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!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


After about seventy-and-a-half years, it looks as if the long run of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES will be coming to a (hopefully temporary) end.

And (Imagine that!), it’s fallen to David Gerstein, Chris Meyer, and me to “turn out the lights”.

David’s extensive credentials and invaluable contributions to both this title – and the classic character series of Walt Disney comic books in general – speaks for itself.  Let’s just say that we would be ALL THE POORER by lots, if David had decided to take up teaching, accounting, computer technology, or some other endeavor.

Chris has been a great and enthusiastic editor to work with. His occasional changes to my work are changes I often agree with. You don’t hear that too often from freelancers!

As for me:

My first issue of WDC&S (bought for “very little me” by my grandmother) was # 226 (Dell Comics July, 1959).

I became a regular reader with issue # 284 (Gold Key Comics May, 1964), an issue with no contribution from Carl Barks – but because of the Mickey Mouse serial  “The Return of the Phantom Blot”.

I became a contributor to this fine publication with issue # 718 (Boom! Studios/Kaboom! April, 2011), dialoguing a 1963 story drawn by Paul Murry – the self-same artist of “The Return of the Phantom Blot”. (Our story, “To the Moon by Noon”, was very likely done AROUND THE SAME TIME AS “The Return of the Phantom Blot”!)

And now, here I am – with David and Chris – closing out the run (Though I really hope I’m wrong about this!) with issue # 720, on a story with The Phantom Blot in it! Hmmm… I’d say there was more than one “Full Circle” example lurking in these observations.

Beyond that, I could end up being the unlikely answer to a trivia question…

“Who wrote the last original line of dialogue for WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES?"

And, back in 1964, if you ever told "my kid self" it would be me, I'd have dropped dead on the spot... (Oh my, if I DID "drop dead", I'd have never written the line -- and caused a great big time paradox, wouldn't I!)

The issue features Part Two of Romano Scarpa’s “The Treasure of Marco Topo”… and knowing that this could POSSIBLY (Again, please let me be wrong!) be the last issue of WDC&S for all time, I gave Mickey what I’d like to believe is a very fitting closing line!

Please read the issue, and tell me what you think, via the Comments Section.

...And the cover is by CASTY!  How's that to go out on!

Sincere thanks are due to David Gerstein, Chris Meyer, Chris Burns (for all the books of his that I’ve enjoyed working on!), and all at Boom! Studios for allowing me to participate in the long lineage of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES!
We’ll be back with more, later in the week!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Let's celebrate one of the finest titles in the history of comic magazines -- in the week of what could be its final release! 

There are MORE THAN A FEW good reasons for you to rush out to your local comic book shop, and pick up a copy of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 720!

• It might be the last issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES for a while. (Perhaps ever!)

• More importantly, it could possibly be the FINAL ISSUE in the long line of classic-character Walt Disney comic books that began with Dell Comics back in 1940! We hope not… but I know nothing of the future, at this writing.

• It features PART TWO of Romano Scarpa’s long adventure story we titled “The Treasure of Marco Topo”!

• Translation is by the incomparable David Gerstein, the American English script is by yours truly… with some additional material by Christopher Meyer.

• Its “All Star Cast” includes: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Scrooge McDuck, Brigitta MacBridge, Peg Leg Pete, Trudy Van Tubb, and The Phantom Blot!

• Oddly, Donald Duck, who appeared on the COVER of the very first issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, and has had the lead feature in the vast majority of issues, is nowhere to be found. (…Frankly, because Romano Scarpa chose to exclude him!) We “kinda sorta” cover for that… but not really.

I covered for something else as well. In a “kinda sorta”, perhaps controversial way…

It seems that, in some corner of Romano Scarpa’s (…or, perhaps, Italy’s in general) continuity, Mickey and the Gang are considered “general celebrities” in Italy. …And I had to find a way of dealing with that, within the context of the story.

Now, I can easily understand MICKEY enjoying some celebrity as a famous detective, crime solver, and overall hero. He’s even had a long association with Walt Disney (as glimpsed in Part One). And Minnie and Goofy could have ridden his coat (…or would that be “Mouse”) tails. Even PETE might have achieved his share of infamy, by battling Mickey over the years.

SCROOGE is certainly a world-famous tycoon and adventurer, so no problem there.

But, when we find that lower-tier characters like Brigitta MacBridge and Trudy Van Tubb are similarly regarded… well, then we have a problem to solve.

I did it… and in a way that’s (as they used to say about old Warner Bros. movies) “ripped from the headlines”!  …Unfortunately, not the fabled headlines of the 1930s, but the “headlines” of today! 

David and Boom! were pleased with my solution. Please let me know what you think via our Comments Section. …But ya gotta read the book to find out!

We’ll be back on Wednesday (the actual On-Sale Date) with more!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Secrets of Marco Topo: Where’s Donald?

This week brought us MICKEY MOUSE # 309, featuring “The Treasure of Marco Topo Part One” with just about everyone in it but Donald Duck and his nephews.

So, where’s Donald?

