|Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in "Just Like Magic"|
Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #726 had something very special. For the first time in its 75 year history the comic features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit! Not just on the cover by Amy Mebberson, but also in a story written by David Gerstein and drawn by animator Mark Kausler.
The character was created for a series of short cartoons produced by Walt Disney Studios in 1927 and 1928, but the rights belonged to Universal pictures. When Disney stopped creating Oswald cartoons others continued and the character went through several redesigns over the years. In 2006 as part of a trade Disney finally got the rights to the Oswald character as well as the rights to the old cartoons produced by Walt Disney Studios.
Well, that’s the short story. So in Disney’s entire comic book history, up to 2006 they never had the rights to the character they once created and no Oswald comics under the Disney logo were created. After 2006 we’ve seen a few stories based on the Epic Mickey video game, but "Just Like Magic" is the first (and so far only) comic story created in Oswald’s old animation style.
The story didn’t get printed in English until this Christmas, but it’s actually 5 years since its first printing. The story was created for a Norwegian Christmas comic in 2011, where David also has been the editor since the start of the series in 2001.
|Cover of IDW's WDCS #726 and the Norwegian "Walt Disney's Julehefte 2011"|
|"Just Like Magic" in different layouts|
As you can see on the image above, the story was originally created for a 3-tier landscape layout, the traditional format for Norwegian Christmas comics. But a later 4-tier printing was probably thought of when creating the story, because the panels can easily be rearranged to this format without having to cut or extend anything. That is, until you get to the end. Then you’ll be one panel short and that’s why it looks like this in WDC #726:
|Panel from WDCS #726|
To get the panel a bit wider with less white space on the sides the panel has been slightly enlarged and the bottom trimmed a bit compared to the Norwegian print. But that’s the only alteration of the art I could spot comparing the two prints.
|Panel from "Walt Disney's Julehefte 2011"|
As I said earlier "Just Like Magic" is drawn in the same style as the old cartoons. When I first saw this story in 2011 I thought it was a bit strange looking, but that’s probably because this was right in the middle of the popularity of the Epic Mickey game, and I had gotten used to the new modern design. I didn’t think the same when re-reading it in English, I actually like the style! If I remember correctly I had also just read the comic adaptation of Epic Mickey when getting the Christmas comic, so I had that to compare to. It was only available digitally (still not printed in English I think) and I had to borrow someone’s Apple device to get to buy it through iTunes… Now you can get it more easily on comiXology, and it’s also printed in some countries.
|Cover for the digialt edition of "Epic Mickey - The Graphic Novel"|
|Oswald and Ortensia in the Epic Mickey Grapich Novel|
As you can see, Oswald and Ortensia had a more modern design in the graphic novel. Here’s a screencap from "Oh What a Knight", where the characters looks more similar to the ones in "Just Like Magic".
|From "Oh What a Kight" (1928)|
A rare appearance of Ortensia’s father in "Rival Romeos":
|From "Rival Romeos" (1928)|
If you missed out on WDCS #726, you can also find "Just Like Magic" in the trade paperback with the unusual long title "Donald and Mickey The Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories 75th Anniversary Collection" (puh..). The trade paperback has a gallery of covers at the end too, but for some reason the Oswald one is not included.