Book Review: Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Three

As mentioned in reviews of the previous volumes in the series, Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales was a Sunday strip that featured 129 stories, running from July 13, 1952 until February 15, 1987. The Library of American Comics is republishing them and the 14 stories in Volume Three, which are collected in a book for the first time, include adaptations of films, both live-action and animated. Written by Frank A. Reilly and drawn by Jesse March, except where noted, they are:

  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People (May 3, 1959-August 30, 1959)
  • Third Man on the Mountain (September 6, 1959-December 27, 1959)
  • Toby Tyler (January 3, 1960-March 27, 1960)
  • Kidnapped (April 3, 1960-June 26, 1960)
  • Pollyanna (July 3, 1960-September 25, 1960)
  • Swiss Family Robinson (October 2, 1960-December 25, 1960)
  • 101 Dalmatians (January 1, 1961-March 26, 1961) – drawn by Bill Wright (January 1-8), Floyd Gottfredson, layouts; Chuck Fusion, pencils; and Manuel Gonzales, inks (January 15-March 26)
  • Nikki, Wild Dog of the North (April 2, 1961-June 25, 1961)
  • The Parent Trap (July 2, 1961-September 24, 1961)
  • Babes in Toyland (October 1, 1961-December 31, 1961) – drawn by Joseph H. Hale
  • Moon Pilot (January 7, 1962-March 25, 1962)
  • Bon Voyage (April 1, 1962-June 24, 1962) – drawn by John Ushler
  • Big Red (July 1, 1962-September 30, 1962)
  • In Search of the Castaways (October 7, 1962-December 30, 1962) – drawn by John Ushler

Darby O’Gill and the Little People finds Darby in an amusing battle of wits with Brian Connors, King of the Leprechauns. As with the past strip, the art fails to capture the likeness of the actors. No one would know Michael had been played by Sean Connery. Moving over to Switzerland, Third Man on the Mountain is an adventure based on James Ramsey Ullman’s Banner in the Sky. It also served as the inspiration for the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride.

No longer the young boy’s fantasy it once was, Toby Tyler sees the ten-year-old titular character run off and join the circus. He befriends Mr. Stubbs, a chimp, and soon learns how tough life is away from his aunt and uncle’s farm. Another boy’s adventure follows with an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, which is set in Scotland and finds young David falling victim to a greedy uncle. Disney gets around to telling a girl’s story with Pollyanna, set in a Maine city,and follows with a vastly different story of an island adventure starring the Swiss Family Robinson.

In 1961, the Disney studio released 101 Dalmatians, their first animated feature film since 1955’s Lady and the Tramp. The artists are so talented in recreating the film’s style that it’s difficult to see when Wright stepped away. The canine theme continues with Nikki, Wild Dog of the North about a Canadian malemute. The story gets a little confusing because the pup ages in one strip though it appears to be the same winter from when he was young. With The Parent Trap, the twins don’t look like the actress who played them, Hayley Mills, but interestingly, they are drawn similar to the lead character from Pollyanna, who was also played by Mills. Babes in Toyland is unique in that it was a live-action film, but Hale gives his drawings an animated look.

The last four stories are from films unfamiliar to me. Moon Pilot is unusual for the Treasury, it’s a space-race comedy set in modern times. The humor is a bit one-note. Bon Voyage finds the American Family Willard vacationing in France and high jinks ensue. Big Red is another dog story set in Canada, this time Quebec, and involves a relationship with a young boy, an orphan. In Search of the Castaways is another live-action movie where the drawing are more reminiscent to the animated adaptations. Mills starred in this one as well, but her character here doesn’t look the appearance of her previous characters.

While the stories presented in Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales, Volume Three are successful to varying degrees, it’s wonderful to experience the strips as readers did over 50 years ago and see the artistry on display. Animation historian Michael Barrier continues to provide informative introductions for each storyline.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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