Positive Comics Week: Stanley and his Monster
Happy Positive Comics Week! Today, I thought I'd share some scans from the brilliant Stanley and his Monster four-issue-miniseries from 1994, written and drawn by our old friend Phil Foglio.
Stanley and his Monster was originally a comic from the mid-1960s, not totally unlike a very early Calvin and Hobbes (though whether Bill Watterson ever read the comic or if the similarities are just a coincidence, I have no idea), in which an over-imaginative young boy -- the titular Stanley -- meets and befriends a big, shaggy (and pink!) monster. He keeps the monster as a "secret pet," and they get into all sorts of weird and wacky misadventures.
Foglio's revamp sets the story in the DC/Vertigo universe, and the monster is now revealed to be a demon who was kicked out of Hell for being too nice. Hey, it could happen.
The miniseries happens shortly after the Sandman storyline Season of Mists, as is evident by the prologue:
Meanwhile, on Earth, Stanley is preparing for a night out in his new treehouse together with a monster pal, and demonstrating his knowledge of the superheroes of the DC universe as he sneaks out the things he needs.
However, this idyll doesn't last past the first issue, because in the second issue, the monster's old lover, Nyx, shows up in order to take him back to Hell.
Lots of weirdness happens, causing Stanley's parents to go completely against every established stereotype in this sort of story, and actually discover what's going on in the third issue.
(No, the blonde guy is not John Constantine, just a two-bit lookalike by the name of Ambrose Bierce. He's mistaken for Constantine several times in the story, something which annoys him greatly.)
Unfortunately, while Nyx ultimately fails bringing her former lover back to Hell, the angels Remiel and Duma decide to take matters into their own hands and take him back themselves...
...so who shows up to lend a hand in the fourth and final issue?!
Yep, it's the Phantom Stranger! Who, after a bit of a false start (since Stanley refuses to talk to him) sends the boy out on a rescue mission after his friend. While this does mean that Stanley has to enter Hell to get the monster back, it turns out that, since in the DC/Vertigo universe "Hell is exactly what you think it is," he has a somewhat unusual effect on the place.
While trekking through a cartoonish slapstick version of Hell, Stanley and the monster come across and rescue Nyx, who has been confined to soplitary confinement as punishment for failing in her mission (and angering the angels). Her reaction is... slightly unexpected.
The answer is, of course, "a friend."
But after a few more misadventures and an almost-successful-escape, Remiel and Duma finally intervene once more:
And so, Stanley and his monster get to stay together, Remiel and Duma have renewed hope, Nyx might possibly become good sometime in the future, Ambrose Bierce wasn't mistaken for John Constantine even once in that last issue, and the Phantom Stranger got another cameo. How's that for a positive ending?