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 the cancellation of the surprisingly strange and sophisticated Star vs. the Forces of Evil, with a sidebar on the (unfinished) comic series.

In spite of supposedly being the fifth most-watched children's program (according to Parrot Analytics via Yahoo),  Disney’s Star vs. the Forces of Evil is ending with Season 4, according to TV Line.  This puts into some kind of context the fact that the announced Star Butterfly balloonicle (Macy's term for a balloon-based vehicle) didn’t appear in last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - Unlikely Comics Match-Ups, And Thanksgiving Balloons").  I have no idea how much it costs to sponsor a balloonicle, but a new Macy’s balloon runs around $190,000 (including the parade fee) while a new float can range between $30,000 and $100,000.  So it’s understandable Disney didn’t want to spend that kind of money to promote a series that would be ending in a couple of months,

Not renewing a program this popular seems like they’re giving the property a premature burial, but then, Disney rarely gives a (non-preschool) TV series a fourth season (which naturally is known among Disney fans as “the 4th Season Rule”).  Disney undoubtedly does this for economic reasons; I have no idea what they are, but I would imagine it has something to do with metrics and merchandising* revenues. And the fact a series is no longer in production needn't have anything to do with its popularity; Disney’s Gravity Falls which ended in 2016 after two seasons, is #6 on the same Most Popular Kids Shows In America list.

The series will be missed by me though.  Like Steven Universe, Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil started out as a simple 11-minute monster-of-the-week comedy, and like SU, SVTFOE got stranger and more sophisticated as it went along and frequently featured groundbreaking content. In 2017 the episode "Just Friends" featured the first animated gay kiss on Disney (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - Toys R Steve").  And in "Princess Turdina," Star's best friend Marco went undercover at a school for princesses where he discovered that he was perfectly comfortable wearing a poofy purple gown (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - An Unexpected Princess").

Both episodes received a great deal of media attention.  In comparison, there’s “Ransomgram” from this season where Star (who has a boyfriend) looked appreciatively at a warrior queen character with flushed cheeks and pink, purple and blue rainbows (the colors of the bisexual flag which I’ll confess I didn’t know was a thing until I started writing this) reflected in her eyes.   And while this received a lot of positive reactions on social media, in the news media it only generated exactly one actual headline, in the UK’s Pink News; Star vs. the Forces of Evil’s main character is bisexual, say Disney fans,  And they were to do all this in a way that avoided alienating parents and staying accessible to its intended core audience; kids 6-11.

But equally interesting to me was how often the series subverted genre expectations and did the unexpected. When the series began, Star fought the monster army of a comic villain who coveted her magic wand and spell book.  But in short order, we learn the comic villain was the victim of abuse and that Star didn't need either item to do magic.  She also became an advocate for monsters’ rights in her kingdom after learning her kingdom was built on land stolen from them.  Then after finding that she had no legitimate claim to it, Star restores the rightful ruler to the throne.  Who immediately turns the kingdom over to the mistreated monsters, leaving the humans homeless.  You would think someone somewhere would have objections to a kids cartoon about a magical princess being a fantasy allegory about racism, colonialism, and reparations.  But apparently not.

Among all the other things Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil is, it’s an object lesson in the foolishness of segregating entertainment by gender.  It’s a series which does equally well with both girls and boys, primarily due to the strength of its two wholly relatable protagonists.  None of its characters are ever entirely good or bad and this is especially true of Star, who is far more complicated and conflicted than your average Magical or Disney Princess.  And the same goes for Marco, an action hero riddled with insecurities and self-esteem issues (for a while I believed he was clinically depressed but I’ve come around to thinking it’s far more likely an undiagnosed anxiety disorder) that’s primarily motivated by kindness and caring.

So while I’m sad to see SVTFOE go, I realize it can never really be “gone,” as it is after all a Disney property.  Now that the Fox has finally merged with Disney they’ll be preoccupied with all of the new properties they have to exploit; like the 15 major movie franchises that Disney owns after buying Fox, from 'Avatar' to 'X-Men.'  But it’s  pretty safe to assume over time it will be increasingly appreciated, and in a decade or so it will have some sort of revival, and I want to be there to see it.

* Also like Steven Universe, in spite of a fervid fanbase Star Vs. The Forces of Evil has had a fairly meager line of merchandise, especially when compared to Star's Made-For-TV Princess stablemate Sofia the First.  But there have been some comic books.  Back in 2017 four issues of Disney Star vs. The Forces of Evil Deep Trouble were published by Joe Books.  Written by Zach Marcus, who was a storyboard artist on the animated series, and illustrated by character designer Devin Taylor, as you might imagine their work came quite close to the source material.  Deep Trouble was intended as an eight-issue series but it was canceled after the fourth issue in 2018 due to low sales, though Disney Star vs. The Forces of Evil: Comics Collection: Deep Trouble was published later that year.  According to an online source, the remaining issues were completed, so it certainly would be swell if Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing or even Marvel Comics would finally put them into print.

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