Is he off scouring the Andes for Square Eggs?

 Competing with Gladstone Gander for the too-fickle-for-my-tastes Daisy?

Might he be suffering various and sundry indignities while sounding the gong to herald “The Mickey Mouse Club” – while “The Leader of the Club That’s Made for You and Me” is off adventuring in Venice with everybody else?

Or, did he just go off to WHEREVER HE WAS for the first 17 pages of DONALD DUCK # 367? 

Only Romano Scarpa knows for sure, and he ain’t tellin’… so that left it up to David, Christopher Meyer, and me to figure it out.

And, figure it out we did.

Turns out, according to the printed version, he was polishing pennies for Uncle Scrooge – who, rather unfairly even for him, was off to Venice with the gang!

BUT… was that always the case? Not exactly!

Here’s an excerpt from my original draft:

Mickey (plane): Too bad Donald and the boys couldn’t have come along!

Scrooge: A Tae-Kwon-Duk tournament, I hear! ***

Add a Box: “*** See Donald Duck and Friends # 360!”

Brigitta: Your nephew? Seriously? No way!

Add a Box: “And there’s “no way” you’ll want to miss the character packed (though Donald-less) conclusion to our story… coming up in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories # 720! …Be there, just to keep an eye on Pete, won’t you!”

Yes, readers… I actually attempted to reference my own scripted “Titan of Tae-Kwon-Duk”, as seen in DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #360.

Donald was tripping-up “The Bellicose Blutosaki” with a melted candy bar – AT THE SAME TIME the rest were flying off to Venice.

I kinda liked that, in the same way DC Comics might have noted Superman’s absence from a JLA adventure by pointing to a recent (or otherwise concurrent) story as the cause.

Titan of Tae-Kwon-Duk” was certainly in readers’ recent memory so, what the heck… I threw it out there!

However, cooler and wiser heads prevailed, and Don was relegated to penny-polishing… and the nephews were probably off “Woodchucking”, or something.

From this perspective, I have to agree. “The Treasure of Marco Topo” will read better as a stand-alone adventure without the unnecessary continuity attempt.

But, thanks to Pete and Ryan’s curiosity as to Donald’s whereabouts, you’ve just been given another peek into our creative process!

Now that you “know so much”, be back for Part Two NEXT WEEK in WDC&S # 720.

PS: How about David’s superb nod to the lettering of the title in Carl Barks’ “The Treasure of Marco Polo” – for the title of “The Treasure of Marco Topo”!

He’s the best, bar none!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Sale Today: MICKEY MOUSE # 309!

Today’s the day to go to your local comic shop and join the hunt for “The Treasure of Marco Topo” in MICKEY MOUSE # 309!

As previously mentioned, the story is by Romano Scarpa and features an All-Star cast!

Translation is by the incomparable David Gerstein, the American English script is by yours truly… with some additional material by Christopher Meyer.

But, HOW we did it is a story in itself…

On Saturday, April 09, 2011, David and I began work on the script in a wonderfully hectic fashion, sequestered in his apartment.

David drew upon a Danish translation of the story, frantically converting it to English – and printing it page-by-page as he went.

As each translated page came off his printer, he handed it to me to “read-as-I-go” and make scribbled notes all over the still-warm pages. Scripting notes, I might add, on a story to which I did not know the ending – with only a vague idea (thanks to the art) as to where it was even going!

Literally, it was handed to me “page-by-translated page”…and off I went, merrily scripting as the pages came.

Clearly, this blind approach required some return and revision but, remarkably, Romano Scarpa’s original story, David’s translation, and my script were very much in synch!

I handed in a first complete draft – of both parts of the story – on April 11!

During that in-person scripting session, we had great fun throwing things back and forth… resulting in the very title of the story!

Originally titled “The Venetian Treasure” or some such, I was not about to possibly end my comics scripting career on such a bland and generic title.

Our title would unfold before our eyes, in the following sequence.

• Mickey’s Italian ancestor in this story was named “Milo Mouse” in the version David was translating. Perhaps in the original as well?

• I didn’t care for that name, and suggested he be called “Marco Mouse” – after Marco Rota (who did a nice cover for the issue).

• On top of this, and drawing on Mickey’s Italian name of “Topolino”, David decided he become “Marco Topo”!

• I loved it, and further suggested a riff on the title of Carl Barks’ ‘60s epic “The Treasure of Marco Polo”(UNCLE SCROOGE # 64, 1966)… making this “The Treasure of Marco Topo”!

And, you’ve just been given a peek into our creative process! …Neat, huh?

Oh, and Walt Disney makes a cameo appearance in the issue! …Intrigued, yet?

Buy the issue, and enjoy it! And be back for Part Two NEXT WEEK in WDC&S # 720.

...But before that, let's meet back here this weekend to discuss "Where's Donald"!

Monday, June 13, 2011

On Sale This Week: MICKEY MOUSE # 309!

There are a few good reasons for you to rush over to your local comic book shop, and pick up a copy of MICKEY MOUSE # 309!

