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DCML: Gladstone

Publisher of Disney comic books in the USA. They first published Disney comic books 1986-1990. In 1990 the Walt Disney Company revoked Gladstone's license and started publishing their own comics instead. In 1993 Gladstone regained the license for the monthly Duck and Mouse comics and published them up to 1999. Maybe they will continue again in the future. Read on!

Their address is Gladstone Publishing, 212 S. Montezuma, Prescott, AZ 86303. They have their own pages on the net.

The First Gladstone Disney Comics (1986-1990)

[By David Gerstein]

In 1986 Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran, Disney fans who had previously published hardback collections of Carl Barks comics and paintings, began to publish the comics themselves under the Gladstone label. Edited by Byron Erickson, the magazines began to give American exposure to European artists like Daan Jippes, Ben Verhagen, Victor Rios, and Daniel Branca as well as reprinting the work of Barks, Gottfredson (for the first time in decades), and Murry. With the advent of Don Rosa - a new artist/writer whose work, published beginning in 1987, picked up quite a head of steam - and the writer-artist team of John Lustig and William Van Horn, American Disney comics were making an excellent comeback. Floyd Gottfredson's Eega Beeva, a character of later newspaper strips whose appearances were never reprinted by Western, first appeared in American comic books at this time.

The revival met a setback when, in 1989, the Disney Company instituted a policy that artists for Gladstone's comics could not have their art returned (a policy that continues today). Instead, the art had to be given to Disney for good. Since Disney comics pay no royalties, much of Don Rosa's livelihood at the time relied on selling the returned art. Now Rosa couldn't afford to work for Gladstone and ended up working out a better deal with Europe's Egmont Publishing. By early 1990, Gladstone had begun to reprint Rosa's foreign stories in America.

Disney Comics, Inc.

1990-1993 Gladstone had no license to publish Disney comics. The story about Disney comics during that time is elsewhere.

The Second Run of Gladstone Disney Comics (1993-1999)

Gladstone changed since losing its 1980s license. It had considerably downsized from 1990 to 1993; Cochran and Erickson had departed (the latter for Europe and Egmont). Bruce Hamilton made the decision that each of Gladstone's now-bimonthly comics was to have a relatively strict format.

At the end they only published Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Their last issues had the cover date February 1999 and were US 318 and WDC 633.

The future

The American Disney comic books may be back soon. Negotiation have been going on for some time now. Here is an open letter sent from Bruce Hamilton to the subscribers in June 1999:

An Important Announcement to Gladstone Comics Subscribers

An Open Letter from Bruce Hamilton

Dear Subscriber:

I'm personally very pleased to tell you that I believe the wait is about over. I have just learned this week that serious and substantive discussions are underway between Stephen A. Geppi of Gemstone Publishing, Inc., Timonium, Maryland and the New York offices of The Walt Disney Company concerning Gemstone's anticipated acquisition of the Disney Comics license. It is also my understanding that in an effort to speed up negotiations and the resumption of subscription fulfillment the two companies, at least in principle, have agreed to exchange Letters of Intent. If this is done quickly and the final commitments are made in June -- as all indicators are pointing that they will -- the chances are excellent that new issues of Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories will ship late this summer.

Steve Geppi, best known as CEO of Diamond Comic Distributors, is probably the only potential publisher who could effect such a rapid relaunch of the Disney line. Former Gladstone editor, John Clark, tells me that two month's worth of books are mostly done and approved and only the processing of color film and the setting of final printing dates remain to be done. John and the Gladstone husband/wife team of production professions, Gary Leach and Susan Daigle-Leach, are conducting dialogues to hopefully resume their respective roles. It is my belief subscribers will be pleased to see no fall-off in the quality of the Disney comic books this team will produce.

Steve Geppi has personally assured me of his commitment to the project and I, in turn, have agreed to help in every way possible to ease the transition. At the head of everyone's list, including Disney's, is concern for the subscribers. As an introductory good will gesture -- in one sense apologizing to Gladstone's customers for all the seemingly interminable delays, and at the same time to thank everyone for their extraordinary patience -- Steve has told me he intends to extend the expiration date of each subscription! We will write you with the full details of the final chapter in this on-going saga very soon! I give you my word.


Bruce Hamilton

And then, in August, the following was sent from John Clark:

Dear Subscriber,

Bruce Hamilton has asked me to jot this note to you since I'm more familiar with the current situation concerning discussions between Stephen A. Geppi of Gemstone Publishing, Inc., and the Walt Disney Company relating to Steve's quest for a new license to publish the Disney comic books in the U.S. and Canada.

Here's the good news: both sides are now negoiating specifics and I believe I'll be writing to you in August that Letters of Intent have, indeed, been exchanged. Should that happen -- and Steve's said he hopes it will -- I'll be sending off the first new issues of Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories for final film and printing, ASAP!

Every subscription with six months or less before expiration will receive a free extra $6.95 comic as a thank you. Every sub with seven months to one year remaining will receive two free extra $6.95 issues! And so on... for those with longer subs!

Gary leach and I plan to announce some exciting new concepts and goals in the new books. We'll all be looking forward to your letters, as before!

A sneak peek to the left of the first cover layout for the first new WDC&S... with the first ever Floyd Gottfredson art!

Be talking to you again, real soon!


That sneak peek is from Mickey and Tanglefoot.

December 13, 1999 Bruce Hamilton sent the following:

Dear Friend,

It seems appropriate to send a final mailing in this millennium to give you our best wishes for the Year 2000 and pass along a gossipy tidbit or two.

Gladstone Comic Book Subscriptions: Everyone I talk to says they don't want their money refunded--they just want the Disney Comic books back. If I have not made this clear before, I want to reemphasize that all subscription monies have been set aside in a special account, so the money is there if, at a future date, after all this time, the continuing negotiations between Diamond and Disney fall apart. Remember, however, Steve Geppi has indicated that all patient subscribers will be given one or more extra, free issues (depending on how many remain) when publishing resumes. Four books have been prepared, are on the shelf, pre-planning done for several others.

Disney has apparently mandated that no specifics of the on-going dialogs may be shared with anyone, obviously including us, so I've not been able to offer help or insights to either side. I learned some time ago, however, that most basic points have been resolved, so the bogging down must involve boilerplate issues. I have heard from other sources that Disney's current approval processes for licensees are so restrictive they now demand controls far beyond what is actually in effect with any existing comic book licensee in the world. Maybe this information is not correct; I certainly hope so. If half is true, however, it would take a herculean effort to put out any regularly scheduled publication. But enough for now. Hold on! It may be, as they say, a bumpy ride.

[ ... ]

Very Sincerely Yours,

(signed) Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton and the Staff

(The whole letter is quoted here.)

Last updated April 23, 2000.

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