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‘Walt Disney’s Mickey and Donald: Mickey’s Craziest Adventures’ HC (review)

Written by Lewis Trondheim
Art by Nicolas Kéramidas
Published by Fantagraphics Books

 

Mickey and Donald’s Craziest Adventures, originally published in English, we are told, in 2017, is another (We recently reviewed Donald’s Happiest Adventures from the same team) in Fantagraphics’ series of allegedly long-lost Disney Comics published in some limited region only back in the proverbial day and re-discovered and re-presented here, complete with a wood grain pulp paper look, page tears, coffee stains, chapter numbers, and lots and lots of color dots to make it all look vintage.

It’s not, though. These are, in fact, more recent Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck strips. In case there was any doubt, the crazy, off-model Mickey throughout would be a dead giveaway. He’s great! He’s wonderful! But he is NOT your grandfather’s Mickey Mouse.

What he is, is the slightly unhinged European version of The Mouse from so many recent Fantagraphics Disney books. The even more slightly unhinged Donald Duck is his companion here, and Goofy, Daisy, Minnie, Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose (and his Helper!), Dr. Einmug (named after Professor Albert Einstein) the Beagle Boys and even Black Pete, Pegleg Pete, or whatever the heck his name is these days appear as well.

The book starts out with the Introduction to the original French edition from 2016, translated, of course. It tells us all about the ultra-rare 1960s Mickey’s Quest comic book, complete with some amazing faux comic book covers a la Gold Key. Then we’re told how they couldn’t salvage every chapter of the long-running serial we’re about to read so there are large and small gaps between most of the pages.

This is my least favorite part of this book. Since it isn’t actually rare and nothing was actually salvaged, why couldn’t we get the whole serial? Instead, we get random single page chapters up to Chapter 82, crammed into just over 40 pages. Now I realize, there aren’t really any missing sections but why couldn’t they have just drawn the whole story in the first place?

To say what’s here is great, though, would be an understatement. French creators Lewis Trondheim and Nikolas Keramidas (along with colorist Brigitte Findakly) have a deft knack for giving us fast-moving Barks-style adventure in a style both modern and reminiscent of American Underground Comix of the 1970s. I can’t help but think that Walt Disney himself wouldn’t approve but it’s hilarious throughout, even translated into English. Visually, it’s a real kinetic treat with so much colorful energy, the art seems to burst off the pages at times!

Everyone is recognizably in character and I found myself reading all the characters in their familiar voices even if they did sometimes look like knock-offs. What really got me about the art, though, were the characters’ faces. The artist consistently manages to use the faces expressively, allowing for more emotional subtlety than one would expect—or even need for this type of book.

All in all, Mickey’s Craziest Adventures, while certainly enjoyable and safe—if more than a little confusing—for all ages, is a sheer hoot from start to finish for those of us open-minded older fans who still revere the Barks, Gottfredson, Paul Murray, and Don Rosa classics

I’ve become a big fan of Italian Disney comics and last year I found myself translating with my cell phone German Super Goof comic book stories found online. I don’t know how many of these crazy-style French Disney comics there are, or how many that Trondheim and Keramidas did or maybe still are doing, but I do hope that Disney continues to allow the estimable David Gerstein, editor, and Fantagraphics to share them with the rest of the world like this. I really, really enjoyed Mickey’s Craziest Adventures.

Booksteve Recommends.

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