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Mickey made his first comic strip appearance on January 13, 1930. The comical plot was credited to Walt Disney himself, art to Ub Iwerks and inking to Win Smith. The first week or so of the strip featured a loose adaptation of Plane Crazy. Minnie soon became the first addition to the cast. The strips first released between January 13, 1930 and March 31 1930 have been occasionally reprinted in comic book form under the collective title "Lost on a Desert Island". Animation historian Jim Korkis notes "After the eighteenth strips, Iwerks left and his inker, Win Smith, continued drawing the gag-a-day format..."
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse is a title of comic book series that has a long running international history. In the United States they emphasize stories with Mickey and his supporting cast: Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse. Mickey's perpetual rival was the criminal Black Pete. Other adversaries have included Emil Eagle, Eli Squinch, Sylvester Shyster, Dangerous Dan McBoo & Idjit and the Phantom Blot. Two major artistic influences on the appearance of Mickey in comics are Floyd Gottfredson who drew the Mickey Mouse daily newspaper strip from 1930 to 1975 and comic book artist Paul Murry who drew Mickey stories from 1950 to 1984.
By the mid 1930s original Mickey comic book stories were being produced in Italy and the United Kingdom for local consumption. The third Mickey Mouse Magazine series (1935-1940) pioneered publishing Mickey comic book stories in the United States. These were Gottfredson's daily strips re-formatted and colored for serialized comic book publication.*Floyd Gottfredson Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse in Color, Pantheon Books 1988* The Gottfredson serials continued in the successor title, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (WDC&S). In the 1940s Mickey's adventures also appeared in a series of Four Color Dell Comics one-shots. Eventually a regular series was begun that lasted through the early 1980s.
Although magazines called Mickey Mouse were available in many countries, they often were less like the American title and more resembled WDC&S, acting as the flagship Disney title for its circulation area and thus containing stories of all the major Disney characters as a function of its anthology format.
The American Mickey title experienced changes in artists, publishers, length, cost, and printing quality over the years. A unique experiment deviating from the norm occurred in 1966. Inspired by the James Bond spy mania of the period for three issues (#107-109) the comic was titled "Mickey Mouse, Super Secret Agent" with stories of Mickey and Goofy becoming international spies and interacting with human characters in realistic settings. While Mickey and Goofy were drawn in the usual "cartoony" style by Paul Murry the other characters and backgrounds were done by Dan Spiegle in a realistic manner. Comic book historian Michael Barrier dubbed it an aesthetic failure in a contemporary review and its quick discontinuance by the publisher indicates they also were not satiisfied with the result.
By the 1970s contents of the Mickey title mostly consisted of the reprinting of earlier stories, sometimes from Walt Disney's Comics and Stories or other Disney publications. The average paid circulation between September 1969 and September 1970, when the comic was published six times a year, and cost 15 cents, was 223,396. Whereas in 1960 the figure stood at 568,803.
Gladstone Publishing assumed publication by 1986, still publishing reprints, but which were recolored, taking advantage of more modern inking and printing techniques. Stories from foreign Walt Disney comic books were also translated. Issues included a description of the source of each story, and gave credit to the writers and artists by name — which had not been done previously. Letters to the editor often provided other story background. Although the circulation of Mickey Mouse Magazine had been going down for years, especially compared to Uncle Scrooge, in 1987 Gladstone said it had become their top selling title.*Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Issue No. 222, January 1987* Even so, in late 1987 Gladstone announced they were cutting all their publications back to eight issues per year (because comics sell less well in fall and winter).*Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Issue No. 232, November 1987* The cover price went from 75 cents to 95 cents in 1987 (roughly $1.25 to $1.60 in 2007 dollars).
In 2003 Gemstone Publishing began publishing the Mickey Mouse Adventures magazine, announcing that was the first "Disney controlled" comic publication in Disney comics' 55 year history that was not licensed to other publishers such as Dell, Gold Key and Gladstone.*Mickey Mouse Adventures Issue No. 1, June 1990* The paper and printing were high quality, and the cost was $1.50 (about $1.70 in 2007 dollars). Similar to Gladstone's practice the only advertising was for their own Disney products. However, as of 2008 they had stopped printing Mickey Mouse Adventures and Mickey Mouse and Friends, leaving WDC&S as the only outlet for Mickey Mouse comic book stories in the United States.
- Dell Comics Four Color one-shots, regular series launched with #28 (Jan. 1953).
- Gold Key Comics
- Gladstone Publishing
- Gemstone Publishing, starting 2003