I'll make a deal with you, Drawn & Quarterly. No matter how old and jaded I get with comics, even if I turn into a long-nailed cackling Hughes-ish weirdo buying nothing but 2000 AD, if you promise to publish a John Stanley sampler every year for Free Comic Book Day, then once a year, I will go to a comic store and pick it up. This year on FCBD, a road trip took precedence over all other things - especially since 2000 AD's publishers still won't participate in the darn event - but as soon as I heard there was a John Stanley book to be had, I found myself a comic shop in Birmingham just to get the goods.
John Stanley basically spent about a dozen years writing and occasionally drawing the most consistently entertaining kids' comics on the market, lunatic little tales of neighborhood adventures, bad dreams, oddball physics and children communicating with awesome sound effects. Last year, the publisher Drawn & Quarterly began an ambitious series of reprints, "The John Stanley Library," all designed by Seth and all featuring some thunderously fun funnybooks. They still resonate with children today; my kids are firm fans of Stanley's Melvin Monster and Thirteen "Going on Eighteen".
YOW! is a perfect little sampler of these great comics. It includes short stories featuring Melvin, Tubby, Judy Jr., Nancy and Choo-Choo Charlie. I'd never heard of this last character before, but he's a trip, a locomotive-obsessed oddball who gets on the bad side of a crocodile in the story here. I can't imagine anybody not liking this stuff. Admittedly, the Tubby story is awfully dated - you know as soon as the story gets that surreal, it's going to eventually end with Tubby falling out of bed - but the playful malevolence on display as the whole planet starts chasing Tubby down to shave his mustache really is funny as heck.
Unfortunately, YOW! was only available for one day as a freebie and will probably not be reprinted. It's possible that some shops still have some copies left over. If you've got kids in your house or if you personally were ever a kid yourself, ring every comic shop within driving distance and see if they've got one that they'll hold for you. Then ask to see their stock of John Stanley Library editions; if the shop's worth a hoot, they've got several just waiting to go home with you. Highly recommended.