• It might be the last issue of MICKEY MOUSE for a while. (Perhaps ever!)

• It has an ALL STAR CAST appearing in a long story we titled “The Treasure of Marco Topo”!

• The story is by the great Maestro Romano Scarpa – and is set in his native Italy, no less!

• The “All Stars” are: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Scrooge McDuck, Brigitta MacBridge, Peg Leg Pete, Trudy Van Tubb, and The Phantom Blot! Oddly, Donald Duck and his Nephews are not along for the ride, but we came up with an excuse for that. (…Mostly, because Romano Scarpa didn’t!)

• Translation is by the incomparable David Gerstein, the American English script is by yours truly… with some additional material by Christopher Meyer.

• The issue is fronted by a great Marco Rota cover (…Yes, Marco Rota meets “Marco Topo”!), though MICKEY seems oddly positioned toward the rear of the image, given he’s the star of the story and it’s his book! And what’s the Blot STANDING ON, anyway? WATER? Same for the other nameless hangers-on.

• …Oh, and PETE gets behind the wheel of a STEAMROLLER! Look out!

We’ll be back on Wednesday (the actual On-Sale Date) with some more detail!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Alas, once again, we find ourselves heading down the home stretch of a line of classic Disney comic books! 

The coming week will bring us the penultimate issue of the Kaboom! classic Disney comic book series -- MICKEY MOUSE # 309! 

We'll be looking at that issue starting on Monday, with another, closer look on Wednesday -- the day of release! 


It's a word I've always liked, but have never really understood. 

How did it come to mean what it does?  It sure doesn't LOOK like what it's supposed to mean... at least not to me! 

Just curious... When this same sad occasion occurred for Western Publishing's line of Warner Bros.comics, was the next-to-last issue of the PORKY PIG title... (Oh, I almost can't type this!) the "Pig-Penultimate Issue"? 

With that, I'll be silent until Monday when we look at MICKEY MOUSE # 309. 

Penultimately, that is! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Questions You've Never Asked: Did Quick Draw McGraw Ever Ride a Horse?

The answer is NO, he didn’t! Hanna-Barbera’s Quick Draw McGraw was never seen riding a horse, over the three original seasons (1959-1961) of his animated series!

Indeed, he might have been the only western star in the entire history of entertainment who never rode (or even interacted with) a horse… a tiny midget horse he was once assigned to capture for a circus (“Bronco Busting Boobs”), notwithstanding.

Sure, he drove a stagecoach in his opening and closing show credits but he was never ON a horse itself. He usually walked into town, or drove a jeep (!), and once he even rode an elephant!

Tsk! Tsk! What would Marshall Matt Dillon think!

Probably for the same reason Goofy didn’t walk Pluto on a leash, I guess…

Then again, Huckleberry Hound WAS a dogcatcher once upon a time…

Cartoons… who can figure ‘em!

Monday, June 6, 2011

On Sale This Week: DONALD DUCK # 367!

There are a few good reasons for you to rush over to your local comic book shop, and pick up a copy of DONALD DUCK # 367!

• It might be the last issue of DONALD DUCK for a while. (Perhaps ever!)

• It has the oddity of Donald NOT appearing on the cover (see image above) – and appearing in only one panel over the first 17 pages!

The reason for this is that the issue leads off with the Carl Barks-written Whale of a Good Deed from HUEY DEWEY AND LOUIE JUNIOR WOODCHUCKS # 7 (Cover Date: October, 1970).

…But not the actual reprint from that issue. Instead, it will be a redrawn version by the great Daan Jippes! Western Publishing artist John Carey actually did a fine job illustrating the whale-tale in its original form, but I really can’t wait to see this re-envisioned in Jippes’ recent, more amped-up style!

Donald was not a factor in this story, despite the fact that it opens with Duckburg almost wholly underwater! You’d almost figure that Donald was somehow responsible for the disaster – the culmination of one of his frequent “Mastery” tales, no doubt.

But, no… He delivers his one line, in the opening (literal?) “splash” panel, and retires to the William Van Horn reprint that backs the issue.

Ironically, Donald actually appears on the original cover of JUNIOR WOODCHUCKS # 7 (see below) – but does not appear on the cover of the later issue, bearing his name.

This might not have been MY choice for the possible "final issue" of DONALD DUCK ever -- and Heaven knows it certainly wouldn't be Donald's!  But, don’t mind my curmudgeonly ramblings… Buy the issue and enjoy it. I know I will… the diminished-Donald factor notwithstanding!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

R.I.P. James Arness.

Television legend James Arness, passed away on Friday, June 03, at the age of 88.
Arness starred as Marshall Matt Dillon, on the TV western series GUNSMOKE for 20 years (!), from 1955 thru 1975. At a height of 6’7”, Arness towered over both his co-stars and Dodge City, Kansas, which was his TV home.

James Arness may not have been the best of all actors – or even all television actors – but he was perfect at what he did. …And that’s why he will always be remembered!

Indeed, to me, James Arness was "The John Wayne of Television"! 

And, for an unusual Arness story, click HERE!