Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Scrooge Mystery

The Scrooge Mystery, Blu-ray cover
The Scrooge Mystery, Blu-ray cover


The Scrooge Mystery, Blu-ray disc
The Scrooge Mystery, Blu-ray disc

The Scrooge Mystery is a documentary film about Don Rosa that got finished this autumn, and I received my copy in the mail a few weeks ago. This documentary started as a Kickstarter project, but now that the project is finished you can also buy it on the The Scrooge Mystery webpage.

The DVD version was sold out last time I checked the webpage, but when I write this it's back for pre-order so they probably ordered more copies to be made. But I recommend getting the Blu-ray edition if you have a player. It might be available for digital purchase at a later date too, at least the Kickstarter backers are supposed to get a digital copy but I have yet to receive any download link for this. But the downloadable (or maybe streaming?) version is probably not going to have all the extra features that the physical "Collector's Edition" has.
 

DVD edition
The documentary features interviews with both Don Rosa and fans and friends around the world. For example Tuomas Holopainen from the Finnish band Nightwish that created a solo album with music inspired by The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Katja Kontturi that wrote a doctoral thesis about Don Rosa's comics, and maybe the most interesting for me personally an interview with editor Byron Erickson.

And I recommend checking out the bonus features too, because some of the interviews didn't make it to the actual feature and was added as bonus material. Some of those are just as interesting I think.



Lots of bonus features on the disc

Deleted scenes (interviews) that didn't make it to the film

If you have been a Don Rosa fan for a while or read the autobiography and texts in Fantagraphics' Don Rosa Library, The Scrooge Mystery might not have too much new and unknown information. But there are some bits here and there, and it's still interesting to hear what other people have to say.

Compared to earlier films The Scrooge Mystery is a lot more enjoyable to watch than the 2010 Life and times of Don Rosa. That DVD is really depressing to watch, but Don Rosa talks about a lot of the same things in the two documentaries. We also had a DVD with The Don Rosa House Tour in 2011 (it's on Youtube too), that as the title suggest is a tour of Don Rosa's property and collections. We get to see parts of the house and his comic archive in The Scrooge Mystery too, but not as much as in the 2011 tour.

 

"Life and times of Don Rosa" (2010) and "The Don Rosa House Tour" (2011)
"Life and times of Don Rosa" (2010) and "The Don Rosa House Tour" (2011)

To sum up, I enjoyed watching The Scooge Mystery and can recommend it if you like Rosa's comic stories and want to know more about him and the people he has inspired.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History

Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History, briefcase

If you are going to a boring meeting, this is the only briefcase you need 😊 Inside this great packaging you'll find Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History published by TASCHEN books just in time for Mickey's 90th Anniversary.
 

Mickey Mouse: The Ultimate History

The image above doesn't show the size that well, but this book is HUGE! Just to show how large it is, I put a regular comic book on top of it to compare.

 



Inside we have almost 500 pages packed with illustrations of everything from sketches for the movies, posters, comics, photos and other rare items. A lot of it supposedly shown on print for the first time and there's definitely a lot of things I've never seen before.

Check out TASCHEN's own webpage for an image gallery showing some of the stuff inside.

But the book is not all about images, there's also a lot of text with background information. I've had the book a few weeks now, but it will take some time get through all of it – I've just read bits here and there yet. But the good thing about this book is at that you don't need to read from the beginning all the way to the end – you can just flip through it and read parts at random places.

When I first heard about this book I didn't expect it to have too much information about the comics, but I'm positively surprised at the amount of comic book history inside it! The book is divided into three parts, "The Golden Age", "The Silver Age" and "The Modern Age" – all with several chapters dedicated to the comics. And they are not just about the American comics, we have sections like "First Italian comics" and "Egmont's new Mickey", lots of scans from early British stuff etc.

Here are some low-res images with examples from the comic book chapters, just showing the layout and what kind of things are talked about:
 


From the chapter "Mickey comes to the comics (1930-1931)"
From the chapter "Mickey comes to the comics (1930-1931)"

From the chapter "The Comic Adventurer (1931-1941)"
From the chapter "The Comic Adventurer (1931-1941)"

From the chapter "Password: Mickey Mouse (1941-1945)"
From the chapter "Password: Mickey Mouse (1941-1945)"

From the chapter "Modernizing Mickey (1950-1960)"
From the chapter "Modernizing Mickey (1950-1960)"

From the chapter "Cosmopolitan Mickey (1960-Today)"
From the chapter "Cosmopolitan Mickey (1960-Today)"


I think this is the most expensive single book I've ever bought, but for me it was worth it. I'm not going to be "done" with the book anytime soon. And if you are interested in Disney history, Mickey Mouse or even just Disney comic history I can highly recommend this book! My thought after flipping through the entire book was "how can they top this for Mickey's 100th Anniversary in 10 years?"





