Adventure on!

twitter Adventure on!0facebook Adventure on!0google Adventure on!0pinterest Adventure on!0tumblr Adventure on!reddit Adventure on!0stumbleupon Adventure on!0email Adventure on!

us disney adventures2 Adventure on!Over on his blog, Jeff Smith recently announced some impressive sales figures for Scholastic’s BONE reprints:

I received some astonishing sales figures from Scholastic – – the paperback edition of BONE 6: Old Man’s Cave, which just shipped last month, is in its third printing for a total of 260,000 copies! The combined hard cover & paperback sales for the series to date: nearly 2,000,000.


An imposing figure to be sure, but not one that surprises me. Kids like comics. Kids like fantasy. When both are done as superlatively as BONE, success should be sure to follow.

I learned that back in the day when I worked at Disney Adventures magazine, where Bone was serialized for about a year. I’ve often been given credit for reprinting BONE in the pages of DA, but to be honest, it was Marv Wolfman’s idea at first. After Marv left, I picked up the mantle, and continued the color reprints. There was even an all-new 8 page Bone story whose reprint history I’m sadly unaware of.

 Adventure on!DA’s recent demise gave me (and many others) pause for thought. DA started back in the early 90s. It was the idea of Michael Lynton (who now runs Sony Pictures). Hyperion Books was also his idea — some how or other Lynton introduced Disney to the idea of publishing non-Disney books and magazines, and also comics. (The brief career of Disney Comics was also Lynton’s idea.)



Dutch-born Lynton was a comics reader as most Euro kids were. DA was supposed to be the American version of European mags like Topolino — magazines which are incredibly popular in Europe. DA was pretty popular here, eventually — its final circ was in the neighborhood of 1 million, a healthy number, but the slide in magazine advertising claimed it as a victim — even when I was there, the idea of print advertising to kids was a very hard sell.

TV darkwing duck on bonkers Adventure on!
Marv Wolfman has his own DA obit here. Comics were always part of the DA mix, although the regular print side of the magazine had a sometimes uneasy relationship with the comics section over the years. Originally, the magazine was meant to tie-in to the “Disney Afternoon”, a block of cartoons which included, at the start, Duck Tales, TaleSpin and Rescue Rangers. Darkwing Duck joined after a while, then Aladdin, Timon & Pumbaa and a bunch of things I’ve forgotten. I came on as Marv’s assistant in 1991, about a year into the magazine’s existence. Marv and I sat in a small office on the 29th floor of the Burbank Tower with an incredible view of Warner Bros. studios and Universal — every two hours we could see smoke rising from the stunt show at Universal.

gooftroop Adventure on!When DA moved East in ’94, Marv left and I was given reign over the comics section, where I stayed until I went to DC to edit their kids comics line in ’99. It was a fun job while it lasted — when I worked in Burbank, I got to meet with all the folks behind stuff from Dinosaurs to Gargoyles to Recess, as well as directors and animators, from Don Hahn and Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale and Tad Stones to Glenn Keane and Andreas Deja. These kinds of meetings — getting to ask people how they did what they did in order to translate something like Pocahontas into 8 page comics — were about the best education anyone could ever have in how a story/franchise is put together. It was in general a very successful time for Disney, and the level of craft and art that was put into the animated projects was incredible. Of course, there are some things of which we do not speak, like Goof Troop and (GAH!) The Mighty Ducks.

HL1 Adventure on!The magazine side was also a great learning experience for me, especially after we moved our offices to New York. I was lucky enough to work with an amazingly talented and creative bunch of people who never took the first idea as good enough — they had to be polished and refined until they were as good as they could possibly be. This kind of creative environment is sadly rare (in my experience anyway) and I often look back at it fondly.

Although the other editors on the magazine didn’t like to talk about it, the most consistently popular parts of the magazine in focus group after focus group, were the comics and the puzzles. (The entertainment section was also very popular, but kids didn’t perceive it as a section as clearly as they did with puzzles and comics.) BONE always tested very very well, and considering the fact that it didn’t have a TV show or a movie behind it, it showed me that children would respond to a comic that was well done even without a media tie-in.

