Saturday, November 7, 2009
One of the biggest complaints lodged against the ill-fated Disney Comics line was that it was an attempt to Marvel-ize the Disney Standard Characters. In 1990 comic books were big business and Marvel were the top dog in the industry. From a business standpoint, it made a certain amount of sense to try to apply that magic formula to the Disney line; if you're going to make funnybooks why not try to emulate the Numero Uno publisher in the biz? (After all, that same approach ended up working wonders for Atlas, Valiant, and Malibu, amiright?)
In 1990, Disney got the comic book rights away from Gladstone, and started their own line of comics. Long-time Marvel and DC writer Len Wein was hired as Editor-in-Chief of the line, and superhero vets like Marv Wolfman and Stephen DeStefano were brought in to modernize Disney Comics for the kids of the 90's.
As much as people complain about the Disney Comics era, a lot of what they did was pretty good. Donald Duck Adventures, for example, had a lot of stories by Barks, Rosa, and Van Horn, and did an admirable job of mixing old and new Duck stories in a kid-friendly format that wouldn't have seemed out of place at Gladstone or Gemstone. Mickey Mouse Adventures was the title most affected by the new regime, as the Editorial staff deemed the classic Gottfredson serials to be too "old-fashioned" for the hip youngsters of the 1990's. This is the book where the creators tried the hardest to drag a character from the 1930's kicking and screaming into the go-go 90's.
Here's one of my favorite stories from this era, (and one of the very few that even old-school fans consider worthy) "A Phantom Blot Bedtime Story." Story by Lee Nordling, art by DeStephano, cover by John Byrne (!).