Conrad Black as Tubby Tompkins

Tubby: a boy with a rich imagination.

Over at the Inkstuds radio program I spent a very enriching hour talking with Gail Singer and Frank Young about the work of John Stanley, the journeyman cartoonist who wrote the great Little Lulu comic book series of the 1940s and 1950s.

One of the impressive things about Stanley’s work is that his characters do seem real, as witness the way Frank and Gail could easily talk at length about the personalities of Lulu and her friends.

At one point Gail asked what Lulu would be like if she grew up and suggested that she might have become Barbara Amiel, the conservative journalist who married Conrad Black, Lord of Crossharbour and convicted felon.

Barbara Amiel and Conrad Black: great comic book characters.

Frank and I demurred from this idea. Lulu seems much smarter than Amiel (a.ka. Lady Black of Crossharbour). Lulu is  also kinder and more civic-minded, and in general much more of an authentic human being, although she is only made of pen and ink. Still, Gail’s notion was suggestive in one direction.

If Lulu isn’t quite like Amiel, it is true that there are similarities between Lulu’s best male friend Tubby Tompkins and Conrad Black. Both Black and Tubby can be described as romantic egoists who try to bend reality to their wills, often with disastrous results. Just as Tubby likes to play detective, Black likes to imagine himself as a great military leader such as Napoleon. Tubby, a pre-teen boy, is fond of toy soldiers, as is Lord Black, who remains somewhat boyish even behind bars.


Fittingly enough, the Canadian satirical magazine Frank has often applied the nickname “Tubby” to Black. How right they were!

Tubby and Gloria: the pest and the flirt.

And there is a third character from the Little Lulu series who is relevant to the discussion: Gloria, Lulu’s foil and rival, the neighbourhood pretty girl who likes to flirt with rich boys. As a friend of mine suggested, Gloria is the real precursor to Barbara Amiel.

Tubby comics #21.

7 thoughts on “Conrad Black as Tubby Tompkins

  1. With respect to the Black/Tubby, Amiel/Little Lulu disagreement: my notion that LL could have grown up into BA is founded on one of LL’s most significant character motifs; she knew how to look after herself.

  2. If D&Q are doing the Tubby collections, why oh why would they deprive the world of that glorious first cover you posted?

  3. Conrad is Tubby- too true, too true. As Barbara Amiel as Lulu- well, Barbara has stuck with Conrad. Would Lulu stick with Tubby when he gets in trouble?

  4. Damn I miss Frank Magazine!

    Considering how funny and newsworthy Frank was and how many cartoons & pictures they cranked out, why do so few traces of Frank remain on the Internet?

    And the pneumatic Babs is still pretty damn hot, especially considering her age. Just watch out for her nipple guns.

  5. Little Lulu was created by Marjorie Buell. Also, it has the voice over of Cecil Hildegarde Roy.

  6. “Fittingly enough, the Canadian satirical magazine Frank has often applied the nickname “Tubby” to Black. How right they were!”

    Well, thanks. My old Frank editor pointed this out to me, as the fellow who coined the nick-name Tubby for Lord Crossharbour. It’s true origin is recounted somewhere in the book Ego and Ink: The Inside Story of Canada’s National Newspaper War by Chris Cobb.

    Actually met Conrad Black a few years post incarceration at a book launch, and found him dryly amusing; go figure.

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