News came today that Disney has licensed out its traditional line of comics to publisher IDW, who’ll be releasing new Disney books over the upcoming year under the imprint “Disney Comics.” The books include: “Uncle Scrooge” (in April), “Donald Duck” (May), “Mickey Mouse” (June), and long-runner “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” (September). WDC&S will retain its previous issue numbering, picking up with issue #721 (as one of the highest-numbered American comics).
While I’m glad to see the Disney books are returning, I have to wonder why Disney ever yanked the license from Boom! a few years ago, if it was just going to sit on the books and ultimately do nothing but license them to someone else. Although Disney owns Marvel, some online have suggested that low profitability might be a reason for the third party licensing.
My own guess is that besides sales, Marvel and their rival DC are viewed by their owners as superhero- and “mature readers”-only companies for branding reasons, a few token titles aside. Anything they own that doesn’t fit into those molds either gets forced into the DC Universe/Marvel Universe settings, into a “mature reader only” subsidiary like Vertigo, or is licensed to a third party like IDW. Thus, a historical title like “Young Romance” being turned into a New 52-oriented superhero romance one-shot last year (headlining the awful Superman/Wonder Woman relationship), or characters like Sugar and Spike last seen in “Adventures of Superman” (living in Metropolis). Most famous of all (if a bit earlier than those examples) would be Patsy Walker, who went from a Marvel romance book character to becoming a superheroine (with the not-kid-friendly name “Hellcat”) in the 70s.
If my guess is true, while I can see the companies wanting to play to their strengths, it still feels a bit limited, versus the variety of genres that rivals Image, Boom! Studios, etc. publish. It also probably is part of DC and Marvel’s problems with ignoring/lack of appeal to younger readers. I suppose Disney/Time Warner will still turn a profit from the sales of the third-party-licensed books, but none of it will be via their DC/Marvel subsidiaries.
Back to the Disney books themselves. They’ll start off with reprints of European stories; “Uncle Scrooge” #1 will be a reprint of a classic Italian tale. However, original stories are promised in the future, which will be a good thing. No indication if they’ll be American-written tales, however, or ones imported from the European Disney comics.
There’ll also be variant covers, these tied to the various Disney theme parks.