Saturday, December 1, 2018

Disney Masters from Fantagraphics - Box 1 & 2

I've been waiting to check out the new Disney Masters series from Fantagraphics for a while now. We first heard about this series when vol.1, 2 and 3 got listed on Amazon late September/early October last year, but the first book didn't get on sale until May this year. By then box sets was announced too, and I like to get the box sets if available for series I collect – so I had to wait another half year for the boxes to be released. The box sets collecting the first four books got on sale in October, arrived in my mailbox a month later (that's what you get of pre-ordering something online..), and now I've finally found some time to sit down with them!
 

Disney Masters from Fantagraphics, box 1 and 2
Collectors Box sets


The boxes arrived shrink-wrapped with a Mickey Mouse 90th Anniversary sticker, but the actual boxes and books does not have that logo. (The 1st printing of volume 5 have)
 


There are no volume numbers on the spine or cover, but the books are identified by volume numbers inside under "Titles in this series". This way you can sort the books as you want on the book shelf, and you can skip books you don't want without having a visible hole in the numbering. That is if you don't get the box sets.

We had a similar "Hall of Fame" series in Norway earlier, and this series did almost the same – but had numbering if a creator had several books. The Fantagraphics way with a book title in addition to the creator name is better I think.
 

Norwegian Hall of Fame series

I like the book design with a more minimalistic look than we are used to with comic books. And the covers look a lot better than the early pre-release covers we saw.


Disney Masters volume 1 and 2
Disney Masters volume 1 and 2

Disney Masters volume 3 and 4
Disney Masters volume 3 and 4

Early pre-release covers

What I don't like is that we have two different box sets to choose from! I decided to go with the Collector's box sets with the books in chronological order. But there's also a Gift box set where one box has Donald Duck books and the other one Mickey Mouse books. As a collector I now feel I have an incomplete collection, but I don't want to get both sets just for that reason. Also, I'm a bit skeptical to the idea that the entire series will be collected in two different box sets – and personally I think it's the collectors set that is most likely to last. But as I'm writing this we have books up to volume 9 announced, while I haven't seen any information about any more box sets.

 

Gift box sets


Another thing that's not really that important but can be a little bit annoying is the book size. If you go to Fantagraphics webpage for the Disney Masters series, the earlier Snow White book is listed among the Disney Masters ones. And I also thought it would be naturally to put the books next to each other on the shelf. But the Snow White book is bit larger in size (and doesn't fit on the shelf I wanted to use)




Here are some thoughts and notes about the first four books in the series.

Mickey Mouse: The Delta Dimension

This book might be the one I was most excited about from the ones announced so far, with two stories by Romano Scarpa that I've never read before! After IDW's recent printing of The Chirikawa Necklace I got curious about other early stories with Atomo and Trudy. And The Bleep-Bleep 15 and The Fabulous City of Shan-Grilla both were on my wish list of stories to track down. In addition we get Mickey Mouse in the Delta Dimension with Atomo Bleep-Bleep's first appearance.
 

The Fabulous City of Shan-Grilla
The Fabulous City of Shan-Grilla, one of the stories inside

Donald Duck: Uncle Scrooge's Money Rocket

Another book with a story I hadn't read before and with all stories in English for the first time. I'm generally not a huge fan of "ducks in space" stories, but the ones in this book is entertaining simply for the pure madness. I was thinking "where does he get the ideas from??" more than once reading the book. But we also have some great scenery and artwork throughout.



Great scenery in "Uncle Scrooge's Money Rockey"

Example of some of the crazy things going on

More madness

As all books in the Disney Masters series, the book ends with an article about the featured creator. Luciano Bottaro is a creator I'm not very familiar with even if I've read quite a few stories by him – so this text was much appreciated.

I wouldn't mind another Bottaro book in this series, and if we get one the Zantaf sequel to Tycoonraker! (published by IDW not long ago) is on my wish list.


