Sunday, June 26, 2011

Where There's Life, There's… Mope!

It’s SUNDAY EVENING of the end of the week in which what looks to be the final Boom!/Kaboom! issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES (and classic character based Disney comics in general) has been released.

We don't know yet when these classic characters and titles will be published again.  But, in the spirit of THESE COMMENTS, do you know what that means?

It’s time for our “Post-Classic-Disney-Character-Based-Comic-Book-Publication-Mope”!

Yes, here we express our sadness for the end of the line – and, at the same time, celebrate and reflect on just how great the last “however-many-years” you’ve been associated with these comics have been!

I’ll go first:

Long before I could read, my grandmother gave me a copy of WDC&S # 226. I would stare at the pictures by Carl Barks, Paul Murry, and others -- and wish I could read the words.

This past week, I bought a copy of WDC&S # 720. I would stare at the pictures by Romano Scarpa – and read the words of David Gerstein, Christopher Meyer… and (remarkably, to the mind of that child with a copy of # 226) …me!
So much has occurred between then and now. Great issues, bad issues, and all sorts of in-between issues!

There was Dell, Gold Key, Whitman, Gladstone I, Disney Comics, Gladstone II, Gemstone, Boom!... and only the future knows who’s next!

Hope to see you all there!

As Marco Topo put it at the end of # 720: “Farewell!”

And, as MICKEY put it at the end of the same issue: “Here’s to the greatest bunch o’ characters I know!”. He speaks, not only for himself, but for ME!

Okay, IT’S YOUR TURN! Go post something in the Comments Section, and let us know what 70-Plus Years of Disney Comics means to you!

A “Mope” is, at its heart, a CELEBRATION! …So, celebrate, already!


joecab said...

WAAAAAH *clutching an Another Rainbow volume tightly and weeping*

They'll be back in SOME fashion.

Joe Torcivia said...

Joe C:

Well, as Uncle Scrooge (…or was it Bruce Hamilton?) said: “There’s always Another Rainbow!”

And I’m glad you brought that up, because (even if I didn’t always agree with what Bruce Hamilton did – especially during Gladstone Series II), I wonder how much of a life these characters would have had in the USA (post Bronze Age), if not for Hamilton’s initial success with Gladstone Series I in the mid-eighties!

I’d say, just look at the limited success (if any at all) of the other properties formerly published by Dell / Gold Key / Whitman for an indication!

Joe T.

Chris Barat said...


"Hope for the best, expect the worst" seems to be the appropriate mantra for American Disney comics fans at present.

I've got my hardback collections to enjoy while waiting for the next metamorphosis.


joecab said...

I honestly never really read any Carl Barks stories until those AR volumes began to come out. They would let you buy a random book to sample things out and I absolutely fell in love with those stories. I thought they did a great job: you could pay a little each month and they'd send you the next slipcase of books as you went along. But the size was great, the original art they worked from gorgeous, and the art and stories perfect.

But really, I just scratch my head when I see the success (still! after all these years!) overseas with Disney's comics stories and their admiration for Unca Carl, and wonder why we don't have the same here on his home turf. It shouldn't just be mostly fans admiring this stuff here. I guess it's just due to the culture of appreciating aesthetics Europeans have always maintained.

With Marvel now also under their roof, I hope Disney gives some thought to using their tremendous back catalog constructively rather than mainly fodder for movies.

Joe Torcivia said...

I’ve never understood how Europeans embrace this stuff while we, by and large, ignore it.

It’s not just a general acceptance and affection – as different generations here have had for… say Gunsmoke or Lost – it’s part of the culture! Kinda like Star Trek, but without the negative connotations about one’s character that come with it.

It’s also not simply that we prefer superheroes here. I like them too! But they are in a serious decline as well – certain movies notwithstanding. The same competing forces exist in Europe… the Internet, other forms of media, yet Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson and their comics and characters remain strong and extremely popular -- just as Romano Scarpa depicted in his original version of the story we called “The Treasure of Marco Topo”.

In any event, I hope there’s enough life left in classic Disney comics that will allow them to rise another day!

