Sunday, November 22, 2015

On Sale July 22, 2015: Walt Disney's Comics and Stories # 721 from IDW.

Because our great friend and colleague (and artist of this great cover) Jonathan Gray demanded it, under threat of having Mickey continue to use this horrible catchphrase... 

...We retroactively review WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 721, the first issue to be published by IDW.  On a personal note, I was particularly overjoyed at the release of this issue because, when Boom! Studios released WDC&S # 720 in 2011, I honestly felt this would be the last of the Core Four Disney comic book titles to be seen in the USA.

Then, IDW happened, and the rest continues to be history – of the best possible kind!  

Speaking of "history", numbered at 724 as of this writing, WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES would seem to be the "highest-numbered" currently-published comic magazine in existence.  David Gerstein makes this observation in his Crosstalk column.  Would you expect anything less of him?

WDC&;S # 724
Click to Enlarge

The series breaks out of its four-year hibernation in a big way with “The Search for the Zodiac Stone”, originally from the Italian publication TOPOLINO # 1780 (1990), by writer Bruno Sarda, artist Massimo DeVita – and, most special of all, Translation and Dialogue by Jonathan Gray!   I say “most special of all” with the utmost sincerity, as I would care to see no one but Jonathan write the American English language version of this sprawling epic. 

What a splash page! Were those characters crawling around the original Italian title, I wonder? 
And, “sprawling” an epic it is indeed, stretching over 12 parts and 12 issues, and (if Jonathan’s superb cover illustration is indicative) more characters than you can shake a stick at.  …Though why you’d want to shake a stick at The Phantom Blot, is beyond me. 

We open with Mickey and Goofy having just wrapped up some adventure “back in time”, in the service of Prof. Zachary Smith, er…  I mean Zachary Zapotec and “his friendly rival, Dr. Spike Marlin”.  

Nothing is made of the notion of Dr. Marlin being a RIVAL of Zapotec as of yet, but I hope it manifests itself later in the story, because it offers interesting possibilities. 

Now, we don’t exactly know WHY Mickey and Goofy are sent on these missions.  As observers?  To right some temporal wrongs?  But there have apparently been several such day 
(month, year, and century?) trips for our heroes.   

Indeed, Jonathan does something I find priceless, leaving me (as such a huge sixties Paul Murry fan) forever in his debt.  He references the stories in Gold Key’s MICKEY MOUSE # 116 and # 114, respectively, as also being part of this series of timestream travels.   

Now, we KNOW about that "Fantastic Time Machine"!
Just before returning to 1990 Italy (…or 2015 America?) our heroes encounter the mysterious Dr. Astronomo and his apparently mystical “Zodiac Stone”.  A talisman that he says can reveal "tomorrow's secrets". 

Say! Where's the EXCLAMATION POINT after that "FOOF" sound? 
He breaks the stone into the pieces of the individual zodiac signs and distributes them to each of his 12 followers.

Upon being discovered, Mickey and Goofy return to the present to learn that Goofy has inadvertently brought forward with him a parchment with the names of the 12 owners of the segments of the Zodiac Stone. 

The scientists decide to reassemble the stone by seeking out the descendants of the 12 followers of Dr. Astronomo… and we’re off on a 12 month ride that will also include the Duck family of characters, beginning in issue # 722.  

Pete also gets involved, for more fun! 

Speaking of fun, Jonathan characterizes a butler as a John Cleese-like character who demonstrates his “Fawlty-Python” origins by using the word “Twit” in the first six consecutive panels in which he appears! 

And still more fun with this clever reference to GOOF TROOP!  

As the tale unfolds, we visit locations as diverse as the Amazon, Scotland, and a circus (from WDC&S # 724). 

Though, we’re presently through Part Four, and there’s still no sign of The Phantom Blot! 

Honestly, I’ve been reluctant to review “The Search for the Zodiac Stone” up to now, precisely because of its formidable 12 part length.  But, what the heck… Let’s celebrate the fine work Jonathan Gray has done on this epic up to now, confident that he will deliver us to a dilly of an ending in June, 2016.  ...Pressure's on, Jon!  

