Monday, February 29, 2016

#Top5ComicBooks of 2015 - #2 : #DisneyComics from IDW Publishing

When I attend comic book shows/conventions, I wear a button that says "I read Disney Comics", depicting Mickey Mouse riding a rocket through Outer Space, a la Calvin as 'Spaceman Spiff' from Calvin & Hobbes. And now that IDW Publishing has been offering comics with the stock Disney staples in their stable, it's not just a matter of recommending people to search Ebay and grimey back-issue bins; you can read new comics, available at retail, alongside new issues of your favorite incarnation of Doctor Who or Spider-Man or Spider-Woman or Green Lantern or Superman or Deadpool or Batman or whichever superhero has multiple incarnations existing concurrently on shelves.

The Disney Comics by Carl Barks and Don Rosa are available in handsome hardcover editions published by Fantagraphics; Joe Books has the license to comics featuring characters from Disney Feature Films and Television shows (a new Darkwing Duck ongoing series will debut in April); Disney's common-law wife, Marvel Comics, has The Muppets, Star Wars and comics based on Disney Park rides; IDW has Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy (aka Goofus D. Dawg, aka, George Geef, aka, Dippy Dawg), Pluto (when will HE get his own book?), Huey, Dewey, Louie, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Ludwig Von Drake, Daisy Duck, Peg-Leg-Pete, The Beagle Boys, Super Goof, Gladstone Gander, Gus Goose, the Duck Avenger and...big fanfare...Scrooge McDuck. IDW won.

The bulk of the material featured in IDW's lineup consists of reprinted material originally published outside the of the advantages of this is a larger page count than most of the comics carrying a $3.99 price tag, plus the stories are densely plotted. The scripts are translated into English with a strong flavor to make them more palatable to readers old & new; kudos to the roundtable of scripters (Joe Torcivia, David Gerstein, Thad Komorowski, Gary Leach and Jonathan Gray, to name a few) for keeping the characterization of these characters consistent while skillfully indulging in many inside jokes and pop culture nods, never once ringing any false notes. I'm positive Gray made a very subtle reference to the Transformers character Ultra Magnus in one Mickey story, and an obvious reference to Jem and The Holograms in a duck tale (not coincidently, both properties appear in comic books published by IDW).

As for the stories featured..these are not the "safe" pastiches of Barks and Floyd Gottfredson that were favored by past licensees like Bruce Hamilton (Gladstone Comics) and Steve Geppi (Gemstone Comics). We're being re-introduced to storytellers like Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano, Andrea Castellan, Massimo DeVita and Giovani Batista Carpi. These guys love big concepts that venture into plots with a 1960s-1980s Saturday Morning cartoon air to them, often at risk of defying established character logic, challenging the reader to buy into what's happening: Duck Avenger's initial conception as a trickster allows for a fanwank scenario in which the original author can imagine Donald setting his cousin up as a thief AND trapping him in a decrepit mansion rigged to explode; secret agent Daisy Duck opts to disguise herself as a hapless ratchet tourist, wearing an outfit resembling Carol Burnett's "Charwoman" character; Scrooge tries to pass the buck after losing a wager that results in having to marry a character that exists entirely off-panel (!)...That's where the scripters come in. I'm waiting for that one script that acknowledges Donald concurrently works as a secret agent for three different agencies: the M.I.A. (McDuck Intelligence Agency, run by Donald's uncle), the T.N.T. (partnered with his cousin, Fethry Duck to solve paranormal mysteries) and the Cloak and Dagger (from the DoubleDuck series). Also keep in mind that he also runs around in superhero guise as the Duck Avenger And appears in new tales as the traditional Barksian "Everyman", and this is a very busy drake.

I also noticed a series of stories currently in Topolino featuring the Beagle Boys recalling their days as teenagers in High School; I would love to see Joe Torcivia's take on that, given that his Americanized scripts for solo-stories featuring the Beagles have a lot of fun bringing out the comedic sides to the longtime villains, particularly in "Love Is Never Having To Say You're Sentenced " (Uncle Scrooge #10).

By comparison, Mickey and Scrooge keep a simple status quo in their respective titles: "Detective-Adventure" tales for the mouse, "Comedy-Adventure" tales with Scrooge. Relatively obscure, fanciful, Smurf-like characters like Eega Beva and Atomo Blip-Blip oftentimes serve as Mickey's sidekick in some stories; Scarpa's "The Chirikawa Necklace" is a somewhat routine battle of wits with Peg-Leg-Pete made notable for two milestones: the introduction of Pete's girlfriend Trudy Van Tub, and an awesome scene depicting a traumatic experience in which Mickey recalls himself being kidnapped as an infant. Who needs Geronimo Stilton when you've got Mickey Mouse?

Next to Richie Rich and Bruce Wayne, Scrooge continues to be the most likable tycoon antihero in fiction, this time contending with manic rival John D. Rockerduck ( a character Barks created and used once, but was redesigned and used A LOT by Scarpa, Cavazzano, Carpi and others, even moreso than Flintheart Glomgold, it seems ).

One suggestion: when the current "Zodiac Stone" arc wraps up in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories ( that's a 12-part arc featuring loosely-connected stories with Mickey, Donald & Scrooge built around a quest for twelve pendants corresponding to zodiac symbols building up to a finale and inevitable showdown with Mickey's perennial archfoe, The Phantom Blot; not unlike a storyline from a season of Jackie Chan Adventures ), the book should try to showcase popular characters who don't carry their own books: Pluto, Scamp, Li'l Wolf, Bucky Bug, Super Goof, Oswald, Ludwig, Fethry, Moby Duck ( anyone remember HIM? ) and Ellesworth. A short tale by William Van Horn featuring Donald would be a familiar anchor of sorts, but I suspect Pluto's a safe bet as a big draw; that Pirates of The Caribbean-themed cover to Uncle Scrooge #10 had Pluto prominently. I'm actually surprised Disney Television Animation never thought of a Scooby-Doo-esque series starring Pluto for The Disney Afternoon..or for DisneyXD. Make it in CG, why not?

Honestly, I look forward to these books more than a lot of comic books offered right now. It's good stuff, don't miss ANY of it.


  1. Magnificent work, my friend!

    And, at a perfect time for me to link to it, to cover my own Blog’s period of darkness! So, I thank you for that, and for always being such a great read!

    Love the idea of a “Teen Beagles” series, and really want to take a crack at it, if IDW will allow!

    1. LOVE the shout-out to this blog on yours, Joe - Thank You so much. :) I deliberately skipped #3 on this list because I was preoccupied with HOW I was going to write THIS post, but I'll get to #3 & #1 shortly...maybe..other stuff I want to write about came up..:)

      I neglected to mention that the names you gave the Beagles ("Bo" "Barry" and "Burly") are permanently ingrained in my imagination with the other Beagle that Barks' revealed liked to snack on prunes - and that's assuming he's not Bo..or Barry...

    2. I must admit that linking our Beagles to the Three Stooges, even if in name only, was an irresistible notion for me - as long as they HAD to have names, in order to hold down honest jobs! The name-confusion was just a natural outgrowth of that!