TONY’S TIPS #148

Disney, the man and the organization he created, have been a part of my life for virtually all my life. As a child, I was as regular viewer of The Mickey Mouse Club and The Wonderful World of Disney as my family’s TV watching allowed in those days before recording programs to enjoy later was even a notion. I had a crush on Annette Funicello. I loved Zorro and, indeed, while in kindergarten and not yet five years old, I wrote my first “review” of the Guy Williams series. I saw the films, with Dumbo and The Absent-Minded Professor being early favorites. Oddly enough, I didn’t read the comic books back then, though I was well acquainted with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the rest of the gang through their cartoons. My discovery of the stories of Carl Barks when I was just out of my teens was a revelation. More than any other comics creator, “Unca Carl” made me a believer of and a devoted fan of every kind of comics. Directly and indirectly, Disney expanded my world.

As an adult, I have enjoyed the Disney parks. I did a little work on Disney comics as sort of a script doctor on reprints of stories originally published in other countries. As Disney acquired other creative universes that I love – the Muppets, Marvel Comics, Star Wars – I found the company has become even more a part of my life.

I enjoy the new Muppets television series. Naysayers strike me as akin to those comics fans who can’t accept that comics are not the same as they were in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc. The older Muppet movies and TV shows are still available for viewing and they’re still great. Stick with those and stop annoying those of us who can accept a greater range of Muppets than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

I think the Marvel movies that come out of Disney are the very best super-hero movies ever made. The only non-Disney movie that ranks with them is Deadpool.

I loved the newest Star Wars movie. Was it “by the numbers” as some suggest? Perhaps, but it has wonderful new characters, respectful treatment of classic characters, action, drama and humor. It might not have triggered my sense of wonder for me in the exact same way the first Star Wars movie did, but I have no doubt it did for any number of younger viewers.

Limited though my comic-book buying is these days, I am buying all the new Disney comics being published by IDW, all of the Star Wars comics being published by Marvel and several of the current Marvel super-hero titles, including Ms. Marvel and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I’m good with Disney being a big part of my life. Bigger is not always or necessarily better, but Disney brings me great joy in so many different ways that it would be churlish of me to disparage the company for its size and success.

I’ve been enjoying all IDW’s Disney comics, but the issues I read most recently were Donald Duck #8-10 [$3.99 each]. All these issues feature foreign adventures translated into English and published in the US for the first time. I’m partial to Italian stories like #8’s “Spaced-Out Christmas” by Massimo Marconi and Romano Scarpa, but I have found most of the IDW imports entertaining.

Speaking of the Marconi/Scarpa story, it’s a 28-page yuletide epic which kicks off with Donald feeling like a incompetent and unlucky loser. Then it gets weird when he is seemingly abducted by aliens come to destroy our planet. It’s exciting and funny and uplifting. It’s followed by a Dutch story showcasing Donald’s own generosity of spirit. Donald is a character of vast range and it’s nice to see these comics looking at both his positives and negatives.

Issues #9 and 10 present a fun Italian secret agent adventure, an Icelandic tale of the Duck Avenger, a Danish holiday story written by the USA’s own Pat and Carol McGreal, and a Dutch clash with the Beagle Boys. The IDW Disney comic books are among my favorite comic books in the current marketplace.

******************************

Secret Stories Disney World

The best vacation of my life was when Barb and I took our children to Walt Disney World with our neighbor and his daughter. As much as I love Disneyland – and I love it more than almost any other place on the planet – I love Walt Disney World. I would live there if I could afford it.

My friend Jim Korkis writes wonderful books about all things Disney and has just published Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never Knew You Never Knew [Theme Park Press; $14.95]. This 200-page softcover bills itself as “The Rosetta Stone of Disney Magic” and, after reading it, I definitely believe in magic.

Korkis worked as an instructor at WDW’s Disney University. I think of him as the Disney version of Indiana Jones, as much a seeker of rare knowledge and a history. In concise two-page chapters, Korkis reveals the cool secrets of the place, including tales of abandoned attractions, the nigh-supernatural determination and details that went into the creation of other attractions and a “character you’ve never heard of it, even though he appears numerous times throughout Disney World.”

Korkis writes in an entertainingly informative style that conveys the magic of Disney. I love his books and I recommend all of them. This one is as good a place to start as any.

ISBN 978-1-941500-68-2

******************************

a-disney-sketchbook

Last Christmas, I received A Disney Sketchbook [Disney Editions; $50] from a pal with excellent taste and obvious generosity. This 2012 hardcover is a collection of animation development drawings from Steamboat Willie to Tangled. The sketches are amazing in their imagination and power. I have kept the book close at hand because, sometimes, I just need to get lost in the nostalgia these drawings trigger and the inspiration they provide. Turning the pages is much like watching a world being created before your eyes. It is a book to be cherished and shared.

