Thursday, February 22, 2018

On Sale January 31, 2018: WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 741 from IDW.

Yeah, yeah, I know... On Sale January 31, and it's almost March!  But, it's a QUARTERLY now, so I've got plenty of time to fit this in before the presumed Next Issue appears in April!  ...And, that thought nicely leads into my opening:

Once upon a time, in the 1940s, there was a "Giant Redwood" among comic book titles!  Its name was WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES!  

It was a "Giant Redwood" that stood, not alone, but as part of a "GREAT FOREST of Giant Redwoods"!  Those "Giant Redwoods" in the GREAT FOREST of DELL COMICS, reflected the illustrious animation studios of the time!





Even DC COMICS and COLUMBIA PICTURES became part of this "Great Forest of Giant Redwoods" that consisted of Animation Anthology Comic Books, featuring the many different characters created by their respective studios!  

One by one these venerable titles fell by the wayside, giving way to eponymous titles for each studio's most popular starring characters...

...And, by mid-1962, only WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES remained!  

Not only did it "remain", it THRIVED!  

Throughout the 1960s, and into the 1970s, it was the ONLY MONTHLY title in the Gold Key Comics line!  

Its successful format of a "Donald Duck Lead Story", a mix of various and sundry Disney characters in the middle, and a "Mickey Mouse Serial" at its end ensured a lively and enjoyable read, month after month, and year after reliable year!  

There were occasional "format tweaks".  The Mickey Mouse Serials briefly stepped aside for "The Walt Disney Theater".

The Mickey Mouse Serials would also occasionally come and go, being replaced by shorter single-issue stories, before returning once again.  

The Donald Duck Leads might get pushed to the middle of the book, or become "Donald and Daisy".  

It could become Giant Sized...

Or even Squarebound...

But the successful formula of "Donald in the Front" and "Mickey in the Back" regaled us for decades!   

Until recent years when, alas, WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES seemed to lose its way!  

At no time was this EVER WORSE then when, under the very misguided management of Boom! Studios, the title was turned over to the (so far out of mainstream it hurts to even look at it) "Ultraheroes"!  

C'MON, REALLY?!  When this happened, for the first time in my life I felt good about Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson no longer being with us - so they wouldn't have to see this atrocity.   

Even at the start of the otherwise great run of IDW Disney comics, the first year of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES was burdened with an overlong and (frankly) diffused TWELVE PART TALE that was not really in the spirit of this historic comics magazine.  

But, as you would expect from IDW - and the individuals there who really do care about these comics - the IDW incarnation of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES straightened itself out, and became the title it always should have been!  
But again, with the recent (and hopefully temporary) hiatus of both the DONALD DUCK and MICKEY MOUSE titles, WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES has sort of become the quarterly-published, de-facto interim substitute for both... being dominated by long Donald Duck lead stories... 

...And, as in this issue, long Mickey Mouse lead stories...

...Not unlike the "also-quarterly" DONALD AND MICKEY title!

And, while I hope that WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES will once again return to its once-unique status among comic magazines, I say let's enjoy the current IDW incarnation for the great stories it offers!   Like in our current issue...

"Mickey Mouse and the Fire Eye of Atlantis" Part 1 of 2.  42 Pages (!). Written and drawn by the great modern mouse-master Andrea "Casty" Castellan, with translation and dialogue by a "modern mouse-master" in his own right, Jonathan Gray!  

A secret society, calling itself "The Horde of the Violet Hare" is after one of those typically ancient artifacts of great and destructive power with a connection to ancient lost Atlantis - with Mickey, Goofy, and explorer Eurasia Toft in search of the same prize.  

There are some amazingly awesome visuals by Casty, like this "found footage" sequence... (Click to Enlarge)

...And how ever-lovin', breath-away-taking, downright undeniably remarkable is THIS?  (Click to Enlarge)

Jonathan gives us the "laugh-out-loud-moment-of-the-month" here!  Look closely, and to the left! Don't miss it among all the static.  

A two-page Donald Duck skiing gag rounds out the issue! 

With that, I invite you to join us in our Comments Section to discuss this issue, the evolution of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES over its 741 (!) issues, or how this may be a "Giant Redwood" among modern comics! ...Or whatever tree that might be!

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. 

Oh, and if YOU should happen to find "The Fire Eye of Atlantis" before our heroes or The Horde of the Violet Hare, just hold on to it and DO NOTHING UNTIL I GET THERE TO KEEP IT SAFE!  

...Yeah, that's just what I'll do... Keep it safe!  Hee-hee-hee! 


Achille Talon said...

A fine issue and a fine review! But boxdamnit, another version of the Disney comics universe's Atlantis? If I am ever (a fellow can dream) a comic writer, I'll be writing a story centering on the weird spacetime anomaly where different versions of Atlantis coexist in the same universe and it's a gamble which one you'll end up in every time. Ludwig would be fascinated.

