Review: Fantagraphics’ Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild


by Roger Ash

Fantagraphics’ Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild is the first collection of Floyd Gottfredson’s color Sunday pages and is a great companion to their Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse series. This volume collects all the Mickey Mouse Sunday pages from its beginning in 1932 (including the initial Sunday page by Earl Duvall; Gottfredson began the following week.) through the end of 1935.

Gottfredson is considered by many to be “the” Mouse artist, the same way that Carl Barks is considered the Duck Man for his comic book work featuring Disney’s Ducks. But, if you think you know Gottfredson’s work on Mickey Mouse through his work on the daily strips, think again. His work on the Sunday strips is a mouse of a different color. Since people who got the daily paper didn’t necessarily get the Sunday paper, what happened on Sunday was completely independent from the daily adventures. The Sunday strips started as gag strips and Gottfredson only gradually moved into telling longer stories. While there is more space for telling a story on a Sunday page, with the week between chapters, I found the stories to be less complex than what Gottfredson did with the daily strip. In fact, some of the early stories, like Dan the Dogcatcher and Mickey’s Nephew’s, read more like a series of related gags than an actual story.

The strips themselves feature the usual cast of characters with Mickey, Minnnie, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Pluto being the regular crew with memorable appearances by Mickey’s nephews Morty & Ferdie, Dippy Dawg (who would later become Goofy), and Donald Duck. Mickey’s major villain at the time, Peg-Leg Pete, surprisingly only appears in one story (though Dan the Dogcatcher is obviously a distant relative of Pete’s).

An interesting thing to pay attention to in the volume is the coloring. At the time, Mickey and the gang were still in black and white cartoons, so a consistent color scheme for the characters had not yet emerged. As a result, we get a yellow Donald Duck, a white Pluto, and Mickey and Minnie with pink faces and huge white eyes.

I was particularly intrigued to watch Gottfredson’s development over the course of the volume. As with the early daily strips, Gottfredson takes a while to get comfortable with the Sunday comic format, and not just in the longer storylines. I think the later gag strips are much sharper, funnier, and better paced than the earlier ones. I think this holds true for the stories as well as I found the final story in the volume, Hoppy the Kangaroo, to be the strongest, as well as my favorite (though Foray to Mt. Fishflake is a close second). Other popular stories in the volume include Lair of Wolf Barker and Dr. Oofgay’s Secret Serum.

As with the Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, this volume is full of essays that put the strips into historical context and provide lots of background information. My personal favorite is a look at Italy’s Topolino Mickey comics. It’s fascinating to see the differences between American comic strips and those from other countries.

If you’re a fan of Mickey Mouse , Floyd Gottfredson, or classic comic strips, Fantagraphics’  Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild needs to be part of your collection. It’s a wonderful and fun look at Gottfredson’s early Sunday Mickey strips. Unfortunately, Gottfredson only worked on the Mickey Mouse Sunday strip until 1938, with an occasional return, so the second volume in this series (which is available for preorder now, both on its own and as a box set with Call of the Wild) will be the final Color Sundays volume. Be that as it may, this is an excellent addition to the Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse volumes.

Purchase

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Call of the Wild

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