|Parent company||The Walt Disney Company|
Len Wein (editor-in-chief)|
Art Young (editor)
Bob Foster (editor)
Cris Palomino (editor)
|Publication types||Comic books|
Vista Comics (planned)|
Touchmark Comics (announced; never published)
Disney Comics was a comic book publishing company operated by The Walt Disney Company which ran from 1990 to 1993. It was connected with W. D. Publications, Inc., which was a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company that published "Disney Comics" during that time span. W. D. Publications, Inc. created Disney Comics in 1990 so that The Walt Disney Company would not have to rely on outside publishers such as Gladstone Publishing. In the USA, Disney only licensed their comic books to other publishers prior to 1990. Since the demise of the Disney Comics line, Disney has licensed out their properties to various US comics publishers, while continuing to publish comics in the since-defunct magazines Disney Adventures and Disney Adventures Comic Zone, as well as numerous book projects, and has reentered the periodical comics market through their 2009 purchase of Marvel Entertainment. Marvel and Disney Publishing began jointly publishing Disney/Pixar Presents magazine in May 2011 but did not revive the Disney Comics imprint as Boom! Studios would continue to publish classic Disney character comics. Prior to 1990, the only Disney-published Disney comics were the ones published in Italy, after Disney Italia took over from Mondadori in 1988.
In its first year and a half, Disney Comics published:
- Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (issues #548-585) — continuing series earlier published by Dell Comics (1940–1962), Gold Key Comics/Whitman, (1962–1984), and Gladstone Publishing (1986–1990)
- Uncle Scrooge (issues #243-280) — continuing series earlier published by Dell Comics (1952–1962), Gold Key Comics/Whitman (1962-1984), and Gladstone Publishing (1986-1990)
- Donald Duck Adventures (38 issues)
- DuckTales (18 issues)
- Mickey Mouse Adventures (18 issues)
- Goofy Adventures (17 issues)
- Roger Rabbit (comic book) (18 issues)
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (19 issues)
- TaleSpin (11 issues — including a 4-issue limited series based on the series premiere episode, followed by 7 regular issues)
- Roger Rabbit's Toontown (5 issues)
Additionally, during the company's first year, eight trade paperbacks called Disney Comics Album (sic) were published. These featured older stories, prefaced by opening editorials similar to the earlier Gladstone Comic Album series.
- Donald Duck and Gyro Gearloose
- Uncle Scrooge and the Phantom of Notre Duck
- Donald Duck in Dangerous Disguise
- Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: The Secret Casebook
- Uncle Scrooge in Tralla-La
- Donald Duck in Too Many Pets!
- Super Goof — The World's Silliest Super-Hero!
Giant-sized seasonal specials included two issues apiece of Autumn Adventures and Holiday Parade, and one issue apiece of Spring Fever and Summer Fun. All of these titles were new to Disney and most were published only by them, with the exception of Spring Fever (revived by Gemstone Publishing in 2007-2008).
In this period, plans for expansion were announced. At one Comic Con panel, slides of a realistic European barbarian strip were previewed as one of many new titles in development. One planned imprint, Vista Comics, would showcase superheroes, many to be adapted from Disney films such as Tron and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, and was being developed by comic book writer and animated TV story-editor Martin Pasko. A second imprint, Touchmark Comics, was actually announced, with former DC Comics editor Art Young at its head. Among the scripts Touchmark acquired was Enigma by Peter Milligan and Sebastian O by Grant Morrison.
Editor-in-Chief Len Wein's Marvel Comics-esque approach to the Disney characters was criticized by many older Disney fans. The hiring of Wein has been championed by the comic book creative community as an alternative to the much disliked former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, who had made a favorable impression when interviewed by Disney management. Prior to the launch of the comics division, Disney management proclaimed their intention to quickly become a dominant presence in the comic book market, competing with industry leaders DC and Marvel.
The "Disney Implosion"
These unreasonable expectations, coupled with poor sales, led to a mass cancellation in 1991. Echoing what had been called the DC Implosion of the 1970s, Duckburg Times editor Dana Gabbard dubbed this the Disney Implosion. Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Uncle Scrooge, and Donald Duck Adventures were the only surviving titles.
Following the implosion, the three titles continued being published along with an occasional mini-series based on a TV show or a movie. These included:
- Darkwing Duck
- The Little Mermaid
- Disney's Comics in 3-D
- Duck universe
- Beauty and the Beast
All plans for expansion, however, were cancelled. Editor Art Young moved back to DC, and many of the unpublished Touchmark titles were published as part of its new Vertigo imprint. Wein left and Marv Wolfman concentrated on being comics editor of Disney Adventures. In a mini-renaissance, editors Bob Foster, Cris Palomino, and David Seidman brought an appreciation of the classic Disney characters to the three continuing titles. Foster especially after a lifetime of involvement with Disney comic books and strips specialized in reprinting rarities even seasoned fans were unaware of. The Disney Studio finally decided to shut down its comic book publishing division in 1993.
In 1990, the Disney subsidiary W. D. Publications, Inc. revoked Gladstone Publishing's comics license in order to create Disney Comics. That same year, Gladstone was granted a new license to publish a series of softcover albums aimed at the collectors market, reprinting in color the stories of Carl Barks. After Disney Comics shut down in 1993, Gladstone regained the comics license for the classic Disney characters, which they resumed publishing until 1998, while Marvel Comics obtained the license for the modern Disney characters in 1994 and published them until they sold their rights to Acclaim in 1997. They licensed several properties such as Gargoyles and Tron to Slave Labor Graphics. In 2003, Gladstone reformed as Gemstone Publishing and once more published comics with the classic characters until 2008. Boom Studios has licenses for the classic cartoon characters for both new and reprint material, and previously held new material licenses for various Pixar and Muppet projects. Checker Publishing Group holds reprint licenses on comics material that Disney purchased from Crossgen.
- "W. D. Publications, Inc.". Comic Book DB. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- "GCD :: Brand :: Disney Comics". Comics.org. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- "GCD :: Indicia Publisher :: W.D. Publications, Inc". Comics.org. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- Gerstein, David. "Disney Comics: Back to Long Ago!" Comic Book Marketplace, Vol. 3, no. 103, June 2003, Gemstone Publishing, p. 52.
- "'Cars' Creative Team On Marvel's Pixar Move". comicbookresources.com. February 17, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
- "Disney Adventures", Jim Shooter's blog