Nov 7, 2007

DUCK DUCK GOOSED

It would probably come as a shock to many who know me only from Tomb of Dracula, Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths and other adventure work to realize that my absolute first love in writing has always been humor. Back in my fan days my very first fanzine was something called The Foob which was a funny animal zine. Later on I also published Super Adventures which was about super-heroes, and Stories of Suspense which was my horror book, but my humor work came first and, indeed, my first award in comics was for a humor story I wrote in Crazy Magazine which I also served as editor for more than a year. The questionable story in question was the "secret" origin of a certain comic book ghost and was called Kaspar The Dead Baby. If you're interested, you can find scans of it on the web HERE. As I say, I've always loved writing humor, which brings me to...

Way back in the early 90s I spent a good deal of time not writing stories about heroes in spandex, but about Mice and Ducks wearing short pants and waistcoats. For nearly a year I wrote Mickey Mouse and DuckTales for Disney Comics. Most folk think these are easy stories to write, but let me say you couldn't be more wrong. They are the absolute hardest stuff I've ever done. The stories are extremely tightly plotted and they take longer to do than anything else I've ever worked on. At the same time, the stories I did are among my absolute favorites. Which brings me to...
Gemstone has just collected and reprinted my DuckTales stories. I always remembered liking what I had done but after re-reading them I became a fan of them all over again. I really like these stories and if you've ever liked Uncle Scrooge and company, I urge you to give this collection a try. I don't receive a penny for their reprinting so I'm recommending them only because I really do like them.

Speaking of Disney, back in the late 1980s to early 1990s I worked at Disney publishing as one of the founding editors of Disney Adventures magazine. Founded by current Sony Pictures chief Michael Lynton, D.A. was a great experiment, composed of comics and articles, the magazine consistently sold more than one million copies a month, more than any other comic oriented magazine published anywhere in this country. I stayed with Disney for 4 1/2 years until they moved the publishing unit back East. Our publisher at the time, a very nice man named John Skipper, asked me to move east with the magazine, but I wasn't willing to leave sunny LA for anything. My assistant at the time, Heidi MacDonald, had previously expressed interest in leaving LA at some point so I suggested to John that she take over the job. Heidi remained with D.A. for many years before moving over to DC and then finally starting The Beat, her daily comics-oriented blog for Publisher's Weekly.

Those 4 1/2 years are among my absolute favorite times in comics. I loved working on the magazine, loved editing and writing humor. Loved working with most of the people there, walking on the Disney lot, coming up with ad campaigns and immersing myself in the entire Disney Way. At the beginning of my tenure the comics were all Disney characters, reflecting what was then being shown on the Disney Afternoon block of TV cartoons. We did Talespin, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale's Rescue Rangers and more. With time we began to publish original material created by others, including reprinting Bone and having the always incredible Jeff Smith do an original Bone story just for us. It was a great time and we experimented as much as we could on expanding the parameters of kids' comics. Because Disney conducted focus group testing we learned that 90% of the readers bought the magazine for the comics. If this doesn't prove how much kids love comics, nothing does.

Disney Adventures is finally coming to an end this month. From what I can tell it is still selling over a million copies a month, and though I don't know why Disney is canceling it I'd bet it has something to do with an overall change in publishing philosophy at the company. I've picked up D.A. occasionally over the years and it looked to me that the magazine was still fun. The magazine was great to create and I'm truly sorry to see it go.

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3 Comments:

At 11/7/07 1:47 PM , badMike said...

Wow, you wrote Kaspar the Dead Baby!! That was one of my favorite stories growing up. Hee-larious! Glad to see the scans on the web cuz I don't know where my issue of Crazy is. I may have had a reprint of that story. You should have won a ton of awards for that!

 
At 11/7/07 6:41 PM , Anonymous said...

Oh wow, was that the Duck Tails issue where Magica DeSpell (was that even her name?) Stole Scrooge's lucky dime and then everything went horribly wrong and the other Scottish duck took over all of Duckburg and all Scrooge had left was an old paperclip factory?

Because I think I recognize that cover. :)

 
At 11/8/07 1:31 PM , tvanbruggen said...

Hey Marv ~

What fantastic news! I read DuckTales and the Disney comics before reading your Titans run! I am recently experiencing a new love for the Ducks and the Disney properties, on account of my six year olds love of Talespin and his just discovered love of the Duck shorts on the Disney Christmas videos. This will be a wonderful edition under our Christmas tree, where I can give him something I know he'll enjoy, I can immerse myself in the wonderful Duck tales of the past and continue the trend of introducing him to comics! Thanks for the recommendation!

 

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