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Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: "Race to Death Valley" (Vol. 1) (Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse) Hardcover – June 15, 2011
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“Great lover, scholar, soldier, sailor, singer, toreador, tycoon, jockey, prizefighter, automobile racer, aviator, farmer. Mickey Mouse lives in a world in which space, time, and the law of physics are nil. He can reach inside of a bull’s mouth, pull out his teeth and use them as castanets. He can lead a band or play violin solos; his ingenuity is limitless; he never fails.”
- Time Magazine (1931)
“Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson will be warmly received by comics aficionados but should also intrigue Disney animation buffs who aren't necessarily plugged into comic strip history…. I have a feeling that this book, crafted with such obvious care, will earn Gottfredson a new legion of admirers.”
- Leonard Maltin
“The stories are dense, packing plenty of dialogue into the strips ― and the themes are darker than the bright-eyed, factory-sealed tales of today. Mickey is multi-dimensional in the first volume.... This dynamic look is a revelation in the life of the character who started it all for Disney.”
- Alex Carr, Omnivoracious (Amazon.com)
“Floyd Gottfredson... created an enduring classic and the most fully-formed depiction of Disney’s most important character…. Gottfredson had an animator’s knack for storytelling, and his layouts remain clear no matter how busy they get. Much of the humor is stilted by modern standards, but you’ll be too enthralled by the exciting plots and likable characters to care.”
- Garrett Martin, Paste
“…[I]t’s not just a great Mickey Mouse comic, it’s one of the best comics of all time.”
- Chris Sims, Comics Alliance
“We’ve already seen the gorgeous treatment that Fantagraphics has given to books like Peanuts... so there’s no doubt that Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse will get the same. Kudos to them for bringing the work of a legendary artist back to today’s readers in a way that will honor his memory and contributions to the medium.”
- David Wolkin, Comics Alliance
“Mickey Mouse is one of the most important and revered characters in pop culture, and no other creator has written him so human, so interestingly, so uniquely fun and vibrant as Floyd Gottfredson has. The cover price is too little to ask, as the stories in this book are a treasury of the highs sequential art can hit.”
- Rafael Gaitan, Comics Bulletin
“I was astounded to discover that once upon a time, Mickey Mouse comics were really good! And exciting!... Plenty of good background material puts it all in context for the new reader, previously unaware of this strip or Gottfredson’s skill. I haven’t had a better adventure read this year, in sheer 'I don’t want to put this down!' desire to find out what comes next.”
- Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
“Can you believe that the tapioca-plain Mickey Mouse was… once a high-spirited adventurer...? He was in the original comic strips... It's one of the classics.”
- David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
“...[O]ne could not have asked for a better presentation, with the reproduction about as good as it gets for 80-year-old comic strips, and a veritable plethora of extras.... To sum up, anyone who likes Disney, cartoons, or comic strips will find tons of things to love about this.... A terrific book, highly recommended.”
- Sean Gaffney, A Case Suitable for Treatment
“It should go without saying that Fantagraphics has done their usual stellar job in regards to editorial presentation and design... [O]ne of the Great Comic Strips Of All Time.”
- Patrick Markfort, Articulate Nerd
About the Author
Hired as a short-term replacement on the fledgling Mickey Mouse daily strip in 1930, Floyd Gottfredson (1905–1986) went on to draw the feature for the next 45 years. He created the most famous Mickey tales ever told in print. He is a Disney Legend and was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2006.
David Gerstein is a comic book writer/editor and animation historian specializing in the Disney Standard Characters. His books include Mickey and the Gang: Classic Stories in Verse and Walt Disney Treasures―Disney Comics: 70 Years of Innovation. He lives in New York City, NY.
Gary Groth is the co-founder of The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics Books. He lives in Seattle.
Top customer reviews
The Sunday color comics are a dramatic departure from the adventure of the dailies. Most of them are standalone gags and many are legitimately funny. The gags often involve the relationship of Mickey and Minnie which is far more dysfunctional than most would ever imagine. Mickey is a relentless prankster with Minnie often the victim of his jokes. She even angrily breaks up with him on several occasions. I really enjoyed this take on Mickey as opposed to the safe and predictable Mickey from the dailies. The first adventure of the book takes our hero out west and suddenly he transforms back into the hero from the dailies and seems to mature several decades. The story involved cattle rustlers who were laying a brand over other brands to produces a design that looked like their own. I don't know if this was a common crime in the 30's and 40's but I think I've read at least a half dozen stories from Disney with the exact same storyline.
Artwise, Gottfredson is without peer. I don't believe there has ever been another Disney artists and perhaps no other funny animal artist that can match Gottfredson. His art is about as close to flawless as I have ever seen in a comic. I can't say what the color looked like when originally published in newspapers but here they look absolutely pristine.