ISBN 978-142316569-9

I hope you enjoyed this look at Disney comic books and other magic. I’ll be back next week with reviews from other corners of the ever wondrous world of comics.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

TONY’S TIPS #147

Bernie

It is a sad and yet wondrous fact of comic-book life that there are just too many great comics, collections and graphic novels being published these days. Even if your comics-buying budget is large, you probably can’t afford to buy even half of the wondrous material available to you. Fortunately, for many of us, our public library fills the gap between the comics we want to read and the funds we have available to purchase them. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #147”

TONY’S TIPS #146

Nimona

I am still working through some problems on my end of this weekly review column, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s hope it isn’t actually a cartoon train heading for your beloved tipster, though that could be hilarious.

My top pick for the week is Nimona by Noelle Stevenson [HarperTeen; hardcover, $17.99; softcover, $12.99]. Starting out as a webcomic, this National Book Award finalist is a fantasy adventure that is, by turns, action-packed, frightening, funny and poignant. I’d buy the hardcover for your own home library and the softcover to share with family and friends who, afterward, will be forever grateful to you for turning them on to this graphic novel. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #146”

TONY’S TIPS #145

Graphic-Ink

There have been some glitches with the Tales of Wonder blog and, in a perfect storm, some computer problems on my end. All of us regret the delays and assure you that you’ll still get your full monthly complement of “Tony’s Tips” once we get resolve these frustrating problems.

********************

My top pick this time around is Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Darwyn Cooke [$39.99], a gorgeous and hefty hardcover volume that showcases the work of one of the most amazing comics creator of our times. Cooke is an Eisner Award-winning cartoonist also known for his work in animation. Whether I’m enjoying one of Cooke’s instant classic covers or reading one of his comics stories, I never fail to be impressed by his economy of line and word and the incredible detail of his work. Yes, I know that sounds like a contradiction. It’s one more reason I find Cooke’s work so amazing. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #145”

TONY’S TIPS #144

Avengers0001

I’m in a Marvel state of mind this week. As much as I disliked the Secret Wars event and the years-in-the-making diminishing of many classic Marvel characters that preceded it, I find myself honestly intrigued by the post-event Marvel Universe. I’m also bemused that the last issues of the universe-shaking series shipped months after the launch of almost all of the post-Secret Wars titles. How does something like that even happen?

Moving on… Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #144”

TONY’S TIPS #143

Groot

I am Groot!

What started out as the never-failing-to-make-me-smile only thing Groot says becomes literally fraught with meaning in Groot #1-6 by Jeff Loveness (writer) and Brian Kesinger (artist). That most terse of phases is echoed by the basic and familiar overall plot for the series.

A bounty hunter named Eris is after Groot. When she can’t get him, she captures Rocket Racoon. She figures Groot will come after his friend and she’s right. Except Groot doesn’t come alone. Along his leisurely path, he collects a sort of Less-Than-Magnificent Five to join his rescue mission. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #143”

TONY’S TIPS #142

Jughead0001

My unexpected pick of the week is Jughead #1 and #2 [Archie Comics; $3.99 each] by Chip Zdarsky with artist Erica Henderson. The reason it caught me by such pleasant surprise is that I didn’t enjoy this publisher’s recent relaunch of Archie. I’ll get back to that other relaunch in a moment.

Jughead has long been my favorite of the Riverdale High characters. I especially enjoyed the first volume of his comic book when it was written by Craig Boldman, my third favorite Archie Comics writer of all time. The first two are Frank Doyle and George Gladir, so Craig is in the best of company. I’ll also get back to him in a moment. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #142”

TONY’S TIPS #141

Peanuts-a-Tribute

Welcome to 2016. I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions per se, but I do hope to continue to recommend great comic books, graphic novels and collections to you. I’d also like to do fewer negative reviews this year, but sometimes I just gotta let you know when an item isn’t worth your hard-earner cash.

My first pick of the week for 2016 is Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz [BOOM! Studios; $34.99]. In celebration of the launch of the Peanuts newspaper strip 65 years ago, editor Shannon Watters gathered over 40 of today’s best cartoonists to honor, arguably, the greatest cartoonist of them all. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #141”

TONY’S TIPS #140

Soldiers-Heart0001

My post-Christmas pick of the week is Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father by Carol Tyler [Fantagraphics Books; $39.99]. In a year filled with wonderful graphic fiction and non-fiction, I fully expect this book to be among the finalists in each and every comics industry awards.

In over 350 pages, Tyler examines her rocky relationship with her dad, a World War II vet who saw combat in the Battle of the Bugle. His war experiences changed and, in many ways, damaged him forever, just as post-war events would change both him and Tyler’s mother. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #140”

TONY’S TIPS #139

Amazing-Spider-Man0001

Since the final issues of Secret Wars have not yet shipped, putting aside the question of how does a publisher allow that to happen, I can only speculate on the state of the Marvel Universe in the wake of that event. The new first issues from Marvel seem to take place several months after Secret Wars. The multiverse seems to have been restored to some extent, but some parallel universes didn’t survive the event. Some characters seem to be back on their own versions of Earth and others now live on whatever Marvel is calling their main universe. This deep thinking makes my brain hurt. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #139”