And, yes… The Carl Barks Library may have been the greatest such project of them all! It remains proudly behind me on my bookshelf, as I type this! I use it as a REFERENCE WORK just as much as for entertainment!

Chris Barat said...


There was a vacuum in European pop culture after WWII, and the Disney comics confidently strode into it. That is still the best explanation that I've ever heard for the amazing success of "Carl Barks & co." in Europe.


Joe Torcivia said...


I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that explanation (or maybe I’ve just forgotten it), but it’s sure as good a reason as any!

But why just Disney comics, I wonder? Why not Warner Bros. too? Why didn’t Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig (not to mention Roger Armstrong and Tom McKimson) become huge there too? They came from the same original publishing source as Donald and Mickey.

Just imagine a great, unbroken string of Warner Bros. comics – produced in Europe and done in the Dell Comics style – to have run parallel to the existing string of Disney character comics… also done in the Dell Comics style!

We could be dialoguing European DAFFY DUCK stories, alongside Donald and Scrooge.

How different – and richer – our fandoms would have been!


Chris Barat said...


I imagine that Disney animated cartoons were a lot more familiar to MOST Europeans than Warners cartoons. Then, too, as can be seen in the Gottfredson collection, Disney comics had already established something of a toehold in Europe before WWII.


Carl said...

Sigh. It's time to take out my French dictionary and subscribe to Picsou again.

I will argue that the success of the ducks as opposed to Woody Woodpecker or Andy Panda or Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig is because of characterization. In film, Donald is a one-note character, but, thanks to Unca Carl, he is (potentially) nuanced in the comics. I also think that Duckburg is a huge factor because you have these fictional anthropomorphic characters tied to a seemingly real-world setting. Their interactions with each other and the setting make a richer world. Where DOES Bugs Bunny live? (Besides in a rabbit hole, I mean.) The ducks (and Mickey Mouse) are far closer to humans consistently than are the other "funny animals." I think that closeness may cause more resonance with readers.

I also agree with you on the importance of Gladstone I. It was personally important to me because it was my introduction to Barks, but it was also important in how the comics were treated. The scholarly analysis, the literary allusions in the translations, the obvious love and care that went into Gladstone I were--to me as a reader--unparalleled in the stuff before or after. It was a special, special time, and I feel fortunate to have experienced as it happened.

However, I hope that another special time will arrive soon. May God save Duckburg.

Joe Torcivia said...

Welcome to the Mope, Carl!

Great points, all!

You’ve got to step back and marvel at just how much the talents of one single creator made a difference. There was nobody that could approach Carl Barks in his overall achievements. Harvey Eisenberg was also a great artist. I’d argue for Bill Wright as well. Carl Fallberg could crank out a good, straightforward adventure tale, Michael Maltese (when he wasn’t writing some of the best cartoons in the history of both theatrical AND television animation) wrote some funny comic book stories – and someone like Bob Ogle could straddle “adventure” and “funny” quite well.

But NO ONE could put it all together like Carl Barks – and it is HIS foundation and principles that form the basis for the best Disney comics of today – aberrations like “Ultraheroes”, notwithstanding!

Sometimes, I wonder how different it all might have been if Barks applied his vast talents to Porky Pig or Andy Panda – and the comics Donald Duck barely rose above that of the Al Taliaferro newspaper strip! This might be a very different conversation, with 70 years of mythology built around the WB or Lantz characters.

Similarly, to the importance of Gladstone I (Gladstone II, remains a different matter!), I feel that the “Pig and Panda” comics might hold more significance for us today, had Gladstone taken them along with Disney. It might have been a “New Dell-Type Golden Age”! The best of those comics reprinted with Gladstone I’s care and depth – and maybe a “Don Rosa” or “William Van Horn” comes along for those characters too!

…And Gladstone has something worthwhile to “fall back on”, when Disney takes away their Duck and Mouse license in 1990.

But, it could only have happened in that fortunate window of time of the mid-eighties, and could never happen today, alas!

I still hold out hope that you will not be using that French dictionary for very long. (Not that I know anything, beyond the fact that I still want to continue writing scripts for these great characters!) I just feel there IS a place for well-produced, classic character Disney comic books, the like of which we’ve seen from Gladstone I… AND so far in 2011!