So far this is my favorite volume. It's the most fun, the most visually appealing and Mickey is cast as a much more interesting character. The extras in this volume as are amazing as ever and I loved the article about the sweat that continually pours off of Mickey. I never even noticed that in almost every image of Mickey drawn by Gottfredson there are a handful of sweat droplets flying from his head. From the cover to the binding to the comics and all the extras this is a high quality production and the reader most definitely gets their money's worth. There is so much here to enjoy and you just can't help but love Disney for producing these comics.
"Case of the Vanishing Coats" with Mickey and Donald is a small-scale mystery, fun, but with suspense. Donald is a less developed character than he became with Carl Barks, but I turn to this story more often than to the more sophisticated Phantom Blot.
"Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum" is one of Gottfredson's real classics. It's a star turn for Horace Horsecollar, and for my money Gottfredson never did anything funnier.
The rest of the book is good, but these two stories are the best, and worth the price by themselves. Note too: this book is well-made. Three of these stories are featured in Another Rainbow's Gottfredson book of 20 years ago, but the limited edition is far too pricey and the trade edition has a weak and fragile binding. This Fantagraphics volume is much better made and will stand the test of time.
No one ever did Mickey like Gottfredson, and Gottfredson's best Sundays are here.
I also came to learn that the great Mickey Mouse adventure stories by Gottfredson were actually reprints of the daily and Sunday Mickey Mouse comic strips. But what was frustrating, was that while Carl Barks materials were reprinted completely several times (and now are again being reprinted by Fantagraphics), no one had done a comprehensive reprint of Gottfredson's work. Until now.
This then is the first of what should be about 15 or so volumes reprinting all the dailies (and now also Sunday) Mickey Mouse adventure strips by Gottfredson. While he worked on the strip for several decades, I believe they will only go from 1930 to 1955, when the adventure stories ended in favor of gag-a-day strips (per editorial decree). And he also only worked on the Sunday strip for about 5 years. So with about 2 years per daily volume, there should be 12 volumes of dailies and 2 of Sundays.
Each volume will follow the same basic format. A great introductory essay or two that gives info on the strip and the current set of stories. Then the stories, broken up into distinct storylines with some introductory info on each. Then followed up by a variety of extras: info on the reprinting of the stories (reprinting some of the covers of these collections), info on the major secondary characters, other background info, and sometimes bonus material in the form of stuff like sequels done oversees and never seen in the US!
Volume 1 has about 2 years of dailies. The stories are:
"Mickey Mouse in Death Valley", in which Mickey and Minnie travel to Death Valley to find a gold mind left to Minnie by her uncle Mortimer Mouse. Clarebelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar are minor characters at the beginning. Introduced are 2 villains who will plague Mickey for a while: the crooked lawyer Sylvester Shyster and his henchmen Pegleg Pete. Helping Mickey and Minnie is the mysterious Fox, not helping them is a gullible Sheriff. This story gets us off to a good start.
"Mr Slicker and the Egg Robbers" has Mickey building a miniature golf course and dealing with a raft of thefts where he has to solve the mystery. He gains a friend in tough-guy Butch, and helps foil the marriage between Minnie and the main villain, Mr. Slicker.
"Mickey Mouse Music", "The Picnic" and "Traffic Troubles" are 'short' stories that brings us to the next main story.
"Mickey Mouse vs Kat Nipp" has Mickey deal with a new enemy, troublemaker Kat Nipp.
"Mickey Mouse, Boxing Champion" & "High Society" first has Mickey being forced to prepare for a fight with a heavy-lightweight champion, Ruffhouse Ratt. Next, his tough-guy pal Butch returns, and Mickey tries to get him into 'high society'.
"Circus Roustabout" & "Pluto the Pup" has Mickey joining the circus and we get an introduction of Mickey's longtime pal Pluto!
"Mickey Mouse and the Ransom Plot" has Mickey and the gang (Minnie, Clarabelle, Horace, and Pluto) on a camping trip and dealing with an old gypsy woman and kidnappers!
"Fireman Mickey" & "Clarabelle's Boarding House" has Mickey as a volunteer firefighter and hi jinx at Clarabeller's boarding house.
We see Mickey as a character develop in these early strips. Is he a kid or a young adult? Its not clear. We go back and from between adventure strips (with some danger) and more humorous stuff as Gottfredson gets more comfortable with the strip (this will further develop). As part of this development, Mickey will also take on different jobs (circus roustabout and firefighter in this one). We will also see development in the other characters in the strip. These secondary characters came from the animated shorts, and due to the changes in those shorts, some characters will come and go from strip to reflect this.
Bonus material is great.
We actually get the beginning of the Mickey daily strip by Walt & Ub Iwerks before Gottfredson took over, in the "Lost on a Desert Island". This story was hard to get because of the non-PC depictions of natives.
We have a variety of other materials, such as case articles on Mickey & Minnie as well as Butch and Pluto.
All together a great collection, and I look forward to the next volumes.