Monday, April 25, 2011


Once upon a time, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES began with Carl Barks’ Donald Duck and ended with Paul Murry’s Mickey Mouse. This was the standard for much of the 1950s and 1960s.

Over time, both creators retired and a great number of talented successors arose. But the classic formula, though often tampered with, remained: Duck lead and Mouse close.

An unusual configuration in the vast history of this magazine takes place this week… one that really should have occurred more often, given the number of published issues.

William Van Horn is the generally acknowledged successor to Carl Barks, when it comes to the short (10-12 page) Donald Duck leads. And no matter how many have tried, it never feels quite as “right” as when Mickey Mouse closes an issue – and the Mouse is by either Floyd Gottfredson or Paul Murry.

But, it happens this week in WDC&S # 718, leading off with Van Horn’s “Just in Time”, and closing with Murry’s “To the Moon by Noon”.

Making the paring odder still is that, in Van Horn’s 2007 yarn, Donald time travels to the age of dinosaurs – and Murry’s tale, for reasons that will become clear upon reading, takes place in the year 1963! Meaning that Mickey might stay temporally put, but the READERS get to “go back in time”! And, I might add, to a considerably friendlier place than those gosh-darned “dinosaur days”!

Murry’s story originates with the Disney Studio Program. This Disney initiative produced original works concurrently with those produced by Western Publishing for their Gold Key Comics line. Often, they used the same talent found in the Gold Key issues: Jack Bradbury, Tony Strobl, Al Hubbard, and Paul Murry.

In fact, some of Murry’s stories from this time WERE used as backups in Gold Key’s MICKEY MOUSE title… but not very many of them, including this one from 1963.

…And, you’ll get to see it this week!

On a purely personal level, the issue is special to me because I got to write the dialogue, working from an Australian translation. Murry’s Mickey is rather easy to write, especially if you “grew-up” on him, but his co-star Ludwig Von Drake provided more of a challenge. We’ll get more into that in our next post on the issue’s day of release.

For now, I’ll depart by saying what a THRILL it was for me to “collaborate” with one of my most favorite Disney comic book artists, in a story that dates from my ACTUAL YOUNG READING DAYS – and in THE most classic of Disney comic book titles.

See you, both here and in WDC&S # 718, on Wednesday!


Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

I'm curious: what language was the Murry story written in originally? My assumption was that these stories for international markets were originally in English, but now I'm not sure--I see that inducks doesn't list a writer for this oen, at least. It just seems odd that you would have been working from a translation *into* English. Was there an original script that was lost?

Very mysterious, but at any rate, I look forward to checking it out.

Joe Torcivia said...


You are correct. The Disney Studio Program (or “S” Coded) stories were written in English, but it was often the dullest, most generic English you could imagine – and was purposely so. It did nothing more than convey the basic plot of the story. This way, it could be translated into a wide variety of languages. I’ve seen a few of them in years gone by. They “do the job”, but they are dreadful to read in terms of story, humor, and characterization.

I have no doubt the Murry story was prepared that way. But, the version I was handed was a published Australian version. It was more “camera-ready” in terms of its dialogue, but was still not what we would consider suitably entertaining. That, and not the generic script it likely originated with, was what I worked off of. In the version you’ll see on Wednesday, the dialogue and title are my own.

This was also the case for next week’s UNCLE SCROOGE “The Pelican Thief”, and the following week’s “Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold Again”. Both were done off of Australian English translations, presumably of the original Italian. Of the three scripts, in the form in which I received them, the Murry script was the best of the bunch, perhaps because it did originate in English.

The upcoming “Treasure of Marco Topo”, that will presumably be the classic line’s farewell, was translated page-after-page by David Gerstein, who literally handed me the pages as he completed each one, for me to dialogue! That was fun… and exhausting.


Pete Fernbaugh said...

Hey Joe,

I'm looking forward to reading this issue. Murry is my favorite of the Mouse comic artists. There are several elements to his artist style that I enjoy--the solid workmanlike quality, the no-frills character and background designs, etc. Van Horn and Murry are a good pairing on an artistic level (just as you and Van Horn are a good pairing on a writing level).

I noticed that you said "The Treasure of Marco Topo" will probably be the classic line's farewell. Is there any word or speculation that Disney/Marvel will pick up the classics? What about The Disney Afternoon titles? I was looking forward to a long, healthy run for "DuckTales," "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers," and "Darkwing Duck."

Plus, we need an outlet for your writing!



Joe Torcivia said...


Thanks for the complements, but you’ve probably ticked off Mr. Van Horn – and rightly so!

Honestly and truly, I know nothing of what is to come. I just know that there will be five more issues with my stuff in ‘em – starting tomorrow.

All I can do is thank the fine folks at Boom! for allowing me to participate and, if there is (pardon the expression) “another rainbow”, hope I will be allowed to do so in the future.