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Ruminations - Disney Faves Go Back To The Comic Book Page

Ruminations - Disney Faves Go Back To The Comic Book Page

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Well, while Jim was out braving the snow that hit the East last weekend, I did the same out West. It was a hard task to endure the sunshine and 70 plus degree temperatures in downtown San Francisco, but I ventured off to explore the Moscone Center West as Wondercon pulled into town for the weekend.

Wondercon has become the little brother to the big San Diego Comicon International. With a little more than six months and some five hundred fifty odd miles between the two events, one might imagine a great deal more separating the attendees, guests and vendors. But there you would be wrong. As much as ever before, the show is not all about comic books. It covers as much of the media world as anyone might want to see under one roof. Yes, there certainly were plenty of opportunities to learn the latest about comic books, meet many of your favorite comic artists and pick up that one issue of your favorite title missing from the collection. All that and much more... Some of which I will be sharing over the next few columns with you

But being that comics is one of the major draws and that I like many folks used to be seriously into comics, (Yes, I have boxes of them in storage that I haven't looked at in years, thanks...) I am always on the look out for a new title that might rekindle that interest. And what do you know? I found one, okay three titles, all from the same company that might just do the trick. Why? Well because these three titles all offer readers a new take on some old favorites. Disney favorites, too. And they come from just down the road in San Jose.

If, on any given day at Disneyland, you were to ask an average guest what their favorite attraction in the Park is, there is a fair chance that the answer would be, "The Haunted Mansion". The reasons why might be all over the map, but it does attract fans of all ages. And over the years since it opened, as much as it has become the focus of websites, fanzines, collectibles, and yes, even the movie, there is all the more to show why folks just love this attraction.

The cover of Issue 1 of "Haunted Mansion" features several icons from the attraction.
Artwork by Roman Dirge.
Courtesy of SLG Publishing

 So it should have come as no surprise in the summer of 2005 when Disney Worldwide Publishing announced that a comic book series based on this favorite was in the works as the first of four new titles based on Disney properties. Produced by SLG Publishing of San Jose, California, the Haunted Mansion title takes inspiration from the 999 Happy Haunts and sets out to tell tales of the Mansion's inhabitants. The first issue was released appropriately enough in October of 2005.

A page from "Blueprint For Murder
Written and Illustrated by Jon "Bean" Hastings.
Courtesy of SLG Publishing

 A guest visit through the Haunted Mansion provides the stepping off point for the stories that will appear in each issue. For example, in Issue 1, there is a delightful tale called "Blueprint For Murder" that relates how Master Gracey employed the architectural firm of Coats and Davis to design and construct his mansion. Without giving away too much, it relates how the two partners "had talent but little success and no uncertain amount of greed..." And in the final moments relates how Mister Coats and Mister Davis became two of the best-known and most visible haunts of the Mansion.

The cover of Issue 2 with the favorite Pipe Organ.
Artwork by Roman Dirge.
Image courtesy of SLG Publishing.

 At Wondercon I had the chance to chat with SLG President Dan Vado. It was obvious that he and the team that produce this title are more than simple fans of the Haunted Mansion. The artists working on the stories needed little, if any, background material to bring these tales to the printed page. Dan mentioned that he had received great feedback from people at Disney, especially some folks at Imagineering commenting on how they felt that the books carried on the traditions so well.

 I found the two issues to be faithful to the (sorry, I couldn't resist) spirit of the attraction as well as harking back to some of the darker side of the history of comics. As a fan of titles such as "The Spectre", it isn't hard at all to enjoy a bit darker of a look at the Haunted Mansion. And yes, those urban myths about a darker, more sinister Mansion in earlier days at Disneyland don't suffer from it, either.

 Asking Dan about the the series, I wondered if there might be tales about the other versions of the Mansion creeping into future editions. With each having a bit of a different story to tell guests, such as the Phantom Manor in Paris, it seems possible to consider such an option. Who knows what stories lurk in the minds of those foolish mortals condemned to tell these tales...

 Artwork for the new "Tron" comic.
Image courtesy of SLG Publishing.

SLG has a three more Disney inspired titles on the way to your favorite comic retailer in the coming months. Another favorite of many Disney fans is the movie (and also the recent video game), "Tron". If all goes well, the continuing story of Jet Bradley will have its debut in April, taking off where the video game last left him, with the team of Landry Walker, Eric Jones and Louie De Martinis hard at work on Issue 1.

"Wonderland" will take readers for a look at what happens after Alice leaves with all of the characters familiar to Disney fans including the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts and introducing a new young girl, Marianne into the mix. From the concept art, adventures beyond Alice looks to have a bit of the familiar with a life all it's own waiting for us. Issue 1 is scheduled to appear in May.

A definite fan favorite is the Disney animated television series, "Gargoyles". With only two seasons of shows, as part of the Disney Afternoon block of programming, it featured an impressive voice cast and a somewhat intricate story arc; something definitely outside the norm for cartoon programming of its time. As one of the upcoming Disney titles from SLG, fans will be getting more of that story arc as Greg Wiseman, one of the main forces behind the show, will be bringing what would have been the stories of a third season for the show to the comic pages. I know more than a few folks who look forward to those with great anticipation.

I hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about these new Disney comics from SLG. And if you really did, I have a copy of issue 1 and 2 of the "Haunted Mansion" just dying, eh, waiting for you. All you have to do is be the ninth person to correctly answer this little quiz.

Name all three of the Hitchhiking Ghosts.

Drop me an e-mail with your answer.

And coming up, a few more goodies from Wondercon.

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