The John Stanley Library: Melvin Monster v.2
Written & Illustrated by John Stanley
Published by Drawn & Quarterly
John Stanley, regarded as the master of children’s comics for his work in the 50s and 60s, returns to book shelves with another hardcover collection of his Melvin Monster stories. Melvin, a young monster who lives with his Baddy and Mummy, is the most polite boy in Monsterville, and loves attending school. In short, Melvin is a terrible monster.
The success of these short stories stems from Stanley’s ability to flip traditional kids’ comics tropes. Whereas young characters are often mischievous or impish, Melvin is the straight man, surrounded by Ms. Gargoyle, a teacher trying to maintain her perfect record of having no “drop-ins”; Cleopatra, the family’s pet crocodile who continually seeks to devour Melvin; and Little Horror, a young local witch with a taste for fast brooms.
Melvin’s adventures revolve around attending school, returning to Monsterville after a misguided flying broom takes him into “normal” territory, and finding ways to escape his Mummy and Baddy’s efforts to turn him into a proper monster. Stanley, with a superb sense for natural joke pacing, keeps the stories upbeat and silly throughout, and the flat, solid artwork conveys all the information clearly.
Each of Drawn & Quarterly’s installments in the John Stanley Library have been an excellent way for younger readers to spend an afternoon, and Melvin Monster v.2 is no exception. Silly and fun, children should delight in Melvin’s misadventures and creepy family.