Achille Talon said...

(Oh, I almost forgot — love the Pierre Benoît's Atlantis reference with Queen Antinea, though.)

Joe Torcivia said...


“Finding Atlantis” is a lot like “Saving Christmas”… darned near everybody does it eventually. …And, funny thing is, unlike Christmas, “Atlantis” is different almost every time!


There was a time, at DC Comics, where “Atlantis” in SUPERMAN (with mermaid Lori Lemaris) was different from “Atlantis” in AQUAMAN (with water-breathing human-types, and where Aquaman was king), yet both Superman and Aquaman were in the same version of the Justice League! …Go figure!

Back in the Fanzine and APA days of TIAH, I even envisioned Beavis and Butt-Head “Finding Atlantis”! Yes, really!

I asked readers to LOOK AT THIS COVER and imagine Beavis and Butthead substituted for Scrooge and Donald - only B&B are wearing NO diving equipment whatsoever.

Butt-Head: Cool, dude! It’s like ATLANTIS… or somethin’! Huh-Huh!

Beavis: Hey, Butt-Head, Heh-Heh… How come we can, like, BREATHE UNDERWATER, an’ stuff?

Butt-Head: Uh… Huh-Huh? We CAN’T! (GLUB! GLUB! GLUB!)

Beavis: This suc… (GLUB! GLUB! GLUB!)

…Ah, all the fun you folks missed back in those “Paper-TIAH” days!

Your “multiple Atlantis” concept just might be the way to go!

The Horde of the Violet Hare said...

Joe: "Oh, and if YOU should happen to find "The Fire Eye of Atlantis" before our heroes or The Horde of the Violet Hare, just hold on to it and DO NOTHING UNTIL I GET THERE TO KEEP IT SAFE! ...Yeah, that's just what I'll do... Keep it safe! Hee-hee-hee!"

So! Another participant in the search for the Fire Eye! Please report to our headquarters for your brainwashing!
-The Horde of the Violet Hare

Joe Torcivia said...



Cool! Now that you mention it, my brain IS a bit dusty!

Do you do steam cleaning?

The Horde of the Violet Hare said...

Why sure! We also do brain bubble-baths. Stop by sometime

Legion of the Chartreuse Tortoise said...

Foolish Horde of the Violet Hare! It shall be we, The Legion of the Chartreuse Tortoise who shall posses the Fire Eye of Atlantis and not you, or this mysterious "Joe Torcivia". We at the Legion have never heard of him before, and would advise him to leave the finding of powerful artifacts to us!
We must sign off now, as Debbie has discovered that we are using her phone again...(No, we aren't Fluffy and Mervin...don't be silly!)

Joe Torcivia said...

Tortoise? Meet Hare!

Then you can both have a race through the territory of that other new secret society… “The Field of the Yellow Snow”!

And tell Fluffy and Mervin to go celebrate Thanksgiving, or Washington’s Birthday, or sumpthin’... like Tom and Jerry would!

Marc Whinston said...

So...That green cover. Issue #736. When did that come out?

I ask because that tiger-striped plant looks suspiciously like Audrey II. Or Audrey II looks suspiciously like it.

Joe Torcivia said...


WDC&S # 736 was a late 2016 release. The cover is indicative of an interior story about a similar-looking (but not EXCATLY similarly-drawn) plant. The plant on the cover is kinda like a cross between the plant in the interior story, and “Audrey II”.

The Horde of the Violet Hare said...

Well! The search is getting heated now! We'll have to get more brain-soap for our brainwashing service. We seem to have run clean out of it.

top_cat_james said...

Say, where's "New Terrytoons" / "Heckle & Jeckle" / "Mighty Mouse" in your eponymous titles line-up?

Joe Torcivia said...


Yes, I understand brainwashing soap is presently in short supply, now that the “Mélange of the Mauve Muskrat” has muscled-in on your own malevolent mob!

…Perhaps you could refocus your efforts toward …um, “removing” “The Field of the Yellow Snow”, assuming those Mighty Muskrats haven’t also cornered the market on shovels and rock-salt!

Joe Torcivia said...

Ah, welcome back, TCJ!

We *have* missed your brightening things up ‘round here!

NEW TERRYTOONS gets tossed on a technicality!

While the STUDIO was indeed “Illustrious” and… er, “Golden-Age-of-Theatrical-Animation-y”, the NEW TERRYTOONS title itself was not a title of the 1940s. More like early 1960s.

Meaning it wasn’t… er, “Golden-Age-of-Comics-y”, or whatever the phrase might be!

But, it may very well get some credit for perhaps being the LAST animation studio anthology title of its kind? Not certain, but is it?

Can’t exactly count HANNA-BARBERA BANDWAGON, as it intentionally omitted the studio’s “Big Stars”! All of which had eponymous titles anyway.

