What's a natural follow-up to a Floyd Gottfredson MICKEY MOUSE adventure? In terms of comics cachet, it can only be a MICKEY serial from the glory days of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES, produced by the estimable team of writer Carl Fallberg and artist Paul Murry. And we get an unexpectedly special one here: "The Lens Hunters" (WDC&S #158-#160, November 1953-January 1954) has NEVER before been reprinted in the U.S. Given that Fallberg-Murry reruns were a positive staple of Gold Key and Whitman WDC&S during the "decline phase" of the 1970s and 1980s, it's interesting to speculate as to why this African "sort-of-safari" adventure got the "one-and-done" treatment. There's nothing racially offensive hereabouts -- the handful of "natives of Bathrobi" that we see are the equivalents of white guys. Goofy's trait of attracting animals, both wild and tame, to his side (the better to help Mickey shoot great wildlife movies, the excellence of which has convinced movie mogul A.J. Sprocket to finance Mickey and Goofy's journey to Africa) doesn't clash with any other aspect of Goofy's character; if anything, it adds an extra dash of charm to the more naive portion of his personality. Whatever the reason for the oversight, I'm glad that the first reprint was presented to us on Boom!'s glossy paper. Murry's enthusiasm for his work was then at a high level, as evinced by the clever detail work seen in patterns of animal tracks and the like, and the high-quality presentation shows this early version of Murry's art to good advantage.
"The Lens Hunters" was one of the first Murry-Fallberg serials, and some rawness shows in the storytelling. Stubble-bearded guide Klutch is too obviously a villain from the start, and surely he needn't have waited "all these years" to go back in search of Goofy's diamond-finding Uncle Grubley just because he wanted a free trip? With all those diamonds at stake, I think I could scrounge up enough dough to work my way across on a coal boat, or something. Also, Mickey and Goofy never get to grapple with Klutch in the final chapter; instead, the bearded, slightly misanthropic old Grubley puts out Klutch's lights all by himself. Mickey and Goofy, the putative heroes, never even get to do anything particularly heroic, apart from escaping from a plateau on which Klutch has marooned them. Mickey fooling Grubley into thinking that the latter has lost his diamond-finding ability (so that Grubley will agree to star in a Sprocket spectacular about his life) doesn't quite count. Still, the juxtaposition of the "unusual attractive talent" gene in the two Goofs is quite clever, and the art is, as mentioned before, excellent. This was one of the stories that convinced Western Publishing to make the MICKEY serials a featured attraction in WDC&S, and it's easy to see why.
The cover is attributed to Murry, but what's its origin? Since the story was never reprinted in America, it can't be from a Gold Key or Whitman reprint. Did Murry, like Gottfredson, Carl Barks, Don Rosa et al., produce a series of drawings for fans illustrating panels from his stories? From what little I know of Murry, I find that somewhat hard to believe, but I could be wrong.