Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.misc
From: (Andrew Solovay)
Subject: Annotated Stanley & His Monster #1 (Revised)
Message-ID: <>
Summary: Because no-one asked for it!
Organization: People's Front of Judea
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1992 19:05:18 GMT
Lines: 254

         The Annotated Stanley And His Monster (revised)
                          by Andrew Solovay
                  Issue 1:  How to Build a Tree Fort
      Phil Foglio, Chuck Fiala, John Costanza, Robbie Busch, and
                           Paul Kupperberg

Disclaimer: _Stanley_&_His_Monster_ and all related characters are copyrights and trademarks of DC Comics, Inc. By now, they may no I've done this, and my days are numbered.

Notice: Commentaries and additional information should go to rec.arts.comics.misc or (Internet). This material is posted by the author directly to rec.arts.comics.misc. He really doubts that anyone would want to steal it, but they're welcome to.

Title: "How to Build a Tree Fort" refers to the main activity of this issue, in which Stanley and the Monster build a tree fort.

Cover: This should satisfy all the fanboys who've been clamoring for a "grittier, meaner, more realistic" Stanley & His Monster.

Background: Phil Foglio
Phil Foglio has made a hobby of taking over some of DC's silliest characters, and rewriting them so they're, um, silly characters with different histories. In particular, he changes their histories so they fit better with the DC universe. This is such an effort. He has already done such a job on "Angel & the Ape" (the Ape is revealed to be Gorilla Grodd's grandson, with a psychic power that keeps people from noticing that he's a gorilla). He plans to do a similar job on the Inferior Five.

Background: Stanley And His Monster
"Stanley and his Monster" was a 50s/60s DC funnybook. Originally, the Monster was simply a lonely, frightened monster who took up with Stanley. Foglio retconned this in Secret Origins #48; now the Monster is a demon who was tainted by goodness in some unexplained way. Lucifer exiled the Demon to Earth, expressing the belief that constant fear, hatred, and persecution from humans would awaken the Monster to his evil nature. FWIW, the Monster is not a fallen angel; he has mentioned that his mother was a hell-hound, so he must have been born after the Fall.

Page 1: In the _Sandman_ story "Season of Mists," Lucifer abdicated his position as Ruler of Hell, and God placed Hell under the command of two of His Angels: Remiel, "set over those who rise [from the dead]," and Duma, "angel of silence". We now see them reorganizing Hell.
        Panel 1: "Now guaranteed to be even worse": See Sandman, issue #28, p. 23, p.2. At the beginning of "Season of Mists", it is mentioned that everyone in Hell is sure that Hell is as bad as it could be; at the end, a damned soul complains that Remiel's compassion has made things worse.
        Panel 2: "Back in Hell": When Lucifer abdicated, he exiled all the demons. Most of them returned to Hell at the end of "Season of Mists".
        Panel 3: "A nameless one": Stanley's Monster, who is always referred to as "the monster" or "Spot". As noted, this retcon goes back to Secret Origins #48.
        Panel 6: "Two of them": There are actually many other demons loose on Earth and elsewhere besides Etrigan and the Monster. For example: The succubus Ellie in Hellblazer is loose on Earth; the demon-lord Azazel is (presumably) still imprisoned in the Dreaming. But then, Azazel isn't "running around loose".
        Panel 7: Demons don't like angels.
        Panel 8: You 'n' me both, buddy.

