Walt Disney was a savvy businessman. With a staff of talented writers and artists employed to create films, he was not content working within one medium and used some staff members to create comics as well. The first was a comic strip that starred Mickey Mouse and debuted on January 13, 1930.
In his well-researched Introduction, Michael Barrier writes about Disney features making their way to the Sunday paper, starting with the studio's first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In a great bit of marketing, the Snow White strips began a couple weeks before the film premiered and about two months before its nationwide release, so the strip served as a weekly advertisement to newspaper readers.
This practice followed with other films, such as Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, which begin this volume. In 1952, the Disney film adaptations appeared under the title, Treasury of Classic Tales. That Sunday strip featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The remaining eight stories in Volume One include adaptations of animated Disney classics and lesser-known live-action films. They are:
- The Story of Robin Hood (July 13, 1952-December 28, 1952)
- Peter Pan (January 4, 1953-June 14, 1953)
- The Sword and the Rose (June 21, 1953-October 25, 1953)
- Ben and Me (November 1, 1953-December 27, 1953)
- Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue (January 3, 1954-May 30, 1954)
- Peter & The Wolf (June 6, 1954-July 25, 1954)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (August 1, 1954-December 26, 1954)
- Lady and the Tramp (January 2, 1955-July 10, 1955)
Some clarification for those that aren't hardcore Disney aficionados. The Story of Robin Hood is adapted from The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, the second Disney film to be entirely live action. The Sword and the Rose is an adaptation of Charles Major's When Knighthood Was in Flower, a historical romance between Mary Tudor and gentleman adventurer Charles Brandon. Ben and Me, from Robert Lawson's book about Benjamin Franklin and a mouse, was released with the True-Life Adventure documentary The Living Desert. Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue is about the Scottish folk hero.
The stories have all been written by Frank A. Reilly. The team of Manuel Gonzales and Dick Moores drew the strips of the animated films. Jesse Marsh drew all the strips of the live-action films. The art for both look great. The animated characters look exactly like their film counterparts. I have only seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Ned and Conseil don't look like Kirk Douglas or Peter Lorre, but they are still well drawn. Barrier prefaces each story with commentary and isn't shy with his critiques of the work, some of which is harsher than I would be, as I don't find the pacing as off-putting as he does.
Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume One is a marvelous collection from the Disney vaults. Not only is the work enjoyable, but it's also interesting to see how these stories played out in comic-strip form. Looking forward to the stories in Volume Two.