Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Color Sundays, Volume 1: Call of the Wild Hardcover – 3 Jul 2013
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We're jumping from black and white to classic color--as Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse series makes its 1932-35 Sunday strip debut! Bright hues highlight our hero as he enjoys four years' worth of wild weekend epics... taking him from Uncle Mortimer's Wild West ranch to the icy peak of frigid Mount Fishflake! And in this volume, Mickey is joined by a famous co-star: Donald Duck! Floyd Gottfredson, artist of the Sunday Mickey Mouse from 1932-38, created the most famous Mickey tales ever told in print. These Sunday specials--many never before reprinted--also feature the work of later Donald Duck master Al Taliaferro. Collectively, they form a collection that fans have been seeking for a lifetime! Highlights include "Mickey's Nephews," introducing Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse, and "Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum," which turns Horace Horsecollar into a brainwashed wild mustang! Classic gag stories round out the book, offering manic Mouse mischief at a fever pitch. Restored from Disney's art sources and enhanced with a meticulous recreation of the strips' original color, Call of the Wild also brings you more than 30 pages of chromatic supplementary features! You'll enjoy rare behind-the-scenes art, vintage publicity material, and fascinating commentary by a prismatic pack of Disney scholars. NOTE: Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild contains cartoon violence and historically dated content presented in context.
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The Sunday color comics are a dramatic departure from the adventure of the dailies. Most of them are standalone gags and many are legitimately funny. The gags often involve the relationship of Mickey and Minnie which is far more dysfunctional than most would ever imagine. Mickey is a relentless prankster with Minnie often the victim of his jokes. She even angrily breaks up with him on several occasions. I really enjoyed this take on Mickey as opposed to the safe and predictable Mickey from the dailies. The first adventure of the book takes our hero out west and suddenly he transforms back into the hero from the dailies and seems to mature several decades. The story involved cattle rustlers who were laying a brand over other brands to produces a design that looked like their own. I don't know if this was a common crime in the 30's and 40's but I think I've read at least a half dozen stories from Disney with the exact same storyline.
Artwise, Gottfredson is without peer. I don't believe there has ever been another Disney artists and perhaps no other funny animal artist that can match Gottfredson. His art is about as close to flawless as I have ever seen in a comic. I can't say what the color looked like when originally published in newspapers but here they look absolutely pristine.
So far this is my favorite volume. It's the most fun, the most visually appealing and Mickey is cast as a much more interesting character. The extras in this volume as are amazing as ever and I loved the article about the sweat that continually pours off of Mickey. I never even noticed that in almost every image of Mickey drawn by Gottfredson there are a handful of sweat droplets flying from his head. From the cover to the binding to the comics and all the extras this is a high quality production and the reader most definitely gets their money's worth. There is so much here to enjoy and you just can't help but love Disney for producing these comics.
During his time on the Sunday page, Gottfredson alternated sequences of "done-in-one" gag strips with short continuities. The complexity of the latter gradually ramped up until they approached daily continuities "in miniature" -- and with a slightly lower "seriousness" quotient. "Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum" (1934) tackles the same basic trope as the earlier daily story "Blaggard Castle," with a scientist's invention altering Horace Horsecollar's personality, but the metamorphosis occurs in the context of a gag-laden camping trip, occurs by accident (Horace sitting on a serum-filled needle), and is caused by a much dottier and more "lovable" miracle-provider than the fearsome trio of Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex. In "Hoppy the Kangaroo" (1935), Mickey undergoes a test run in the "training an unwanted gift animal to win an athletic contest" sweepstakes several months before having to deal with Oscar the Ostrich in the daily strip, but the stakes are nowhere near as high; Mickey's simply trying to best Pete and Pete's trained gorilla, as opposed to staying out of jail for non-payment of debts. "Rumplewatt the Giant" (1934) and "Foray to Mount Fishflake" (1934-35) is arguably the most "Sunday-centric" of this collection's continuities, primarily because they're very consciously constructed in a cliffhanger format within the general Sunday format itself, complete with "To Be Continued" boxes and first-panel recaps from Mickey.
