For some reason, I now have an author’s page on ComiXology. Well, I do know the reason, actually: the entire line of Disney comics published by IDW are being published digitally on February 1st, and since I’m credited as a creator for my “Duck English” scripts of international stories, there be my byline.
As I’ve said many times, it’s been a privilege working with David Gerstein to bring these stories stateside. Despite some hiccups and dud concepts, it’s easily the best curated run of Disney comic books period. Case in point: “The Great Rock of Power-Plus”, by Francesco Artibani and Giorgio Cavazzano, a modern 57-page (!) masterpiece that manages to make the wholly unsympathetic Magica De Spell a sympathetic character. It was an honor to play a small part in bringing it stateside via last October’s Disney Giant Halloween Hex.
I’m not sure what the answer is… Should I keep this site up despite next to never having the motivation to update it? I didn’t hear much when it was gone, but since I have to keep up the costs of maintaining a server for actual paying work, it might as well stay.
Devon Baxter has been doing an enjoyable series of posts at Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research about animators who moonlighted in comic books, largely under the former animator’s Jim Davis’s shop. Devon’s most recent post highlighted the only known (for now) comic-book work by those beloved animators Irv Spence and Rod Scribner. As the esteemed and vastly underrated Dave Bennett notes in the comments, comic work suited many animators, but for many it was a hassle. He cites Preston Blair’s only known comic story, and Johnny Gent probably didn’t do more than a handful. I can imagine it was a struggle for many to do satisfying work, for there’s a significant difference between drawing for comics and drawing for animation, as the unremarkable Spence and Scribner comics indicate.
Here, too, is another one-shot from a highly identifiable animator: the only comic book story I know of that was drawn by Emery Hawkins (unsigned, though). The poses and line of action throughout “The Cat and Canary” are unmistakably from Hawkins’ hand, probably knocked out after doing scenes for Shamus Culhane’s Fish Fry at Lantz’s.
Without further adieu, from Giggle Comics #5 (Feb. 1944)…
Al Hubbard truly was an underrated comics craftsman whose artwork is one of the richest rewards of scouring pages of classic animation studio-licensed comic books. So many of his colleagues (all of them former animation artists, too) fizzled out in the ’50s after years of the Western Publishing editorial office’s iron fist. Yet Hubbard’s compositions and staging remained complex and his poses warm and charming until the very end.
This little 8-pager drawn by Hubbard was produced in 1965 for the Disney Studio program (a.k.a. “the S-coded stories”). That output, until very recently, was almost exclusively published outside America, and rarely in English. This one was written by Dick Kinney, whose specialty was obnoxious, destructive characters in the cartoons he wrote for Disney and Lantz. The mixture of the genteel Hubbard and the raw Kinney gave birth to Fethry Duck, and longtime readers know all about my love for (and professional relationship with) this strange character.
One other Kinney/Hubbard creation was Hard Haid Moe, a trigger-happy hillbilly Donald and Fethry encounter on one of the latter’s obsessive misadventures. Described by fellow Disney comics scribe Joe Torcivia as an unpleasant mixture of Yosemite Sam and Snuffy Smith, Moe is clearly Kinney’s addition to the glorification of redneck culture that was a staple of mid-’60s primetime television (The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction). But why create that kind of character for a market where those shows don’t air?
I’m certainly not ungrateful Moe did come into existence—even if Joe and most other American Disney comic readers are. (The character is actually wildly popular in Italy and especially Brazil, where he had his own comic.) As this story plainly illustrates, it’s one of the unholiest dynamics to ever grace a licensed funny animal comic: the most obnoxious aspects of the opposite ends of the political spectrum trying to top each other. I mean, what could be funnier than a liberal obsessive who must seek life’s answers in every corner of the earth, and thus makes it a life goal to become bosom companions with a trigger-happy, white trash hillbilly that actively tries to shoot him?
Well, enough Fethry-like blabbering. Enjoy “Mountain Magic”, as it originally appeared in Australia’s Disney Giant #354 (1965).
On sale this week (just in time for Christmas) is Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #726, which includes “Just Like Magic”, an all-new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit story. It was written by animation historian David Gerstein in the style of John Stanley’s classic stories of the 1940s and drawn by animator Mark Kausler in the style of the 1920s cartoons (the only way Oswald can be depicted in new Disney licensing). It’s a cute story, and its credentials make it an interesting curio for animation buffs, even if you aren’t a fan of the Disney comic books.