Trixi7a Adventure on!I learned a lot of things at DA that I formed the philosophy I have carried throughout my career. The fan letters to the comics section were divided equally among girls and boys, for one thing, and girls were just as well represented among the kids who sent in their own art and comics. Even in the 90s, there was a bit of a manga-ish tinge to the art. All of this means that the manga boom — and prevalence of female American manga-ka — shouldn’t surprise anyone who was paying attention. It was this clear demographic evidence that inspired me to get Friends of Lulu started — I always knew the female comics market would be the next frontier for comics, following the market implosions of the 90s.

As the one-time friendly face of the popular Comic Zone section (Suzanne Harper, our then editor didn’t want to call it Comics Zone, which I preferred) I occasionally run into 20-somethings who tell me they grew up reading the magazine. I knew then that this was in my future, so it comes as no shock. In fact, it pleases me no end to think that something I helped work on gave kids the same kind of nostalgic feeling as the comics I read as a kid.

After I left, Steve Behling took over the comics section, and he took the comics to greater heights than ever — under his regime, DA started publishing stand alone comics special, a dream which I was never able to bring to fruition. There’s one on the supermarket checkout stands right now, and flipping through it just yesterday, I saw a bunch of cute comics, Matt Feazell and a reprint of a Black Hole adaptation by Jack Kirby. (I’d be curious to know if there was any marketing research to back up the inclusion of THAT one aside from Kirby fans on staff!) I didn’t pick it up, but next time I go to get some milk and bread, I think I’ll buy it for old times sake.
TScomic gates1 09 Adventure on!
DA was, I think, a fairly important bridge in the survival of children’s comics in America. That such a thing is even threatened sounds stupid, but Marvel and DC had limited resources for such things until recently. I think kids non-manga comics are poised for a HUGE comeback in America (more on that later) and I’m proud that DA carried the torch for so long.

I have tons of fond memories of DA — interviewing William Shatner, Adam West, Patrick Stewart, Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan, for instance. Writing a few comics, including one which starred Weird Al Yankovic. I’m also very very proud of the wonderful art and editorial assistants I had over the years who have all gone on to much much bigger and better things: Miranda Purves, now a senior editor at Elle, rock goddess Jula Bell, Gregory Benton, Chris Nieratko, Cliff Chiang, Ursula Osteen, Jason Little and John Green, who outlasted me by 9 years or so. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, although I probably have.

Just to wrap this up, here are some more eulogies and remembrances of DA’s past. It was a good run, I think.

§ Drew Weing
§ Mark Evanier

Every panel I’ve ever been on about the future of comics has included the wish-dream that our form would reach out to younger readers and find new methods of distribution apart from the traditional funnybook racks. Well, Disney Adventures connected with younger readers and achieved a superior market penetration. The problem was not that you couldn’t find it. It was easily available at supermarket checkout stands, right next to the National Enquirer and the Altoids. When TV Guide got away from its old digest format, Disney Adventures picked up a lot of those spots, as well. The problem was that advertisers didn’t see it as a dandy place to advertise. Even with a million-plus circulation — numbers that any comic book publisher today would kill for — the people behind Disney Adventures couldn’t make the math work.


§ Landry Walker

We’ve been asked to create one last piece for the final issue, something that ties together the end of the magazine with its beginning. It’s an incredible honor, and a rare opportunity to attain closure in a situation such as this. Looking at the blank page, and knowing that it will soon contain the last Disney Adventures story we will ever produce, is sobering.


§ Scott Saavedra
§ Kean Soo

And with the news of Disney Adventures being cancelled, it’s kind of anti-climatic for me now to mention that there were plans for us to run a series of new Jellaby short stories in Disney Adventures to coincide with the release of the first Jellaby graphic novel. I had completed the first story that was scheduled to be published in the December/January issue of DA (the last issue of DA to be published will be the November issue — nuts!), and another story that’s almost finished (I was actually working on that one last night).


§ Scott Koblish

I’m sad to see Disney Adventures end. I have very fond memories of meeting some of the fans of the Jet Pack Pets at the San Diego Convention four years ago. The fans were mostly girls in their ‘tweens, a demographic most of my fellow comic-book compatriots swear doesn’t exist, but I’ve seen ‘em, and they read the Pets.


