Little Lulu: The Fuzzythingus Poopi from Drawn+Quarterly is a beautiful reprint collecting some of the best issues of the classic kids’s comic. While originally a single-panel cartoon created by comics icon Marjorie Henderson Buell, better known as “Marge,” Lulu evolved into one of the best-known Dell/Golden Key comic book titles under the guiding hand of John Stanley. Lulu of course is all about her own precociousness, but as the stories become longer and the characters more involved, Stanley’s Lulu became a heroine capable of overcoming anything.
Each story works in and of itself with simple, yet meaningful, character introductions. Whether star Lulu, pesky little neighbor Alvin, self-confident Tubby, pretty girl Gloria, Butch the bully, or any of the lesser known characters, the reader automatically knows who they are and what to expect of their hijinks. The dialogue presents a whole range of meaning using only a few words. In a dispute with Tubby about the attention he is giving Gloria, Lulu argues that “This’s a free country!” That hardly goes far when Tubby and Gloria walk away with Tubby sneering about “nosy people” and Gloria replying, “You’d think she’d be ashamed.” Throughout the collection, readers will see the descriptor “fresh” many times in such a variety of people that they may soon be using it themselves.
As the comics come together into the larger picture, readers get a sense of the depth of Lulu’s neighborhood. One recurring theme is gender segregation as the boys’ clubhouse clearly posts “No Girls Allowed” and the members routinely target the girls for snowball fights and beauty contests. Of course, with Lulu’s leadership, the girls quickly gain the upper hand by outsmarting the boys, such as rigging the votes in the beauty pageant by holding their own pageant for “prettiest boy” and threatening to pin that unwanted title on the male judges.
Stanley’s inclusion of fanciful worlds is another aspect of Little Lulu that the comic books could do beyond the limitations of the strip. In one issue, Lulu befriends a homeless ghost who is in need of a house to haunt since his own was torn down. After some displays of his flexibility, Lulu charitably invites him to haunt her dollhouse until they can find a more suitable location, like a darkened movie house. On several occasions, Lulu creates the story herself with a story-within-a-story rendition of some moral tale for Alvin. This opens the door to fairytales with a dragon guarding lonely princess that eats those only after her treasure as well as a discussion on freedom and taxes on enjoying the best things in life like sunny days and warm grass.
Little Lulu is an excellent read at any age. The stories are as wholesome as they are packed with action, making it a difficult book to put down. While other collections simply have the line-work in black and white, Drawn+Quarterly goes the extra mile in producing a sturdy edition that combines the hardiness of a treasure with faithfulness to the original colors that shine in their simplicity.