Tuesday, 17 June 2014


Little Hiawatha (1937), featuring a native American boy, was a cartoon short from Disney's Silly Symphony series. It was very loosely inspired from the American poem 'The Song of Hiawatha' (1855) which, in turn, was loosely based native American folk tales, including a legend about a native American leader called Hiawatha. Disney's cartoon, however, told the misadventures of a native boy who was an inept hunter. Little Hiawatha appeared on the cover of Mickey Mouse Magazine v. 2 no. 12 (dated Sept. 1937) and, according to the inducks index, there was an obscure 'Little Hiawatha' comics serial published in a Disney comics magazine in Sweden in 1938, but his appearance in the American Silly Symphony newspaper strips was delayed until late 1940. Early in 1941, Britain's Mickey Mouse Weekly began running a strip titled simply as 'Hiawatha' (rather than Little Hiawatha) at the top rim of its last pages. The scan above is of the earliest 'Hiawatha' strip in my MMW collection and it may very well be the first one (the scan is from no. 258 and no. 257 is missing from my MMW collection, but no. 256, which I have, doesn't have any Hiawatha strip). The artist of these apparently British-made Hiawatha strips is unknown, but a likely candidate is Ernest Richardson, who is the only known staff artist of MMW on board after his collagues were drafted in late 1940.
About two months after these Hiawatha strips began to appear on the last pages, MMW also began to publish the American 'Little Hiawatha' Sundays on its front pages. Below is the scan of the first one, originally published in the US on Nov. 10th, 1940: 
This was not only the first LH Sunday published in MMW, but also the first-ever LH Sunday. For its next issue, however, MMW skipped six LH Sundays from their original run in the US and published the below Sunday originally from Dec. 29th, 1940:
Simultaneously with these, MMW also continued to publish its own Hiawatha strips which were no longer titled:

Since my MMW collection is largely incomplete in the war-time era from 1941 onwards, I cannot say precisely when the British-made Hiawatha strips ended, but I can confirm that they did not last into 1942.
The American 'Little Hiawatha' Sundays, on the other hand, would end in 1942, but Little Hiawatha would be revived in American Disney comics magazines early in the 1950s. Today, short Little Hiawatha comics are made by various European artists for the Dutch market.

Saturday, 14 June 2014


Goofy's remarks to an Arabic sheik in this panel from a Sunday newspaper comics from 1940 is oddly emblemetic of Westerns powers' approach to the Middle East!.. 
Furthermore, when Mickey and Goofy crash their car as the sheik chases them away, they return to outright steal a camel from him.. 
These are from 'The Photographic Expedition' in which Mickey and Goofy travel around in 'exotic' locales. 'The Photographic Expedition' is full of instances when Mickey and/or Goofy treat the locals arrogantly, such as in this earlier panel when they were in Africa: 
'The Photographic Expedition' was scripted by Merrill de Marris (1898-1948) who scripted many Mickey Mouse Sunday and daily strips, as well as some non-Mickey Disney Sundays, from 1933 till 1942. Among these are the seminal Phantom Blot continuity from 1939, but his 'An Education for Thursday' daily continuity from 1940 is also very white-supremacist.
The art in 'The Photographic Expedition', by the way, is by Manuel Gonzales, who had picked up Mickey Mouse Sundays from Floyd Gottfredson in 1938. The scans in this post are from Britain's Mickey Mouse Weekly; 'The Photographic Expedition' has never been reprinted in the US outside of its run in newspapers.

Thursday, 12 June 2014


In 1938, Britain's Collin's Clear Type Press, one of the two leading publishers of Disney books in the UK in the pre-war era, began publishing Donald Duck annuals, modeled on the Mickey Mouse annuals which were being published by the rival British Disney publisher, Dean, since 1930. These early annuals of the pre-war (and war-time) are very thick (100+ pages) books, compromising illustrated stories, comics and games. Actually, none of the early annuals have printed dates, so dating them is sometimes tricky and since esp. the early Donald Duck annuals are rare and obscure, there is little, if any info, on them. This one has ads for the Snow White books from the same publisher which indicate that it is indeed from 1938, as online sellers date it.  
The color plate at the beginning of this first Donald Duck annual features an illustration clearly inspired from the cartoon short Donald's Better Self (1938) and the opening story of the annual is an illustrated story adaptation of that cartoon. The annual includes illustrated story adaptations of several other Disney cartoons such as Donald's Ostrich (1937). Some of these material may have originated from American publications. Most of the comics in the annual are indeed re-formatted versions of American newspaper strips, but there are a few short gag-comics/caricatures of apparent British origin, the most elaborate (in the sense it has more than two panels!) of the latter is the below one on page 13:

Below is the cover of the 1939 annual. These first two annuals are relatively less rare than the rest, perhaps they had a higher print run in the pre-war era as opposed to the dire economic conditions of the war-time years.

The below annual, on the other hand, is one of the rarest: I've seen it offered on ebay only once (in 2007) and at the time, I couldn't figure if it was the 1940 or 1942 annual:

The below annual is not as rare and is reported by its sellers as the 1941 annual:

The below one is also one of the rarest; actually, I had never seen it until last month when it appeared on ebay (and sold for at the affordable opening price of 15 pounds sterling; I was naturally so frustrated that I missed it!). It's listed as the 1942 annual, so I now figure that the obscure 'Loads of Laughter' annual must be the 1940 one.