The issue is rounded out by a Bucky Bug Silly Symphonies Sunday comic strip reprint from 1933…

…A fast-paced, action-packed 1982 Donald Duck ten-pager, by Daan Jippes and Freddy Milton, translated and dialogued by Thad Komorowski... which Thad references one of my most favorite POPEYE cartoons of all time (discussed in this post, where the video might no longer play).

Not to mention these SIMPSONS-like dangerous descriptions Thad uses to label these trucks!  Gotta love it!  

Finally, a “Gremlin Gus” short from WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 34 (1943), by comics legend Walt Kelly.   

Since this comic is four months old, I don't even have to tell you run out and buy it.  Just dive into your long-boxes and pull it out for some delightful re-reading!  

Alternate Cover for WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 721
Once “The Search for the Zodiac Stone” reaches its conclusion (sometime in June, 2016), I wonder if WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES will return to its traditional format of a Donald Duck lead, rotating guest features in the middle, and a Mickey Mouse serial (...of a more manageable THREE parts, rather than twelve) at its end.  

As much as I might enjoy this classic series in its present form, the traditional format is what WDC&S has always been about for me - no matter how "the look" may have evolved over the years. 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

So, while we're waiting for The Phantom Blot to show up, Dr. Spike Marlin to show an evil side, for Dr. Marlin to be revealed as The Phantom Blot in disguise, or for even more sixties Gold Key classics to be delightfully ret-conned by Jonathan, let’s all meet back here for another lively go at our (now-four-months-retroactive) Comments Section!

Maybe even The Phantom Blot will turn up...


ramapith said...

WRT Zapotek and Marlin being rivals—hate to say it's so, Joe, but it's simply a description of their role in quite a lot of more typical stories in which they appear. They work together, but debate and bicker constantly as to which way history really happened. Quite often, Mickey and/or Goofy will be hustled into the time machine to go back and prove that Zach is right, Spike is wrong, or the other way around.

Beneath the debating, though, they like each other. They're not ARCH-rivals the way, say, Mickey and Mortimer are. ("Get outta my car, ya fickle Freddy!")

Hex said...

When I heard they were going to start off WDC&S with a 12-part serial I thought that was a bold move. On one hand that could get more people to follow the comic on a regular basis, but also keep people from doing a random pickup.

Personally I haven’t started reading the story yet even if I’ve got all issues so far (but I’ve read the supporting stories). I’m going to save it and read all parts at once. Anyone else doing that?

I first read this story in the early 90’s when I was a kid, and I remember I loved it then. But it must be more than 15 years since I read it the last time, so I’m looking forward to re-reading it with American dialogue when all parts are out.

WDC&S premiered the same month as Mickey Mouse #1, and looking at the ICv2 sales charts MM sold twice as many copies the first month. WDC&S still sold more copies than DD and US in the premiere month, but in August, September and October WDC&S was the one that sold the fewest copies of the core four. The sales are dropping each month (for all four) so it will be interesting to see how things look next summer when all 12 parts are published. I expect we'll se some change in the format.

Joe Torcivia said...


I’ve waited so long for the return of WDC&S, I cannot wait for all 12 parts before reading… and, unlike you, I’ve never seen the story before in ANY form.

I hope you publish your reactions on the story as a whole on your Blog, once you do read it. I expect, merely by virtue of Jonathan’s translation and dialogue, this version will be a unique (and better) experience.

Joe Torcivia said...

Aw, David… You mean they’re not even going to be as much fun as Scrooge and Rockerduck? Shucks!

Gyro Gearloose and Ludwig Von Drake will be MUCH MORE FUN that that, in the upcoming “Planet X Mystery”.

Clapton said...

