It’s a little tough to give a proper review of Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales Volume 3. It isn’t your average omnibus or anthology collection. Long before Marvel and Disney tied the knot, Disney had a line of comics in morning newspapers. Based on various properties ranging from iconic Mickey Mouse stories to adaptations of films like Big Red, Disney comics are an old and varied lot. As a fan of older Disney properties, I picked up Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales Volume 3 with a lot of excitement.
This collection is comprised of comic strips that appeared in Sunday morning newspapers in the ’50s and ’60s. Each comic strip is based on a different Disney film of the era. The comics feature classic films like 101 Dalmatians, The Parent Trap, and Swiss Family Robinson, but if you’re more of a casual Disney fan, you’ll probably be left scratching your head at names like Darby O’Gill and The Little People.
In the 1950s and ’60s, home video had yet to take off, so it was a rare feat to see a film after it left theatres. For most people, reading these newspaper adaptations was the only way to relive their favorite film. I mention all of this because it’s important to remember the context in which these stories came out.
There isn’t much in the way of original content for the stories; they mostly just retell whatever happened in the film. There are a few changes to the plots here and there, but that’s about it. That being said, well, they’re classics for a reason. The stories, for the most part, maintain a high level of quality. That quality, however, does fluctuates a bit; some of the stories, like Darby O’Gill and The Little People, are a ton of fun, while others, like Toby Tyler, kept my interest while reading but quickly faded from my memory.
Additionally, some parts of these stories have definitely aged poorly; any accent that isn’t American is portrayed as wildly over the top, and gender roles are strictly defined. All that being said, the original themes still ring true, even with a few wrinkles, and I had a great time while I read.
As for the artwork, it’s about the highest quality you’ll find from the ’50s and ’60s. Characters are very nicely detailed, and designs are colorful and fun. The artwork isn’t as nuanced or visually complex as what you’ll find nowadays; backgrounds, in particular, feel a bit scarce sometimes, but if you can appreciate the artwork for the time period, it comes from it holds up pretty well. The natural landscapes in the stories Kidnapped and Nikki, Wild Dog of the North, in particular, look great.
One particularly nice part of the collection that separates it from your standard omnibus is the introduction that opens each issue. The introduction gives a little history and context to the story you’re about to read, giving you a peek into the time period in which the comic book was created. When you’re reading stories that can be 40 or 50 years old, that context can make all the difference.
Walt Disney’s Treasury of Classic Tales Volume 3 feels like it is striving to preserve a part of history. Because of that, it’s an odd duck to try and classify as recommended or not. If you’re looking for something fresh and different, or something action packed, you won’t find it here. This book is like a look back at a time period now long gone; while reading it, you immerse yourself in the art and sensibilities of the time. That being said, the stories contained within, despite being adaptations of films, have a life of their own and make for compelling reads. It’s not a clear cut answer, but if you have a love for old comics or old films, especially of the Disney variety, this book is an invaluable resource.
Creative Team: Frank Reilly (Writer), Jesse Marsh (Artist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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