Tag Archives: fantagraphics

My comics prayers have been answered

Last July I had written about my love of Disney comics and how I hoped Walt Disney Comics and Stories would be resurrected from comic limbo.

Apparently, the fine folks at IDW Publishing listened to me (I know, I’m sure they didn’t, but still).

From IDW's website
From IDW’s website

Check out July. Yup. It’s WALT DISNEY COMICS AND STORIES. WITH THE ORIGINAL NUMBERING.

I am over the moon and Duckburg over this news. This means Disney comics will be out on shelves in America once more. And we’ll get to see some stories that were only available overseas. My wallet, of course, will be giving me the evil eye even more, but that’s OK. I’ll probably get Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and WDC&S , although my wallet is probably saying, “Well, if you’re buying three, you might as well get the fourth one, ya maroon!”

But wait, you might say. IDW? Why isn’t Marvel putting these comics out since Disney owns them? To be honest, I really don’t know. Disney has all sorts of licenses floating out there. Fantagraphics has been reprinting the Mickey Mouse newspaper strips, as well as (my personal favorite) the Carl Barks and Don Rosa Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge stories. Maybe Marvel’s plate is a bit full to add even more issues. Who knows.

I do have complete confidence in IDW treating this material right; I’ve been enjoying what they’re doing with the Transformers franchise, and my two girls are especially fond of the My Little Pony line (they like flipping through the digital versions, and they’ve got dog-eared copies of those mini-comics).

So now we wait until April for Uncle Scrooge, May for Donald Duck, and July for Walt Disney Comics and Stories. Good thing I’m patient. Mostly.

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

Mad about Donald Duck

One of the greatest cartoon characters from the Walt Disney oeuvre will celebrate its 80th birthday on June 9.

I’m talking, of course, of Donald Duck.

donald duck

I blame my parents for this. They were big Disney fans before I entered the picture. They were part of the massive band that performed during the opening ceremonies of Walt Disney World in Orlando in 1971.

Back in the early 1980s, either my parents or grandparents had bought a three-pack of Whitman Dynabrite Disney comic books — one featured Daisy Duck, another featured Uncle Scrooge, and the other featured Donald Duck. I don’t recall how it happened, but my brother got the Uncle Scrooge book, my sister got the Daisy book, and I got the Donald book.

The cover of the book, which had the title in big fun-looking letters, “Donald Duck: The Golden Helmet,” showed Donald hoisting a golden helmet and a map with his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie looking on.

The first story in the issue was “The Golden Helmet,” a 32-page adventure story where Donald and the nephews set sail to find the aforementioned helmet before Azure Blue (what a name for a villain!) could retrieve it and claim America as his own and make everyone his slaves. Up next was a shorter tale guest-starring Uncle Scrooge where they went looking for a gold mine. Then, the issue closed with a short tale of how Donald took a job as a dog catcher.

I read that comic endlessly. I even drew a crude rendition of Donald on the inside front cover. Like most things from my childhood, it was either packed away or thrown out. I moved on.

When the Disney Channel was in its infancy, we loved watching the classic Disney shorts, especially Donald’s misadventures. You can bet when my siblings and I came home from school that we didn’t miss another exciting episode of DuckTales (OK, so Donald only appeared a few times, but it was still good). When our family did go to Disney World, many of the souvenirs I picked up had a ducky flavor, including a hat in the shape of Donald’s head and a porcelain figure of Donald in a pirate outfit. When I went to Star Wars Celebration V, I picked up an action figure of Donald Duck as a Dark Trooper.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned the identity of the artist and writer of those comics: Carl Barks. Soon I became obsessed interested in learning about the history behind the Good Duck Artist. Sadly, finding reprints of his work was next to impossible, unless you lived in Europe.

A few years back, I went looking around on eBay for a copy of that Donald Duck comic, and as luck would have it, I found it. As a Father’s Day gift, I got me a near-mint copy of the comic. As soon as I opened to the first page, I was immediately taken back to my younger days. I found myself reading the story slowly, savoring each panel’s artwork and dialogue. Yes, these stories were still amazing.

In a strange twist of fate, I was helping my parents clean out boxes in my grandparents’ garage where some of my childhood stuff had been stored. I opened a few of the boxes with my name on them, and there it was.

The Golden Helmet comic. It was in one piece.

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

Imagine my delight when I learned Fantagraphics was going to publish Barks’ Donald Duck catalog in hardcover. I immediately thought, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.” So far, I’ve got three volumes — Lost in the AndesA Christmas for Shacktown, and The Old Castle’s Secret. Apart from a few questionable caricatures from the era, these stories still hold up. My goal is to get every single volume in the collection. I think I can do it. Might take a while, but it’s doable.

In A Christmas for Shacktown, you probably can’t guess which story appears. Yup. “The Golden Helmet.”

Comparison of the Dynabrite comic (complete with my crude Donald drawing) and the Fantagraphics book
Comparison of the Dynabrite comic (complete with my crude Donald drawing) and the Fantagraphics book

To make matters worse, er, better, Fantagraphics will be publishing all of the Duck stories created by Don Rosa. I pretty much missed all of these comic books when they were first released, so being able to get my mitts on these will be another dream come true. (My wallet is screaming at me now)

Happy birthday, Donald! Try not to lose your temper too much.