Between his debut in 1928's Steamboat Willie and the beginning of 1930, Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse had appeared in fifteen critically acclaimed and commercially successful short films --- so it should be no surprise that the high-powered world of newspaper comics soon came calling. King Features approached Disney about licensing the characters, and on January 13, 1930, the Mickey Mouse comic strip was born.
Listen: I love Robin Hood. Outside of Dracula, who I think we can all agree is pretty great, he's probably my favorite public domain character in the history of fiction, and between the sidekicks, the secret headquarters, the recognizeable costume and the uneasy relationship with local law enforcement, he's pretty much a direct ancestor to the kind of superheroes that we have today. So really, if there was anything that was going to get me back to being excited about the hardcovers reprinting Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips after the last volume left such a bad taste in my mouth, Mickey going on an adventure with Robin Hood was going to be the thing that did it.
Which, as it turns out, is exactly what they did. The latest Mickey volume from Fantagraphics is a collection of Gottfredson's full-color Sunday strips from 1936 to 1938 -- plus a whole bunch of bonus features from his later career -- that includes "The Robin Hood Adventure." And folks, this one isn't just a great story from a great creator, it's the kind of story where I want to just start grabbing people on the street and telling them they have to read it, because it's one of the weirdest things I have ever read.
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Ever since Fantagraphics started up their collection of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips, I've been looking forward to finally getting to read "Mickey Outwits The Phantom Blot." This was the story that I'd heard of even when I wasn't paying attention to Disney comics from the '30s, the influential saga that provided Mickey with his most intriguing villain, and one that returned again and again over the years and inspired creators like Osamu Tezuka. It came with a pretty solid reputation, and when I finally got to it in the latest hardcover, I've got to admit that it lived up to it. It's every bit as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.
Unfortunately, it's collected in a book alongside some of the most grotesquely offensive stories that I've ever read. That's the sort of thing that spoils the experience a bit, even when you're making allowances for the time.
The competition was brutal during last weekend's Annie Awards, the International Animated Film Society's celebration of an uncommonly strong year in animation for film, television, commercials and games. For example, it stung to see our beloved Teen Titans Go! lose the award for Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children’s Audience, but that the winner was the similarly excellent Adventure Time made the pill easier to swallow. But easier still was the master Katsuhiro Otomo taking home the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in animation. That pill is good for health.
A few of our favorite animated projects and their creators were recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences this week with awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation. Unsurprisingly Adventure Time's Andy Ristaino won for character design while the new Mickey Mouse short, "Croissant de Triomphe," earned artists Jenny Gase-Baker and Joseph Holt prizes in background paint and art direction, respectively. Of course the superlative work of Alberto Mielgo on TRON: Uprising was honored with an art direction trophy, which just makes the cancelation of that most impressive new adventure series sting all the more.
Mickey Mouse is one of animation's most enduring but paradoxically dull icons. But it wasn't always that way. Created by Walt Disney in the late 1920s, Mickey appeared in some truly brilliant films throughout the '30s and '40s, some in black and white and some in color, but almost always in some astonishingly clever, very funny and frequently groundbreaking animated works like Steamboat Willie, Building a Building, The Brave Little Tailor and of course Fantasia. But with notable exceptions of 1983's A Christmas Carol adaptation and 2010's Epic Mickey video game, the character has been little more than a harmless corporate mascot for the majority of his existence. As Walt Disney's signature creation, it's a fitting and auspicious role for Mickey, but also something of a waste of one of American animation's most visible characters.
Fortunately for animation fans, Disney agrees. In what's obviously an earnest effort to resurrect the classic spirit of Mickey Mouse for the 21st century, the studio has enlisted a fantastic assortment of talents from shows like The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Sym-Bionic Titan to honor the brilliant works of the past with an all-new series of genuinely funny and beautifully designed short films set to air on the Disney Channel this summer.
Movies: New Iron Man 3 footage shown during this past weekend's MTV Movie Awards sees Tony Stark chuck a piano at the Mandarin.
Plush: It looks like Mickey Mouse will finally start cosplaying as Marvel heroes like Spider-Man and the Hulk in plushie form this October...
We didn't realize when we set out to list our favorite comic books of 2012 that it had been such a fun year to be a fan of the medium that we all love so much. The last twelve months offered readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies; the return of much missed mangaka and the emergence of exciting new talent; a new crowd-sponsored visibility for self-publishing; and the ascension of the fan artist from bedroom dreamer to Tumblr tycoon...
One of my favorite comics of the past year hasn't really been from the past year at all. The new hardcovers from Fantagraphics of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips from the 1930s -- which took this year's Eisner Award for Best Archival Collection -- have been an incredible read...