Page 2, panel 1: Los Angeles really sucks.
        Stanley is wearing a "Fox and Crow" sweatshirt. "Stanley and His Monster" first appeared in the comic book "Fox and Crow"; see the historical pages at the back.
        The attic is filled with items of '70s memorabilia. The Monster is dressed in a replica of John Travolta's disco outfit from "Saturday Night Fever", a popular movie of the '70s. "May the Force be With You" is a slogan from the movie _Star_Wars_ (aka "Star Wars part IV: A New Hope"), released in 1977. "National Lampoon" used to be funny (PJ O'Rourke wrote for it in the '70s); now it isn't. A lava lamp is sitting on one of the boxes; lava lamps are supposed to be really interesting when you're stoned.  The coke-can-thing next to the lava-lamp is another lamp; the filaments would go on and off in pretty, sparkly ways. Again, real neat if you're stoned. Apparently Stanley has already plugged the lamp in, and the Monster has not yet eaten it. There is a beanbag-chair behind the monster. The two toys in the lower-right-hand corner are promotional toys for Kool-Aid imitator "Funny Face"; their names are "Goofy Grape" and "Choo-Choo Cherry".
        The Monster has presumably already finished off the Pop-Rocks. He probably washed them down with soda. He can do that, he's a demon.
        "...more stuff from the bicentennial": The bicentennial of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence was on July 4, 1976. Souvenirs are still available.
        Panel 2: "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" was an inexplicably popular 70s book by Richard Bach. It was an allegory about a seagull.
        Panel 3: As we'll see, "The Heterodyne Boys" are a spoof of Franklin W. Dixon's "Hardy Boys", an obnoxiously clean-cut pair of teenage detectives. Foglio has used them before; he wrote a Munden's Bar back-up story for Grimjack #40, called "Work Ethic", starring the Heterodyne Boys.
        Panel 4: The monster is eating a Rubik's Cube, an evil puzzle from Hungary (and probably a Communist plot). "Beta Tapes": Sony manufactured a video-cassette recorder called the Betamax; it used tapes in a format known as "Beta". This format became obsolete, as all competing VCRs used the now-ubiquitous VHS format.
        Panel 5: Want to build a neato airship like the one on the cover? Check p. 147.

Page 3: Panel 1: Never trust a boy who's smiling like this.
        Panel 3: "Gotham City a Swamp": Presumably refers to the incident in Swamp Thing #53: Swampy turned Gotham into a swamp to force it to release his lover, Abby Cable (who had been charged with "Crimes Against Nature").
        Panel 4: "Mu Milk": Mu Press is an independent comic book publisher. Foglio has done some work for them.

Page 4: Panel 1-2: 8-track tapes gave you all the convenience and portability of reel-to-reel tapes, at only a slightly higher
        Panel 4: " Charles Ott": Charles Ott was a member of the Moebius Theatre (along with Phil Foglio and others).
        Very few families actually keep fish in blenders.
        Panel 6: "Mystery of the Cast-Iron Glacier": This is a joke title. Glaciers are actually made of ice.
        Panel 7: "...real people, like Doc Savage, or the Shadow": No, Doc Savage and the Shadow aren't real. But they've both had DC comics, so they're part of the DC universe. That means they're real to Stanley and his folks. This line is sort of like saying "...real people, like Superman."
        The man in the torn shirt is Doc Savage. The man in the black hat (with a gun) is the Shadow. The other two people standing are presumably the Heterodyne Boys.

Page 5: Panel 5: If this were a different Foglio book, we'd see Stanley's parents rip each others's clothes off and have improbable kinds of sex. No such luck.
        Panels 6-7: The TV is showing "Star Trek: The Next Generation". They don't surrender as much anymore.
        "Sacre Mackerel" is French for "Holy Maquereau". "Holy Mackerel is a derogatory oath referring to the Virgin Mary; I think the meaning is something like "God's Whore". And this in a CCA-aproved book!
        The Krell were a powerful alien race from the movie "Forbidden Planet", which was an inspiration for the original "Star Trek" series.
        Panel 7: Note that the page opposite "How to Build a Tree Fort" says "How to Find Gold". This will change.
        The poster to the left of the lamp is of Buck Godot, another Foglio character.
        "My mistake, Captain. It's just an asteroid." Presumably these words are being spoken by the science officer, Commander Data. Note that he uses the contraction "it's". On the show, Data never uses contractions. Maybe this is a very subtle joke.
        And maybe it isn't.

Page 6-7: Batman and the Joker are inked by Jim Aparo, a well-known Batman artist.

Page 7: Panel 7: Note that the facing page now says "How to Magnetize Aluminum".

Page 8: Note the rare appearance by Floyd the Superturtle. He'll be appearing this summer in the 12-part story "The Death of Superturtle" ("How can anything so big move so fast?")

