Val (left) and Judy are bored. Artist: John Stanley.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Dell Comics
First Appeared: 1961
Creator: John Stanley
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Dell Comics, which for about a quarter of a century had mostly published licensed characters such as Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, underwent an efflorescence …

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… of creativity in 1961-62, in a wide variety of genres — funny animal (Millie the Lovable Monster), romance/adventure (Linda Lark, Registered Nurse), superhero (Brain Boy), near-future sci-fi (Space Man) … All debuted during that period, and all were owned by Dell. The reason is, Western Printing, the actual licensor, which sub-contracted the publishing to Dell, was about to pull out and start its own imprint, Gold Key; and unless Dell quickly built a line of its own properties, it was going to be left with nothing to publish.

Dell's entries in the teenage humor category were Around the Block with Dunc & Loo and Thirteen Going on Eighteen. The latter, which started with a cover date of November-January 1961-62, had the same general subject matter as Archie (and Harold Teen as well, to name one Dell had published in the past), but the style was completely different. Thirteen was created by cartoonist John Stanley, who had done very funny work on Little Lulu for the previous decade and a half. Stanley had also been doing Dell's licensed version of Nancy & Sluggo for a couple of years, where he introduced the memorable Oona Goosepimple. And lest anyone think he could only do humor, he helped launch Ghost Stories, Dell's foray into supernatural horror and the most successful of its 1961-62 launches, a few months after this one.

The main character was a blonde-headed young lady named Val, who was in the process of metamorphosing from kid to adolescent. Val had an older sister, Evie (useful for borrowing or stealing make-up from); a next-door neighbor, Billy (whom she was in love with, except when she hated him); and a best friend, Judy (Val's dark-haired co-star, who started out pudgy but lost weight early on). Val and Judy weren't in the full flower of teenhood, like Binky, Penny, The Jackson Twins or most other comics teens (including, of course, Archie himself), but were at that awkward stage where they were just starting to get the hang of it.

Those early '60s Dell launches were a short-lived lot. Most died before even hitting double digits. Thirteen Going on Eighteen was a huge success by comparison — 29 issues (all by Stanley), the first 26 published more-or-less quarterly until December, 1967, and the last three (reprints) stretched out from 1969-71. After that, like most Dell properties (the company hasn't published comic books since 1972), it was oblivion.


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