Today, I’m back at work on my comic book story. Some might call it a graphic novel, but that seems a little pretentious. Basically, it’s just a fun comic story that I hope will be somewhat entertaining. Comics were my entry into the world of storytelling and entertainment back in the old days. I loved comic books as a kid and I had my own stash of favorites that included superheroes along with funny animals. In later years I graduated to Mad and other EC Comics. Remember, this was all before the “morality police” decided that comic books were corrupting the youth of America. Of course, comics were never highly regarded in the United States. While Europe and Asia embraced this unique form of storytelling, the literary police informed the public that comics were trash. What’s laughable about this is the fact that we’ve never had a shortage of trash in literature. But, for some reason comics always took the hit.
Although Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories had been a favorite throughout my youth, the Disney Company had little to do with comics back in the eighties. New management had come to Disney along with a number of bright young executives eager to make their mark. One such was a young man who decided to shake things up by launching a new Disney comic book company. Michael Lynton had spent part of his youth in Europe and was keen on bringing a European sensibility to Disney publications. Naturally, he immediately began to butt heads with the “old guard” who regarded Lynton as a loose canon who knew little about the Mouse House and the way things should be done. However, I found Lynton’s wacky ideas pretty progressive and a handful of us were eager to put his ideas into practice. Things never improved in our little comic book world. I remember early morning shouting matches in the executive offices and Michael Lynton eventually left Disney Publishing for a new job in the film division. He may have failed at comics, but our old boss did alright for himself. He’s now the boss of a major movie studio. You might have heard of the Culver City movie company called, Sony.
Our comic book company managed to hang on for another two years before Disney ended this sad chapter in publishing in the early nineties . Our comic book efforts remain impressive, however. We managed to publish eight separate Disney titles each month and get the comics to market. However, marketing and distribution was a continual problem that was never resolved. Without support from the rest of the company, Disney Comics soon found itself on life support and eventually died a sad and sorry death. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long after that the venerable Walt Disney comic strips came to an end as well. An unexpected visit to HR one early morning made it quite clear my services were no longer needed in Disney’s Publishing Department so I returned to the world of filmmaking. As much as I love filmmaking, comics will always remain a first love. We’ve come a long way since my early days of paper, pencil and pen and a desk at Woggon Wheels Ranch in Santa Barbara. Now, I write, sketch and color on a computer and the creative process is totally digital. Yet, comics remain comics no matter how much the production process changes. It’s a unique method of storytelling and an art form that’s not going away anytime soon.