The Untapped Market for Disney Comics

By Carter Glace, Staff Writer

What do you don’t feel like talking about superheroes, are low on  topics and saw Disney’s “Moana” early? Figure out a way to talk about Disney!

In 1994, The Return of Jafar was created from the first five episodes of the planned Aladdin television series, making Disney’s first straight to video film. That would begin what became a massive industry for Disney, digging through their legendary canon of animated films to make sequels, prequels and spin-offs of their classics. While lucrative, it also cast the studio in a bad and some what desperate light, a testament to their creative and financial struggles in the early 2000s. Fortunately, with the rise Lasseter to the chief creative head of the studio, these films were fazed out as the studio began yet another Renaissance.

But despite the negative feedback, it’s  somewhat understandable why these films caught on: the allure of building the lore of classic films. It is the same reason why the handful of television series made of Disney films caught on, allowing iconic characters and worlds to live another day (though series like Aladdin and Hercules are actually pretty solid).

So that leaves me asking where all of the Disney comics are. Granted, Disney does have comics based on their properties, but they have been limited to the Duck Tales and Mickey Mouse world. But if the company is looking to continue their animated film canon, there might be no better medium than comics.

The transition from animation to comic panels would be largely seamless. After all,  storyboards can serve as a type of comic, just add word bubbles. The separation from television and film would serve as a means of selling the general audience on this endeavor. This is where comic’s somewhat secondary status serves as an advantage, as it would sidestep the many accusations of ‘tainting’ the legacy of their classics. The brief episodic nature allows for a broad range of stories that allow Disney to focus on the character and personality without needing massive universe altering events. As I mentioned before, the television series of Hercules and Aladdin were both surprisingly good, and show how lighter, episodic storytelling can work in the Disney universe.

And perhaps in the best preview of how well a Disney animated comic-verse could work, they have already proven they can do it. With the acquisition of Marvel and Star Wars, they began the process of making a plethora of series based on the Galaxy Far Away, including Poe Dameron, Darth Vader, Extended Lore series, and a new series on Darth Maul. The reception to this new collection has been fairly positive, and they’ve done a lot to broaden the lore of the franchise. How easy would it be to take this general framework and apply it to the worlds of Little Mermaid, Snow White, and others?

All of the pieces are in place to do something special here. An untapped market that is almost guaranteed for success that could create a profitable and creatively viable world for Disney’s most famous works. In this new found Disney Renaissance, comic books may serve as the next frontier.

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