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‘Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics’ (book review)

Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics
Written by by Frank Reilly, Floyd Norman
Illustrated by Floyd Gottfredson,‎
Manuel Gonzales,‎ John Ushler
Published by IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1684050062
Released 11/24/17 / $39.99

I wish I could say that I grew up eagerly anticipating and enjoying the annual Walt Disney Christmas comic strips in our local newspaper in the 1960s but the truth is that we almost always got the NEA strips (which someone should collect NEXT year!).

Thus what we have in the new book, Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics, is mostly new to me—new and absolutely delightful! Presenting more than 30 stories that were exclusive to the newspapers between 1960 and 1997, this book is like a Who’s Who of classic Disney characters, many of whom had never appeared together before and never would again!

Similarly, the behind the scenes work, so informatively detailed in Alberto Beccatini’s introduction, was also a Who’s Who, with everyone from grand master cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson to the great animator Floyd Norman and even Jack Kirby’s preferred inker, Mike Royer, working on the continuities through the years.

Each story, as I’m sure you’ve probably guessed, takes place during the holiday season, with Santa being the only real running character. Among the surprise combinations, we get Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s first mate from Peter Pan, hanging with the seven dwarfs from Snow White. We have Princess Aurora, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, once again menaced by Maleficent but this time rescued by, of all people…err…ducks, Professor Ludwig Von Drake! Maleficent also menaces Dumbo the flying elephant in another story, aided by Mad Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone.

With man landing on the moon in 1969, outer space was big in pop culture so I guess it makes sense that the seven dwarfs returned again to teach the spirit of Christmas to space aliens in that year’s seasonal tale.

Perhaps the strangest combo pops up in 1971 where we see the Beagle Boys, Scrooge McDuck’s longtime nemeses in four color form, going up against the mice from Cinderella!

Also appearing are Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Bambi and friends, the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio with Jiminy Cricket, Merlin and young Arthur, Br’er Bear, Tinker Bell and Peter Pan, some of the 101 Dalmatians, and a whole bunch of fairy godmothers.

The ‘90s revival version that makes up the final portion of this volume offers up short Christmas tales of later Disney icons such as Ariel, Belle, and Quasimodo.

The stories get repetitive at times—something that would not have been an issue reading one per year—but the novelty character team-ups keep things rolling along and enjoyable. Personally, it feels like more effort went into the earlier strips, with the newer ones having a more corporate cash-in feel to them, but even then they have their heart-tugging moments.

Young or old, if you were ever a Disney kid, even if your local newspaper steered clear of these special strips, Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics is something you’ll enjoy and can pass on to your own kids and grandkids.


Ho, ho, ho! Booksteve Recommends!

 

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