…No, Sergeant Pepper didn’t teach the band to play.
Well, perhaps he did in 1947… But, in 1990, give or take a week or so, it was the beginning of a completely new era for those veterans of Dell and Gold Key Comics like myself – not to mention the young whippersnappers reared on the Gladstone Comics of the 1980s – it was the beginning of Disney Comics! And, since back then “New Comics Day” was on a THURSDAY, we might as well declare today the 20th anniversary of the event.
Admit it, my legions of TIAH Blog readers, aren’t you all feeling old right now!
After the unexpected success of the Disney comic books published by Gladstone (Series One – Series Two was another story entirely), the Walt Disney Company moved to bring its licensed comic book business in house, and do it themselves.
This resulted in a SINGLE DAY unlike any other that the readers and fans of Disney comic books had ever seen.
EIGHT NEW TITLES simultaneously released with more new (or at least new-to-the-United-States) material than had ever been seen in a single day!
…And, an equally unheard of diversity of content!
DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES # 1 Featuring “The Money Pit”, a new story by Don Rosa. William Van Horn would go on to do what is often considered his best work for this title.
UNCLE SCROOGE # 243 Continuing the numbering of Dell/GoldKey/Whitman and Gladstone issues with “Pie in the Sky”, a new story by William Van Horn.
WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 548 (Ditto on the numbering) with previously unseen tales of Donald Duck, Br’er Rabbit, Li’l Bad Wolf, and Grandma Duck.
Oddly, this would be the first issue of the title (which had run for just shy of 50 years at the time) to not include Mickey Mouse! Mickey would get his revenge twenty years later, however, when WDC&S # 703-705 (and counting) would feature ONLY Mickey and, in a back-of-the-book-filler role, his perennial foe Peg Leg/Black/Big Bad Pete!
GOOFY ADVENTURES # 1 ran stories of The Goof in various historical and media inspired roles, and would even revive Super Goof!
ROGER RABBIT # 1 would continue the hysterics-inclined hare’s tales from the hit movie. The first story would take place in the “real world”, with the backup (often the better of the two) occurring in Toontown.
The hugely successful Disney television properties were also represented by…
DUCKTALES # 1 beginning the unwieldy and uneven seven-part serial “Scrooge’s Quest”. My nomination for the worst ending of a story in Disney comic book history! As I said back then in an unpublished Letter-of-Comment: "This was not Scrooge and Glomgold we were watching, but an inappropriately bad imitation of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck – doing their Duck Season /Wabbit Season Routine!” Read it for yourself, TIAH Blog-legionnaires, and see what I mean.
CHIP ‘N’ DALE RESCUE RANGERS # 1 offered part one of the television origin story “To the Rescue”.
And, best for last…MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES # 1. This was my absolute favorite of the new titles. Michael T. Gilbert and Stephen De Stefano gave us as close an approximation to the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse as we’d ever seen in original American comic books. Why, even the titular villain, “The Phantom Gondolier”, looks somewhat like a character that could have been designed by Gottfredson!
After Gilbert, Lee Nordling would write the BEST Phantom Blot story of the modern age… and Marv Wolfman would step in and make up for the abomination of his “Scrooge’s Quest” in the DUCKTALES title and give us some great thrills with Mickey and Company – reviving Emil Eagle, now playing a lead villain role in “Disney’s Ultraheroes”!
After this initial outburst, the Disney Comics titles would be released Two-Per-Week, each Thursday.
All would be right with the world for the next 18 months but, then the cutbacks would come leaving us dissatisfied with much of what remained. MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES would be a victim of these cuts, and it would be a long time before we’d see really great new Mickey stories again.
But, somehow we survived… and moved into the eras of Gladstone Series Two, Gemstone, and now Boom Kids!
And even Mickey is flying higher than ever in a new thriller “Mickey Mouse and the World To Come” (beginning in the aforementioned WDC&S # 703) by the great new talent Andrea “Casty” Castellan – my candidate to someday be the “Next Floyd Gottfredson”!
Twenty Years… and what a ride it’s been!