Monday, July 4, 2011

Surprisingly Specific Requests

From a letter in Mickey & Donald 14, by one Lee Hopper III:
I'm afraid I'm getting into a rut with Mickey and Donald. I need something to choose from. Please make a new magazine called Super Goof and the Beagle Boys. I have read letters from people wanting to have Beagles in the stories. Super Goof is my favorite other than the Ducks. If you make one, please print the first story. I hope there are more people that want the same thing.

Gladstone printed this without comment. Apparently, the request was so far beneath contempt that they didn't feel the need to even turn it down. Pretty cold, guys!

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always enjoyed reading the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. Although I certainly haven't spent the same amount of time as you guys, I still enjoy reading this blog and the analysis of the stories.
I have a question and since you don't have a forum, I'll just ask over here. In some of the older stories that I have, in the credits it often says, "writer unknown". My question is twofold. First, does this refer to the actual author of the story, as in the dialogue and second, why or how was the information about the writer lost?

Thanks for this great blog!

July 4, 2011 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Before the speculation begins… NO that was not me, writing under a pseudonym, making that request! :-) Not that a Super Goof / Beagle Boys title would have been entirely unwelcome, mind you!

To the question about the writers: Prior to Gladstone Series I, Disney comics (and Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, Walter Lantz, etc.) carried NO credits whatsoever.

Yes, the credits were recorded internally by the publisher – but never in a way that was exposed to the general public. As a result, credits (both writer AND artist) for the older stories are only as good as the talents and intuition of the persons capable of making identifications.

Artists are easy to identify, in most cases, because there are established baseline examples. To use an example, Bill Wright or Dick Moores art is easy to identify in stories – because we KNOW what Bill Wright and Dick Moores art looks like! It’s even easier, when it comes to Carl Barks, Paul Murry, and Tony Strobl.

Writing is far more difficult – and often impossible – to extrapolate. We know that Carl Barks wrote most of his stories. And, thanks to extensive interviewing during his lifetime, we know the precise stories that he did not write. Don R. Christensen and Mark Evanier have also discussed certain stories they’ve done – and from that we can extrapolate others.

With the other writers, it’s not so easy. There are certain unique qualities or aspects to the stories of Vic Lockman and Carl Fallberg, Michael Maltese for WB and Lantz comics (and maybe even some of Bob Ogle’s Disney work) that makes “identification by extrapolation” easier. But, the sad fact is that most of this information is lost -- and much of what remains (unless it came from official publisher’s records or from the writers themselves) is subject to interpretation.

July 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Torcivia, I remember reading your comments in the comments section, always enlightening. It is a shame that the writers were denied their due credit. Was the original publisher Disney itself? If so, it would stand to reason that they still have the information as they have proven to pretty much keep everything if only to release it on some DVD extra feature. I guess I am probably one of the select few who actually read these names (and those of the credits following films)as I like to find who created the work, so that if I enjoyed it, I can seek more and let the person know about my feelings.

July 4, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

And, thank you for the kind words, “Anon”!

The original publisher (1940 – 1984) was Western Publishing, who published Disney, Warner Bros. Hanna-Barbara, Walter Lantz, MGM, and other licensed properties under the banners of “Dell”, “Gold Key”, and “Whitman”.

Western followed the standard practice of the 1940s and ‘50s, by not giving writers, artists, letterers, colorists, etc. credit in the published books. In the 1960s, that changed for some publishers like Marvel and DC – but not for Western, Harvey, Archie, and others.

The LONG OVERDUE Disney credits began with Gladstone Series I in 1986.

I have no idea what records Disney might have in their various vaults and archives, but the specific information discussed here would have originated with Western.

It’s a shame that I will never know who wrote one of my most favorite Mickey Mouse comic book stories: “The Return of the Phantom Blot” (WDC&S 284-287, 1964), but that is sadly the case!

My own educated guess is that it MIGHT be Del Connell (or perhaps Bob Ogle, but I’ll lean toward Connell), but I will NEVER know for certain.

DVD Extras? …On comics? I’d sure love to see that, but I think the closest we will EVER get is the feature on “Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4”. There’s a great look at the comics on that called “Donald Goes to Press” that includes David Gerstein, Bob Foster, and me.

