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 reviews the recent history of Disney Comics publishers and speculates on whether or not comic readers will see a new line of comics featuring classic Disney characters in the near future.

Two weeks ago (see “Missing The Mouse”), I wrote about how much I wanted to see Disney Comics return to the Direct Sales market, but wanting and expecting are of course two very different things.  Even when I wrote that, I knew the chances of us ever seeing a U.S. publisher picking up the rights to classic Disney titles like Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories again were pretty unlikely.

For one thing, almost every publisher that I can think of has already had their shot at publishing them. Dark Horse would seem like an excellent candidate; until you remember they’ve already published Disney Comics. They started publishing Disney Comics between 1999 and 2004 (comic book adaptations of Disney movies like The Incredibles. Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Monsters, Inc.), and in 2018, they published Incredibles 2 and Frozen comics as well as two Disney Classics graphic novels, Treasure Island featuring Mickey Mouse and Moby Dick starring Donald Duck.

Then, I specifically mentioned Marvel as a possibility, even though they’ve also published Disney Comics twice.  From 1994 to 1996 they published Beauty and the Beast, Gargoyles, Darkwing Duck, Disney Adventures, and  Disney Comic Hits!  And then in 2014, they published the older reader skewing adventure Disney Kingdom comic line that was based on “attractions, characters, and the worlds of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts that exist or almost came to be” that included Seekers Of The Weird, Figment, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Haunted Mansion and Enchanted Tiki Room.

So, is a third attempt even a remote possibility?  On the one hand, it seems inevitable given that Disney owns Marvel, but Marvel has never done particularly well selling comics to younger readers and Disney has shown nearly no interest in combining the brands they own,  with the sole exception of special one-hour crossover episodes of the Disney Channel animated series Phineas & Ferb that gave us 2013’s Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel and 2014’s Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars (see  "The New Generation Of Comic Readers (And What They’re Reading).

And, for the longest time, the idea of Marvel doing licensed books was essentially unthinkable. I certainly never thought I’d ever see them publish them again, but then they were publishing Aliens, Conan the Barbarian, Ultraman, and Warhammer 40,000 comics. I definitely didn’t see Marvel doing an adaptation of Wild Cards (see Marvel To Adapt ‘Wild Cards’ To Comics) even with a “TV adaptation in the works”.

But as I said, I don’t think we’ll be seeing comics featuring the classic Disney characters (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, etc.) anytime in the foreseeable future. One thing about Disney Comics changing publishers so frequently over the last 20 years is it underlines the fact that no one has found a way to make them sell at a sustainable level in the direct sales market. Because despite all our efforts to make comic shops more kid-friendly, there aren’t nearly enough kids coming into our shops.

I still think there’s hope though.  Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek has already confirmed that Encanto will become “an entire franchise” for the Mouse. This likely means piles of merchandise, a sequel, an animated series, and maybe even a Broadway show. All of that will take years to realize, but they could start working on Encanto comics today. But, what if the only place (other than Disney theme parks or online) they were available was comic book shops?  That sure seems like a win-win scenario to me.