John Stanley (March 22, 1914 – November 11, 1993) was an American cartoonist and comic book writer, best known for writing the Little Lulu comic book stories from 1945 to 1959. While mostly known for scripting, Stanley also drew many of his stories, including the earliest issues of Little Lulu and its Tubby spinoff series. His specialty was humorous stories, both with licensed characters and those of his own creation. His writing style described as employing ‘colorful, S. J.
Perelman-ish language and a decidedly bizarre, macabre wit reminiscent of writer Roald Dahl’, with storylines that ‘were cohesive and tightly constructed, with nary a loose thread in the plot’. Stanley has been compared to Carl Barks, and cartoonist Fred Hembeck has called him ‘the most consistently funny cartoonist to work in the comic book medium’.

For this presentation, I have chosen a couple of ‘Oswald Rabbit’ episodes from New Funnies. Together with other comic book fans we observed that Oswald and his friend Toby were often caught sleeping in the same bed, and Toby was always dressed in pink, which implied a certain homosexual attitude. No male person in the forties would wear a rosy dress. Furthermore, they adopt two kids to form what must be the first rainbow family. This happened without any overseeing institution complained, so they may have passed under the radar in a period, where even married people in films were sleeping in separate beds with a small table placed in between.

The Little Lulu story is taking the Barks idea from the emperor of America in ‘The golden Helmet’ into Lulu’s own universe with introducing a tax on the air you breathe. This fairytale also becomes a sinister science fiction story, and Stanley often had some gloomy perspectives to his ideas, which of course contradicts the simple way of the illustrations in these stories.