Friday, August 24, 2012

Final Creation from A Comics Great

In 1971 a comic book appeared from the fading publisher Gold Key. O.G. WHIZ, created, written, and illustrated by John Stanley was the swan-song for that creator. He had earned a living for a couple of decades in the comic book industry by parceling out charming and witty and very funny stories for children. Alas, his work had been for the children of earlier times and his was an old-fashioned style for a more innocent time.

Stanley's great days had been when there were lots of comic books being produced from many publishers. In those days there were all kinds of comics; this was the era when comic book did not automatically mean: superheroes. He flourished in a milieu of Casper the Friendly Ghost, Donald Duck, Porky Pig, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, The Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, Tarzan, Little Lulu...

Little Lulu was Stanley's great work. For many years he created amazing stories of the adventures of the old magazine character created by Marjorie Henderson Buell, but brought out of the pages of Saturday Evening Post to millions of children as the comic book character published by Dell Comics and then Gold Key. John Stanley became one of the most influential comic creators during the years when he was doing his various Little Lulu stories, spinning off title after title as the sales ballooned.

Alas, this kind of thing fell by the wayside as the years progressed. TV killed off the comic book industry as surely as it did the fiction pulps of the day. Little Lulu faded away. But every so often Stanley would be called upon to put his magic id to work creating something new, something possibly successful for the shrinking market of children's comics.

And the last thing that he did was the title O.G. WHIZ, the stories of a child placed in charge (as President and Chariman of the Board) to Tikkletoy Company. The first issue is all John Stanley, awash with his fantastic and very funny renderings. However, the following issues of the book were merely written by Stanley, with a few of the stories blessed with his layouts but finished by someone else. While the stories are entertaining in those latter issues, the magic of Stanley's brush was gone.

With the cancellation of O.G. WHIZ, Stanley faded from the comic book marketplace. He ended his days working for a silk screen printing firm. Apparently he was bitter toward the comic book industry in his latter days because he never received any royalties for the many stories that were created by Stanley. It is a common and sad story in the industry.

O.G. WHIZ #1, from the fading days of Gold Key Comics.

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