I've been LOVING this story. Jonathan Grey's dailogue has been an utter blast. It really speaks to his talents that I have to read each part 2 to 3 times to get all the refrences.
As for WDC&S's decline in sales... Well, I'm disapointed but not surprised. I kinda figured with the combination of the outdated name and the year long story arc WDC&S would be the worst selling of the bunch.
When the Zodiac Stone arc ends I think it would be best to have egmont Mickey rojnd out the issue since we haven't seen any of that stuff in "Mickey Mouse". But then again it would be great to have a Casty serial round out the issue (if it doesn't mean being broken up into more parts than it was intended)

Joe Torcivia said...


As much as I would hate to see it, I wonder if starting over with a “New Number One”, and keeping a "Legacy Numbering", would have made a difference.

I think the book is great, with Jonathan is carrying an extraordinary part of the load – and doing a wonderful job with it.

After “The Search for the Zodiac Stone”., should the title revert to its classic formula, I want new, unseen in the USA talents on the Donald leads and Mickey serials… not reprints.

Elaine said...

May I just say here how much I love the portmanteau word "omnincompetent"? A WHOLE LOT, that's how much. Particularly as unintentionally accurate self-description.

As for serials in I've said elsewhere, I believe the advantage of "Zodiac Stone" is that the chapters stand quite well on their own, so it needn't be disappointing to someone who picks up one issue. I don't at all want to go back to the sort of three-part serial that was in WDC back in the day. Unless you had a subscription, those were a recipe for frustration. And even if one's older sibling had bought all three issues including a single serial story five years earlier, the chances that one could find them all in the comics box (when issue numbers were not prominently printed on covers!) were poor. I've been very pleased in recent times to see two- or three-part stories published within a single issue, perhaps interspersed with other stories. In fact, though I generally don't buy the TPB collections, I did get the second U$ one, just to get all of "Grand Canyon" under one cover!

I think that the Serial Frustration Factor is the main reason my childhood associations with WDC are not that positive. So I don't have much brand loyalty to the title. The main attraction of the title for me is the opportunity to feature lesser known characters (BTW, next month's WDC issue with its Oswald the Rabbit story is already prominently featured on the DisneyWiki Oswald page! But don't read it if you don't want spoilers for the plot). But though it is fun to see stories about rhyming bugs or gremlins, when I look at the issues of Gemstone's WDC that I saved, I find that almost all the stories I want to re-read could have been published in DD or MM--with the possible exceptions of a Grandma Duck/Gyro story or an adaptation of a Chip 'n' Dale cartoon. But then, Gemstone never published a Madam Mim story.... Most of the Mim stories of my childhood were in WDC, though my favorite Mim story was in Beagle Boys #1, one of the earliest comics I remember buying WITH MY OWN MONEY, because it co-featured Madam Mim!

Joe Torcivia said...


I think the whole “serial thing” is a complex matter that all depends on which side of the situation you fall on. And, I’ve been on both sides, at various points over the years.

“The Return of The Phantom Blot” (1964 – and pictured in this very post) was the first Mickey serial in WDC&S that I ever completed consecutively, with no missing parts. Then, resolving never to endure another incomplete serial, I subscribed, only to have “The Walt Disney Theatre” supplant the serials for a significant period of time. In all the years after that, I only missed the first chapter of “The Secret of Shipnapper’s Cove” (1969), when my subscription lapsed for an issue or two, until sometime in 1972 when I walked away from comics altogether until about 1981-82. The Mickey Mouse serials ended in 1973, as it was no longer practical to run them, with parallel Gold Key issues on newsstands and Whitman issues sold in a disjointed fashion in the 3-pack plastic bags.

Once you missed a part of a serial, or an issue, back in the Silver Age, it was (presumed) “gone-for-good”. That’s why I was so diligent in subscribing. With WDC&S, and the MM serials therein, you almost HAD to.

When DC ran its four SUPERMAN titles in the form of a weekly continued serial in the ‘90s into the early 2000’s, I loved it. I eagerly anticipated every issue, every week, and it was most often the first book I read. Thanks to my comic shop, I never missed a chapter. Now, as either less-skilled hands have taken over the titles, or my tastes have changed with age – or some combination of both, I’m no longer interested. Even though today, with back issues in comics shops, comic shows, etc., it’s impossible to miss an issue (or a part of a serialized story) and not obtain it later.

