One little spark

Comic books in America featuring Disney characters have become as rare as a short line to get into Soarin’ at Epcot.

At one time back in the 1940s and ’50s, Disney comics were some of the biggest-selling in America. But they slowly faded into near obscurity during the 1970s and ’80s, while they have thrived across the ocean. (Dan Cunningham has put together extensive blog posts on Disney Comics during the late ’80s and early ’90s) One of those ’70s comics is the fabled Donald Duck and the Golden Helmet issue, which I’ve documented elsewhere.

The original Donald Duck Dynabrite comic
The original Donald Duck Dynabrite comic

In the 2000s, there was a glimmer of hope. Boom! Studios picked up the license and brought Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories back from publishing purgatory, along with other stuff. It was cool seeing these stories that originally appeared in Europe. Boom! also brought in writer/artist Roger Langridge for some Muppet Show comics (I read one issue, it was fabulous).

But Boom! and Disney parted ways. My memory’s a little foggy on this, but it may have been right around the time Disney bought Marvel. While the immediate jokes of Mickey joining the Avengers appeared, part of me hoped that maybe WDC&S would return once more.

Seekers of the Weird No. 1, via Comic Book Resources
Seekers of the Weird No. 1, via Comic Book Resources

Instead, the House of Ideas went with a Disney Kingdoms imprint, kicking things off with Seekers of the Weird, which takes its cue from an abandoned Disneyland attraction called the Museum of the Weird that would have been within the Haunted Mansion. Plans were scrapped, but the legend grew over the years. Now, it has become a comic book written by Brandon Seifert, drawn by Karl Moline and  Rick Magyar, colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and lettered by Joe Caramagna. I’ve read the first two issues of the miniseries, and it’s pretty good so far.

My spider senses really went off the scales when I learned the next miniseries in the Disney Kingdoms world was … FIGMENT! That lovable purple dragon, along with his partner-in-crime the Dreamfinder from the Journey into Imagination! ride at EPCOT Center (or Epcot, depending on how the wind blows) was going to get his own comic! It would be written by Jim Zub, illustrated by Felipe Andrade, colored by Beaulieu, and lettered by Caramagna.

But I kept reading stories on Twitter that the issue was selling out at comic shops. I bit my fingernails off. But! Someone on Twitter said that it was available at several places in Disney World, including a store in Downtown Disney. Our family was planning to go to the latter that weekend, so we had a new quest. We checked out the World of Disney store first (mainly because a massive thunderstorm hit), but I didn’t see any. The rain let up a bit, so we headed to Once Upon a Toy next. We reached the section where they have all the Marvel stuff. Lo and behold, tucked in with some other books was Figment No. 1.

Figment in the wild!
Figment in the wild! (photo by Michael Fortuna)

They also had the other issues of Seekers of the Weird elsewhere in the store, so I got No. 2. Strangely, they didn’t have No. 3. Weird, indeed.

As for the Figment issue itself: it was a great introduction to how Figment and the Dreamfinder met, and the ending sets the stage for a rather fanciful adventure. I’ve now heard the second issue of Figment sold out before it even hit comic shop shelves. Wow. Hopefully, Once Upon a Toy will have copies.

Add to Fantagraphics reprinting the mouse and duck tales of Floyd Gottfredson, Carl Barks, and Don Rosa, and it seems we’ve come into a bit of a golden age of Disney comics. Perhaps if we wish upon a star, we’ll see a lot more, maybe a resurrection of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories

Walt Disney Comics & Stories No. 715, via the Grand Comics Database
Walt Disney Comics & Stories No. 715, via the Grand Comics Database