All of this fun-minutiae aside, WDC&S was – for a very long time – the last of its once-popular breed. Now, as great as the content is, it’s still just another “Mickey and Donald” title. But, once again… For now, that’s quite all right – as long as the contents REMAIN great!

top_cat_james said...

But, it may very well get some credit for perhaps being the LAST animation studio anthology title of its kind? Not certain, but is it?

Believe that particular honor goes to the awkwardly titled TV CASPER AND COMPANY which ended in 1974 after eleven years.

Joe Torcivia said...

Yes, I'd have to say you're right on that!

Comicbookrehab said...

"COMICS and Stories" tended to dominate the "Walt Disney's" part - I wonder if anyone ever thought the book should've had pages with "Walt" as "your host..", like he did on "Disneyland"/"Wonderful World of Color": "..and to explain the psychological implications of good and bad behavior between Mr. X and Neighbor Jones, here's Professor Von Drake"...although I don't think there's a story from overseas with Ludwig analyzing Donald and Jones; I don't think Jones was popular outside the U.S. enough to inspire new stories from Scarpa, Cavazzano, Pezzin, Carpi, etc., though someone correct me if I'm wrong.

When you have great characters like Donald Duck and Mickey really forget that this book was an anthology..but I do remember the other characters who you rarely saw most of the time in their own features..Scamp, Lil Wolf, Brer Rabbit, Bucky Bug, Ludwig Von objections here.

Joe Torcivia said...


That’s an interesting thought… Having Walt Disney (a comics version OR via photographs with dialogue balloons or captions) hosting the comic. Of course, in such a long-running magazine, Mr. Disney, would have to “evolve” as the times changed… appearing “younger” in the earliest issues, and as he did on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” in the 1960s issues.

…And, after 1966, his appearances would have stopped altogether – unless Gold Key treated him in the same way they treated Boris Karloff!

And, the idea isn’t as radical as all that. Leon Schlesinger briefly appeared in LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES # 2, and Walter Lantz appeared on certain covers of WALTER LANTZ TV FUNNIES!

And, more recently, let’s not forget that Walt Disney ACTUALLY DID appear, in comics form, in the cover-featured story of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 734 (IDW, 2016) – and with Salvador Dali, no less!

Finally, to bring our topic full-circle, WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 734 (as it SHOULD) had a Donald Duck lead, the Mickey Mouse story with Messrs. Disney and Dali, and a Li’l Bad Wolf tale! …Though, the Mickey Mouse story was SECOND, and not last! Still, just what this title ought to be!

Achille Talon said...

To answer one of Rehab's questions: no, Neighbor Jones was never featured often in Italian Disney comics, although he is a very recurring character in Dutch comics. In fact, the Italians didn't even know about him, and thus ended up creating almost the same character all over again, except as a thinner, more scheming type of fellow than Jones' brutish, Pete-like bullying. The character was called Anaclet Weasel (though he's a dognose, not a weasel), and even has a nephew who is friends with Huey, Dewey and Louie… to their respective uncles' woe.

Here's his page on the Wiki:

Joe Torcivia said...

That’s a new one on me, Achille!

HERE’S the link!

Julian H said...

Oh no, you just put down one of my absolute favourite stories - The Zodiac Stone twelve-parter is a classic! Released waaay back in 1991 here in Germany (before my time), spread out over two Lustige Taschenbücher... and I remember trying to order those because my favourite villain, Spectrus, was in there, but it was unavailable when I tried - and imagine my surprise when some years later I saw the book after it had been reprinted! So nothing but fond memories tied to that story for me. Bruno Sarda did a great job incorporating the many different characters and (sometimes quite slyly) zodiac signs. Wonderful art as well, mostly by Massimo De Vita who is one of the "top 3" Italian artists (other 2: Scarpa and Cavazzano)!. This is the kind of stuff that made me a comic fan, you see...

That said, I can understand that somebody could be confused because of the new characters (Zapotec, Marlin - who were already established long before in Italy) and the general mode of storytelling.

(Ultraheroes had the same problem, but even as somebody very familiar with the classic Duck Avenger / Superdaisy continuity I have to say that it's not particularly successful in what it tried to achieve. I did like that they brought Spectrus back, his appearance was one of the few highlights of an otherwise not particularly great cycle.)

As for the new Eurasia story: I'm jealous of you guys that you're getting this story before us - but I'm even more jealous because that beautiful cover will never be printed on a German release! Sadly, we keep being told, "Mickey does not sell"... leading to stories like "The World to Come" or "Quandomai Island" being hidden behind very generic Donald covers not even related to the content...

As for Atlantis in general: There is an older long one with Arizona Goof *and* Zapotec/Marlin (a rare combination), written by "Mr. Complex" Francesco Artibani:

But I prefer Casty's take on the subject. Well, at least from what I've read... since I haven't had the chance to read "The Fire Eye of Atlantis" yet...

ramapith said...