Now, I find myself more disinclined than ever to embrace multi-part stories of any kind, and from any publisher. Even those as well executed as “The Search for the Zodiac Stone”… never mind two-part “everybody-behaves-badly-fests” like the unpleasant two-issue origin of Duck Avenger in DONALD DUCK # 5 and 6. And, don’t get me started on DC’s “New 52”. Even a DC book I like, as with my recent move toward the HARLEY QUINN title, can be a chore to keep up with in strict sequential order.

When I get a NEW COMIC, I’d like to be able to read it then-and-there, without having to read each and every one that has come before it as a prerequisite. I get that feeling with such personal favorites as the soon-to-be late and lamented BATMAN ’66 title, SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, and most of the IDW Disney issues. I don't get it with HARLEY QUINN or even the current GROO.

When I first discovered comics in the Mesozoic era, most were (by necessity) of the “Done-in-One” nature and, after a long love-affair with modern serialized storytelling, I am once again a proponent of “Done-in-One”.

But, funny thing, even when SUPERMAN and others were “Done-in-One” as a rule, Mickey Mouse in WDC&S was not. And now that I KNOW I will not miss an issue, thanks to my Comic Shop Reserve List, I would like some of that old “magic” of a Donald ten-pager and a Mickey Mouse serial to find its way back to WDC&S. …Once The Phantom Blot finally rears his cloaked head later in “The Search for the Zodiac Stone”, of course!

I’ve seen the Oswald story, and it’s a real dandy! Everyone will enjoy it!

And, I loved those Mim / Beagle Boys stories too! Just another thing that made those ‘60s comics unique. …Though, oddly, I missed BEAGLE BOYS # 1 until acquiring it as a back issue in the early to mid ‘80s. But, I never missed those stories in WDC&S – and THAT’S “just another thing” that made WDC&S one of the all-time greatest comic book titles – the delightful smorgasbord that fell between the reliable tent-poles of Duck and Mouse!

scarecrow33 said...

Of the four titles, WDC & S was the one I looked forward to the most--I guess it's similar to the reason why I will usually get an issue of Justice League rather than separate issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman,'s much more economical to have all of your favorites under one cover! (When I was financially strapped, I would actually do that--buy a copy of Justice League so that I could get all of the characters at once.) I've always thought of WDC & S as the flagship title, the "foundation" of the others. As you mention, Joe, there was so much variety. Not only did we have the "tent-poles of Duck and Mouse" (I love that!) but there was usually some interesting stuff in between, especially in the early 60's when Madam Mim or Ludwig would be featured. I didn't care as much for Daisy's nieces or the "newer" Chip'n'Dale or Scamp stories (the non-reprint ones).

Anyway, I was eager to get a copy of the new version of WDC & S, and while 12 issues is quite a commitment--hey, I survived the Disney Comics multi-part sagas like "The Gold Odyssey" and "Scrooge's Quest," so I guess I can survive another year-long epic.

I must say I'm enjoying the "Zodiac" story as it unfolds. Although its premise is a bit cliche, it works very well for Mickey, Goofy, Scrooge, Donald, and company as a plot device and there have already been a few unexpected twists and turns in the story. My only quibble so far is that the Ducks and the Mouse/Goofy team have only gotten together for the exposition--the actual adventure parts of the story are still keeping the characters separate pretty much. I'm waiting for Huey to team up with Goofy, or Mickey and Scrooge to solve part of the mystery together, or Daisy and Minnie to take on some action. When the characters are in the same story like this, I enjoy seeing them actually work together, rather than comparing notes which is all they've done so far. (That was why Justice League usually worked for me, because the characters would team up in odd combinations.) I'm hoping that as the mystery unfolds the characters will mingle a little more than they have. That's the whole point of a crossover, after all!

