Monday, February 17, 2014

Dan Does Disney Comics… Proud!

…One might even say “Prouder than they DESERVE!”  Given the great quality of Dan’s work, I’d say MUCH prouder! 

Dan Cunningham’s latest installment on “The Life and Times of Disney Comics” has just been posted – and it is AMAZING! 

It’s hard for even me to recall all of the many different things The Walt Disney Company threw at a stunned and confused comics-reading public, over a very compressed period of time – and I was there for all of it.  But Dan’s got it covered – and covered as well as it can possibly be!    

I will say that I’m now of the mind that Disney Comics strayed too far from the “core” of what Gladstone and Western Publishing did previously – and that may have been a large part of the problem.  You decide.   

If you’d like to catch up, you can find Dan’s previous posts at THIS LINK. 

Or, just skip to his latest effort – HERE – and wonder why this material shouldn’t become a BOOK someday!   


Dan said...

Aw, Joe... thank you, what a delight! I should expect another surge of the phenomenon I've coined as "The Torcivia Bump" on the hit counter in the coming week!

I've addressed the topic of straying from the "core four" in the replies at my post—and agree with your line of thinking. Another wise take for the Disney Comics line that would have cost less than new stories would have been doing a Limited Series reprinting classic material, like 4 issues of Al Hubbard's "Scamp" stories, or assembling a special on "American Legends" with Disney's adaptations of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, etc. (hey, it'd be a fine way to present that material TODAY!)

The "Explosion" post took me a long time because I severely forgot just HOW MUCH they crammed into the first year, including the stuff that never made it to the comics rack!

An overall book on the history of Walt Disney comics in the U.S. hasn't happened and would be wonderful to do. Now, if the company were on board to publish and allow use of artwork, etc? Sign me up, brother!

Somewhat related, though: Michael Barrier is working on "Funnybooks" a chronicle on the Dell-era comics of Barks's ducks, Marge's Little Lulu, Walt Kelly's comic book work, etc.—knowing Barrier's devotion to thorough research, it should be quite the full meal for kids who hang around TIAH!

Thanks again for all the support! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

"The Torcivia Bump"?!

Good gosh, there’s a BABY on the way! And, such a cute little blogger it’ll be, too!

I can’t wait for Barrier’s book, but I sure HOPE it’s not limited to Barks, Kelly, and Stanley!

We need a book that addresses Warner Bros., Walter Lantz, MGM, King Features, Hanna-Barbera, etc. comic books too! Not to mention all those movie and TV adaptations! And, one that covers Disney beyond just Barks and remounted Gottfredson!

Chris Barat said...

Dan and Joe,

That was a fascinating read. I never realized just how seriously Disney took that pledge to challenge DC and Marvel as one of the "Big Three." The business plan was nothing if not ambitious. Disney seemed to have all the bases covered. The problem was that in doing so, they were playing Twister more than baseball and wound up overextending themselves. Even so, with a stronger financial and business commitment from the Disney Company, Disney Comics might have been able to ride out the economic storm of the early 90s and survived to flourish.

That Barrier project sounds excellent! I do hope that he covers ALL aspects of the Dell years.


Dan said...

Thanks Chris: I'm glad you're enjoying it — should I ever choose to extrapolate on DuckTales any further than I have, I'll need only direct readers to YOUR blog... I've been enjoying the breakdowns of the 5-part TV movies quite a bit.

One more year of full funding might have made shifted the tides for Disney Comics: with Hollywood/Touchmark/Vista and the Disney titles adding ongoing Darkwing Duck AND Goof Troop series (the latter title *was* announced). The next installment will have details on the fates of a lot of what the current chapter covered.

The real downfall was that the returns didn't add up quickly enough in an industry which Disney's marketing and accounting folks had no knowledge or experience. Then things were just left to wither on the vine.

Joe: I have high hopes for Barrier's book, but if the breadth is not as you described, we'll grab Chris, hunker down, hit the keyboards then pitch own Dell book to publishers with the flourish of "Yankee Doodle Daffy" promoting that dynamic fireball child actor... Sleepy La Goon! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...


If you let David Gerstein and Dana Gabbard in on that action too, you’ve got a deal… and a mighty fine book to boot!

And, I’ve been touting Chris’ writings since DuckTales was an active show! Great writers like Chris and yourself – and David and Dana – just seem to find their way to me! Maybe I should become an agent, and live off you guys!

Though, for full disclosure, Dana did bring Chris and I together as fan-writing and researching partners in the prehistoric “paper-printed-and-mailed” fanzine days!

“Yankee Doodle Daffy”, which I’m pleased to see you mention, has one of my most favorite endings in ALL of animation! Not only does it end magnificently, with the completely unexpected singing voice for Sleepy La Goon – but it pushes the gag all the further (and to its utmost) by having him choke on the final two words!

That’s the kind of thing I tried to do in my Disney comics scripting… take what’s on the page and push it as far as I possibly could to wring out some extra laughs or characterization. I really admire how that was done by Friz Freleng and Tedd Pierce for “YDD”!

Dan said...


The collective of authors you conceived would make for a mighty tome, indeed! Who knows? The comic book publishing market is always hungry for new material... a nice coffee table book on the Dell to Gold Key to Whitman era could certainly attract attention. All that remains would be securing a nice Introduction from Mark Evanier.

As for "Yankee Doodle Daffy" I do regret we never saw Sleepy La Goon after that—woulda been fun if Friz did a nice trilogy of those "Agency" shorts like Jones' Wabbit Season series. The mastery of Friz tends to get buried a bit (I think his rep was somewhat marred due to the later DePatie-Freleng output) but the layouts and timing in his shorts up to '62 really shine.

Your scripting, like David Gerstein's dances with some fine wordplay, it shows you both care and know about the material. It's always apparent when the writer both knows AND understands their subject. There's always some wonderful inside humor from both Torcivia and Gerstein... one that stands out in my mind is the scripting for Boom's reprinting of Pedrocchi's "Donald Duck: Special Correspondent"—in which a foreign power remarks to Donald "You have the *sweetest* disposition!" That's a "deep cut" for fans of vintage Walt Disney material!

- Dan