OONA GOOSEPIMPLEMedium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1959
Creator: John Stanley
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Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy is a perennially popular comic strip, and even one which, surprising to many, enjoys a certain degree of critical acclaim. Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus, for example, lauds Bushmiller and his comic for ability
to communicate clearly, even iconically, with an audience, praise which even spills over, to a certain degree, to the cartoonist's successors in the Nancy business, who naturally try to look like him. But even Spiegelman doesn't claim that the elements of Nancy are particularly memorable. People recall Nancy and Sluggo themselves, of course, and many know the name of her guardian, Aunt Fritzi Ritz. But supporting characters such as Rollo, Phil and Butch tend to fall down the memory hole and be lost.
An exception is Oona Goosepimple, the little girl who lived in a haunted house. She wasn't Bushmiller's character, true, but she was, to many readers, more memorable than Nancy herself. People who recall her clearly from the Dell comic books where she appeared will often fail to remember exactly which comic she was a supporting character in, but can recite every detail of Oona's own surroundings.
Among those who can't quite place which title she was in, the most common guess is Little Lulu. That's because even children can spot an artist's style, whether or not they have a name to attach to it; and Oona was created by John Stanley, who wrote and drew Lulu through most of her tenure as a Dell comic. Stanley was also responsible for a lot of other Dell comics, both licensed (e.g., Clyde Crashcup) and original (Melvin Monster). He did a fairly lengthy run on Dell's adaptation of Bushmiller's work, where, in Nancy #166 (April, 1959) he introduced Oona.
Oona's house was like the one drawn by Charles Addams for The New Yorker, later adapted into the TV show The Addams Family. It was full of weird relatives — magician uncles who were only eight inches tall, aunts who would turn up wherever you looked, etc. Stanley's comic book work also included a fair number of horror stories, and Oona's family, while played for laughs, came largely from that facet of his talent.
Probably the most prominent of the house's features, from the reader's point of view, was the fireplace. Nancy would be sitting alone in front of it, and suddenly find herself in an adventure with the little people who lived behind it, called Yoyos. Oona would rescue her from ludicrous danger at their hands, but the whole story would turn out to be a dream she'd had, falling asleep in front of the fireplace. Or — was it?
Oona appeared in about a dozen issues of Nancy — 11, according to Robert M. Overstreet's Comic Book Price Guide, the most detailed and comprehensive bibliography of American comic books in print, but readers report spotting her in ones not mentioned by Overstreet. She was also in one or two of Nancy's extra-thick specials. Gold Key reprinted a few of Oona's stories when they were publishing the Nancy comic book, but that ended in 1963.
It's been decades now, since a story about Oona Goosepimple actually appeared in a comic book. But she lives on in the memories of many, many readers.