Looking forward to the Oswald story. This has got to be the first appearance of Oswald in a Disney comic book, as Oswald was long gone from the Disney stable by the time Disney entered the comics world. I'm now wondering--does Disney own the entire Oswald character, including his appearances in the later Walter Lantz cartoons and comics? Or do they only own the character as he originally appeared in the silent shorts of the 20's? Like Mickey, Donald, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and the other cartoon stars of the classic era, Oswald underwent some cosmetic changes similar to those of Mickey--is THAT Oswald likely to appear again? I was a great fan of Oswald in the New Funnies comic book--the Lantz answer to WDC & S. So how much of Oswald does Disney own? Good question, huh?

I will throw in my vote as another fan of the Madam Mim/Beagle Boys team-ups.

Can't wait to find out what happens in future issues of WDC & S!

Joe Torcivia said...


If you “survived” the horrible ending of “Scrooge’s Quest”, you probably COULD survive anything! :-)

That’s an interesting comparison between WDC&S and JUSTICE LEAGUE. Having read both titles for many years, and though many incarnations, it’s one I never made. Probably because the Duck and Mouse stories always remained separate and never blended with one another. But, yeah… It works.

Naturally, the Oswald story features the “old silent film version” of Oswald, as Walt Disney did him before Mickey. David was justifiably very proud of this story, and showed it to me long before there was any American comics venue in which it could appear. I’m looking way forward to seeing it in print at last. I tend to doubt we’ll ever see the WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES version of Oswald ever again.

I’ll leave it to David to explain the intricacies of Oswald’s ownership, as he may be Oswald’s greatest historian. I expect his “Oswald Radar” will soon go off, drawing him to further comment on this post!

ramapith said...

I've only got a sec, but—

Disney only owns the character as he originally appeared in the silent shorts of the 1920s, together with whatever supporting characters came with him in those films.

Oswald's long-suffering pal Toby Bear—perennial of the 1940s John Stanley comics—did debut briefly in the Disney silent period, so I was able to use him in my Oswald story to create a kind of NEW FUNNIES ambience. But it still had to be drawn in the overall 1920s style. And it includes some Disney cast members who would have been superfluous in NEW FUNNIES: Lantz comics Oswald had his adopted kids Floyd and Lloyd for juvenile foils, while in Disney the bratty little cat Homer fills that role.

Joe Torcivia said...

See? What’d I tell you?

Just as Spider-Man has “Spider-Sense”, our esteemed Archival Editor has “Oswald-Sense”.

Thank you, David! Now, get back to making those IDW comics great!

scarecrow33 said...

Thanks, ramapith, for the clarification!

So the current Disney Oswald is a "reboot" to his Disney origins--pre-Mintz, pre-Lantz! Looks like a chance to start all over again with the character. Maybe he'll even appear in a future comics crossover with Mickey, Donald, and the rest! That would be very cool! (Of course, I know about his video game appearance--but that part of the Disney oeuvre is beyond my direct area of knowledge or interest.)

Makes me start speculating on what Walt would have done with the character if Mintz hadn't interfered. Would the world have gone Mouse-less all these years? Or might Mickey have eventually evolved as a secondary character in Oswald's cartoons, just as later Donald and Goofy developed within Mickey's world? We will never know, but it sure is interesting to speculate.

And in a way it's a relief that I won't have to cut up my issues of New Funnies and paste the Oswald pages into Walt Disney's Comics and Stories! (Never fear, I am only kidding--I would never cut up my old comics! It was sheer--or should I say 'shear'?--metaphor!)

I appreciate this information greatly! Thanks, ramapith and Joe!

Joe Torcivia said...


I feel that, if Walt Disney had retained Oswald, we would exist in a world without Mickey.

Why create a new character that was so similar to Oswald? It would be like giving Breezly Bruin to Yogi Bear to hang around with instead of Boo-Boo! It just wouldn’t have worked.

Maybe “Donald and Goofy-like” characters would have been developed to support Oswald – but Mickey? No dice!

On the other hand, the Floyd Gottfredson Oswald adventure strip would have been something to see!

