Let’s dip into the Tickle Trunk again and take a look at some old Disney comic books.
All of them date from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when Rob was at exactly the right age for comic books. I think Rob probably outgrew them, but his mother didn’t! I wonder if he knows that she hid them all away in the bottom of that old Tickle Trunk?
Many of the Disney characters are represented, Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Chip and Dale. There are even a few lesser known stars like Gyro Gearloose.
There was a terrific article about Disney comic books in the Summer 2003 issue of Disney Magazine and it’s full of some very interesting facts. I’ve included scans of that article below, click on the images to see a larger, more readable version of each page.
One of the most astounding facts, in my opinion, is how popular Mickey Mouse became in a very short period of time. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story of Walt Disney and his early character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Walt didn’t own the rights to Oswald, Charles Mintz did. When the two men had a falling out in the spring of 1928 Walt was left with no character.
It sounds like an injustice, but if it hadn’t happened that way Walt may have never dreamed up his most significant creation! Enter Mickey Mouse, who made his first public appearance in Steamboat Willie which debuted in New York City on November 18, 1928.
The first Mickey Mouse comic appeared January 13, 1931 in daily newspapers as a syndicated comic strip. Only two years later, in 1933, Mickey Mouse Magazine was born. It was initially given away free at movie theatres and department stores but it must have been a huge hit, because by 1935 it had been reborn as a monthly “paid” magazine and by the end of that year it had a circulation of over 130,000. Think of that . . . Mickey was only seven years old!
The magazine was translated and foreign editions were published in many countries around the world. Mickey really was an overnight success!
The first Disney comic book, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, was launched in 1940 and within two years boasted a circulation of over 1,000,000 copies per month. The world’s favourite mouse was barely a teenager at the time!
Most of the comics in those early years began with a 10-page story, drawn by Carl Barks, starring Donald Duck and ended with a story starring Mickey.
By the mid 1950’s Mickey had a very popular daily television show, a theme park and the best selling comic book in America. Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories was selling over three million copies each month.
Like all comics of that age, the back page featured advertisements urging young readers to sell greeting cards and select fabulous rewards from a catalogue! Another ad urged kids to buy plenty of Kellogg’s cereal and enter a “stick-up for breakfast” contest to win a stone-age video game. How about those sea-monkeys? Did you ever own a bowl full of happiness?
Unfortunately, Disney comic book sales went into decline in the late 1970’s and on into the 1980’s. Many of the titles disappeared from the shelf altogether. On a recent visit to a huge bookstore and a specialty store catering to comic book collectors I could find no trace of a new Disney comic book.
In the mid 1950’s they were selling over three million copies a month and just 60 years later they have gone the way of the dinosaurs!
But there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; Time Magazine published an announcement January 22, 2015 that IDW Publishing will begin reprinting translated versions of classic Disney comics that were originally published in foreign languages overseas. The first to be reprinted will be Uncle Scrooge No. 1, expected to be in stores in April 2015, followed by reprints of titles Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Walt Disney Comics and Stories which should arrive in stores before July.
Guess who has registered at our local comic book store to reserve a copy of the new Uncle Scrooge No. 1 . . . Carol just has to have one to add to the Tickle Trunk!