March to Disney: Disney Comics News and Wishes

As I covered on this guest post the fears many had about Disney acquiring LucasFilm are likely unfounded based on Disney’s track record with Marvel. One interesting way in which there doesn’t appear to be quite so much synergy is in the comic book handling of traditionally Disney properties. Figment (2014, Disney/Marvel) Marvel has published some Disney titles like Figment, which was an enjoyable and creative series that added dimension to a created-for-a-ride character; and standalone graphic novels like Space Mountain; as well as the reintroduction of Star Wars comics to the Marvel line. However, the traditional Disney comic titles like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories are coming back this year and not under a proprietary banner or under the Marvel mast but rather with indy publisher IDW (They were last handled by Boom!). Disney Comics do have a subset of fans all their own, and don’t get me wrong: I love the focus here, which will surely please fans:

The new line will launch with April’s Uncle Scrooge No. 1, followed in May with a new Donald Duck series, with Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney Comics and Stories debuting in June and July, respectively. Each of the series will feature reprints of work originated overseas for foreign-language Disney comics, with new covers featuring monthly themes based on areas of Walt Disney resorts, including Adventureland (April), Tomorrowland (May) and Fantasyland (July).

One unique thing is that country-by-country indigenous creators have shaped the characters in their homeland, whether they be Disney mainstays or original. An original example would be the extended family that Zé Carioca has amassed in Brazil. However, the THR article touches upon the oddity of this scenario:

The announcement means that Disney’s comic book licenses are currently split between a number of different publishers; IDW has the classic Disney animated characters, while Marvel controls the rights to material based on Disney theme park properties (To date, the company has produced Seekers of the Weird, Figment and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) and Canadian publisher Joe’s Books publishes titles based on recent animated movies including Frozen and Big Hero 6. As unusual as it may seem, this is actually the second time that IDW has gained comic book rights to a property owned by a corporation that also owns its own comic book publisher; in 2013, the publisher announced that it had gained the comic book license for a number of Cartoon Network properties, despite CN parent Warner Bros. also owning DC Entertainment.

I don’t have the entertainment law or business acumen to discern how or why this works. I know that Fantagraphics has dealt with several properties that are the purview of several other entities for their wonderful editions. I am glad to see these stories debut here, but I also hope this indicates Disney getting more active in proliferating its comics characters. There are several character whom are more prevalent in the comic universe of Disney that need updated treatments. Bucky Bug (Disney) Here are just a few:

Gyro Gearloose Bucky Bug Flintheart Grimgold Gladstone Gander Magica De Spell

and more! Pete's Dragon (1977, Disney) Alternatively, there are also many smaller and/or “lesser” characters in the cinematic realm that could use new life in the comics realm:

Hamish, Hubert and Harris from Brave Roger Rabbit Panchito (Not very prevalent in Mexico) The Rescuers Elliot from Pete’s Dragon The Isle of Naboombu from Bedknobs and Broomsticks

And more! Ultimately, I won’t nitpick business dealings too much. I just hope it does lead to more diversity in the Disney comics universe. And it should almost go without saying that after the success of Big Hero 6 that Baymax and Hiro should be back, correct?