A long time ago, in the Gemstone days, I sent a parody of one of my very frequent “Comic Book Letters of Comment” to David on “The Gemstone Oswald Comic That Might Have Been” as a gag. I later turned it into one of my very early Blog Posts.

As long as we’re now all hankering for some Oswald comics, you can read what I would have written about them HERE.

Clapton said...

Looking forward to reading your Oswald story. It's interusting how you combined elements of Disney and Lantz era Oswald.
So... WDC&S is the worst selling BUT if you look at it without comparing it to the other Disney titles, sellling well?

Deb said...

The Zodiac Stone serial has been hit-and-miss with me. Some chapters have been better than others. Hopefully, the next seven chapters won't be as silly as Mode Star in this month's WDC&S. It isn't a bad story, but it seems to be almost too much of a tonal shift from previous chapters. Cartoon space operas are always a bit of a risk, because you can get away with a lot of nonsense, like in Plan Dine From Outer Space, yet sometimes you can get a bit too silly, like this story and Carl Barks' Interplanetary Postman. (I love Interplanetary Postman, but it's too silly to be considered classic Barks, so it's kind of a guilty pleasure of mine.)
I also would like to see a return to a more classic format for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories once the Zodiac Stone serial finishes. It would be a good showcase for newer 10-page Donald Duck stories, new and classic filler like the Bucky Bug, Scamp, Chip and Dale and any more new Oswald stories that have been created, as well as new and classic Mickey Mouse serials.

Joe Torcivia said...


I’d call that another vote for classic era WDC&S, but consider the following…

I wonder if Duck and Mouse stories are still being produced that would fit the classic-mold, lengthwise. Beyond William Van Horn, is there still a great reserve of ten-page Donald Duck stories, or are they more like 12 pages now? And are 3-4 part Mickey serials still produced, or would it become a matter of breaking-up some of the longer ones, with arbitrarily-designated chapter cliffhangers?

And, what would fill the middle? I’m guessing there is no shortage of Li’l Bad Wolf stories, and Brer Rabbit would have to be cleaned-up dialogue-wise if he can be used at all these days. Other Duck and /or Mouse related features, such as The Beagle Boys, Gyro Gearloose, Goofy / Super Goof, etc. could appear as backups in the regular Duck and /or Mouse titles. I’m also not keen on returning to the rigid formula of Scamp and Chip ‘n’ Dale, bookended (literally) by Donald and Mickey, to the exclusion of all else as the title was done in the late 1950s. I think something on the order of the more eclectic 1963-1965 type of issues might be best.

Perhaps that’s why it’s not easy to assemble an iteration of WDC&S that would satisfy everyone. It’s certainly more difficult than assembling a satisfactory issue of the “other three of the Core Four”, UNCLE SCROOGE, DONALD DUCK, and MICKEY MOUSE ( we've seen happen this very month), and perhaps that’s why they came out of the gate with something like “Zodiac Stone”. Cast-wise, at least, it would tend to please most readers.

Deb said...

I think the problem with WDC&S is that most of the Disney Comics fans today are fans of Ducks and Mice, and the other characters that would usually fill these pages have fallen into obscurity. Ideally, if IDW could have had access to ALL of Disney's characters, stories based on Winnie the Pooh, the feature films or The Disney Afternoon would probably go over bigger than Chip' n' Dale or Scamp, but would possibly overshadow Mickey and Donald as well. So perhaps using WDC&S to showcase Mickey and Donald crossover material may be the best route over going to a total nostalgia title...I can see the merits and pitfalls of both ideas.

Joe Torcivia said...

I have to agree with you, Deb, when it comes to other material. But, honestly, I wouldn’t care to see Winnie the Pooh or feature film properties filling-out WDC&S, even if the licensing agreement allowed for it. (…And I don’t know if it does or not – though, I’d presume not!) Remember when “The Wuzzles” was in Gladstone Series One’s earliest issues of WDC&S? No one liked that, as I recall. So, it’s a tricky balancing act.

