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Disney Comics get topical!

Worthy of noting in this week before the U.S. elections, Gemstone’s Uncle Scrooge #381 (on sale this week, cover pictured below left) features a story (Breakfast of Champions by Bruno Concina and Lara Molinari) about Scrooge trying to promote his name brand marmalade by getting celebrity endorsements on the cheap. Along with thinly disguised actors and sports stars, the celebs include spoofs of our presidential candidates as well (including Governor Palin).

While I’m at it, I might as well plug Gemstone’s entire line of Disney comic books. The current editors, writers and artists really know the classic characters, and their love of Disney lore comes through on every page. In addition to the terrific new material, they aren’t stingy on reprinting classic work by Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson and Paul Murry. Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #696 (pictured below right) doubles as a special issue for Mickey Mouse’s 80th anniversary. Along with rare Gottfredson and Romano Scarpa Mickey comics material, they’ve got a new birthday story by Byron Erickson and Cesar Ferioli. Not to mention what I think is the first-ever modern publication of a 1929 Iwerks ad drawing from PLANE CRAZY’s sound re-release (see portion in center thumbnail below)!

  • Readers who follow the Amazon links might be confused—the covers pictured by Amazon for UNCLE SCROOGE 381 and WDC&S 696 don’t match what’s pictured here on the Brew.
    As a Gemstone editor, I can pass the word along that the fault is Amazon’s. The covers they show date from an earlier time before we shuffled some issue plans around.
    Nevertheless, if you order US 381 and WDC 696 through Amazon, you will get the issues as Jerry has described and pictured them.

  • Joe Torcivia

    The very talented David Gerstein is being too modest in his comment post by omitting the fact that it is his dialogue for the Uncle Scrooge story cited here that ADDS this wonderful and unexpected reference to the “interesting times” in which we presently live!

    Oddly, in the preceding issue (UNCLE SCROOGE # 380 – Released: October 08, 2008), there is both an intentional and a coincidentally unintentional such reference as well.

    In “A Game of One-Cup-Manship”, a story for which I provided the English language dialogue, Scrooge continually bests the frustrated owner of a small diner. This is a sequel to a popular series of one-page gags done in the 1950s by the great Carl Barks. The gags, by the way, are also reprinted in the issue to nicely set up the story.

    When “Joe” (his name in the original story) decides to tell Scrooge off once and for all, I have him say: “It’s time McDuck met the PLAIN TALK EXPRESS!” (…An almost – but not quite – tribute to a certain someone who used to “talk straight” once upon a time. Now, he just seems to bob and weave!)

    But the real kicker is that we have JOE THE COFFEE SHOP OWNER, in a story released just before a certain “plumber” became a household name!

    Anyone who does not read these comics – or simply writes them off as “kiddy fare” is really missing something good!

  • The price of these titles have always kept me away. Two expensive books released in the same week is not a good marketing plan. Plus the fact that there are usually continuing stories in most issues. I don’t want to pay twenty four dollars to read a three part Don Rosa story, or the latest Barks re-mix from Europe.

    I’d much rather spend my money on classic re-print books or trade paperback collections of select current material.

  • But… but Vince, our books *are* trade paperbacks. UNCLE SCROOGE and WALT DISNEY’S COMICS aren’t standard 32-page, ad-filled side-bound comics—our $8 titles are actually 64-page, almost adless squarebounds on good paper. We’ve done the math: the price per comics page breaks down to be the same as the bigger publishers’ 32-page series, and we add the square binding and better covers for no extra cost.

    You refer to Don Rosa stories being serialized, but from the start of the new line in 2003, we’ve always published Rosa stories in one part. Recently, we’ve even published one-part reprints of a few Rosa stories that were earlier only serialized (“The Incredible Shrinking Tightwad” complete and newly uncensored in US 359; “The Treasury of Croesus” complete in US 372).
    From 2005, all serials have been exclusively in WDC&S, and they’re usually stories that would be too long to present any other way.

    Honestly, Vince, it sounds to me like you were turned off by some aspects of our line some years ago—and may not have realized that our present titles may be more to your liking.

  • Dave, you sold me right there.

    I just got a subscription via the nearest comic shop. I’ve been picking up the odd collection here and there online, and my son just can’t get enough of them – and neither can I. In fact, I didn’t realize that these were available so steadily.

    Thanks to Jerry for bumping the publicity up and to Dave & crew for putting this out. Both of you have done wonders for keeping well-crafted characters in print or on disc for my toddler son and his cousins to enjoy. Hopefully this will translate into these guys sticking around for a while longer! Of course, this time of year, some Harvey characters (Casper, Hot Stuff) and Disney animated shorts are getting all of the attention (Lonesome Ghosts is on ‘heavy rotation’)!
    (Tip of the hat to Leonard Maltin for his Disney-related efforts!)

  • Mike P.

    I love Gemstone’s books. We get them for our library system, too and they’re just super well-done.

    Btw, not to be nitpicky, but I would assume “Bison” is a play on Senator Biden rather than Gov. Palin.

  • Pez

    When you re-color the classics, please don’t make them look brand new with over saturated colors. It distracts from the beautiful line art. I have almost bought many of your “Comics and Stories” books but decided against them and gone with an older printing or scan of the original due to the poor color choices. If you reprinted the comics like Fantagraphics does for Popeye I would buy as many Uncle Scrooge comics as you can put out.

    Thank you though for making the classics available to us

  • Brad

    “You refer to Don Rosa stories being serialized, but from the start of the new line in 2003, we’ve always published Rosa stories in one part.”

    Except the Three Caballeros stories.

    But why quibble. What I’d like to know is what happened to the previously-announced “phone books” of more material in b&w on cheap paper.

  • BRAD: Wak! You’ve got me dead to rights: I *forgot* about the two Caballeros stories. Nevertheless, never something we plan to do again. Meanwhile, we ended up not doing the “phone books” because unfortunately, our printers couldn’t make them cost-effective.

    PEZ: To add new color to vintage stories, or do facsimiles of the original editions? It’s a tough question, but there are several reasons we go with the former:

    1) We want to present the linework of Barks (and others) in the best possible quality, and often the surviving 1940s BW line art stats are much sharper and cleaner than any published comic book of the time. 2) Prior to about 1948 and after about 1960, the Western Publishing color schemes used in Disney comics were frequently bizarre to the point of psychedelia, often obscuring the art they were meant to enrich. Is the most authentic reproduction of a story, then, really the best way to see it?
    3) Like it or no, young readers are a huge part of our audience. We’ve run some tests, and fresh, new color does make the material more appealing to that sector.

    Now, none of this is to say we can’t do facsimile books ON TOP OF presenting our material the way we’ve been doing. But it’s nothing I’ve got any firm conclusions on yet (I’m certainly not the guy who makes these high-level decisions!).

  • Doug

    Hello David,

    Just a quick slightly off-topic question if you don’t mind: I have the Don Rosa Library hardcover on pre-order at Amazon. It says it will be coming out Jan. 7th of next year…is that date firm?

  • Afraid not, unfortunately. Rounding up some of the material has proven more difficult than you’d think.

  • Doug

    Crud. I absolutely love Rosa’s work, and was hoping it would be out soon. Thanks for the info, though…I appreciate it.

  • Doug


    When you say that rounding up the material is difficult, are you speaking of getting the legal right to publish it, negotiating royalties, etc.?