Some of the best Disney scholarship being done today is hidden in the margins of a series of Mickey Mouse comic strip reprint books being published by Fantagraphics Books. David Gerstein, one of our finest animation scholars, has co-edited four previous collections of Mickey Mouse daily strips – and all of them are must-have volumes. If you have any serious interest in animation history – or simply appreciate great cartooning and love to laugh – you must own these. I just got my copy of the latest addition to The Floyd Gottfredson Library and spent the past weekend in cartoon nirvana.
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Vol. 1: Call of the Wild is the first of a two-volume set reprinting the Floyd Gottfredson Sunday Mickey Mouse strips (1932-1938) in color. For those just tuning in (tooning in?), Gottfredson was the genius behind the Mickey Mouse comics strip for decades, but it was these 1930s continuities that enhance the character we know from the movies – and in true Disney style, are superb in everyway a comic strip should be. It’s incredible this wealth of truly great material has not been thoroughly reprinted before.
Leave it to Gerstein, with co-editor Gary Groth and the team at Fantagraphics, to reprint these rare strips with the greatest of care. The reproduction of the line art is superb, the coloring is vivid and faithful to the original newspaper printings – if Pluto was white, or if Donald Duck was yellow, that’s the way its printed here. All politically incorrect images and dialogue are left intact, uncut and presented in context of the times. These strips are a joy to read – both single gag-a-day strips and several action packed adventure continuities, many featuring Donald Duck, Dippy Dawg, Horace Horsecollar, not to mention Minnie, Pluto and Peg Leg Pete.
As usual, Gerstein loads these books with vital “special features” – essays from Gerstein and other distinguished historians, illustrated with rare Mickey Mouse material from around the world. J.B. Kaufman introduces the book with an informative overview of the color strips and how they fit into the Disney universe of the 1930s; cartoonist Kevin Huizenga examines Gottfredson’s generous use of sweat(!); Gerstein and Jim Korkis unveil a rare set of Mickey strips drawn for the Freemasons by Fred Spencer; Gerstein and Sergio Lama revive the lost 1931 Italian weekly Mickey strip; Gerstein provides mini-essays about Mickey’s theme song (Minnie’s Yoo-Hoo), Gottfredson’s Mickey Pop-Up books, and annotates the Sunday strips along with fellow historians Thad Komorowski, Joe Torcivia, Leonardo Gori and Francesco Stajano.
That’s not even everything in this volume. Stop what you’re doing and order this new book today. 280 pages of absolute joy. It’ll be the best $29.99 ($18.20 on Amazon) you’ve ever spent.
Years ago I dreamed of a book that would collect those marvelous Disney pages, printed every month Good Housekeeing back in the 1930s. These pages would illustrate a new Disney short, a Mickey Mouse or Silly Symphony (and in later years, the feature films). They were beautiful full color paintings by Tom Wood or Hank Porter… and unless you actually had those ancient back issues of Good Housekeeping magazine, there was no way to see them.
How long did Disney produce these pages? Could they ever be collected into one volume? These questions were answered in 2005 when Gemstone Publishing released an incredible volume called Walt Disney’s Mickey and the Gang: Classic Storis In Verse. David Gerstein edited and annotated the book – and like the Gottfredson books above, this volume is simply a must-have. The “special features” overwhelm the core content – all 124 Good Housekeeping pages are supplemented by over 200 pages of bonus content – important research and rare images that tell practically the story of Disney animation of the 1930s. If you don’t have it, buy this book now.
However, coming out in July, publisher Rizzoli International, through its Universe imprint, will release Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Tales. This is a new book reprinting the same Good Housekeeping pages, but only about 55 of them. The quality of printing is no better than the Gerstein tome – in fact some are worse, a few of the single page adaptations are stretched to fill two pages. There is no “special material”. The Rizzoli book is 64 pages and ten dollars cheaper than Gerstein’s Gemstone collection.
Bottom line, run out and buy the 2005 Gerstein book before its too late.