I think ANOTHER thing that made WDC&S so popular in years-gone-by is that it was a MONTHLY, while the other titles were bi-monthly or even quarterly. That gave you your Duck and Mouse fix EVERY MONTH, in ways the other “Core Four" titles did not.

Now, that all four titles are monthlies – and have been so for a very long time – perhaps WDC&S has become a little “less special” for it.

Clapton said...

I have no real knowledge of what the foreign publishers are doing but I got a feeling there aren't any 3-4 part Mickey serials with the traditional WDC&S page length. My guess is that if WDC&S goes back to it's clasic format at the completion of the Zodiac stone arc the Mickey story would be of the 10-ish page egmont variety.

Joe Torcivia said...


I don’t think I’d really wish to see stories “ of the 10-ish page Egmont variety”, because they could just as easily be used as backups for the regular MICKEY MOUSE title.

Perhaps better to serialize longer Scarpa or Casty stories, provided they could be broken up at points that make sense.

Clapton said...

Looks like I was wrong. An inducks search revealed that there are plenty of two to three part Mickey serials of the old fashioned format. Here are some examples:

TheKKM said...

I have to admit, even having come to a (very resigned, I'm afraid) acceptance of American dialoguing practices, this issue still confused me entirely- I really don't remember there having been any indication whatsoever of Zapotec ever having been Spanish! Feels genuinely random, and not quite in a good way- what if some Italian writer makes a story showing he was born in Russia, now? I just don't get it.

Beyond all that, I do appreciate the effort in giving each character their individual voices and writing styles, even if the result sometimes strains the effort of poor non-native English readers like me. But as far as Italian stories are concerned I generally have the Portuguese editions which are much more to my taste in terms of being straight translations with some spicing up added, so I'm content. Just good to see America having these stories at all!

Massimo de Vita has recently become one of ym favourite artists. I vaguely remember this story as a kid, which probably means it wasn't that interesting to me- but for the art alone, it's worth it for me. And being recoloured with the American colours makes it a plus- Italian stories use too many primary reds and yellows, it just becomes visually boring after a while!

RE: Oswald, something I've been wondering is what's his situation as a character. As far as I imagine, you can't really, say, cross one of these "Core Four" (to borrow your term, Mr. Torcivia) stories with, say, Darkwing Duck, as Darkwing is a Disney Afternoon license and there can't be any crossing of the streams- is Oswald in a similar situation, as an "Epic Mickey" license or something? Or could we presumably actually have, say, new stories with Mickey and Oswald, or Oswald and Scrooge McDuck?

Aah, the possibilities for a frustrated fan!

Joe Torcivia said...


Welcome to this Blog, and good wishes toward the new enterprise I’ve just read of.

I can certainly understand why anyone of a non-American background might have issue with the American localizing of stories that they might have read for years in their native languages. And, I cannot honestly speak for any of the choices made in creating the American English version of “Zodiac Stone”, currently in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, as I have not been involved with that particular story in any way other than as a reader.

For instance, the very example you cite of Zapotec being Spanish (or not), is something I confess to being completely unaware of until your mention of it. On the other hand, I am very happy to discuss the process of formulation behind any story that I have personally worked on – and I try to post on at least every issue that I have contributed to, as well as certain others where I have not (…though “horrifically busy periods” sometimes get in the way of my good intentions).

As I often say, I do not speak for IDW, but there’s one thing of which you can be sure. The persons who make up what I call the “IDW Creative Core Four”: David Gerstein, Jonathan Gray, Thad Komorowski, and myself – and Gary Leach, who has been a key contributor to these comics since the earliest days of Gladstone! – are lifelong fans and devotees of the Disney comic books! And we wish to see them read in the best possible way for the American audience.

Personally, I’ve been a “True Fan” of these comics since THIS ISSUE and a casual reader before that! And I will never give them anything but my vest best efforts. Read some of the stories I discuss here and you will find that to be true. So, I hope that what we do is pleasing to you overall – even if “differences” may stand out.

