Monday, September 24, 2012


Marge's Little Lulu #44 [February 1952] is a rarity among the comic
books from my birth month of December 1951 in that I have actually
read this issue.  It was reprinted in Another Rainbow’s oversized
Little Lulu Library in 1987. 

Another Rainbow didn’t list credits, at least not in this volume of
the library, and the Grand Comics Database also comes up short in
that regard.  But it’s probably a pretty good bet that the stories
were written/laid out by John Stanley and finished/inked by Irving

Here’s the deal with Lulu.  She’s the nicest, smartest kid in her
social circle.  Tubby can be crafty and heroic, but he’s simply not
in Lulu’s league.  It’s obvious why girls loved Lulu, but I think
boys liked her because she was an underdog who always came out on
top...and what kid hasn’t felt like an underdog at some time during
his or her young life?


In “Mumps” (8 pages), the West Side Gang has seized the clubhouse
of Tubby and the boys.  The boys try various schemes to get rid of
their rivals, but none work.  Lulu offers to evict the West Siders
if Tubby and the guys will let her join their club.  She does this
by faking mumps and scaring the young hoods away.  Naturally, Tubby
goes back on his word...but Lulu turns the tables on him.  She does
have the mumps and now so do the boys.

In “The Apple Watcher” (6 pages), Tubby and his gang figure to take
advantage of the hour Lulu will be watching Joe’s fruit stand and
steal apples and such.  A concerned Lulu outfoxes them by leaving
her dad’s fully-packed-with-tobacco pipe in the Fellers’ clubhouse.
The boys can’t resist trying it and are soon too sick to carry out
their planned raid.

“The Merry-Go-Roundup” (10 pages) is one of those delightful stories
within a story in which Lulu entertains Alvin by telling him some
outlandish tale.  In this case, it’s about a merry-go-round horse
that comes to life and merry-go-round horse rustlers.  I love how
Lulu’s story unfolds.  She’s making it up as she goes along, which
is what kids do, and Stanley conveys that brilliantly.

“Lulu’s Diry” is a two-page text page with illustrations featuring
entries from our heroine’s diary.  I almost never read text pages
in old comics, but I always read these clever efforts.

Tubby shines in “Riding the Pookle” (6 pages) in which he outfoxes
the West Side Gang before they can launch an attack on his group of
kids. Lulu would have been proud of him.

More vintage comic-book covers to come.


Regular readers of my bloggy thing know I enjoy detective fiction
set in or around my native Cleveland.  The Milan Jacovich mysteries
by Les Roberts are among my favorites.  They are relatively short
get-to-the-point novels in which characters age and sometimes leave
the series...and in which the Cleveland references are both accurate
and delicious.

Whiskey Island [Gray & Company; $24.95] has the middle age Jacovich
feeling his years and working with an assistant.  “K.O.” O’Bannion
is a young Iraqi war veteran with a juvenile record who is training
to become a private investigator.  He’s socially awkward, something
of a wise ache, managing anger issues, and good with his fists if
the occasion arises.  Which, this being a private eye novel, said
occasion is certain to arise.

A crooked Cleveland councilman is about to go down hard on various
federal charges, the end result of a long career brokering favors
and profiting from the payback thereof.  Unless someone kills him
first.  The councilman hires Jacovich to protect him...which means
finding out who on a long list of suspects is behind the attempts
on the councilman’s life.

Adding to the mix is Detective Sergeant Toby Blaine, fresh from an
impressive career as a Cincinnati cop.  I won’t reveal exactly how
she stirs the mix, but I will say she’s a terrific new character and I
hope she stays around for many more books in the series. 

Whiskey Island gets its starting point from real-life corruption in
Cleveland.  Roberts has his own opinions about several of the real-
life participants, convicted or not, and that comes through when he
writes their fictional counterparts.  A knowledge of these cases is
not necessary for non-Cleveland readers, but it adds a neat layer
for those of us who follow the local happenings.

Roberts’ strengths are his characterization, his accurate settings
and the little touches inherent in those strengths.  When Jacovich
worries about getting another concussion or frets about changes in
his diet, it rings very true.  He has been hit on the head quite a
bit in past novels and he does love good Cleveland food. 

This new Jacovich mystery was a great way to unwind after my last
garage sale of the year.  I recommend it highly.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. A new Mllan? I'll have to put it on my Kindle.

    Oh, and you should try to find the Gil Disbro novels by James E. Martin. This was another hard-boiled Cleveland PI series that started up about the same time as the Milan Jacovich series, but didn't last as long.

    1. I actually prefer Martin to Roberts, though both are quite good. I read a couple of the Saxon novels, but without my beloved Cleveland as a character I didn't really enjoy them. Martin's stories were so good that I would have happily read his stuff set anywhere. It is a shame Martin wrote so few, but amazing that he was so good even though he didn't really start writing until he was retired and in his 50s.

  2. Even after I began reading super-hero titles in the late '50s I was still picking up occasional issues of Lulu. I have about a dozen (readable condition) copies still in my collection and will sometimes pull one out for the fun of it.

    There is something great about reading a novel (or non-fiction book) that takes place in an area with which you are familiar. It was pretty easy back in my Brooklyn days with so many books taking place in Manhattan and the boroughs. Peter Straub set several of his horror/supernatural novels in Fairfield county where I lived and worked for several years. Now that I live in Orange County I'm finding the novels by James P. Blaylock (one of the pioneers of Steam Punk) a lot of fun. Many of them (fantasy & suspense) take place in the vicinity of the city of Orange (where I work) and other places in northern Orange County.