Monday, December 31, 2012

A History of DuckTales Comic Books, Part Four: Marvel's Disney Afternoon

...anyone even remember my History of DuckTales Comic Books series? Well, whether or not you do, it's been left hanging since...(yikes!) September 19th, 2011! Well, with only a few hours to go, I'm now determined to enter 2013 having seen this project through, dagnabbit!


Some time ago, in a blog comment, Joseph Adorno mentioned to me Marvel's 1994-95 Disney Afternoon comic, which had a 10-issue run. By way of what's perhaps been selective memory (Disney Comics' pre-Implosion DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, and TaleSpin comics had left much more of a lasting impression...), then if not for Joseph, I don't think that it ever would've occurred to me to account for that title in this series...

...and as most issues were devoted to Darkwing Duck and Rescue Rangers content, it's very easy to disregard that comic when operating from a DuckTales-oriented frame of the entirety of DT's representation in those 10 issues was in the form of two one-page gags (...only one of which I'd actually remembered, until skimming just now through the Inducks entries for each issue!)

Anyway, a little background: approximately a year and a half after Disney Comics had closed up shop and the "Gladstone II" era began, Marvel began publishing a separate line Disney comics, having been granted the "modern characters" license, as opposed to Gladstone's "classic characters" license. (Now, I always knew the difference between, say, "The Band Concert" and The Little Mermaid, but this was the first time in the U.S. that, as far as I understand it, an unmistakeable was drawn between the corresponding two types of comics.)

(While it made sense for branding reasons, I always thought it was awkward to title a comic book The [something] Afternoon... Also, by the time the first issue hit the stands, Darkwing and Rangers had long been in reruns, so the comic wasn't as "with the times" as you'd expect of Marvel's (presumed) marketing geniuses...)

So, here's Inducks' scans of the first of the two gags, "Fins Ain't What They Seem", from The Disney Afternoon #4 (Feb. 1995):

Basically, Scrooge is enjoying a swim in the money bin, he spots what appear to be four shark fins "swimming along the surface" ... and we're then shown that it's the Beagle Boys wearing shark fins on their heads, and they momentarily revel in thinking that they've fooled Scrooge and scared him off ... but then they're "sent packing" when Scrooge bores down over them in a battle ship "asail" on the sea of money...

For a one-page gag, this bit, well, it's okay. Swimming in the money bin and defending his money bin from a Beagle Boys raid is pretty Scrooge-esque, and attempetd said raid is pretty Beagles-esque, on their part. But it strikesm e as this was written by someone newly wrestling with the concept of Scrooge swimming in his money (...but that may just me being snobbish...)

And here's Inducks' scan of the other gag, "Cinematic Cycling", from The Disney Afternoon #6 (Apr. 1995):

*yawn* ...Gyro appears to be riding a bicycle through vastly diffent settings, but in the last panel, it's "revealed" (if you've avoided looking at the bottom of the page until you'd reached the last panel...) that he's been riding a stationary "exercise" bike in front of movie projections.

As a wordless, purely visual sequential gag (it's interesting to note that both this and "Fins" were exclusively pantomime), the construction is decent. It's just that...well, the gag isn't that much of a knockout...and how is using an exercise bike and a home movie projector at the same time at all Gearloose-ian?

I find it very curious that, besides Gyro and the Beagles having been rendered employing their DuckTales character designs, despite this ostensibly being a product of Marvel having the "modern" license, these two gags only included "classic" Barks characters, and no "modern" DT-exclusive creations like Launchpad or Webby!

Next up: Part Five (of Five), followed by a supplemental entry... Stay tuned...

-- Ryan


  1. Ryan,

    I wouldn't over-think these TOO much. They are exceptionally perfunctory and were no doubt included simply as a formality. (By the time they appeared, I believe that DT had left the DISNEY AFTERNOON rota.) Probably the best thing one can say about them is that they do not present out-of-character situations. Such can't be said for some of the DARKWING and RESCUE RANGERS material in Marvel DAFT, unfortunately.


  2. Chris,

    Sure -- I truly didn't feel that these two gags merited their own entry in this series; if I'd thought of them when I wrote the "DuckTales Magazine-Disney Adventures" installment, I would've lumped them in there, with little more than a sentence or two. But still intending to complete this series, I felt obligated to account for them. And at best, it could spur some reflective discussion about DAft ... speaking of which, I no longer have any of the 10 issues, but having forced myself with this writing to turn my attention back to it, I'm curious to revisit them...

    -- Ryan