Mickey Mouse: The Case of the Vanishing Bandit

This is the first of several planned Paul Murry books in the series. Unlike the other books that have a selection of stories, the Murry books are collecting all the Mickey Mouse serials chronologically. In this book we get the first 7 serials drawn by Murry and originally printed in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Also, unlike the other books in the series the stories in this book all have new coloring done to match the original coloring. The same way as the coloring in Fantagraphics' Carl Barks collection is done. Two of the stores in this book recently got a new coloring when they were reprinted by IDW – but even those two got a new coloring for this book!


IDW's coloring (left), Fantagraphics' coloring (middle), original coloring (right)

Fantagraphics' coloring (left) and the original coloring (right)

The Mysterious Crystal Ball, one of the stories in the book, was cencored when printed by IDW a few years ago (well, not in IDW's hardcover print). But thankfully it doesn't look like there's any censoring done to the Fantagraphics print.
 

Disney Masters (top), IDW's hardcover (middle) and IDW's cencored print (bottom)

Donald Duck: The Great Survival Test

This book collects all the stories created by Daan Jippes in collaboration with Freddy Milton. And they make a great team creating a lot of fun 10-pages. It's easy to see where they get their inspiration and for an untrained eye you could easily mistake the stories for a Carl Barks story.

One thing I really like with the Disney comics published by IDW the last years is that even if they use various European coloring for the stories, the colors are always adjusted so clothes, vehicles, the money bin etc. are consistent. Vol. 4 of the Disney Masters series seems to be made more on a budget compared. The coloring of the different stories is taken from different sources (Disney Italia, Sanoma, from previous American reprints), but it doesn't look like any adjustments are made. So Donald have a red car in one story and red and blue (Italian coloring) in another. I don't mind that the book has different coloring styles for the different stories, and a complete new coloring would probably have been too expensive for the book to be published. But it would have been nice if things like Donald's car had the same color in all stories in the book. Not a huge deal though.
 

Italian coloring, from "Haste Makes Waste"


***

Overall, I'm impressed with what I've seen so far in the Disney Masters series and I hope it will continue for a while.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Guinness World Record, smallest comic book



A new record for the worlds smallest comic book was set in Norway yesterday (Nov 24, 2018). The previous record and the one to beat was a 2.58x3.7cm comic set in the Netherlands in 1999.

 

Previous record (screenshot from guinnessworldrecords.com)


The new comic featuring a Donald Duck story was supposed to be 2.5x3.5cm, but the final measuring showed 2.56x3.52cm. Still it barely made it and set a new record. Some criteria were set; the comic had to be readable and it had to have a print run of at least 1000 (I think the print run was exactly 1000)

 

Recommended by Idgit the Midget with the comic on display
 
The event happened in the pop-up store in Oslo, Norway that I showed some photos from in my last post. Hosting the event was the editor for the weekly Donald comic with a representative from the Norwegian Metrology Service ("Justervesenet") doing the measurement.

 



The measuring was done digitally by taking a photo of the comic and using software on a computer to find the dimensions.




After the small event the comic officially got on sale in the store and you could also get it signed by the writer if you wanted.
 


Comic wirter Gaute Moe signing the comics



Here's the comic compared to a regular comic book and the previously smallest comic in my collection (a German mini-comic from Nutella)



Norwegian Donald Duck pop-up store

Outside the store

Outside the store

Here's a small image gallery from the Donald Duck pop-up store in Oslo, Norway. It's the first time we've had a store like this in Norway, mostly selling Disney comics but with some other merchandise too. The store is open Monday to Saturday from Nov 10. To Dec 5 this year, with a few events happening too.

 



Event program in English:

November 10. Opening event with artist Arild Midthun having a drawing show for the kids and signing.
November 17. Author Jørn Lier Horst having a talk about an anniversary book and with signing.
November 24. Guinness World Record attempt, world's smallest comic.
December 01. Anniversary party. Donald Duck & Co (the weekly comic) is 70 years.


Here are some images from inside the store:


Artificial turf in the entire store

Various pocket books

Huge image of Donald Duck & Co #1

Books, Barks lithographs and a wall with info about Carl Barks and Don Rosa

Carl Barks lithographs (not for sale)

Carl Barks and Don Rosa wall

Stage area for events

New Donald Duck detective series

Merchandise

Some new books

Cash register

Special area to wrap gifts

I didn't get much at the store as I alredy have most of the things I find interesting in there. But I did get a Donald Duck Junior preview comic (given out for free) and two anniversary books that I haven't seen in regular sale anywhere yet. Also, everyone buying something got the cool bag in the picture below.



What I got at the store