The below book is listed as the 1943 annual. Some editions do not carry the word "Annual" on the cover, but others do. The 1942 and the 1943 annuals are not as brick-thick as the earlier annuals. This is the last known British Donald Duck annual in the war-time era, but Collins would publish other annnual-like Donald Duck books around those years.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


The first-ever Donald Duck book was published in the US in 1935 by Whitman Publishing Co.; it was an illustrated story book with color illustrations (a hardcover edition of this book was also published the next year). In 1937, Donald Duck titles began to be included in the Big Little Books series. Around this time, the first-ever Donald Duck book outside the US came out from Britain's Birn Brothers Ltd: The Donald Duck Book. This hardcover and thick book (close to 100 pages) is undated, but I've seen an online seller dating it at 1937, based on a dated inscription on the copy they have; the long-beaked figure of Donald is in uniformity with this dating. 
The Donald Duck Book is also an illustrated story book, with one color insert at the beginning and several b&w illustrations throughout, but its narrative is rather exceptional: The story recounted in the book is the (fictional) account of the creation of the same book! The framing story starts with Donald Duck opening an office where he would write and edit The Donald Duck Book... Mickey and other pals are around to help him. The book progresses as they come out with new ideas to include in the book and each of those items -stories, poems, comics, games, etc- are presented in the book accordingly; the comics, or "pictorial stories" as they are called here, are actually re-formatted Sunday strips of American origin from 1935, but the rest of the material in The Donald Duck Book are British productions.
The framing story ends with an account of the book being printed and put on sale!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


Above scan is of the cover of the no. 14 (dated Sept. 12th, 1936) of Turkish weekly children's magazine Gelincik. The cover illustration signed by Orhan Tolon (1912-2011), Turkey's pioneer comics artist, is among the earliest ever cover illustrations around the world (incl. the US) featuring Donald Duck as the main character. In the speech balloon, Donald rejoices that he is the winner of the race. The runner-up of the race may be, or is modeled on, Max the Hare from the Disney cartoon short The Tortoise and the Hare (1935) in which Donald does not appear.
Gelincik is one of the rarest of Turkish children's magazines from the 1930's. I have only two very tattered issues in my collection and haven't seen any other sample anywhere else. It was apparently a short-lived publication, which is rather surprising given that other publications from its publisher spanned over a decade. Gelincik was published by Mehmet Gürtunca's Ülkü Basımevi (Ülkü Publishing House), Turkey's leading publisher of children's magazines in the 1930s. Ülkü's other children's weeklies had frequently carried Disney comics, of both American and British origin; actually, Disney comics had first been introduced to Turkey in 1932 in the first issue of Ülkü's Afacan weekly. 
It was also in Afacan where Tolon first started doing comics work. Throughout the 1930's, he was the sole Turkish artist making comics. In the mid-1920s, one or two earlier anonymous Turkish artists appear to have tried their hand in comics, but Tolon is the first-ever Turkish citizen to sign his name in this medium.

Monday, 9 June 2014


June 6th, 1934, the date The Wise Little Hen, the first movie in which Donald Duck appeared on screen, was released is regarded as the 'official' birthday of Donald Duck, even though an earlier incarnation of him had appeared in print as early as 1931; see this entry in this blog for that. 
The above scan is from the Turkish edition, printed in no. 26 (dated June 27th, 1962) of the Miki weekly, of 'This Is Your Life, Donald Duck!', originally published in the US in 1960; it was written by Vic Lockman and drawn by Tony Stroble. Especially the first part in which Donald's childhood, he was apparently very hot-tempered even then!, is recounted by Grandma Duck is very funny and highly recommended...
To commemorate his birthday, I intend to post about very rare and hence very obscure pre-war items about Donald in this blog this week, so stay tuned in.

Sunday, 8 June 2014


French publishers Hachette had began publishing a series of Mickey Mouse comics albums in 1931, reprinting American daily newspaper strips with added texts beneath the panels. In 1934, they also began a series of Disneyic illustrated story books. Two books of this new series were pop-up books featuring Mickey, but the rest were regular (without pop-ups) illustrated story books based on Disney's 'Silly Symphonies' cartoon shorts. While some of them were French editions of corresponding US books, some featured original illustrations. La Liévre et la Tortue (1935), based on the 'Silly Symphony' The Tortoise and the Hare (1935) is of the latter category (to the best of my knowledge, an illustrated story book based on this cartoon would be published in the US in 1938). On the title page, the text is credited to Magdeleine du Genestoux, a French author of children's literature. The art is simply noted to be based on the Disney film, but the anonymous artist has been identifed as Félix Lorioux (1872-1964). The interesting aspect of this book is that it features, among the spectators of the race between the hare and the tortoise, several Disneyic characters who do not appear in the original cartoon. The below illustration, spread across the reverse of the front cover and the first page and reprinted at the end of the book across the last page and the reverse of the back cover, features almost all of the main Disneyic characters of the time, albeit admittedly in crudely drawn fashion:
Mickey and Minnie do not actually re-appear elsewehere in the book, but Donald Duck does in this full-page color illustration on page 18:
Beyond the addition of these characters in the illustrations, the book is largely faithful to the plot of the cartoon in terms of story.
As bonus, here is a scan of the cover without the jacket, identical design and illustrations, but with colors' vibrancy better preserved over the decades:
The cover illustration would be used on the cover of the no. 134 (dated June 10th, 1937) of the Turkish children's weekly magazine Afacan announcing the forthcoming adventures of the Tortoise and the Hare: