Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mickey’s Inferno from Papercutz

About a month ago we got the fourth volume of Papercutz’ series called Disney Graphic Novels, and the first one under the logo title Great Parodies. But the actual title of the book and the story inside is Mickey’s Inferno.

Mickey’s Inferno was originally published as a serial in the Italian Topolino way back in 1949 and was the start of a long series of Italian parody stories adapting classic literature. And this story is a parody of Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century poem Divine Comedy.

Written in rhyme it’s hard to do a direct translation of the comic story, so the English translation is more of a script adaptation than a real translation. I don’t know much Italian, so I can’t do a comparison to the original text – but we now have two different American editions of this story so it’s fun to do a little comparison of those.

The first American edition was a cut and remounted version in Gemstone’s Walt Disney's Comics  #666 in 2006.

Gemstone layout (left) and Papercutz using the original layout (middle and  right)

And the text in Gemstone’s version is quite different from the one in Papercutz’ book.

Italian Topolino (left), Gemstone (middle), Papercutz (right)

Italian Topolino (left), Gemstone (middle), Papercutz (right)

The Gemstone version got an entire sequence of the story cut out, but the Papercutz’ one is actually not 100% complete either. Even if the total number of pages is a few more than the original Topolino serial, a few panels are cut and others are extended.

Under is the last page of the first part and the first page of the second part as they originally were printed. In the 1-part version used by Papercutz the panel with Goofy about to be chopped to pieces is cut out and the intro panel for the second part is cut too.

Topolino last pg. of part 1 (left), Topolino first page of part 2 (middle), Papercutz 1-part version (right)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

IDW's Timeless Tales

First volumes of IDW's Timeless Tales

Initially I didn't plan on getting the hardcover series Timeless Tales as I already got all the monthly issues the books collects and some of the trade paperbacks as well. But when ordering some other books I saw a sale on the first volumes, and well… I couldn't resist a good deal.

Compared to the monthly issues and the trades the books print the comics in the same size as the monthlies, while the trades have a slightly smaller print. The monthlies and the trades use a glossy paper type while the books have a thicker matte paper. The colors are a little bit brighter on the glossy paper.

Trade paperback (left), montly issue (middle) and Timeless Tales hardcover (right)

The books each collect six issues of the monthly comic titles, and have the same content as two trades. I'm sure the various serials in the monthly comics are planed so books can collect six issues without having to break up a serial. But the books won't always collect exactly two trade paperbacks. Ex. the Scrooge's Last Adventure trade collect 4 issues (US #13-16), while the next trade Himalayan Hideout will have the usual 3 issues again (US #17-19). So Uncle Scrooge: Timeless Tales vol.3 with 6 issues (US #13-18) will only collect part of the second trade.

In addition all books have one extra bonus story not present in the comics they collect and they also have a new introduction article.

But that's not the best thing about these books. This information was new to me until I started flipping through the books, but might be important to some. While some of the stories in the monthlies and the trades are censored, the books actually print the stories how they originally were drawn without the censoring.


In the story with Shamrock Bones that I thought was censored in a really silly way, the good guys are now allowed to use guns again. This story was also censored in the trade paperback.

Montly issue (left) and Timless Tales vol.1 (right)

The Ghost of Man-Eater Mountain had splash panels and several other panels removed when printed in IDW's Mickey Mouse #5. In Timeless Tales all original content is present in the story. But in this case, the uncut version is actually used in the trade paperback too.

Montly issue with panels removed (left) and Timeles Tales vol.1 (right)

And Grandpa Beagle is allowed to smoke his pipe again.

Montly issue (left) and Timeless Tales vol.2 (right)

I haven't done any extensive comparisons of the different editions, but for most part the censoring seems to be gone in Timeless Tales. One exception is the story Hampered! from the British Mickey Mouse Annual that is censored in all American prints. But that one was censored for good reasons!

So if you haven't got any of IDW's Disney comics yet, Timeless Tales is the definitive edition and the one to get.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales vol.1

sWalt Disney'sTreasury of Classic Tales vol.1 from IDW

We got the first volume of Treasury of Classic Tales in November last year. The series is (probably) going to collect all Sunday pages under the Treasury logo that ran in newspapers from 1952 and all the way up to 1986. We got a total of 129 stories in this series and by my calculation it’s enough to fill at least 9, maybe 10 books. But I guess sales will show if we are going to get all of them.

The first volume in this series collects the first 8 treasury stories in addition to a Cinderella adaptation and a Alice in Wonderland adaptation that were printed as standalone Sunday series between the Silly Symphony series and Treasury of Classic Tales. And all stories in this series are adaptations of animated or live-action features – sometimes an entire film and sometimes just a segment of it.

"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" - adaptation of the live-ation movie with the same name.

