Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at lost opportunities to promote comics by Disney and Marvel.

Given that it's the most successful animated movie in history (at last check it had grossed $1.27 billion worldwide, making it the 5th highest grossing movie of any kind) you would think a sequel to Disney's Frozen would be a stone cold gimme.  One of the downsides to our current state of super-capitalism is when there's the potential for even "only" half that money (sequels historically only earn roughly half of the original), things like that usually happen more or less automatically.  The trouble being nobody ever seems to ask the obvious question: would doing it be such a good idea?  For example, I'm sure that if you downsized every single shopping mall Santa in America and replaced them with an immersive animated thrill-ride hosted by the ogre Shrek (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--What Do You Do When You're Branded?*"), you could make an enormous amount of money.  You could, but anyone with a heartbeat would tell you that you really, really shouldn't.  So the fact that Disney has held off from doing this shows an amount of corporate restraint that’s almost admirable.  Sure, Anna and Elsa will appear on the ABC series Once Upon A Time, and there will almost certainly be a Broadway musical, ala The Lion King. 

"Zodiac"
But, I have to ask, where are the Frozen comics?  Given that Disney Worldwide Publishing appears resolute in their disinterest in publishing comics in North America, other than in the pages of their glossy children's magazines (and the Disney Fairies graphic novels from Papercutz), the question is, of course, more or less rhetorical.  DWP did have a presence at Comic-Con though, something I only learned after the fact (and through some vigorous online investigation).  They promoted Star Wars and Marvel products and gave away signed posters for Zodiac, a novel written by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore and illustrated by Andre Tong, something which according to its listing on Amazon isn't even coming out until January 2015.  For the record it doesn’t feature the criminal organization with the astrologically themed costumes that Lee created for Marvel back in the 60s.  Instead it concerns young Steven Lee (gee, that name seems strangely familiar for some reason), who has to "master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac."

But once again this year there were no Comic-Con announcements concerning comics featuring Disney characters, classic or otherwise, for either kids or the collectors market.  Which I suppose is understandable, given just how small the current American market for those comics must seem to DWP.  At this point they've clearly crunched the numbers and decided that publishing comics on a regular basis, in print or even online, just isn't worth their while.  But there doesn't even appear to be a Frozen manga, at least not a sanctioned one, which given the near mania the Japanese have for the film seems to be the very definition of "leaving money on the table."

But there will be Frozen books from Random House according to a piece by Leo Su that appeared on the online Motley Fool, "Will Disney's 'Frozen' Book Series Keep the Blockbuster Franchise Alive?"  Of course there's already a Junior Novelization and a Big Little Book but these would be an ongoing series of chapter books like their very successful Never Girls series, a girl-skewing twist on Peter Pan.  A series which, to be painfully candid, I didn't even know existed until I read this piece, but now that I do I can't help but think it the premise would make a grand comic book series for girls.

And since the topic this week is "Where Are the Comics," I have to mention a review of the Marvel Universe LIVE! tour by Dalton Ross which ran in the August 15th edition of  Entertainment Weekly, titled "Marvel Takes America."  The traveling stage show has the Avengers, Spider-Man and Wolverine and an assortment of their villains fighting over the Cosmic Cube.  Though Dalton describes it as featuring "Bruce Banner and Wolverine getting into an argument over who can pop more bitchin' wheelies," "Peter Parker… parkouring all over Iron Man’s lab for no apparent reason," and "Captain America and archnemesis the Red Skull… in an extended remix of a motorcycle stunt show."

The subtitle asks the question "Is it worth the cash--and the headaches?" and along with admitting that the show gave him "a seriously awful migraine," he reviews the merchandising:

"Upon arrival, visitors are met by an army of merchandise-selling soldiers so vast in number and boisterous in spirit they appear to have been trained by HYDRA itself.  They're on hand to make sure all children are properly indoctrinated into the Marvel franchise and all parents are properly liberated of their hard-earned cash.  You name it, they sell it; flashing Spideywebslingers ($25), flashing lanyards ($15), flashing water bottles ($12), flashing Lectro-Links ($25)…"

According to the press release for the show a Lectro-Link  is a "brand new addition to Marvel lore"… "a wearable techinvention by Tony Stark and Peter Parker that provides a remote power source for the Iron Man suit."  But something that wasn't on Dalton's list was comics.  I was prepared to ride my high horse in high dudgeon about the lack of Marvel comics at a Marvel event like this, but then I did a little research and discovered there was in fact a custom Marvel Universe LIVE! comic.  It even serves as a prequel to the show and is written by Frank Teri, drawn by Miguel Sepulveda and has a Mike McKone cover.  The only trouble being as far as I was able to learn it wasn't for sale at the show; it was only available for those who pre-ordered tickets to the show as an exclusive incentive.  Which seems to me like they deprived a lot of kids, ones who most likely had never seen a comic book let alone read one, a chance to own one.  They had a literal captive audience and they let them go because… I don't know, the price break on a comic book wasn't as high as on a flashing Lectro-Link?

I always hesitate spending other people’s money but the Marvel Universe LIVE! also seems like a perfect missed opportunity to give away some comics.  We don't hesitate giving away comics every FCBD and Halloween, but of course we're giving them away to people who already read and love comic books.  Maybe it's time we start giving some away to people who've never read one… like, not that they need any more freebies, the millionaire celebrities who flock to Comic-Con to flog their latest projects.  But then if I could work my will upon the world, and you should all be eternally grateful that I can't, no movie star would be admitted to Comic-Con without first being able to prove they've read at least one comic book in their lives.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.