Alas, it’s an out of print limited edition that can only be obtained on the secondary market, as far as I know.

And, like you, I began reading the names as a youth – and wanted to know more about the people behind both comics and cartoons. My “heroes” are Carl Barks and Michael Maltese! If you’ve gotta have “heroes”, I’d say those are two pretty good ones!

July 4, 2011 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Joe,

Even those earliest "Gladstone I" credits were somewhat lacking, of course. "Art by The Gutenberghus Group" and such. But, at the time, the info seemed downright revolutionary -- especially to a longtime Harvey reader!

Chris

July 4, 2011 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

Just popped over here, having not expected new posts...

Joe wrote:

Before the speculation begins… NO that was not me, writing under a pseudonym, making that request!

(As you'll know from my latest post!), I've been reading some Gladstone I comics lately. And just realized...were you writing letters then, Joe? Never see your name come up, in contrast to the Disney Comics era and on.

Chris, interesting that you mention the regularly-used generic "Gutenberghus Group" credit and ways in which Harvey came up short as a publisher (though I'm referring to what I saw in their early '90's line) -- I bring up both in the aforementioned latest post!

Ryan

July 5, 2011 at 3:56 AM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

A letter from Mickey Mouse #226, attributed to Charity Kornele of Alva, OK:

Hi Mickey,
I like the comic of "Mickey Mouse and the Seven Ghosts". When are you going to make a new movie?
[A full-length animated feature film akin to Gottfredson's Mickey? If only... - Ryan]
I bet you don't know this joke.
Knock, knock.
Who is it?
Butch, Jimmy and Joe.
Butch, Jimmy and Joe who?
Butch your arms around me and Jimmy a little kiss, then I Joe home.
I'm seven years old. I love you, Mickey.


Gladstone almost never printed letters that (with or without an admission of age) reeked of being from very young children. This one -- like in your example, GeoX -- was included without a printed editorial response. Was Gladstone being what now, after suffering some bastardization, is considered "ironic"?

(Charity, are you out there somewhere?)

This reminds me of a story. I would've been a little younger than Charity when this issue was published (1987)...by ca. 1989-90, I was reading Gladstone's comics regularly. For my age, I was a very sophisticated and attentive reader. I was well-aware, from the letter columns and from Cross Talk, that certain creators (you know, like that Barks guy...) were celebrated, and that reprints were part of what Gladstone did. And I saw that new Don Rosa stories were always given considerable attention.

So, when I got my copy of the spring 1990 (ah, that would've made me eight) issue of DuckTales Magazine and saw that the four-page comic "Back in Time for a Dime!" was credited as having been written by Rosa, I figured, "Wow! Gladstone sure would like to know about this! They'll want to reprint it! I'll help em 'out!"

So, I sent them black-and-white photocopies of each page of the story, along with a handwritten letter that said something like:

Dear Editor,
You should print this story. It was written by Don Rosa. It was in the spring 1990 issue of
DuckTales Magazine.

(I figured that it would be helpful if they had the original publication info!)

Some time passed, and eventually, the photocopied pages and my chicken-scrawl letter were returned. Enclosed was a typed letter that said little more than:

Dear Ryan,
Here is the story you sent us.


(I think the letter was even anonymous! As in...I mean, I knew it was from Gladstone, obviously, but the author of the letter did not identify himself.)

At the time, I felt a slight tinge of disappointment. But now, in retrospect...isn't that hilarious?!

Ryan

July 5, 2011 at 4:28 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Ryan:

My period of letter writing began about 1983 and ended about 2008. It probably topped-out at or about 340 published (over many different publishers). At the time of Gladstone I, I was in direct and regular contact with Geoffrey Blum at Gladstone -- and directed more of my comments to him, rather than the letters page. Though, you will find me there, from time to time.

The regular letter-writing kicked in about the time Disney Comics began.

Geo:

Why don’t you “send Ryan’s comment back to him without comment”… just for old times sake! :-)

Joe.

July 5, 2011 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

That's great stuff, Ryan. I didn't see before that you had a blog. Consider it blogrolled.

July 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM  

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