Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stanley, I Presume

Saturday Leftover Day. Just a small contribution today, but if it is what I think it is, it's pretty rare. John Stanley is a revered comic book creator. He wrote (and for the first few years) drew the Nancy comic books, as well as lot of other comical fare. From his biography (by the greatly missed Bill Schelly) I know that he also dabbled in cartooning, at least at the start of his career. I had only seen some of the work he sold (or tried to sell) to The New Yorker. But before that, apparently, he tried out his chops in less respectable magazines. I found three cartoons signed Stanley in two issues of Gags Magazine a (then still broadsheet sized) cartoon magazine that was famous for buying up unsolf cartoons cheaply. I got most of the later ones for the three to ten Mort Walker cartoons you can find in then from 1948 onward), the earlier ones I bought just to see who was in them. If I was lucky thet had cartoons by Hank Ketcham or even Jack Cole. Other regulars were Reamer Keller, Paul Murray and Henry Boltinoff. Anyway, I am not enough of a John Stanley connaisseur to recognize the style or even the signature (most of his work in the forties and fifties wa unsigned and the (later) ones I have seen are too generic to compare). I am just putting this out there to see if anyone can help me with that. The gaps in the cartoons are because Gags in it's broadsheet format often put cartoons over each other, shifting hem every which way. I accidentally left out the caption of the first cartoon, but I add it later.


Unknown said...

Yes, that's him! Great find!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Several people positively identified it, including Mark Newgarden. So I am happy to have (yet again) added some material to the bio of a respected comics creator.

Frank M. Young said...

I cannot make up my mind about these. I don't see any of John Stanley's familiar drawing techniques here. He would have signed the cartoons "J. Stanley" or "John Stanley" since his last name is so common.
The linework is so blunt that it's hard to see his cartooning style in these. His distinctive manner of drawing hands is one tool I use in determining his work, and the hands are such perfunctory, calligraphic things in these three--this could have been any professional or aspiring gag cartoonist's work from the period.
Stanley was sufficiently busy with his workload for Western Publications at the time that he wouldn't have had to do these. But I'm not ruling them out; it's impossible to tell because of the generic rendering. He was better inking with a brush than this artist. Compare them to the "Peterkin Pottle" comic book stories which have a somewhat similar approach. Stanley's basic drawing is more competent than this cartoonist--either that, or Stanley's inexperience with a brush curtailed him from better rendering.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Thanks Frank, from all the experts I would follow your opinion first. I had the same misgivings and was hoping the early date of them would explain the unevenness of them. I shall try and see if I can find any others.