21 September 2009

Get a papercut

The hand drawn image and, more specifically, comics are nothing new to the Walt Disney Company. Yet, with all of this vast experience with the comic and comic strip forms, there have been only a scarce few comics to cross the boundary between animation and the Disney theme parks. Here are a few of my favorites.Mickey and Goofy explore the Universe of Energy – This 1985 promotional comic featured Mickey and Goofy venturing into the Universe of Energy. The comic followed the basic storyline from the original attraction, but similarly to the current Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mickey and Goofy were also able to venture into the attraction itself and interact with the dinosaurs, as well as gallivant off to far away regions where energy is be discovered and harnessed.

While the comic is dated simply by the attraction it explores, and the fact that it mentions EPCOT Center, my favorite piece in the entire book is Goofy’s absolutely horrifying expression at the thought of paying $1.27 for a gallon of gasoline. While meant to express how grievous the energy situation could become, the moment is laughable given the current prices, and recent fluctuations, of gas.Captain EO – This oversized production from Eclipse Comics was released in 1987. The adaptation not only walked readers through the original film, but, like its namesake it was also in 3D. The comic came equipped with two pairs of 3D glasses with the classic red and blue lenses.

The artwork in this volume is outstanding, though at times it is complicated to view just the images through the 3D effect. Create by Tom Yeates, known for other works, such as Conan, Swamp Thing, and a couple of Universe X specials, as well as illustrations for a new release of several John Carter of Mars stories, the epic nature of Captain EO truly shines through with his effort.Haunted Mansion – Haunted Mansion enthusiasts were granted a treat to die for when, in 2006 with one issue being released in 2007, a six issue series of comics told tales from the Haunted Mansion. Over the course of the six issues tales from, and about, Master Gracey, Madame Leota, the Caretaker, and even the pet cemetery were explored. In addition to the stand alone stories presented within the publications, several serials ran as a common thread through the various issues. The Haunted Mansion comics were blessed, or rather cursed, by the unique talents of artists and writers such as Roman Dirge, Dan Vado, David Hedgecook, D. W. Frrydenhall, and Mike Moss, to name only a few.

For myself, the highlight of the entire series came in issue 1 in the story, Blueprint for Murder. With a story crafted and artwork created by Jon Hastings, Blueprint for Murder told the tale of the first two inhabitants of the moldering sanctum. Told from Master Gracey’s point-of-view, the tale recounts how the architects of mansion built, and then became permanent residents of, the manor. Oh, I should mention that the architects are Mr. Coats and Mr. Davis, a not so subtle reference to Claude Coats and Marc Davis, the Imagineers who designed the original attraction.

Disney theme park publications, like those listed above, are done with the utmost respect for the source material and offer new layers to already beloved attractions. It is my hope that we will see more of these types of publications in the future, and my firm belief that there is a market for such creations.


Chuck Munson said...

Hi Ryan,
I especially enjoyed this post as it dealt with one aspect of Disney collecting that I personally believe still gets rather short shrift in the Disney enthusiast/collector world: the Disney comic book.
That said, the comic was used to promote Disneyland in a large way. By a cursory count at the Inducks site (a website attempting to catalog every Disney comic and comic reference worldwide), at least eight Dell Giant comics were issued from 1955-59 dealing with Disney characters (mainly Mickey and the Gang) visiting Disneyland. A few of these were reprinted later on in the '60's. The Walt Disney Comics Digest issue 32 for Dec. 1971 celebrated the opening of Walt Disney World. Three of the main stories, the ones for Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland were lifted from earlier Dell Giants. However, the two for Frontierland (involving the then brand-new Country Bear Jamboree) and Main Street were original for that issue.
Thanks again for bringing attention to the theme park - comic connection.
BTW, one of the highlights for me of trips to Disneyland when my family lived out in California from '73 to '76 was the book section of the Emporium, where they had a huge world map behind the register area with copies of Disney comics from all over the world mounted to it. I was so disappointed when it disappeared somewhere around '75.

Princess Fee said...

Fantastic post - really interesting! And I do admit that I don't have many Disney comic books. I think have two Rescue Ranger ones, and that's it!