Seven Decades of Disney Comic Delights

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Seven Decades of Disney Comic Delights

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, one of the best-selling and longest-running comic books in history, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Disney expert Jim Fanning pages through its colorful story.

Disney became the proud owner of Marvel Comics in 2009, but the House that the Mouse Built has actually been a comic book powerhouse for quite some time. Witness the long-standing comic magazine that has been accurately billed as “The Best-Selling Comic Book of All Time,” Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. First published in October 1940, this unbeatable cavalcade of Disney comic art has been dancing off newsstands and into the hands of eager readers for seven decades. Bursting from behind an eye-catching covers that are often works of art themselves, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories is chockful of hilarious antics and captivating derring-do, celebrating and spotlighting the whole Disney gang — headlined by Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. In honor of its 70th anniversary, here’s a look through the artful annals of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories.

It all started with a Mouse — Mickey Mouse Magazine, that is, Walt Disney’s enormously popular periodical of the 1930s. Comic books, meanwhile, exploded onto the publishing scene in 1934, taking a super-powered leap in popularity with the introduction of Superman in 1938. To feed the ever-growing comic craze, Mickey Mouse Magazine increasingly featured more and more comics until it finally evolved into a full-fledged funny book in 1940. Entitled Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories — tantalizingly indicating the kaleidoscope of graphic novelettes that would fill its vibrant pages — this jaunty new journal was an anthology created in the wake of the popular Detective Comics (launched in 1937) and Action Comics (launched in 1938) and which introduced Batman and Superman respectively. A few Disney comic books had already been devoured by an insatiable public but Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories was the first modern-style Disney comics title.

Each month Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories would be, as the editors promised, “a new, colorful, exciting magazine filled with funny, thrilling adventures of Mickey, Donald and all the rest.” At first, its 64 pages (those were the good old days) overflowed with reprints of the Disney newspaper comic strips, but this backlog was nearly exhausted within a couple of years. Besides, the clamor then was for original comic book stories, such as those featuring super heroes. So in the December 1942 issue, #27, boasted the first all-new story, titled “The Carnival King,” which starred Joe Carioca, the freshly minted movie star of Saludos Amigos (1942). Joe was followed by a flurry other rarely spotlighted Disney celebrities, including Clara Cluck, Gremlin Gus and Tillie Tiger. Even Friend Owl from Bambi (1942) was highlighted in his own story, and that barnyard glamour gal Clarabelle Cow made the cover! Over the years, while also showcasing such Disney stalwarts as Chip ‘n’ Dale, Jiminy Cricket, and Winnie the Pooh, the “character actors” of the Disney oeuvre, such as Brer Rabbit, Ludwig Von Drake and the marvelous Mad Madam Mim, flourished in the character-friendly pages of Walt Disney’s Comics.

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Seven Decades of Disney Comic Delights

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Chip is the owner, editor, and writer of Chip and Company. When he is not writing about Disney News or Planning Tips, you will find him counting down the days to his next Disney Vacation.
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