Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Comic Book Letter of Comment: “Island in the Sky”.

It’s time to stop blogging about “Franken-Sandy-Storm”, and get back to what we’re SUPPOSED to do here at TIAH Blog… celebrate (as our banner states)The Universe of Things That Interest Me” … and, hopefully, YOU as well.

And, right now, that includes the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse classic that has been alternately known as “Mickey Mouse and his Sky Adventure”, “Mickey Mouse on Sky Island”, -- and now a bit more permanently as “Island in the Sky”.
Another GREAT volume from Fantagraphics!

Perhaps “Island in the Sky” has settled in as the “Official” title, due to its inclusion in Fantagraphics’ “Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson” Volume 4 of the series.

The story of Dr. Einmug and his fantastic discovery has appeared many times, in many different formats – even with an occasional different artist! Here is my “Letter of Comment” from Disney Comics MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES # 12 (May, 1991) on the subject of its appearance in MMA # 10:

Mickey Mouse Adventures # 10

“It seems you can’t keep Dr. Einmug down (pun intended). By my estimation, MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES # 10 appears to be the EIGHTH permutation of the classic tale of Mickey and the floating island.

“The FIRST, of course, would be Floyd Gottfredson’s newspaper strips of 1936-37. Can anyone out there claim to have seen it in its original form?

“The SECOND would be a reformatting of the original strips for an appearance in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 1-2 (1940). Our villain was “Peg Leg Pete” in both name and physical appearance. Doberman was a “Captain”, and a greater verbal exchange existed between the characters, serving to theorize on the workings of Dr. Einmug’s formula.

Dell Four Color # 214

“Bill Wright was apparently asked to redraw the story for its THIRD appearance, in DELL FOUR COLOR # 214 (1948), to conform to the characters’ more modern designs. Pete, no longer encumbered by his peg leg, underwent a change of name. This version ran for 32 pages.

“The FOURTH incarnation was featured in MICKEY MOUSE # 105 (February, 1966), and was essentially the same as FOUR COLOR # 214, only edited down to 24 pages.

Mickey Mouse # 105

“Number FIVE was part of Western Publishing’s “Dynabrite Comics” series and was identical to Number FOUR, with the exception of some minor dialogue relating to Pete.

“The Gottfredson version returned [ as Number SIX ] in the hardcover book MICKEY MOUSE BEST COMICS by Abbeville Press (1978).

Abbeville Press Mickey Mouse Best Comics

“The SEVENTH presentation was a bit of a surprise. It is one of a series of hardcover children’s illustrated books, published in 1990 by Twin Books/Mallard Press featuring the “adventure-oriented” Mickey.

“Stephen De Stefano’s new splash panel and Pete’s latest alias are added to Number FOUR to form the EIGHTH distinctly different publication of this fine story [in MMA # 10].

“The history lesson is finished, but is “Sky Adventure”? I think not. Should an animated television series based on Mickey’s adventures ever become a reality, would you care to speculate as to which classic “Mouse Tale” would be among the first to be adapted?”

[ End of Original Letter of Comment ]

WDC&S # 582

Beyond that, “Island in the Sky” floated on to THREE MORE incarnations (all by Gottfredson): Disney Comics’ WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 582 - 583 (1993), Boom! Studios’ WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES ARCHIVES Volume 1, and finally the aforementioned Fantagraphics volume…

…for a grand total of ELEVEN completely unique versions of what may very well be the greatest Mickey Mouse comic story of all time.

Update: November 20, 2012: There is ONE MORE version of this story, that is discussed in THIS POST! 


Ryan Wynns said...


Great job documenting this history!

Would the BOOM!'s Walt Disney's Comics and Stories Archives printing actually count as a different version than the one in WDC&S #1-2? Or was the reproduction not 100% faithful? And along the same lines, wouldn't the Fantagraphics printing be the same version as the original strips? (That's the very last place I'd want there to be discrepancies from the original, as I'm sure you can undertand!)

Either way, for completism's sake, I'm glad you accounted for all of the printing of the story to date since your Disney Comics letter. It actually was a really nice surprise to see it reappear here, and to have it built onto and updated!

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

Technically, Ryan, Boom was a sturdy trade paperback with good paper stock, and WDC&S # 1-2 was on flimsy, yellowing newsprint.

Fantagraphics is a even more sturdy hardcover book, vs the original, long-decayed newspapers.

At least, that's how *I* see it.

Joe Torcivia said...

Of course, that is now semantics over format, for the sake oc completeness.

Chris Barat said...


The BOOM! reprint of WDC&S 1-2 was a facsimile reprint but with a new introduction, so I think it'd be fair to count it as a new version of the story.


Joe Torcivia said...

Thanks, Chris.

And, by that reasoning, the intro and extras would distinguish the Fantagraphics version as well!

Dan said...

Holy crow: I have the entire run boxed up, didn't realize "Sky Island/Sky Advenure was published TWICE by Disney Comics ('90-'93). Was the Gottfredson version repeated in serialized form in WDC&S, or was MMA #10 a DELL-era re-drawn/re-worked version?

Shouldn't be too surprised, I guess... the Disney Comics line certainly went through a Jekyll & Hide transformation (I've begun cobbling together a blog post on that shaky run)

Joe Torcivia said...


Disney Comics MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES # 10 was a reworking of the DELL FOUR COLOR (Bill Wright) version, with a brand new opening splash page.

Disney Comics WDC&S version was a strip-by-strip printing of the Gottfredson story. The strips were run so that you had to hold the book sideways to read them. It was in color.

“Jekyll and Hyde” might actually be the best way to describe the era of “Disney Comics”!

