When DC’s Vertigo Comics line was initially created, it was a place intended to allow for for some of DC’s lower tier characters to be revitalized, and in the words of editor Karen Berger, “grow up.” In those early years you saw Alan Moore’s new take on Saga of the Swamp Thing to Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg’s revisionist version of Sandman. In the intervening years, Vertigo has transitioned to become more of an outlet for new characters and stories like Scalped and DMZ, but that history of giving new life to DC-owned heroes comes back from time to time.
And I’ve found the perfect new addition.
Stanley & His Monster debuted in 1966 as a creation of writer Arnold Drake (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doom Patrol) and artist Winslow Mortimer as a back-up for one of DC’s “funny animal” comics. The concept was simple — it was a story of a young boy and his pet; where most boys might have a dog though, Stanley had a monster. Stanley names his new friend Spot, and only comes to find out later than his beloved pet is actually a demon from hell — kicked out for being “too nice” according to Lucifer.
Stanley & His Monster at Vertigo…. how would it work? By re-examining the hellish elements as well as the humor. This is Monsters Inc. meets Poltergeist (with a dash of Dale Keown’s Pitt), and who says a book can’t be full of horror and be cute at the same time? Imagine this concept revisited and explored with the freedoms the Vertigo imprint gives, exploring Stanley’s induction into his new best friend’s former home and likewise this ex-demon trying to live in the modern human world.
And don’t forget the title’s long list of characters the duo met over the years. From Stanley’s teenage babysitter Marcia to run-ins with leprechauns, french dictators, gremlins and angels, there’s a lot of people to visit — and a lot of places to go for Stanley & His Monster.
The Writer – Brandon Graham: Before Prophet, I thought Brandon Graham’s sole calling was in creating his own stories with things like King City and Multiple Warheadz. But his work on Rob Liefeld’s Prophet opened my eyes to his ability to bring his imagination and story sense to any property and make it his own, and I’d love to see him tackle the kid-meets-demon story of Stanley & His Monster. Even if Graham has never read the original stories, maybe that’s a good thing; imagine him just taking this core concept and running wild with it.
The Interior Artist – Tradd Moore: Tradd Moore’s debut on The Strange Talent of Luther Strode was like a breath of fresh air when I first read it, and since that series ended he’s been keeping me hopped up on his style with his frequent blog posts. Moore has the ability to draw more childlike things as well as the ultra-violent, so imagine him drawing the duality of Stanley’s world … and the Monster’s.
The Cover Artist – Rafael Grampá: Not that Tradd Moore doesn’t do good covers, but I think something extra is needed to bring this over the top — and Vertigo has a long history of that with Dave McKean’s Sandman covers, Glenn Fabry’s Preacher covers and Dave Johnson’s 100 Bullets covers. I’d love to see Rafael Grampá get carte blanche to dream up the public face of a new Stanley & His Monster series and really make it stand out on shelves.