Standardization of Artwork

James Williams James_Williams at
Mon May 9 16:54:46 CEST 1994

Mark Mayerson,

Thanks for a wonderful post.

>I don't think that this has a simple answer.  

Agreed, but I think it is an important question and I hope it will lead
to some fascinating discussions.  When I voluntered to write the FAQ,
the very first question I asked myself was what is a Disney comic.  I
thought about it a lot and realized that there was only one definition
which worked for me -- any comic story (can't use book here because
they publish a lot of comics which aren't in comic book format) printed
by Disney or containing characters licensed from Disney.  Other than
that, the sky is the limit.

One thing that I forgot to ask in my first post was why and when
did Disney adopt these standard page layouts?  Likewise, why
did Egmont and GP adopt these?

>Sometimes, built in limitations can be a blessing.  

Agreed.  Because of the eight panels per page, Disney comics does
more with a 10 page story than most American comics can do in
20 pages.

>Because there are 8 panels to a page, Barks was able to knock you
>backwards with a half page panel.  Jack Kirby had to go to a full page
>or even two pages for the same effect, because he wasn't generally
>limited to small panels.

Actually it is more complex than that.  About the only thing Barks and
Kirby had in common is that they both worked in comics.  The style of
artwork necessary for a Kirby super-heroes story (which centers around
large amounts of action and cosmic settings) is very different than the
requirements of a Barks story.  Kirby's early work was packed with many
panels per page.  As he evolved the super-hero comic, he also invented
new means to tell his stories better.  Barks on the other hand devoted
his time to telling the best stories possible using the given
framework.  I adore both men's work, but for totally different reasons.

>As a result, Disney comics don't use lighting effects or shadows very
>much.  That's certainly a story-telling limitation.

Agreed.  But, I can think of one good example where playing with
lighting and shadows would make for great Disney comics.  Egmont is
trying to revitalize Mickey Mouse by rehashing elements of Ted
Osbourne's stories and Floyd Gottfredson's artwork.  I'd rather see
a new approach.  Instead of copying Osbourne and Gottfredson, why not
use some of their influences.  Imagine instead that Egmont chose Dashil
Hammet or Raymond Chandler as their influence for the writing and for
the artwork use some of the old film noir movies of the 40s and 50s.

I often wonder if one of the reasons that Disney comics don't sell well
in the United State is because Disney comics are stagnate.  It is not
healthy for each new generation of comics to be based on the old. 
You've got to bring in concepts from outside of comics.  Egmont and
GP keep trying to churn out Barks and Gottfredson, but the people
they have working for them aren't Barks and Gottfredson.

Shortly after I discovered Disney comics, I discovered Don Rosa.  I'll
be frank, I hated Rosa's stories.  I couldn't get over the artwork.  It
wasn't bad, it just wasn't like anything else in any other Disney
comic.  Don's artwork reminded me more of Robert Crumb than Carl Barks. 
As I've seen more of Egmont and GP's bland attempts to recreate Carl
Barks, I've started to realize just how special Rosa's artwork is. 
Rosa's stories which turned me off 3 or 4 years ago are now amoung my
favorite comics.

I know this is getting long, so I'll close with one final comment.  I'm
one of the people who actively dislikes the 'Goofy Look at History'
stories currently running in Gladstone's Donald and Mickey.  I think
they are poorly drawn and written, but there is one thing about them
that I really like -- and that is that they use very un-Disney page

James Williams

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