Page 9: Panel 1: "Osh Kosh Mishagosh": Oshkosh is a manufacturer of overalls and similar clothes. Their slogan is "Oshkosh B'gosh!" "Mishagosh" is Yiddish for "craziness" or "silliness".
        Panel 3: Renfrew was Jerry Lewis's nephew in the 60's "Jerry Lewis" DC comic book. "Camp Wack-A-Boy" was a location in that book.
        Panel 5: Bazooka Joe is visible in the foreground.

Page 10: The heroes on this page are inked by Dennis Janke, known for his work on Superman.
        Panel 2: Clearly this takes place before Superman died, or after he undied.
        Panel 5: The entering heroes are (from left to right) The Blue Beetle, L-Ron the robot, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, The Martian Manhunter, Dr. Fate, and Power Girl. All of these are current or past members of the Justice League, except for Plastic Man; Stanley is presumably confusing him with Elongated Man, a member of Justice League Europe. (Phil Foglio has done a "Plastic Man" limited series.) The cat is Power Girl's pet; it is unnamed.
        Dr. Fate is a mystical superheroine, which is why she can see the dreaming Stanley at the bottom of the page.

Page 11: Panel 1: "Ninja Frog Guys": A spoof of Eastman & Laird's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", which got very commercial a couple of years ago.

Page 12, Panel 7: "...bad influence on me": Lucifer's plan may be working. Someone send word to Australia!

Page 14: What is the lightning bolt on Stanley's t-shirt? Most think it is a "Flash" insignia without the white circle. Others think it is a "Zot" t-shirt, or "Captain Marvel", golden-age "Flash", or a miscolored "Mage! The Hero Discarded" (which would actually be a white bolt on a black shirt).  Believe it or not, this is a topic of hot debate.

Page 15: Panel 1: "The Invasion of the Space Dinosaurs vs. the Armageddon War of the Gods Crisis Crossover (TM)": A 17-part maxi-series, starting this summer in "'Mazing Man: A New Beginning" #1.
        Panels 2-3: The text balloons indicate that this is Dream, master of the Dreaming, the central character of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman".  However, Dream is dressed like the Golden Age Sandman. Apparently, Foglio asked for permission to use Dream in the book. DC nixed it without checking with Neil Gaiman (who would apparently have approved it, as he likes Foglio). So Foglio just used the Golden Age Sandman instead. Costume notwithstanding, the text balloons, speech style, and attitude all indicate that this is Dream.

Page 17: Superman, Dr. Light, The Blimp, Adam Strange, and Captain Marvel are all DC heroes or villains. Captain Alarm Clock is not. The Blimp is a member of the Inferior Five, who will be starring in a forthcoming Foglio limited series.

Page 18: Panel 5: This is not what really goes on in the "Ever-Burning Pit of Fire", but the Monster doesn't want to scare Stanley too much.
        Panel 7: Hell is arguably worse than Los Angeles.

Page 19: Panel 5: The storm is probably Nyx making her entrance. Demons often affect the weather.

Page 20: Panel 1: If this were a different Foglio book, we'd see Stanley's mom and the Monster rip each other's clothes off and have improbable kinds of sex. No such luck.
        Panel 3: Understandably, Stanley doesn't tell his mom the whole truth (that he found the "pillows" in a sewer). But his response ("Um... they followed me home?") is accurate enough.

Page 21: Panel 7: The rhymers are an elite group of demons. The most well-known is Etrigan, but this isn't he. Apparently Foglio wanted to use Etrigan here, but Etrigan has gotten pretty mean in recent years (he'd probably have roasted the entire family). So he invented the demon Nyx, adding the love-angle.

Page 22: Nyx appeared (considerably less covered) in the Amazing Heroes Swimsuit Issue.

Thanks to Greg Morrow, whose Sandman annotations inspired this effort.
Other people with far too much free time include:
Lance "Squiddie" Smith" <>
Abhijit Khale <khale@camilla.Eng.Sun.COM>
Alexx S Kay <>
Gavin Steyn <>
Ramez Naam <>
Bill Roper <>
Michael S. Schiffer <>
Tom White <>
Col. G. L. Sicherman <gls@windmill.ATT.COM>
Tom Galloway <>
Cthulhu's Jersey Epopt <>
David Goldfarb <>
Garrie Burr <X82217GB@WUVMD>