§Kazu Kibuishi
§Nat Gertler
§Tom Spurgeon
§ Colleen Doran
§ Toon Zone
§ TCJ message board
§The complete DA index.

Comments

  1. There’s a Weird Al comic? I need to know the issue number, Heidi, because clearly my life cannot be complete without it.

  2. On a related (and not at all self-publicising…) note, the market for children’s comics is undergoing a bit of a boom in the UK at the moment. The majority (95%, if not more) is licensed titles, but there’s a huge variety propping up the shelves of newsagents at the moment – from American reprints like The Simpsons and Star Wars to originated titles like DreamWorks Tales, TMNT, Shaun the Sheep and Transformers – and that’s just the Titan titles.

  3. Why the hate-on for Goof Troop?

    I remember that being one of my favorite shows as a kid.

    Or did it just translate that poorly onto the page?

  4. The Beat says:

    As children we have different tastes, I guess.

  5. I am fairly certain that I still have the issue with William Shatner on the cover some place. Now I have to go and find it so I can get all nostalgic. I probably have some others too. I doubt I have the Weird Al one anymore, but I do remember the comic. DA was so much fun, and it’s a shame it’s not going to be aroud anymore.

  6. The Weird Al story was in the January 2003 issue. Just the sort of unexpected prize one would find in DA from time to time.

    While the editorial quality of DA and Comic Zone were variable over the years, the value of having an easily-accessible, affordable, and high-selling comics-heavy mag for kids was always high. Would that there were something to take their place.

  7. The Beat says:

    Couldn’t have been 2003, unless it was a reprint. We did it when I was in LA…I think it ran in…1993 more like it. It was a fumetti with photos of Al. In one he was holding MY accordion, which he played way better than I ever did.

  8. Heidi has an accordion?

    Who knew?

  9. Like Nat said, DA would just have these wacky treasures.

    Also, Hyperion Books–fantastic.

  10. Matt –

    Heidi’s accordion playing is the stuff of legend – she nearly puts Angelo DiPippo to shame.

    She’s just too modest to admit it.

    ~

    Coat

  11. You’re right, I should have noticed that 2003 was way later than I first saw it; it was a reprint, just came up in a Googling. Jan ’93 would appear to be the first appearance of “Captain EE-I-EE-I-OH”, pages 26-29.

  12. I’m starting Orlando Attractions Magazine. We’re going to cover all of the theme parks and attractions in Orlando. It’s sort of a replacement for the old Disney Magazine.
    We were always planning a puzzle/comics page, but now that Disney Adventures has stopped publishing, we’re thinking about expanding on that.

    You can read more about the magazine at http://www.attractionsmagazine.com

  13. Torsten Adair says:

    Heidi, any chance of reprinting the Disney guide to drawing comics? I have a photocopy somewhere…
    I await the resurgance of kids comics, if only so I can read more Kid Blastoff stories!

  14. The Beat says:

    Torsten, funny you should mention that….

  15. Thanks for putting all those comments/discussions/eulogies about Disney Adventures in one place Heidi. For me at least, it helps keep things in perspective to read what everyone else has to say. The magazine had a huge impact on both readers and professionals for almost two decades, and journal entries like yours remind me to be proud I could participate for as long as I did, rather than just escape into self pity.

    Don’t get me wrong, self pity is awesome too. I’ll get to it eventually.

  16. Peter Ambrose says:

    I saw a pok’emon comic for the sixth episode of the very first season!

  17. Can’t believe I just found out about DA’s death until now. Such a shame.

    I remember submitting something to that “Junior Comics Zone” that DA ran for a little while way back when. For my entry I drew an unfunny main comic, and I included a lame attempt at a MAD-style marginal cartoon — the whole thing would have been a great example of neo-surrealism had I not been a kid. My submission never ran, and it was probably for the better, as my cartooning has improved since then (I hope).

    I still have the August 1994 issue with the special eight-page Bone you mentioned (entitled “May the Force Be With You”). The story ultimately didn’t make it to Smith’s One Volume Edition, so the DA readers at the time had the benefit of seeing an extra Bone story.