Early on, Gottfredson seems to have realized that the Sunday page was a good vehicle for the introduction and/or development of new characters. Various bands of cute-on-the-surface-but-anarchic-underneath Nephews who come to disrupt Mickey's home life ultimately settle down to the twin urchins who will become Morty and Ferdie, while "The Case of the Vanishing Coats" (1935) gets several weeks' jump on the daily strip's "Editor-in-Grief" in terms of being the strip's first continued story to feature Donald Duck. "Coats" might be considered the template for all future Donald and Mickey teamups, albeit with a considerably rawer version of Donald (though Don's not really all that intolerable in this brief tale, with his antics mostly limited to one well-meaning false arrest) and a solution that is, in all honesty, pretty lame. In gag strips, Don "enjoys" (if that's the word) a brief period as the successor to Mickey's role as comical fall guy before literally being shifted "upstairs" to the SILLY SYMPHONIES "topper" page and, later, to his own stand-alone strip. Goofy (nee Dippy Dog/Dawg) makes appearances in "The Lair of Wolf Barker" (1933), the first of the major Sunday continuities, and "Mount Fishflake"; the sideways logic that will so memorably inform so many of his gag-strip appearances in the late 30s has just barely begun to blossom.
The volume's ancillaries include a fine essay by J. B. Kaufman detailing the development of the Sunday page, David Gerstein and Sergio Lama's description of the earliest attempts to bring MICKEY (or a strange-looking approximation of same) to Italy, and Joe Torcivia's not-to-be-missed explanation of why Mickey's tall tale of "Rumplewatt the Giant" qualifies as the "Longest Short Story Ever Told." Thankfully, we won't have to wait long for the other volume of Gottfredson's Sunday best to drop on our doorsteps; COLOR SUNDAYS VOL. 2 is scheduled to be released in October.
"Case of the Vanishing Coats" with Mickey and Donald is a small-scale mystery, fun, but with suspense. Donald is a less developed character than he became with Carl Barks, but I turn to this story more often than to the more sophisticated Phantom Blot.
"Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum" is one of Gottfredson's real classics. It's a star turn for Horace Horsecollar, and for my money Gottfredson never did anything funnier.
The rest of the book is good, but these two stories are the best, and worth the price by themselves. Note too: this book is well-made. Three of these stories are featured in Another Rainbow's Gottfredson book of 20 years ago, but the limited edition is far too pricey and the trade edition has a weak and fragile binding. This Fantagraphics volume is much better made and will stand the test of time.
No one ever did Mickey like Gottfredson, and Gottfredson's best Sundays are here.
Dan the Dogcatcher
Rumplewatt the Giant
Hoppy the Kangaroo
The Robin Hood Adventure
The Brave Little Tailor
Everyone should know The Brave Little Tailor, as it is based on a Grimm fairy tale and is where Mickey kills seven flies with one blow, but the townsfolk believe he was bragging about killing seven giants with one blow! That is both a beloved comic strip and animated cartoon. My favorite selection, however, was The Robin Hood Adventure. In this ongoing strip, Mickey joins Robin Hood's band of Merry Men. I'm a sucker for Robin Hood, so this was a whimsical and delightful strip. At the end of each book is supplementary material that is primarily composed of gallery features and behind the scenes looks. There are also some closing words by Gottfredson which put a nice bow on this hardcover package. As Mickey Mouse fans, I can say that my wife and I truly loved these comic strips, and they make a unique gift for the Mickey fan who thinks they have everything.
Since so few of these books are available directly from Amazon, be sure to check out other comic strip publications from Fantagraphics including their Disney selection and Peanuts selection. If you're like me, you'll find so many books you want/need that you'd be smart to join their 20/20 club, which gets you 20% off all orders for a year and free shipping...all for only $20! You can also hold off until Cyber Monday and get 40% off your entire order! Both great deals for great, quality books!
Once again the biggest drawback is the cover price: potential buyers are advised to purchase from the lowest priced seller one can find. With free shipping, of course