Friday, October 29, 2010

Four Color Friday: Halloween 1943

What might your average kid have been reading in late October of 1943?  Quite possibly Walt Comics and Stories #38.  Though the cover distinctly carried a Halloween theme (with Donald Duck falling victim once again to the antics of his nephews), surprisingly, none of the interior comics stories tied into the autumn holiday.

The lead story featured Donald Duck squaring off with his nemesis Neighbor Jones in the Carl Barks 10-page classic "Good Neighbors."  A hidden gem of the issue is a two-page Gremlin Gus tale written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, entitled "Gremlin Gus and the Widgets."  Another interesting inclusion was a two-page text-story that adapted the 1944 Donald Duck cartoon Commando Duck.  The story's publication predated the release of the cartoon by over seven months, and its single illustration was absent the extreme caricatures of Japanese soldiers that kept the short in the vault for over half a century.

Hollywood Chatter by Minnie Mouse was a regular text feature of the early years of Walt Disney Comics and Stories and typically featured snippets about juvenile performers and the children of famous movie stars.  One notable and certainly ironic tidbit from this issue's column:

"Mickey and I have been having a lot of fun lately, going to parties. One of the best was the party which Joan Crawford gave to celebrate the fourth birthday of her little daughter, Christina. Twenty children were invited and we certainly had fun. We played all kinds of games in the garden and house and there were two ponies for us to ride. When it was Mickey's turn for a ride, he fell off the pony and landed plop!—in a mud puddle. Little Christina rushed to him and tried to wash his face with her tiny handkerchief."

"Little Christina" would famously demonize her mother some thirty-five years later with the publication of her tell-all biography Mommie Dearest.  One wonders if Mickey and Minnie heard shouts of "No wire hangers!" emanating from the Crawford home that day.

The editors did not abandon trick or treating altogether in Walt Disney Comics and Stories #38.  The issue did feature a number of Halloween activity pages and a four-page text-based story entitled "Goofy's Halloween."  Readers were treated to "Donald Duck's Halloween Costume," a cut-out paper doll activity (where Donald is essentially cross-dressing as a witch):

And "Walt Disney's Place Cards for Your Halloween Party" (Ready to Cut Out and Use).

Finally, not forgetting that during the fall of 1943, World War II was raging across the globe, the issue featured a "Do You Know Who Owns These Shoes?" contest that prominently presented War Bonds and War Stamps as the prizes.