Achille—to the best of my knowledge, the English name "Anaclet Weasel" is your own creation: fanon, as it were. As for whether the name reflects the most common understanding of the character: originally—in 1965—this neighbor was Anacleto Mitraglia. The variant last name of Faina (= "beech marten," a type of weasel) wasn't used until 1984, and has never become as common as Mitraglia. He is still Mitraglia, not Faina, in most recent Italian stories.

As for whether the Italians "even knew" about Jones when they created Mitraglia: I believe they did; before belonging to this new neighbor character, the name Anacleto Mitraglia was given to Jones himself in some local Italian translations of Barks. So while the Italians' Mitraglia quickly became rather distinct from Jones, he was initially understood as an interpretation of him.

I don't think it's a good idea to present fanon, like your own newly-created English name for an Italian character ("Anaclet Weasel"), on your wiki as if it's accepted canon. It risks confusing publishers and even Disney themselves: as a critical example, Paperinika's English name, "Super Daisy," became official thanks to a publisher mistaking a fanon site for accurate history. And that was a mistake—for "Super Daisy" was quite an inappropriate name; in continuity, Daisy as a superhero actually wants her true identity to remain a secret! But now, thanks to the mistake, we're stuck with a name that works against continuity...

Joe Torcivia said...


I completely agree that “Super Daisy” is an unfortunate and ridiculous name… but I guess an unfortunate and ridiculous CONCEPT deserves an unfortunate and ridiculous name!

All of you reading this, please repeat after me… LOUDLY and in unison… NOT EVERYONE IN THE DING-DANGED DISNEY UNIVERSE SHOULD BE A SUPERHERO!

Again and again… LOUDER, so that the “Sadly-Misguided-On-This-One-Issue-Powers-That-Be” might hear your righteously indignant voices, and strike from said “Universe” this absurd concept that extends super-heroic identities to even Gladstone Gander… and (Shudder!) Gus Goose!


Obviously, I love Super Goof. I was there at his (three different attempts at an) origin! He’s really ALL you need, for a “Universe” whose basis is NOT super-heroics – as opposed to DC and (ironically, Disney’s own) Marvel.

I have never felt the need for “comics’ ultimate everyman”, AKA Carl Barks’ Donald Duck, to be “Duck Avenger” as it takes him way too far out of the superb version of the character that Carl Barks created and refined to perfection! But, that variation has been around for a LONG TIME, and I can either accept it, or ignore it, as I wish!

I even like the notion of Cecil Beard and Paul Murry’s “human” super hero, “The Red Wasp”, being up there in the clouds, and taking care of the “really big stuff” that we don’t even know about!

But, Fethry, Gladstone, and (especially) Gus as superheroes – and, in some bizarre continuities, even Chief O’Hara? That’s not just “a bridge too far”, That’s “an ENTIRE COSMOS too far”!

As for this possible “difference of opinion” between my good friends David and Achille, I will assume the role of the great J. Wellington Wimpy and deftly step aside to say: “Let’s You and Him Fight!” After all, I have no “dog” in this fight… or duck, mouse, pig, wolf, chipmunk, etc.

Just remember that, here at TIAH Blog, we are renowned for our respect for and civility toward one another. Please do not confuse this forum with another (…such as one named for a cousin of Donald Duck who is not named Gladstone) where angry posters can call for my job, call for the jobs of everyone who hired me, and hit my mother with a coconut cream pie just for having me! ;-) I wear that incident like a “Badge of Honor”, don’t I?

Oh, and tomorrow, there will be a new, date-appropriate post that is pre-scheduled to coincide with THE FIRST OF MARCH. But, that doesn’t mean you all can’t continue having fun here…

…Just go easy on the coconut cream pies, okay?

Joe Torcivia said...


While I won’t deny my distaste for the “way-too-long-and-far-too-diffused Zodiac Stone story”, our differing views on it could be (at least somewhat) based upon the ways in which we first experienced it.

First and foremost, as evidenced by its reference in this particular post, it is not in the “spirit” of what WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES has traditionally and historically been at its best!

You may recall, at the outset, I displayed great enthusiasm toward its first chapter HERE.

But, even then, I was voicing the same opinion as I do in this post:

“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.”

Somewhere between then, and the abovementioned “ sometime in June, 2016”, it became quite clear that there wasn’t nearly enough relevant material to sustain a twelve part epic. The “story” (such as it was) became far too diffused, as I discuss HERE!

Once it began padding itself with chapters like this, that could just as easily have been unrelated stand-alone stories, I knew it was doomed.

Now, the reason I *do* consider that our differing views on it could be directly related to the different ways in which we first experienced it, is based on my assumption that you very likely experienced it at a more accelerated pace… perhaps weekly rather than monthly, or in a higher number of pages per issue – and that it did not consume a FULL YEAR of your life! At such a pace, the diffusion I cite would seem less of a sin.

