Diana Gabaldon on her brief comics career

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201111290308 Diana Gabaldon on her brief comics career

Bestselling fantasy author Diana Gabaldon, creator of the Outlander series, had a comics bestseller last year with her book THE EXILE, and in an interview at EW, she explains her earlier career writing Disney Comics:

Is there a book that cemented you as a writer?

If anything, it would be a Walt Disney comic book that I read when I was about 28. My mother taught me to read in part by reading me Walt Disney comics, and I never stopped. But I was reading one that I picked up at a convenience store on the way to work, and I said, “Well, this is pretty bad, I bet I can do better myself.” On a whim, I found the address and the name of the editor for that line, and I wrote him a very rude letter that said, “Dear sir, I’ve been reading your comics for the last 25 years, and they’ve been getting worse and worse. I’m not sure if I could do better myself, but I’d like to try.” Luckily, he had a sense of humor and he wrote back, “Okay, try.” He sent me a couple of layout sheets so I could see how a story was constructed by the company guidelines, so I wrote him a story. He didn’t buy it, but he did something much more valuable: He told me what was wrong with it. He did buy my second story, which was my first fiction sale ever. I continued to write for him for the next three years until the Disney Company said well we’ve got 40 years worth of Carl Barks in the files, why are we buying more stories? And that was the end of my comics career until I wrote the Exile last year, which is a graphic novel. I guess it would be that. It actually got me to commit something to print and send it to someone.


 

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    http://coa.inducks.org/creator.php?c=Diana+Gabaldon&c1=date

    1981! (Uncle Scrooge #182) She’s right… they were getting worse. Western stopped publishing in 1984.

    Only one story has been published in America:
    “Beagles, Bangles, and Bees”

    The others were done with the Disney Studio/Jaime Diaz Studio, and published overseas.

    Her reasoning “well we’ve got 40 years worth of Carl Barks in the files” is a bit erroneous. There is a large amount of original Disney material still being produced, as the European market is voracious for Disney comics. It would be like Marvel saying, “well, we’ve got 40 years of Jack Kirby in the files, so why publish new comics?”

    (A dirty secret about Disney… they only pay royalties on the first publication WORLDWIDE of any story. Any reprints anywhere else in the world…zilch. Which is why Don Rosa was published in Denmark first long before his stories ever appeared in the U. S.)

  2. Lars Jensen says:

    > http://coa.inducks.org/creator.php?c=Diana+Gabaldon&c1=date

    There’s a good chance Diana Gabaldon might have written other Disney comics — the ones you linked to are simply the ones it is *known* she wrote.

    > Her reasoning “well we’ve got 40 years worth of Carl Barks in the files” is a bit erroneous.

    Not necessarily. It could easily be the explanation the US publisher gave her.

    > (A dirty secret about Disney… they only pay royalties on the first publication WORLDWIDE of any story. Any reprints anywhere else in the world…zilch. Which is why Don Rosa was published in Denmark first long before his stories ever appeared in the U. S.)

    There are so many factual errors here I almost don’t know where to begin.

    First of all, Disney comic book material has been produced for more than 70 years and all over the world. All past and present producers of Disney comics have/have had the same payment policy, so to single out the Walt Disney Company is a pretty shitty thing to do.

    Second, apart from the (relatively small) Studio Program, Disney only began producing comic book stories in the late 1980s and only in Italy, so their part in this “dirtiness” is pretty small.

    Third, Don Rosa’s early stories were published in the US first, for a publishing company named Gladstone. He began working for Egmont in Denmark because Gladstone lost the Disney comics license, not due to Disney not paying royalties.

    And fourth, Disney comics creators are usually paid well. In some cases: very well.

    Torsten, I have a feeling you’ve never discussed this with an actual Disney comics creator. Am I right?

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