Melvin falls heels over head. Artist: John Stanley.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1965
Creator: John Stanley
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In the mid-1960s, there was a monster fad going on in all American media, with fresh takes on the concept (such as The Munsters and The Addams Family, both of which were prominent on contemporary …

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… TV) succeeding in droves. In comic books, Gold Key was running kid-friendly ones, such as The Little Monsters and Mr. & Mrs. J. Evil Scientist; while Dell was doing superhero versions of the Big Three, Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf. Dell also did a take on the concept that slipped under the radar of many comics readers, but did catch the attention of those who appreciate Dell's classics — Melvin Monster.

Melvin Monster #1, where the little green pointy-headed kid debuted, was dated April-June, 1965. Also debuting in that issue were his dad and mom, or as he called them, Baddy and Mummy — the former strong, stupid, bad-tempered and quasi-human; and the latter wrapped in bandages like a movie-monster mummy. There was also a family pet, Cleopatria, an alligator who would sometimes try to eat Melvin.

Like Li'l Bad Wolf, Melvin seems to have been born into the wrong family. He'd rather kiss Mummy than bite her, sometimes watches TV shows that aren't all about violent crime, and — worst of all — actually wants to go to school. The latter shocked not just Mummy and Baddy, but also the teacher, Miss McGargoyle, who expected to sit alone in the classroom as always. It was also in the first issue that Melvin first traveled from Monsterville to the land of humans (later called Humanbeansville), a locale where, in some ways, he was more at home despite his monstrous appearance.

Melvin Monster would have been no more notable than Naza, Stone-Age Warrior; Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter; Lobo; or any of the other short-lived characters Dell launched during the '60s, if not for the talent of his creator, cartoonist John Stanley, whom some compare to Sheldon Mayer or Walt Kelly, for writing and drawing excellent comic books that can be enjoyed by all age groups. Stanley also did a run of the licensed version of Nancy & Sluggo, in which he introduced the extremely memorable Oona Goosepimple; and the original teen-oriented titles Around the Block with Dunc & Loo; and even off-genre material like Thirteen Going on Eighteen and Linda Lark, Registered Nurse. He's most famous for taking Little Lulu, one of many near-identical little girl characters, and turning her into a classic.

Melvin ran longer than most of those '60s Dell titles, but that still wasn't very long. Nine issues were published on approximately a semi-annual basis. One more came out in 1969, but it was a reprint of the first. After that, Melvin Monster became a fond memory and an increasinly expensive collector's item.

But recently, he's been something more. In 2004, with the cooperation with surviving Stanley family members, cartoonist Pete von Sholly (whose Monster World deals with one of Melvin's themes, humans appearing scary in a monster society) has been creating new Melvin Monster stories. This time, there's a ready audience among John Stanley's appreciators, who have been waiting decades for more.


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Text ©2005-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Dell Publishing Co.