Do send us a comment when that Blog post is up! I’d like to see it!


scarecrow33 said...

I'll vote for "Jekyll and Hyde"! This loyal subscriber got a few kicks in the teeth during the Disney Comics era.

The "Sky Adventure" was the first long Mickey Mouse comic book adventure I had ever read, and I thrilled to every panel. I encountered it through a used (inherited) copy of the Gold Key reprint. I still remember the thrill of the first time I read that story. A few years later, when I was in college, I received the Abbeville press book as a Christmas gift, and savored the story again in a format closer to its original presentation.

Just got the Fantagraphics volume. Great stuff!! This tale really holds up. Wasn't Mickey amazingly resourceful and clever in this story? And Goofy's characterization was spot-on. Pete displays a little more depth of character than usual in this adventure...one is almost tempted (though not completely) to believe in his reform...at least for a short while. And the finale just blows me away, it's so perfect. Did Dr. Einmug appear in any other stories, or was that his only gig?

Joe Torcivia said...


My first exposure to “Sky Adventure” (as it was called in that issue) was also in the Bill Wright-drawn Gold Key reprint in MICKEY MOUSE # 105 – except I bought it new from the corner candy store!

Like you, I was amazed to see the original Gottfredson version in the Abbeville book, and to learn the true origins of the story! I also found the Abbeville book new in a mall bookstore.

We do tend to have a fair number of parallel experiences for two people who don’t know one another, don’t we? That’s what makes life (and hobbies -- and Blogging) great! :-)

I couldn’t recommend the Fantagraphics Mickey Mouse Gottfredson Library volumes more highly! They are EVERYTHING I could ever hope for them to be! …And the first color Sunday volume is coming!

Dr. Enimug has appeared since his first outing (as the incomparable David Gerstein notes in a text piece in Volume 4). Most notably, in Disney’s MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES # 17-18, and in Gemstone’s MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES (Digest) # 11. The latter was by Romano Scarpa.


Dan said...

Thanks Joe & Scarecrow:

Yeah, I figured Bill Wright was tied into this somewhere... I'll certainly give a heads-up when the Disney Comics post is ready (and when I do, by all means, let me know if I got any info wrong).

Received my MM Vol. 3 & 4 box set last week, but have yet to dig in yet. I'm sure David G. brings the goods. Next year's MM Sunday page volumes are sure to shine.

By recollection alone, "Sky Island" is certainly one of Gottfredson's most animation-adaptable works along with "Seven Ghosts" - imagine those tales animated in the 1937 animation treatment (think "Lonesome Ghosts")? Man, a faithful animated feature or featurette of Gottfredson tale would be a smart project for the studio to develop - although Pete getting sloshed on champagne likely wouldn't survive the second draft.

Joe Torcivia said...

David G. ALWAYS “brings the goods”, Dan!

That’s why I’ve been so fortunate and proud to have had him as my editor for the comics work I’ve done.

If you all only knew the lengths he routinely goes to in order to deliver the best product possible! I’ve seen it time and again!

Pete would probably be giddy with joy over his crime, and sing boisterously… but would definitely not be “sloshed” as chair-bound Mickey falls down on him, I’d say! Not unlike the Dell / Gold Key version. …And, I thought that was perfectly fine – not knowing the real deal.

Looking forward to the post, whenever it occurs!

ramapith said...

Never hit a drunk cat with a chair in real life, people. He won't have a wooden leg to help him absorb the blow.

Thanks for the kind words, both of you! Working on the Sunday volumes now... we're going to recreate the original color (Fantagraphics Barks-style, except I think the 1930s Gottfredson color is better), and perhaps have a surprise or two...

Joe Torcivia said...

There he goes again, folks… “Bringing the goods”, as always! :-)

Ryan Wynns said...

Dan wrote:

Holy crow: I have the entire run boxed up, didn't realize "Sky Island/Sky Advenure was published TWICE by Disney Comics ('90-'93).

I was a loyal buyer/reader for the entirety of Disney Comics' run, and I either somehow had never noticed that, or I've since just plain totally forgotten about it!

(However, I suspect their serialization in their latter-era issues of WDC&St was probably a post-"Implosion", "Classics"-oriented [using BOOM!-speak] attempt to make up for using the abridged Dell version and not the original Gottfredson version as their source material for MMA #10. (If I remember correctly, their letter columns printed at least one letter chewing them out for this editorial decision/oversight...)

...still one of the best comic (strip or book) stories one could ever read, though.

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

For what it’s worth, Ryan, I think it’s great that Disney Comics published BOTH versions – Dell/Bill Wright AND original Gottfredson – and did so in a short span of time, so that modern readers could have the opportunity to compare and experience each one for themselves.

If you consider that something like Fantagraphics’ wonderful Gottfredson Library was inconceivable until very recently, such editorial actions become all the more significant.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Dell/Bill Wright version was the FIRST one I read in late 1965 (as “Mickey Mouse and his Sky Adventure”, in Gold Key’s MICKEY MOUSE #105) and, in view of the fact that the Gottfredson original had not seen print since 1940 (!), I’d suspect that was true for lots of folks. His comments certainly reveal that it was so for Scarecrow33.

So, thanks to Disney Comics (Capital “C”), younger readers of Ryan’s generation in the ‘90s got to experience “Island in the Sky” / “Sky Adventure” in sort of a similar fashion to the way we Silver Agers did… only THEY didn’t have to wait nearly as LONG for the pleasure.

…Young whippersnappers! …Can’t wait fer anythin’, by cracky!

What a great thread this has become! Thanks to you all… and we remain open 24/7/365! (…366, this year!)