    Disney Adventures was one of the best magazines during the 90s, and it will be missed.

  18. Can’t believe I didn’t hear about DA’s death until this evening. Such a shame.

    I remember submitting something to that “Junior Comics Zone” that DA ran for a little while way back when. For my entry I drew an unfunny main comic, and I included a lame attempt at a MAD-style marginal cartoon — the whole thing would have been a great example of neo-surrealism had I not been a kid. My submission never ran, and it was probably for the better, as my cartooning has improved since then (I hope).

    I still have the August 1994 issue with the special eight-page Bone you mentioned (entitled “May the Force Be With You”). The story ultimately didn’t make it to Smith’s One Volume Edition, so the DA readers at the time had the benefit of seeing an extra Bone story.

    Disney Adventures was one of the best magazines during the 90s, and it will be missed.

  19. zerocy says:

    There was once a poor man who could no longer afford to keep his only son at home. So the son said to him, ‘Dear fatherworld of warcraft goldwow powow orbuy wow goldcheap wow goldwow power levelingwow powerlevelingdofus kamaskamas dofusLord of the Rings Online GoldLOTRO GoldLOTR Goldage of conan goldage of conan power levelingage conan goldaoc goldaoc power levelingaoc levelingMaple Story meso,you are so poor that I am only a burden to you; I would rather go out into the world and see if I can earn my own living.’ The father gave him his blessing and took leave of him with much sorrow. About this time the King of a very powerful kingdom was carrying on a war; the youth therefore took service under him and went on the campaign. When they came before the enemy, a battle took place, there was some hot fighting, and it rained bullets so thickly that his comrades fell around him on all sides. And when their leader fell too the rest wished to take to flight; but the youth stepped forward and encouraged them and called out, ‘We must not let our country be ruined!’ Then others followed him, and he pressed on and defeated the enemy. When the King heard that he had to thank him alone for the victory, he raised him higher than anyone else in rank, gave him great treasures Maple Story Mesosmaplestory Mesosfly for fun penyaflyff penyabuy flyff goldflyff moneyffxi gilbuy ffxi gilFinal Fantasy XI gilbuy cheap ffxi gilfinal fantasy 11 cheap gilbuy Warhammer goldWarhammer goldbuy Warhammer goldand made him the first in the kingdom.The King had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she was also very capricious. She had made a vow to marry no one who would not promise her that if she died first, he would allow himself to be buried alive with her. ‘Warhammer goldsilkroad online goldSRO goldSilkroad goldbuy silkroad goldIf he loves me truly,’ she used to say, ‘what use would life be to him then?’ At the same time she was willing to do the same, and if he died first to be buried with him. This curious vow had up to this time frightened away all suitors, but the young man was so captivated by her beauty, that he hesitated atnothing and asked her hand of her father. ‘Do you know,’ asked the King, ‘what you have to promise?’ ffxi gilFinal fantasy xi gilbuy ffxi gilfinal fantasy 11 cheap gil’I shall have to go into her grave with her,’ he answered, ‘if I outlive her, but my love is so great that I do not think of the risk.’ So the King consented, and the wedding was celebrated with great splendour.

Trackbacks

  1. […] [Publishing] Heidi MacDonald presents a behind-the-scenes look at the late Disney Adventures magazine. […]

  2. […] **Speaking of tapping into my childhood. Bone (via Disney Adventures) and Sam & Max are two of the reasons I work in comics today — and, I realize, two of the reasons why the division between “mainstream” and “indie” comics has never made sense to me. […]

  3. […] It’s what I did when I was a kid — in 1991, somebody gave me an issue of Disney Adventures bought from a checkout aisle, and I loved it so my grandma bought me a subscription. Somebody gave my brother and me some X-Men comics, so we started looking for the X whenever we went to the drugstore. Even after we discovered the (crappy) local comic shop, it was so rare that we would get to go — and so likely that the issue we wanted would be out of stock or too expensive (last month’s comic suddenly costs twice as much because it’s a “back issue”) — that it made more sense to just get a subscription. Heck, we paid up front for four years of X-Man. […]

Speak Your Mind

*