Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tales From The Quarter Bin--Mickey And The Uncanny Valley

The Quarter Bin is often terribly educational, enlightening us to forgotten bits of comic book history. For example:

The top brass at the secret headquarters of PI (Police International) or a bit depressed, because they're not keeping up with the vast amount of crime out there:


It turns out, he wasn't kidding:

Yes, welcome to the oddest period in Mickey Mouse's long history:

New art and new adventures, indeed!

For a brief time in 1966, Mickey and Goofy became secret agents, working for an U.N.C.L.E.-like organization, fighting crime and taking down spies.

First, they get blind-folded and taken to the top secret HQ...

...and they're given a job as crack agents!!

And they're given combat training, and gadgets, and the whole James Bond shtick!

Now, as you look at this artwork, your brain is probably screaming at you how wrong this all is...

All of the art is by Dan Spiegle--the figures, the backgrounds, everything--except Mickey and Goofy, who are drawn by Paul Murry.

I can't tell which came first--Spiegle drew the panel, leaving room for Mickey and Goofy, who were added in later, or vice versa--but it clearly creates some occasional problems with perspective and composition:

There's also the theory of the "uncanny valley," which posits that when something that looks close to, but not quite, human--like a robot, or computer animation--people brains start to scream at them there is something wrong, creating an odd feeling of revulsion and eeriness (Polar Express, I am looking at you!!).

For me, at least, something similar seems to be going on here. The juxtaposition of the "realistic" people and the funny animals--particularly in a realistic environment--is causing my mind to do somersaults to process what's going on. Or maybe it's just me...

Also, these were not funny animal stories. These were straight spy stories--in the heightened reality of James Bond, to be sure, but with one foot firmly planted in the "real" world. No other talking animals, no cartoon world physics, no getting hit on the head with an anvil and surviving. Heck, in a kiddie comic, we even had "real" humans chasing Mickey, firing real bullets at him!

Odd, odd stuff!

This apparent attempt to cash in on the secret agent craze of the mid-60s continued for a couple of more issues...

...but after the third issue, it was back to standard Disney funny animal hijinks...

...and the attempts to put Mick and the Goofster into the "real" world with "real" art were soon forgotten.

Forgotten until the Quarter Bin coughed up this little piece of history, that is!!


SallyP said...

Well...my mind is officially blown.

Prof. Chronotis said...

Is "Mystery at Misty Gorge" the one where they're looking for King Solomon's mines? I had that one as a kid and thought it was the weirdest damn thing I ever saw. But I still enjoyed it! I feel like I remember the steampunky multiple-lens thing, but maybe I'm remembering it from the CAPTAIN MARVEL movie serial. 8)

mjc said...

Mad Magazine did this in one of its first issues. They had Mickey and Donald in the REAL world - actual photographs. It ended (spoiler alert!) with Donald letting Mickey die (or get lost in a jungle - my memory of important matters like these is fading) because Donald was jealous of Mickey's greater success and popularity.