I will further assume that you had a greater quantity of OTHER DISNEY COMICS MATERIAL surrounding it. Certainly more than we did (and still do) in the woefully-underserved USA. That, too, would tend to lessen its shortcomings - rather than magnify them.

For you, it also did not intrude upon, and therefore lessen, what should have been a far more momentous occasion – the return, in the USA, of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES and of the “Core Four” Disney comics in general, after too long a hiatus and under the otherwise superb editorial stewardship of IDW, to boot!

Oh, and “Ultraheroes” had a very different problem… Its very existence! ;-)

I do hope you get to see “The Fire Eye of Atlantis” soon! Just as WE will soon see Casty’s “The Terrifying World of Tutor”… thanks, in considerable measure, to you!

HERE is Julian’s “Arizona Goof” link!

Achille Talon said...

@ramapith: Now this — Anacleto Mitraglia having originally been an Italian name for Jughead Jones? That is very interesting. Looks like a rewrite of the wiki page is in order. On the name issue, however: if you fear it causing confusion, I will add a note that it is not an official English name, but in characters or stories, it is the Wiki's policy to find an English appellation rather than use an Italian one. I do wonder what an accurate English randition of Mitraglia might be, though. My (limited) research hasn't turned anything as to "Mitraglia"s possible meaning. Anyone Italian over here to clear this up?

And now on the subject of Zodiac and Ultraheroes: I think your understanding of the situaiton, Joe, is right on the money. We Europeans who have several all-characters titles going on at the same time with at least a hundred pages each do not get so riled up about things like Ultraheroes or Zodiac because they're just a little extra that doesn't really take the place of the normal comics we are expecting. My thoughts on both of these are very similar, though I would agree that Ultraheroes is worse — I don't necessarily mind the concept as such, but those two series thought too grandly of themselves compared to what they actually delivered.

If I may go on a tangent, however, I wouldn't lump Fethry's "Red Bat" in the same bag as Gladstone's "Cloverleaf" and the justly-despised "Iron Gus". As you may be aware, the Red Bat has a history in Brazilian comics that closely parallels Super Goof's — except where Super Goof mainly spoofs Superman, Red Bat is, of course, more of a failed, angst-free Batman. The long and short of it is, the Red Bat is a funny spoof, not a "straight" superhero like Cloverleaf or even the Duck Avenger. In fact, with his traditional "fads", I think it's somewhat more plausible for Fethry to take up incompetent superheroing than it is for Goofy… no offence to the wonderful Super Goof stories, of course.

(PS: Posting this as a "named guest" rather than from my account because of some silly informatics issue. In case anyone wonders.)

Joe Torcivia said...

First, an announcement…

The new post I had scheduled for the first of March, will be delayed, because this discussion has remained very interesting and lively - SO KEEP IT UP, FOLKS! That post will be released in a few days.

End of announcement…


You REALLY have my position on "Zodiac Stone" and "Ultraheroes" down perfectly. No need for further elaboration.

Part of what I like about Super Goof is that (at least in the origin that “stuck”) the super-heroic identity “came to him” – quite innocently, as you would expect with Goofy. And, the fact that even the great detective Mickey Mouse has never caught on. …I guess he figures there are simply “handsome” superheroes like The Red Wasp, and other ones that look like Goofy!

Perhaps I should reconsider on Fethry as “The Red (faced, from embarrassment?) Bat”. Yes, I can easily see him “trying this out”, as with so many other things he dabbles in. I’d probably rather read about HIM taking up such an identity, instead of Donald – for whom it still doesn’t work for me.

David is welcome to respond to your other comments.

Debbie Anne said...

My two cents:
About Ultra Heroes:
I read the whole thing that BOOM printed in the paperbacks...Not the worst Disney story ever, but not the best, either. I just can't buy Gladstone Gander as a superhero. Maybe a supervillain, but even then, he's more of a narcissist than someone who would inflict his intentions on Duckburg. Gus is too lazy to be a superhero, but Fethry...I can see him wanting to be a superhero, but being more annoying than helpful.
The Zodiac Stone story isn't so it's collected volume, where you don't have to wait an entire year to finish the story. It just doesn't build up suspense as well as even some of the more mediocre Paul Murry Mickey Mouse serials did. On it's own, it's a bit of a collector's item, as it gives us a 12 part tour of common themes and ideas from the world of Disney comics, connected by a treasure hunt idea.
Personally, I'd love to see some of those WDC&S filler features return, like Bucky Bug, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Li'l Bad Wolf. Maybe someday...

Joe Torcivia said...


Okay, okay, Fethry can stay! Hopefully, he compensates both you and Achille for your advocacy efforts!

In an extended world that contains Darkwing Duck and Gizmoduck, Fethry’s “Red (faced, from embarrassment?) Bat” would fit right in.