"Ben and Me" - adaptation of the animated short with the same name

When I got the first volume in this series I didn’t really know how to read the book… I have to admit I’m not that interested in all of the stories in this series – at least not just reading them as entertainment. A few years ago I had a project going on trying to watch old live-action Disney movies (still a lot I haven’t seen), so one way to read this book is to watch the movie first, and then read the story to compare. Another interesting way could be to compare the Sunday page adaptations to the regular comic book adaptations.

There are several other series of Sunday pages I’d rather see collected in IDW’s Library of American Comics, like the Brer Rabbit Sundays, or the early years of post-Gottfredson Mickey Mouse Sundays. But I still think it’s a good thing that Treasury of Classic Tales is being collected too. Some of the stories in this series are really hard to find! Even in the newspapers at the time they were created they were a rare find. So it’s great that they finally become available for anyone interested, and I know a lot of Jack Kirby fans have been waiting a long time for a proper collection of the The Black Hole Sunday pages. But the volume collecting that story is still years away.

As with the Silly Symphonies and Donald Duck Sundays collections from IDW, Treasury of Classic Tales also print the pages in the full format with coloring based on the original coloring used in the newspapers. But in the newspapers the pages were often printed in a different layout. Under are some pages from The Sword and the Rose, comparing different layouts in the newspapers with the full format in the book.

Sunday pages were usually colored unlike to the daily strips that at the time were printed in black and white. But some newspapers also printed the Sunday pages without color.

In the next example the panes are arranged to fill an entire page in the newspaper. Note that two panels are cut too.

Another popular format was to print the Sunday pages over two rows. That way the newspaper could fit 3 different comics on the same page. Two panels are cut in this example too, and other panels are also trimmed in width.

I’ve always believed that the 3 row landscape format as used in the book was the original format containing all of the artwork. But this seems to not be the case. In the 2-row example above the panels actually have more art in the bottom and top compared to the panels in the book! So the original artwork must look like none of the examples above (?).

"The Sword and the Rose" - panel from the book (left) compared to a 2-row newspaper clipping (right)

Here are a couple of examples from other stories in the book:

"Peter and the Wolf" - panel from the book (left) compared to a 2-row newspaper clipping (right)

"Peter Pan" - panel from the book (left) compared to a 2-row newspaper clipping (right)

Trying to search the web for original art, all examples I find looks like the layout found in the book, ex. the July 18, 1954 page from Peter and the Wolf.  But my newspaper clipping got more art not present on that piece of original art.

"Peter and the Wolf" - Original art (?) compared to a 2-row newspaper clipping

So was the extra art added later, or is the piece in the gallery at Comic Art Fans not really the original art, just one of the original mountings? If anyone knows more about this, please enlighten me!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special

Duck the Halls: A Mickey Mouse Christmas Special

After a little break (about half a year now) from the animated Mickey Mouse series, we got a Christmas special earlier this month. Originally intended to be a short episode in the main series [Huffington Post interview] this episode was instead developed as an extended 21 minute special. I haven’t heard any official confirmations about a new season of shorts, but they are working on another Halloween special for an October 2017 release.

In this special episode we learn that Disney ducks also migrates south to warmer climate during the winter. When Mickey, Goofy and Minnie starts to prepare for Christmas, Donald decides to stay with them to experience the holidays – leaving Daisy to travel south by herself. One interesting thing to note is that Huey, Dewey and Louie are not together with Donald when they are about to travel – instead they are already present down south with Uncle Scrooge when Daisy arrive.

Scrooge, Huey, Dewey,  Louie, Daisy and Ludwig taking a bath
Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Daisy and Ludwig taking a bath

Also present down south is Gus Goose. I think this is the first time we’ve seen him in the new Mickey Mouse series. His character design looks closer to the "classic" look seen in old animation and in the comics than the rest of the gang.

Gus Goose
Gus Goose

There are a lot of other interesting things to note in this special too. We get a flashback scene with Mickey as a kid and Pluto as a pup.

Mickey as a kid and Pluto as a pup
Mickey as a kid and Pluto as a pup

We also see the house Mickey lived in as a kid, with a silhouette of Mickey’s parents.

We don’t get to see their faces, but we see them again as a silhouette together with the rest of the family.

Mickey's family
Mickey's family

And we also get the names of some (to now) unknown family members.

Mickey's family (click to enlarge)

If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick's movie The Shining you might recognize the twins.

The Twins

There are also several references to old Disney cartoons. The horses in Duck the Halls are modeled after the horses in Once Upon a Wintertime (1948/1954)

The toy soldiers are modeled after the ones in Babes in Toyland (1961).

Santa Claus looks like he’s modeled after the Santa in Santa’s Workshop (1932).

And there's a cameo appearance of Bambi and Thumper on the ice, a reference to the ice skating sequence in the Bambi movie (1942).

We also see Mickey and Donald on the ice, a scene that is not directly referring to, but might be inspired by the 1935 short On Ice

And is this a Darkwing Duck reference??

