The comic Little Lulu is just as deceiving as its title character. On the outside, it looks wholesome, tame and rather unexciting by today’s standards, but if you sit and read it, you’ll see it’s the opposite. It’s mischievous, wild, and often very funny.
Sunday Afternoon is the title of the first collection of Little Lulu I have read, and I liked it so much I already headed back to the library to pick up another volume. Most of the stories range from 10-20 pages, punctuated by the occasional single page stories good for a quick laugh.
Little Lulu is a little girl of unspecified age (presumably around 10) who constantly lets her imagination run away with her, frequently leading her to some tight scrapes. The opening story of the collection is the most audacious. Somehow or other, Little Lulu, outside of school, is mistaken for one of her much wealthier school friends and is kidnapped by a pair of bumbling goons. In no time at all, Little Lulu has successfully outsmarted her captors without thinking too hard. In the mix-up, she gets a hold of one of the goons’ tommy guns and points it while saying “rat-a-tat-tat,” at which point, her captor says it’s a toy gun, which only prompts her to actually pull the trigger, sending the goons running, while she continues to say “rat-a-tat-tat!” In today’s PC age, it’d be hard to find a funny comic about little girls playing with guns, but in Little Lulu, only the most prurient of snobs would cry foul at her antics.
The Little Lulu series is in many ways a parody of snobs. Lulu has aspects of snobbishness herself, but she doesn’t hesitate to find ways to tease others for their snobbishness, especially her friend who’s appropriately nicknamed Tubby. He’s a typical poor-little-rich-boy, who falls to pieces everytime he’s mildly afflicted by anything. Whole stories are about Tubby losing a shoe, or eating his lunch for breakfast and getting hungry again.
The character Little Lulu was originally created by Marge Buell in 1935, but was given a new lease on life in the 1940s with the help of John Stanley and Irving Tripp. The artwork is fascinating in its simplicity. There hardly seems to be an extraneous line in the whole book. Little Lulu, along with Peanuts, are two great examples of how to do more with less. And Little Lulu does a lot.
It’s a great book for kids as well as for adults. I laughed a lot while reading this.
—–If you’re looking for a novel to read, check out my book A Rapturous Occasion, available on Amazon in paperback and as an ebook.