Since I've been reviewing books here in the Review Club threads, I've been thinking and wondering even more than I usually do about what kinds of comics I like or don't like, and why. WDC&S #133 helped define it better for me.
I bought this old comic at the Mid-Ohio comic book convention in early October for, I think, $2. It's a very beat up copy, with the center 3 double pages torn free of the staples, and the cover is also loose from the staples. Just the book to curl up with on a blustery and cold winter day (except that it won't be winter for another 11 days; temperature here at noon today was 14 degrees F/-10 degrees C).
WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #133, Copyright 1947, 1948, and 1951 by Walt Disney Productions. 10 cents. Published by Dell, which was officially know as K. K. Publications, Inc.
The cover says "52 pages * ALL COMICS". That's not quite true, but close enough. It's 52 pages counting the cover, but the back cover is a subscription ad. Additionally, 2 of the interior pages are used for a text story with 2 illustrations. All the rest of the pages are short stories and mini stories. Most of the pieces in this comic have copyright information on each piece; the ones that do not, I'd assume, are copyright 1951. Many are untitled.
Inside front cover - Donald Duck; 1948
Page 1-10 - Donald Duck; Donald's nephews skip school; 1951
Page 11-18 The Li'l Bad Wolf; Big Bad Wolf's son stops dad from being bad; 1951
Page 19-26 Grandma Duck; circus lion escapes to Grandma's farm; 1951
Page 27-28 Mickey Mouse; each page has 1 story: 1948
Page 29-31 Donald Duck; half-page stories, 4 or 5 panels per story; 1947, 1948
Page 32-33 Grandma Duck; text story; The Arithmetic Lesson
Page 34-38 Donald Duck; half-page stories, 4 or 5 panels per story; 1947, 1948
Page 39-49 Mickey Mouse; The Mystery of the Robot Army
Inside back cover - Donald Duck; 1948
Text stories were included in comics at the time because of regulations required to maintain 3rd Class Mail subscription rates.
The Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse shorts and minis are, I believe I've read, reprinted from newspapers. They are have the additional information of "Distributed by King Features Syndicate".
There is not a bad story in the bunch. The story of Huey, Louie, and Dewey playing hookey from school has one of the kids asking why they had to go to school, and another replying, "Because some old fogeys made up a law sayin' we have to! That's why!" Then they skip school, but find themselves always landing right back into the lap of authority, finally giving up on skipping school as too much trouble. Excellent lesson for young kids to read.
The Grandma Duck story is just silly fun, with one character ending up down a well, and the lion trapped on the roof of Grandma's barn. All the shorts are basically gag strips, and fun in their own way, for the most part. In these, Donald Duck is always a jerk, and unfortunately, women come off as lesser characters, something that doesn't happen in most of the longer stories.
The best 2 stories are the Mickey Mouse and the Li' Bad Wolf. Mickey Mouse always seems to get mixed up with unsavory characters, always winning in the end. Mickey is a hero character. This is the first part of a continued story. (I bet you thought Marvel invented the continued story in the 1960s.)
My favorite story is Li'L Bad Wolf. The basic story in every Li'l Bad Wolf story is that Li'l has to stop his dad, The Big Bag Wolf (Zeke), from doing bad things. Ofter those things involve Dad trying to eat the son's friends. In this untitled story, Son meets Merlin the Magician, is amazed and delighted by the magic, and tells Dad about it. Dad goes to Merlin's place and steals a magic book. Mis-using the magic causes the conflict of the story, with Brer Bear innocently becoming involved.
I've always enjoyed the Li'l Bad Wolf stories whenever I've come across them. They are fun little stories where the bad guy (Dad) always gets his comeuppance. But recently, the comic has taken on a new texture for me. You see, Li'l always calls his Dad "Pop". It occurred to me that there is another cultural icon who was always called Pop. Fred G. Sanford of Sanford and Son.
So when I read these stories now, I hear the voice of Redd Foxx (Sanford) as Pop, the voice of Demond Wilson, who played the "Son" of Sanford and Son (Lamont), and, in this story, the voice of Whitman Mayo (Sanford's friend Grady) as Brer Bear.
In Sanford and Son, Sanford was all about one thing...making things better for Sanford. His son Lamont was always trying to rein in his dad, and Grady seemed to be constantly bewildered about the goings on.
Here is a sample of dialogue from one page of this story. See if you can hear the voices as I do.
Li'l Wolf/Lamont: Pop! You weren't planning to trap some poor, li'l creature,were you?
Big Bad Wolf/Sanford: Sure, I was! An' incident'ly, where have you been all afternoon?
(later in the story)
Brer Bear/Grady, entering the room: How de doody, Li'l Wolf! What's your pop cogitatin' on?
Li'l Wolf/Lamont: He's studyin' magic tricks, Brer Bear!
Brer Bear/Grady: Ziggity! I jet' loves to watch magical tricks!
Big Bad Wolf/Sanford: I ain't doin' it to entertain anybody...I'm tryin' to pull rabbits out of a hat...for eatin' purposes!
Brer Bear/Grady: Man! I like to see that!
(and even later in the story)
Li'l Wolf/Lamont: Pop! Now look what you've done! I told you that book was dangerous to fool with!
I'm tellin' ya, it's like a Sanford and Son episode.
So this is the kind of comic I like to read. And I'd like to read it again in a year or two. It's not that the characters are Disney characters, nor that they are cartoon characters. This very well could have been a western comic or a superhero comic. What I find so attractive about it is the quality. Even the least story was fun. All were well drawn. All were written by people who wanted to tell a story, not by people who wanted to be famous or rich or adored by internet denizens.
These were created by writers and artists who valued their profession, and wanted to create the best stories possible. That they succeeded in doing so month after month, year after year, shows how good they were, and how mediocre some of today's creators can be.
I was perfectly content before I was born.