Disney licensing is both complicated and tricky – and it’s a topic I’d just as soon stay away from. It’s so unlike the “good old days of Western Publishing”, when you could pretty much publishing anything!

Please do continue to comment here. I will welcome your contributions.

TheKKM said...

Thanks for the kind welcome, and I do hope you excuse me for the deluge of comments, and for any occasional acidic tone- I promise I usually come across as angrier than I really am, and I do appreciate this whole Disney blogosphere and the general work you guys are doing :P

I didn't expect you to be able to answer for Jon's choices in dialoguing this story, of course, I apologize if it seems I did- I was just... uh. Letting off some steam? The word misses me. Thinking out loud?

Joe Torcivia said...


Fear not. I enjoyed your comments, and hope to do so for a long while going forward! I saw no “angry”, just intelligent discussion – which is what we do around here!

Comment anytime – and anywhere – all around this Blog, and I will read it and respond. I will have to delay any additional comments for now. But, I’ll get to them soon enough.

Very glad you enjoy what we do – here and in the comics themselves.

TheKKM said...

Allow me to throw a quick thanks for the wishes of good luck regarding the new forum- and an invitation to join, if forum formats are your thing!

Joe Torcivia said...

In the past, I’ve tended to stay away from Forums because (unlike this Blog) they often stray into the type of negativity I choose not to be a part of. But, I *have* looked in on yours, and you (if you’re the moderator) seem to be someone who exhibits my own standards in the communications we’ve shared thus far – so I may very well join. If not, I’ll be an observer anyway.

HERE’S the link, for anyone who may wish to check it out.

Spectrus said...

Oh God, I love how Jonathan worked Spectrus into the cover! To me he shines more in the story than the Blot does. I had always wished more people used Spectrus, but I guess it gets harder and harder to justify his release/escape from jail.

Anyway, so to fill in some of the blanks (proof that David's idea of properly introducing a character or concept isn't so wrong...):

Zapotec is a historian/archeologist. He was invented by Massimo De Vita and appeared in some quite dramatic (and great!) epic tales involving Mickey and Goofy. The trio usually gets involved in some ancient mystery. (Not unlike the more recent Eurasia stories, but FAR darker in tone.)

Some years later, Giorgio Pezzin and Bruno Concina both independently came up with the idea of a Time Machine series, and they wanted to use Zapotec. But he's a humanist, not an inventor. So they gave him a partner/friend who knows more about science and such, Marlin. And sticking with the original premise, they send Mickey and Goofy back in time to solve ancient mysteries and riddles. (King Arthur, Atlantis, Cleopatra, Ulysses, Nero, Etrusks etc.) Sometimes they actually *cause* the mystery themselves (time paradox alert!), sometimes the solution is completely surprising or trivial. More recently there have been other uses of it as well, like when Mickey wants to go back in time so he can buy Minnie a present (which the two profs are NOT happy about at all!), or when each of the four suspects the other to have misused the Time Machine in order to win the lottery (a grrrrreat story btw).

On the whole, the "Time Machine" series is among the finest stuff Disney Italia has ever produced (Even Casty already did a couple of Time Machine stories). - the characters are in the title as well, but in slightly different positions. Goofy's legs were cut for the US version :/

Also, looking at some of the dialogue you posted, I find myself agreeing with TheKKM: Too much embellishment takes the flow out of the story.

Joe Torcivia said...


From the perspective of 2018 (vs. that of 2015), the mere fact that someone with my background in these comics would – at least from the first chapter of “Zodiac Stone” - suspect Marlin as possibly being revealed as being evil, is proof that this series of stories needed a PROPER introduction! …Not just plopped down in twelve-issue-total upon unsuspecting us, as it was.

However, if Jonathan Gray never writes another word in service to Disney comics, I will be forever in his debt for his tying Zapotec and Marlin into those 1960s Paul Murry “Time Machine” stories!

…I suppose that, if Zapotec and Marlin were NOT to get that “proper introduction” they deserved, this might be the next best thing for American readers.