In the 1950s Disney Studios saw an era of tremendous growth with live-action movies, television shows, and amusement parks. And while Disney comics had been in newspapers since the 1930s, in 1950 a new feature was introduced into the Sunday color comics section – Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales. This series featured adaptations of Disney's movies playing in theaters. Besides the entertainment these comics provided families as they ate their Sunday breakfast, many adaptations began weeks before the movie debuted so they built interest and anticipation.
Volume 1 of this new series, from IDW's award-winning Library Of American Comics imprint starts off with an amazing array of classic Disney tales. Just look at the lineup:
"Alice In Wonderland"
"The Story Of Robin Hood"
"The Sword and the Rose"
"Ben and Me"
"Rob Roy, The Highland Rogue"
"Peter and the Wolf"
"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea"
"Lady and The Tramp"
As you can see this comic strip series adapted both animated and live-action films. In this volume, the art for the live-action film adaptations was handled by artist Jesse Marsh. Manuel Gonzales and Dick Moores illustrated the animated-film ones. Frank Reilly wrote all the adaptations.
Adapting live-action movies was the tougher task as they tended to be wordy and staying faithful to the films suffered from some awkward scene shifts. "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" works the best, with plenty of action and sea monsters. It's no surprise, it's a great film and a big hit for Disney that still holds up today. But the other live-action adaptations, some I never knew about, are entertaining in their own right, if nothing else showing the ambition of the studio. The art by Jesse Marsh (who went on to create Tarzan comics for many years) is very well done with a great eye for the details of these period-piece movies.
I have to say I loved reading all the adaptations for the animated films. I grew up watching many of these so it was so much fun re-kindling those fond memories. Artists Manuel Gonzales and Dick Moores (Moores went on to take over the Gasoline Alley comic strip from creator Frank King) had the daunting task of adapting the work of all those brilliant Disney animators and they met the challenge. All the characters are as you remember them – lively and fun! It was great to read the lesser-known "Ben And Me" and "Peter and the Wolf" as well.
Disney was already adapting films in comic book form but these Sunday comics were created especially for newspapers and have been "in the vault" for decades. This series is just another example of the ability of The Library Of American Comics to discover lost and forgotten comics many of us never knew existed, restore them, and collect them into a high-quality hardcover. This is a great book that captures a bit of that Disney magic we all know and love.