is pretty far removed from ours, but teenage girls still act like drama queens as often as possible, and their shenanigans, usually involving Val's insensitive older sister or her next-door neighbor, are usually quite funny. The very best comics, however, are the little shorts about Judy Jr., suggesting that Stanley was still more supremely confident depicting the world of little kids than teens. Judy Jr. is just hilarious, a clueless bully who strongarms her hapless friend into whatever she wants, punishing him on one occasion by throwing him out of his own house so that she can continue playing with his toys.

Since the first third of the book is really uneven, I can't give this the loudest of recommendations, but if you've got tweenage girls in your household, you'd be well advised to pick up a copy. Should the publisher bring out a second volume, however, that will be essential. When y'all bringing out Kookie, guys?

No comments: