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.
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.
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...
Mickey Mouse v.1 and 2: Race to Death Valley and Trapped On Treasure Island
Available From: Fantagraphics
When this year's Holiday Gift Guide started, the very first thing I recommended was Fantagraphics' new collection of Donald Duck comics by Carl Barks, and with good reason...
Even when I was a kid, I was never cared much for Mickey Mouse. I was always more into Warner's Looney Tunes -- especially the Chuck Jones cartoons -- and the Disney stuff I liked tended to be revolve around the adventures of Uncle Scrooge or Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, the latter of which prompted my first and only purchase of an airbrushed t-shirt...