From our continental correspondent – Mickey Rehashed
In bande dessinee, to use an awful generalisation for traditional Franco-Belgian comics, the relationship between a comic and its creator is much stronger than in English language comics, even when it comes to company-owned properties. Only in the case of absolute bestsellers will a publisher contemplate bringing together new creative teams to come up with new stories and new adventures. The Smurfs, Boule et Bill or Blake et Mortimer — you’d almost think that their creators are still spiritually involved in the creation process of the new comics because, above all, a form of mimicry is what is expected of these new teams.
Lately, though, a new trend has started in which new creators are allowed remold old and beloved characters to their own liking, and not, as was the case with Spirou or Suske en Wiske for smaller scale spin-off series, but rather as full-fledged continuations of the original books themselves. Ric Hochet, Bob Morane, or more recently Matthieu Bonhomme’s excellent hommage to Lucky Luke, they all found a new lease in life with new creators that did more than just copy their hallowed predecessors.
A rather unexpected addition to this series of reboots, is a new series from French publisher t, in which Eurocomics stars are allowed to create a new, original book with Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Cosey, Swiss master of the philosophical and poetic comic (with titles like Jonathan and Looking for Peter Pan) created La Mysterieuse Mélodie (The Mysterious Melody), in which we find Mickey at the start of his career as a script hack for 1920’s Hollywood. When one of the scripts he’s working on gets stolen (an original William Shakespeare, no less), he sets off with his friend Goofy to retrieve it by going after the mysterious woman who sat next to him on the train before he fell asleep…
It is a good story in its own right, but Cosey has managed to make his mark on the premise, not only by adding a sense of romance to the adventure but above all by bathing the pages in a wonderful, melancholic palette that harkens back to days of old. It is quite remarkable that, when given the chance to go off on a limb with a classic character like Mickey Mouse, you’d opt to create a prequel to everything that’s been told up till now, rather than update the character for modern times. Or maybe Disney has tried that enough, with less than optimal results…
The second book also tries to evoke comics of days gone by. Lewis Trondheim and Nicolas Keramidas present a number of episodes from Mickey’s Craziest Adventures, a comic that supposedly ran in long-gone Disney magazines in the sixties. Even though there is some kind of story present across the various pages, it only seems to function as an alibi to draw Mickey and Donald in some of the fantastic sceneries that the best Disney comics are set in. As Keramidas explained to Actua BD : “I asked [Lewis] to include as many of the characters as possible, and all kinds of settings : space, the jungle, under the sea, in a lost city, in Mickeytown,[…] And so he came up with a long story from an imaginary magazine from which some issues were missing.”
The result is classic Trondheim, with high-octane comedy and zany action, but, thanks to the device of the forgotten magazine, with an additional meta element that will doubtlessly please countless Disney fans.
Two more books are planned in this collection, by Loisel and Tébo, to be published in September. In the mean time, IDW has announced English language versions of all books, so you all have something to look forward to.
(Illustrations © Glénat & Walt Disney France via Actua BD)