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! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Separated at Mirth: Three Bears and a Chicken Go Log-Rolling!

Our recently-added feature "Adventures in Comic-Boxing" has gone over so well, that I decided to create another such feature that I call "Separated at Mirth"!

The focus of "Separated at Mirth" would be when two or more comic book covers execute the SAME GAG, only with different characters and separated by years or even decades!

This could also apply to interior gags as well, but will mostly focus on covers.  

Our first entry in this series is ANDY PANDA # 44 (Dell Comics, 1958) and YOGI BEAR # 41 (Gold Key Comics, 1970).  

Once upon a time, there were THREE BEARS...

A fat, dumpy-looking bear...  A cute little bow tie-wearing bear... And a panda bear who, for some inexplicable reason (at least in comic books), liked to hang-out with a very annoying, smart-alec chicken!  

This chicken was SO annoying and smart-alecy that one wonders how Andy found, within himself, the strength to refrain from, choking the chicken! 

As for our other two "woodland creatures" (as their cartoons often called them), this answers the age-old question: "Does a bear LOG-ROLL in the woods?"

Clearly, the answer must be "Yes!"... and, by that, one can surmise that "The Woods" must be a very boring place!  

There you have ANDY PANDA # 44 and YOGI BEAR # 41 - Separated at Mirth!  

We'll have more instances of  "Separated at Mirth" soon.  Dunno if that's a promise... or a threat! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: We Interrupt this Gag for an Important Announcement…

While we're still paying deserved tribute to the awesome creative force that is Mort Walker, I thought I'd bump this one up to directly follow our post devoted to Mort Walker and voice actor Doug Young.  It just seemed appropriate.  

Anyone who read comics in the 1950s - or, more likely, collected them afterward - is familiar with the "Dell Comics Pledge to Parents"!  

This self-proclaiming blurb of assurance was intended to "calm" parents who were needlessly alarmed by self-serving politicians and know-it-all psychologists in a concerted effort to demonize comic books as a cause of juvenile delinquency.  

Well, comic books have since been marginalized down to cult status on the mass entertainment scale - and the overall behavior of American citizens has become worse then ever... So how'd that idea turn out, eh?  

Nevertheless, Dell played the game with its expected dignity, issuing "The Pledge" at every available opportunity...

...Such as at the end of this back-cover gag from Dell Comics' UNCLE SCROOGE # 13 (1956).  (Click to Enlarge!) 

We'll probably never know if Carl Barks was asked to draw this as a seven-panel gag, or if there was an EIGHTH panel that was cut for "The Pledge".  Fortunately, cutting one panel of Scrooge saying "Mush!" would not impact the gag!  

However, "The Pledge" didn't always fit as neatly into every gag, as it did above!

Consider its odd placement in this gag from the inside back-cover of Dell's BEETLE BAILEY # 12 (1957)!  (Click to Enlarge!)

Yes, the gag is ACTUALLY INTERRUPTED for Dell's important announcement!  

...But, at least the parents who purchased this issue of BEETLE BAILEY for their children could sleep confidently in the knowledge that it  "...contains only clean and wholesome entertainment"!   
DELL COMICS ARE GOOD COMICS!  ...And Dooon't You Forget it! - As that guy below would say!

Oh, and as a bonus, here is the front cover of BEETLE BAILEY # 12 - with it's odd-looking anthropomorphic mouse!  

Such an animal character would be unheard-of at Camp Swampy, until some years later when Sarge's dog OTTO would join the cast!  

But, hey... That mouse is showing the kids the importance of washing regularly... talk about  "...CLEAN and wholesome entertainment"!  

UPDATE: February 10, 2018: Our diligent friend Debbie Anne Perry earns some Extra Credit by bringing to my attention another odd placement of the Dell Comics Pledge to Parents in Dell's THE THREE STOOGES # 7 (Cover Date: December/February, 1962).  

We've already seen The Pledge tacked-on to the END of a gag, and INTERRUPTING a gag in progress... but this THIRD VARIATION has The Pledge INSERTED INTO THE ARTWORK OF A GAG!  

I wonder if artist Joe Messerli was asked to leave room for The Pledge, or the empty space (which a canyon scene should have anyway) was just fortuitously used for that purpose?  

Dell Comics, it would seem, are not only "Good Comics", they're also efficient ones!