Thursday, March 29, 2007

Appeal Sells - Disney Comic Covers

This is the first of many posts on Golden Age funny animal comics.

The Disney cartoons were never as entertaining or as funny as the Warner or MGM cartoons, and in my opinion, the Fleischer and Lantz cartoons were regularly better. But what made the Disney characters and cartoons so memorable were their undeniable appeal. Animators like Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Marc Davis, Bill Tytla, and John Sibley were all great at it.

This crosses over into the Disney comic books as well, though Mickey and Donald were more interesting (as characters with personalities) in those than they ever were animated.


They always say, "Never judge a book by its cover," but we all know that simply isn't true. If you see a comic book rack (non-existant today), you're definitely going to be drawn to the best looking one. Disney comics usually have this advantage over the other funny animal books.

Walt Kelly was masterful with his Disney covers.

These covers of Kelly are in an 'old school' style, which preserves the mystique of Walt Disney's Comics & Stories, the single greatest title Dell ever published.

Kelly did the majority of the covers in the 1940s. Carl Barks picked up in the early 1950s and he was just as great with appeal.

This golfing one is absolutely beautiful. It's appealing with a lot of action going on, yet it doesn't feel crowded like a lot of other similar covers. Nobody can do something like that today!

Oddly, they never cared about making Mickey, the one character who depended mainly on appeal, look decent. They let sloppy artists like Paul Murry and Tony Strobl, who can't even draw the simplest facial expression (let alone on-model), parade their artwork on the covers for years.

One modern master of Disney appeal was Daniel Branca, an artist from Argentina who sadly left us way too soon in 2005.

Daan Jippes (Netherlands) is probably the greatest artist alive today. He can draw just about any Disney character from any era of history magnificently.

The guys at Gladstone Publishing knew this fact, which is most likely why his fantastic work dominates many of those books of the 1980s. He is always the artist any publisher calls on to recreate any Disney comic scene.

Jippes also has an animation background which may explain his dominance over other modern artists.

So if Disney comics can look this great, why the hell are we seeing this kind of garbage everywhere?

The below image is the worst 'official' artwork of Mickey Mouse and company I've ever seen. My apologies for any damage this does to your eyes.

My point is, if you want to sell your comic book to the masses, don't settle for third-rate artwork!

More on other funny animal artists later.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article, however in my opinion Paul Murry was one of the greatest Disney artists, only Carl Barks was better. I love Paul Murry's drawing, inclusive his covers. He is the good Mickey Mouse artist like Barks was the good Donald artist. I just made a poll for more than 2000 Danish comic fans in Denmark, and Paul Murry came in as best Mickey Mouse artist, a few votes more than Floyd Gottfredson.