But, I ain’t budgin’ on Gladdy, Gus, and especially Chief O’Hara! …Oh, I hope they don’t call him “Super Chief” – but at least that’s better than “Super Daisy”!

And, while we’re at it, perhaps this is the way to revive and reimagine MOBY DUCK! He can be that “Ocean-Based-Super-Hero-that-Talks-to-Fish”! Every universe needs at least one of those, and Moby has always had some sort of empathic communications link with his pet porpoise “Porpy” (“Harnk!”), so why not extend that to the entire undersea domain.

…Taking his cue from a far more famous “Ocean-Based-Super-Hero-that-Talks-to-Fish”, he can call himself (…Are ya ready for this, folks?) “Aqua-Duck”! …Hey, it’s STILL better than “Super Daisy”!

Shifting gears, as if Achille hadn’t already crystalized why I feel as I do about “The Search for the Zodiac Stone”, Deb really ices the cake when she says: “It just doesn't build up suspense as well as even some of the more mediocre Paul Murry Mickey Mouse serials did.”

Okay, maybe not that “mediocre” part because, compared with “Zodiac Stone”, even all those railroading, island-visiting, and western ranch centric serials (…much less the more interesting sci-fi based serials of the mid-sixties onward) might as well have been LOST, THE WALKING DEAD, and any and everything ALFRED HITCHCOCK ever did when it comes to “suspense”!

And, if ya wanna talk “Murry and Suspense”, look no further than THIS! …Say, by now Mr. Murry’s people ought to be compensating ME for my advocacy efforts!

“Zodiac Stone”, after an admittedly promising start, became a 12-installment exercise in “First-Mickey-and-Goofy-do-this-thing”, “Then-Donald-and-Scrooge-do-that-thing”, “Then-Mickey-and-Goofy-do-this-other-thing”, “Then-Donald-and-Scrooge-do-that-other-thing”, to where you finally ended up with episodic non-sequiturs like this chapter of FILLER that I’ve already linked-to above!

At only three (sometimes four) chapters of 8-10 pages apiece, the Paul Murry Mickey Mouse serials never had the time to become similarly diffused! In the upcoming Fantagraphics Paul Murry Collection, I describe these tales as “tight mystery adventures that satisfy”.

That’s because they NEVER ASPIRED to be anything more than that! They had not the intended air of grandeur of “The Search for the Zodiac Stone” and, as a result, never fell as hard should they fail to deliver!

…Perhaps they should have tried doing “Zodiac Stone” in that same “three (sometimes four) chapters of 8-10 pages apiece”, as did Paul Murry and his collaborating writers. We’d have either gotten a tighter and more focused story, or a mercifully shorter one! Talk about “Win/Win”!

Joe Torcivia said...

Say, now that I think more about it, a FOUR-PART version of “Zodiac Stone” WOULD have worked well!

Just as with the earlier Silver Age JUSTICE LEAGUE comics, where they split-up to tackle different aspects of a problem and reunite at the end, we could have a BEGINNING chapter, then a chapter of MICKEY AND GOOFY DOING SOMETHING RELEVANT, then a chapter of DONALD AND SCROOGE ALSO DOING SOMETHING RELEVANT, and they all reunite for the CLOSING chapter, thus setting the world to right!

Yeah… How about that! And those “other eight” issues of WDC&S could have been put to better use! As I said… “Win/Win”!

The Horde of Robotic Spectruses said...

Yes, the Zodiac Stone was originally published on Topolino, which is a weekly publication - and in Germany, we got the whole thing in two big chunks (Chapters 1-6 in LTB 156, Chapters 7-12 in LTB 157 - both filled up with some other additional stories). So, Italy got to read the story within three months, and Germany within one month. It's far better suited to such a release rhythm than to the WDC&S one of one story per month, even if that would have allowed it to be released aligned to the Zodiac signs. (Which it wasn't,right?)

Speaking of "chapters like this, that could just as easily have been unrelated stand-alone stories" - I think that was very deliberate, so that a) every part could stand up more or less on its own, and b) you could still enjoy and more or less understand the story without having read the other parts - if you only bought one of the twelve Topolinos. That is why this is not so much a continuous twelve-part story, but rather a "saga", and there are quite a lot of 'em in Italy. Guido Martina did an earlier one, for example, called "The Secret of the Beheaded Totem", which was also broken up into parts, and criminally (here in Germany), NEVER printed in full!

Ultraheroes was a similar case (published as a weekly saga in Topolino), though in that case, we Germans got the whole thing (including *all* extra stories - there was a Christmas one which was never published in the US) in one big book. Actually, the more I think about it, I've come to realize that Ultraheroes was sort of modelled after the Zodiac Stone saga - cross-over, a machine/multi-part gadget broken up into several compartments which have to be gathered chapter by chapter, a surprising revelation at the end and the return of Spectrus, who's had his first appearance in the Zodiac Stone and his (to date) last one in Ultraheroes!