Anyone spotted any interesting references I missed?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mickey's debut in the Derby Daily Telegraph

From the Derby Daily Telegraph, March 17, 1930

The first daily strip serial with Mickey Mouse started March 17, 1930 in the British Derby Daily Telegraph. Only two months after the first American print, it might be one of the first British newspapers to have the Mickey strips.

Before the first comic strip, the newspaper was advertising the adventures of Mickey and his wife Minnie for more than a week.

From the Derby Daily Telegraph, March 8, 1930

In the same newspaper as the first strip, they also got a little bonus comic on the last page. Probably made by a local illustrator they got the adventures of Mickey Taxed, "with apologies to the creator of Mickey Mouse". I'm not sure if the caricature comic is referring to a recent event or just generally to the Great Depression and economic situation at the time. But the person on the last panel is probably a caricature of a politician (didn't manage to find out who).

From the Derby Daily Telegraph, March 17, 1930

Monday, December 19, 2016

Duck Avenger #2 from IDW

IDW's Duck Avenger #2 - all cover variants
Duck Avenger #2 - all cover variants

This month we got the 3rd issue of Duck Avenger, or #2 as the cover say (the first issue was #0).

After getting to know the time travelling villain Red Raider in last issue, the Evronians are now back again!

From IDW's Duck Avenger #0 and #2

And if you read issue #0 you might remember the short intro taking place on another planet, ending with the silhouette of an unknown person. We get the continuation of this backstory in #2, and get to know who this person is.

Xadhoom and Duck Avenger

The story in issue #2 is mostly just introducing Xadhoom. After a bit of a bumpy start, the Duck Avenger and Xadhoom soon find out they have a common interest.

Xadhoom and Duck Avenger
Xadhoom and Duck Avenger

Having read ahead in this series, I know this is not the last we have seen of her – and the story about her people is far from over. There are some really great storylines with Xadhoom to look forward to, so this month's story is just the start.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mickey's Craziest Adventures

When I first heard about the French publisher Glénat's project to publish Disney albums with local artists, I didn't think I'd ever see an English translation! So out of curiously I almost got the French albums this spring. But when IDW announced at Emerald City Comic Con that they were doing the series too, I figured I'd wait for an edition I could actually read. Well, now the wait is over and I finally got hold of a copy.


Mickey's Craziest Adventures from IDW

I knew the book was going to be in hardcover an a bit larger than usual comics – but when I got it in my hands it was a lot larger than I expected! The comics are also printed on thick paper and the production quality is really great!

Here is a size comparison to the last issue of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories:

Mickey's Craziest Adventures is not just a comic adventure story; there is a "story" behind the story too. The intro tells how comic writer Lewis Trondheim and artist Nicolas Keramidas found an incomplete set of the forgotten comic series Walt Disney's Comics and Stories: Mickey's Quest at a garage sale.

The cover of two "discovered" comics from the 60's

Wanting to share the rare serial Mickey's Caziest Adventures "Lewis worked hard to adapt the humor of these masterpieces as best he could" while Keramidas made a new cover. And the actually story is supposedly facsimile copies from the discovered comics. I thought this was a fun and creative way of making a story, but the part about Lewis adapting the story sounds a bit silly for this edition. As it's a translation from French with American dialogue – that wouldn't have been necessary if the French dialogue adaptation (by Lewis) was from discovered comics in English…

As the "discovered" run of comics was incomplete, we do get time gaps in the story, and part of the story is missing. The story starts with Chapter 2, 4, 7, 8, 10 etc. while the in-between parts are "lost".  But the story works fine without those parts. Each page is also its own gag page even if all are parts of the same adventure story.

Inside Mickey's Craziest Adventures

To get an old feel of the story, elements from old real comics are used. If you look at the Mickey's Quest covers, the Mickey part is taken from an old Mickey logo found on Gold Key comics. The "Comics and Stories" text is also from Gold Key comics, while "Tan Elg" looks like one one of the Dell logo variants. And the header on each comic page reminds me of the ones we used to see in the British Mickey Mouse Weekly.


Similar logo title in Mickey's Craziest Adventures and Mickey Mouse Weekly
Similar logo title in Mickey's Craziest Adventures and Mickey Mouse Weekly

To get an old feel the coloring is also done with lots of dots, probably to imitate the four color printing technique used in the 60's. But here I think they went a bit overboard. A real four color offset printing would look like upper part of the image below, not completely covered with dots everywhere.

But it's not a big deal; I like the overall look and feel of the coloring. And it probably works a lot better on thick matte paper like used in this book than the glossy paper used in the monthly IDW comics, so I'm glad they decided to go with that.

I enjoyed this book a lot, so it's definitively something I'd recommend checking out. Yes, the characters are drawn off model and the art is different than anything we are used to in classic Disney comics. But that is to be expected in this series. I'm already looking forward to Mysterious Melody, the next book in the series – and I hope IDW will continue with more. So far 4 albums are published in France.