Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Disney Comics: NEXT PUBLISHER UP!

While he was attending the New York Comic Con, Joe Torcivia passed word along to me that "classic" American Disney comics are finally on their way back.  So, did Disney finally grow a brain and realize that, hey, it now owns one of the world's biggest comics outfits (Marvel), so Disney should oblige it to get cracking?  Well, um, no.  The publisher is actually going to be IDW.  Surprise, surprise!

Let's look at IDW's official announcement of what it terms "a monumental collaboration" and see what we can glean from it:

This monumental collaboration kicks off with multiple monthly series featuring some of the most iconic characters of all time: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and many more! Re-presenting acclaimed comics from the past and today, these series will highlight the best and brightest of Disney’s impressive comic catalogue.

Looks as if the old standby titles -- MICKEY MOUSE, DONALD DUCK, UNCLE $CROOGE, and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES -- have some life left in them yet.  Hopefully, IDW will know who to consult regarding identification of the "best and brightest," starting with those people who made the final few months of Boom!'s Disney comics line so enjoyable.  Given IDW's interest in publishing adaptations of animated series (MY LITTLE PONY, ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, and various CARTOON NETWORK series, just to name a few), could some Disney Afternoon-related titles also be in our future? 

The award-winning Artist’s Edition line, pioneered by IDW, that showcases original artwork, will feature collections from the immense talents who have contributed to many beloved Disney comics over the years. Artist’s Editions featuring the legendary Carl Barks and Don Rosa will receive the spotlight in these gorgeous over-sized collections of original art reproduced at full size.

Sounds good, too.  Given the collector-focused nature of the Artist's Edition line, it is likely that the regular comics will be pitched at both collectors and new readers.  American Disney comics MUST do something to increase the pool of potential patrons, or we all are simply going to die out! 

Launched in 2014, Micro Comic Fun Packs have enjoyed immense success with highly recognizable franchises, and will expand its line with multiple Disney properties. Packed with a mini-comic, stickers, posters, and more, the Micro-Comic Fun Pack has been captivating new comic audiences on a mass-market scale.

OK, as long as IDW doesn't try to stuff comics material into boxes of ice-cream treats.  (A few of you will know what I am referring to there.) 

Celebrating the rich history of the many facets of comics, the Library of American Comics offers detailed and insightful looks at specific comics and creators. Beginning in 2015, the LOAC will begin collecting the various newspaper strips that have featured iconic Disney characters.

Given that Fantagraphics is releasing the Barks and Gottfredson collections even as we read, what could IDW have planned here?  Collections of the SILLY SYMPHONIES strips, perhaps?  I can't see them simply taking over from Fantagraphics.

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Back to personal musings... If IDW's handling of the MY LITTLE PONY franchise is any indication of how the Disney characters will fare in the company's hands, then there is every reason to believe that IDW will be good stewards.  Management of American Disney comics has been so erratic, whimsical, and downright perverse over the decades that I, for one, could stand for a spell of honest, reliable craftsmanship.  One open question at the moment is how "hands-on" Disney will be with IDW.  Actually, I'm inclined to believe at this point that Disney couldn't care less.  If Disney found it easy enough to ignore its alliance with Marvel, then Disney clearly saying that it's perfectly willing to let IDW take the comics off its hands (or somewhere near there), just as long as they don't have to deal with the issue any longer.  "Ignorance is bliss," Disney style?  It might actually be a blessing.

6 comments:

Regular GeoX said...

I must admit, I'm scratching my head a bit at this "Artist’s Edition" business. So...the idea is we'll have collections reproducing the material that Fantagraphics is already working with, only (presumably) at a higher price point and with very vaguely-quantifiable differences? I may just be a simple country hyper-chicken, but that does not strike me as a winning proposition. I could be wrong, of course, but regardless, THIS particular collector has no interest in such a thing.

Anonymous said...

The Artist's Editions are for hardcore comic collectors: original comic art published as close to the original as possible.

Meaning: a high quality photograph of the original art with eraser marks, correction fluid, even the texture of the yellowing paper all clearly visible! It's also produced in the same size as the original art. Since a lot of cartoonists work much bigger than how their work is eventually published it means Artist's Editions are often very large. A few are so enormous I wonder where their owners store them! It's meant to provide the fan with something as close to having the original art as possible.

These editions are published in limited quantities and very expensive!

Chris Barat said...

Anon,

That would definitely be a different breed of cat than the "standard" collector's edition. I believe that IDW did something like this for the first story arc in the MY LITTLE PONY comic.

I rather think that I will pass on this because of the expense.

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris writes:

“Management of American Disney comics has been so erratic, whimsical, and downright perverse over the decades…”

That is SOOO, true Chris, and perfectly expressed. Save pre-1969 Western Publishing (The line of demarcation being the first appearance of Kay Wright art in DONALD DUCK – appearing in January, 1969!), Gladstone Series I, Gemstone, and those now-legendary “Final Four Weeks of Boom!” for the “Core Four” titles.

In my own Blog post, I run a comprehensive list of quality products produced by IDW, that should give everyone the confidence that they will do things right.

And, with the superb efforts by Fantagraphics, we will have TWO licensed publishers whose hallmark is one of the highest quality. I’m sure IDW and Fantagraphics will find a way to avoid competing product, making things better for all!

Ryan Wynns said...

Chris, Joe, et al,

Oh, wow, this is exciting news! I've said that before that I thought that IDW would do a great job handling the "classics" line, considering their grasp on Popeye and Rocky and Bullwinkle. I can't praise the line yet, of course, but I'm more comfortable with IDW than any other publisher.

-- Ryan

Anonymous said...

IDW have been doing the Artist's Editions for a few years now, and they've been very popular with a certain breed of fan. They've done several classic Marvel comics, EC Comics, Eisner's Spirit, Hellboy... I believe Kirby's New Gods and Schultz's Peanuts are coming soon. The EC horror book is the one I held in my hands at the comic shop and was amazed by the size of the thing.

I've been tempted by them before, but I suppose they're a bit too rich for my blood. Better to buy six or seven new books than spend the same amount for a fancy reprint of something I already have.

But I'm very excited about new Disney comics coming out. I still buy the same monthly series I've read for years, but I've largely switched to trade waiting for any new series - but I wouldn't be able to resist an Uncle Scrooge monthly!