That said, there's still a wide quality difference, partially due to one being produced by absolute masters, the other mostly by second-rate creators (Ettore Gula isn't bad though - loved his recent collab with Francesco "Scrooge's Last Adventure" Artibani). Tito Faraci's contribution wasn't bad (he's really on the same level as Casty and Artibani as a writer), but it wasn't part of the main arc...

The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles said...


Field of the Yellow Snow? Did you know that yellow snow played an integral role in Casty's "The snow that wiped history away" (which, coincidentally, is his last Doublejoke and his first Eega Beeva story at the same time)?

There are quite a few Italian stories with Neighbour Jones, e.g. by Francesco Guerrini, who's always struck me as the most Barks/Rosa-esque you can get with Italian artists! (He's just now having his US debut with "Earthquake" in the Duck Avenger New Adventures book. Check it out; *gorgeous* art.) One example of an Italian Jones story (extremely funny):

On Atlantis - there is one of those fabled Zapotec/Marlin Time Machine epics which includes another variant of the legend. Thanks to the Time Machine, Mickey and Goofy are actually there when the big catastrophe happens! Strongly recommended (De Vita is really on top form here and exceedingly good at maintaining an increasingly menacing atmosphere - did I already mention how much I love his art? ;-) ), I'd put this *very* high on my list.

Joe Torcivia said...

“The Horde of Robotic Spectruses”?

Egad! Suddenly, secret organizations are as thick as flies… ants at a picnic, even!

I suppose it’s a good that that DC Comics has copyrighted things like “The Legion of Super Pets”, or else they’d probably turn up here too! Oh, well… what’s a few more “Robotic Spectruses”? C’mon in fellas! The water’s fine!

My regard, or lack of same, for “Zodiac Stone” and “Ultraheroes” take two very separate paths of reasoning.

As I view them, “Zodiac Stone” began with great promise that slowly gave way to a general disinterest due to various factors including its length (not necessarily a bad thing, if it maintained a thrill-a-minute pace – it didn’t), its method of delivery – one chapter per month for an entire year, it’s being diffused by “filler chapters” such as THIS ONE...

…And the not inconsiderable factor of its unfortunate placing as the “centerpiece” of the FIRST TWELVE issues of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES to appear in FOUR YEARS! Don’t underestimate the negative value of four years of anticipation left so largely unsatisfied!

I’ve said before (including just above in this thread) that a perfect format for “Zodiac Stone” would have been FOUR CHAPTERS… The Setup, a Duck Chapter, a Mouse Chapter, and The Payoff! After all, my two favorite WDC&S Mickey Mouse serials were FOUR PARTS – “The Return of the Phantom Blot” (1964) and “Trapped in Time” (1967).

“Ultraheroes” is just so wrong on so many levels (also discussed elsewhere) that no alternative method of delivery or presentation could save it, in my eyes. …But, our differing views are what make comics discussions so great!

As to this… On Atlantis - there is one of those fabled Zapotec/Marlin Time Machine epics which includes another variant of the legend. Thanks to the Time Machine, Mickey and Goofy are actually there when the big catastrophe happens!” - I would LOVE to see it! Translate it, even… Uh, David? …IDW? …Somebody?

And, it would make yet another one of those many “Atlantis discrepancies” with THIS STORY!

Spectrus said...

Re: Paperinika. David, wouldn't it be possible (assuming IDW prints stories with her, such as her origin story, or some more recent ones) to simply give her a better name - Duck Avengeress or whatever?

And, before anybody complains, there have been precedents; Duck Avenger's spiritual predecessor was renamed from "Phantom Duck" (in the *cough - horrible and misguided - cough* story "Legacy") into "Fantomallard" for the IDW versions of the origin stories.

Joe, just to make this clear. "Super Daisy" came about already in 1973 (four years after Duck Avenger's debut) as a "feminist" concept; the premise is that Daisy and her female inventor friend think that a woman could do the superhero 'thing' as good as - or better than - a man. Rather amazingly, Duck Avenger himself only had eight outings up 'til that point! So while we can debate how much sense the concept makes, it had been around for a long time before Ultraheroes came around. While the Italians only used her sparingly, it seems that the Brazilians were very fond of this idea. Not that I know many Brazilian stories, but the Italian ones I know (have often been quite good, also because it's fun to see two people romantically attached to each other in normal life become antagonists in their secret identities...

(Breaking up my comment...)

Specrus said...


I hear the complaints about the Zodiac Stone saga. I don't *understand* them, but as has now been said often enough, my experience is very different. I just re-read the whole damn thing (I actually had to stop myself from reading it in one go...) and it's still one of my favourites. In fact, noticing the little bits here and there I missed at first (like how each story's setting ties in with the Zodiac sign to some degree - or how the "Double (Triple?) Goof" episode is clearly an homage to Floyd Gottfredson's "Monarch of Medioka") only makes it better with repeated readings. And I never perceived it as "diffused" either, it's obvious that you have to go through twelve chapters until the stone is complete (which is why four parts doesn't work...) so you (should) know what to expect. In MY opinion!

If there is any flaw *I* can perceive, it is that Massimo De Vita didn't do the art for all chapters. Franco Valussi isn't bad, but not quite up to De Vita's standard of greatness...

It's an interesting question whether I would have perceived the saga differently had I been drip-fed it across twelve zodiac signs / months, particularly since we *did* have similar experiments here in Germany with Fausto Vitaliano's "Scrooge's Millions" (spread across ten consecutive "Lustige Taschenbücher" - which I thought worked very well, partially due to the nature of the series) and Byron Erickson's "War of the Dragonlords" (spread across twelve consecutive "Donald Duck" magazines - which was a bit of a drag really, and over ten years later we still have occasional readers' letters complaining about it!)... but I don't think so. I love Bruno Sarda's writing (Spectrus' second and fourth appearance, the Lola Duck cycle, Arizona Goof, Uncle Jeremy etc.), I love Massimo De Vita's art (Lords of the Galaxy, The Sword of Ice, Once Upon a Time in America, Mouser Chronicles, several Duck Avenger classics, etc.), and I think I would have still enjoyed it. Honestly, I'm not sure how you can maintain suspense across twelve chapters anyway, so why try? Three or four parts is probably the maximum for a "cliffhanger" story without internal breaks, any more than that and you a) start to frustrate people who are waiting for the conclusion (I see this may be the issue here too, but I thought the Zodiac Stone has the clever advantage of coming to a 'small' conclusion at the end of each chapter) and b) start to frustrate people who only casually pick up an issue every now and then, because they are missing all the context and back information. In that sense, I think the story did very well within its framework. The basic format means that every chapter has to circle around one pendant, and IMO Sarda did a great job at conjuring up twelve different scenarios involving a variety of characters and genres (and while I'll readily admit that "Mode Star" is the weakest part, I still like it for what it is; also, De Vita's spaceships are always fun!)

I haven't read many Murry serials, because this stuff doesn't tend to get reprinted a lot in Germany (unfortunately). The Murry stories we see here a lot are the shorter ones; I think I only have a handful of longer ones. They're good as far as I can assess, but I think it's an apples/oranges comparison in terms of conception, time and original release formats. Art-wise, it's not even a contest; Massimo De Vita is simply in a completely different orbit. As I've said before, one of the top 3 Italian artists alongside Scarpa and Cavazzano. Even his more recent work, while clearly inferior to his prime (strangely enough, Cavazzano has not shown any such signs of age-induced decline yet!), still is so unique and expressive.

Phew! With that I close my book of opinions on this saga, which I first encountered at the age of ten, and which I will always think fondly of...

Joe Torcivia said...


“ Phew! With that I close my book of opinions on this saga, which I first encountered at the age of ten, and which I will always think fondly of...”

And that is just one, of MANY, wonderful things about differing opinions on comic book stories!

As I have just noted in a response to one of your other recent comments, I may hold the concept of Super Goof in far higher regard – in relation to Duck Avenger – for no better reason that Super Goof was created at the same age for me as “Zodiac Stone” was for you!

No amount of reasoning, however valid, can be enough to significantly move someone off a position formed at such a critical stage of development. For me, for you, and for everyone else. Again, that’s what makes these discussions both enlightening and fun.

The one overriding factor that fortunate readers in Europe have, that we in less-enlightened America do not, is that there are OTHER concurrent titles being published to mitigate the feelings of discontent, when a prolonged story that is “not to one’s taste” eats up too great a volume of valuable page-space!

Perhaps, if “Zodiac Stone” had been published on its own, outside of the long-awaited return of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, and in a format that did not take one full year to unfold, I’d look at it quite differently. One day, I ought to re-read it in a more compressed period of time and see if my opinion changes to any significant degree.

…Considering the lag-time I’ve demonstrated in publishing and responding to these comments, during this unexpectedly busy period however, I don’t think that will happen soon.

And, regardless of intent and overall concept, “Super Daisy” is a ridiculous name – unless she WANTS everyone to know who she is. Yes, you might make the same argument against “Super Goof”… but there are SO MANY “Goofs” in the comics continuity that “Goof” COULD be considered a common name – and not specifically indicative of “our Goofy”.

Spectrus said...

I agree. The original name is simply Paperinika - so like the original name of Duck Avenger (Paperinik) but with an added "a". In German she was called "Phantomime" (Phantomias is Duck Avenger's German name), which is similaly constructed but also sounds funny because it's only one letter different from "Pantomime"...

That said, some countries have Donald's "secret" identity as "Superdonald", of all things! The mind boggles...