Let’s Read Disney Adventures, November 1990!

Disney Adventures magazine was the brainchild of Walt Disney Company executive Michael Lynton, launched in part to promote the Disney Afternoon programming block that was an instant fixture of the childhoods of countless 90s kids. While the feature content of the magazine was always Disney-oriented, the magazine also had articles on pop culture, sports, technology, science and more. A central feature of every issue was the “Big Adventure”, which would be a one-on-one interview with an expert in anything from space exploration to vikings to wilderness survival. The magazine was also well known for its high-quality comics of both Disney and non-Disney properties, including a short but memorable run of Jeff Smith’s Bone comics. The magazine was a hit through the 1990s, and at its peak reached a circulation of one million readers. The magazine really hit its stride around 1992, when Disney was on the red hot streak of seemingly endless instant classic animated feature films to milk for content. Sadly, by the time it finally died a slow and agonizingly drawn-out death in 2007, it had dwindled to a quarter of its original size and content.

This magazine is small, about the size of Reader’s Digest or TV Guide, with an ungainly length of about 130 pages. That makes for a very tightly bound publication, making it rather difficult to lay flat for photographing – so, pardon the occasional intrusion of the secret tools of the archivist’s trade (pen clips, expertly manicured fingernails) that may show up in the corners of these pictures.

Rick Moranis, as some observed in the comments last week, is not a natural at pretending that there are cartoon creatures around him in a photograph. You will see more evidence of that to come. This was dated for November but launched in October, hence the Halloweeny cartoon bats and the presence of Baloo from TailSpin, which had premiered a few weeks earlier.

Some classic early 90s graphics, which are on every page of this magazine, and a strong hint of the EXTREME advertising craze to come in the next few years.

Wow, those certainly are some pulse-pounding graphics of…solid-color angled planes.

Comic book people will recognize Comics Editor Marv Wolfman among the editorial staff listing, who created Blade among other big comic titles.

“Let’s just put an unused variant of our package advertising in the background next to a picture of the package and call it a day!”

Graphics and layout speaking, this whole magazine is an overly cluttered eyesore – but goodness knows, no other magazine looked like this or has looked like it since, and it worked 100% for kids who were already getting their senses pummeled by Nickelodeon and other standouts of the neon-splattered early 90s. There was so much care put into this magazine to appeal specifically to kids in a way that felt uniquely specialized for them. I love that their content sections aren’t “Tech” “Feature Interview” and “Reader Mail”, but “Cyber” and “Street” and “Zip Code”. I also love the whole “passport to adventure” theme with the stamps and map – which runs parallel to a top border graphic of cowboys on horses. This table of contents is both wonderfully ambitious and infuriating at the same time.

I wrote so many letters to this magazine in the hope of getting something published. Every time, I would be sent a postcard with Marsupilami and a cheerful “apology” that they had “so many letters, they just couldn’t print them all!” and I would be salty as hell about it because if Michelle McCullough up there can get her stupid paragraph about recycling cans printed, why couldn’t I?

I don’t know if I could handle both Ice Capades AND the Harlem Globetrotters in one show. I wonder if the Globetrotters played basketball on skates?

I’m not sure what the message is here…

One Good Cop, starring Michael Keaton of Batman and “crazy ghost” fame, was a moderate hit and instantly forgotten. Even the trailer looks boring as hell:

Of the three actresses cast for the girls, only Grace Johnston has any recent acting credits, notably among them The Halloween Store Zombie Wedding Movie.

You too can bring home the Disney animated classic Awesome Adventure! For only the equivalent of nearly $50 in today’s money! OUCH!

“Hey Rick! Pose like you’re hugging an imaginary dolphin! Hey Rick! Balance a stack of cartoon mugs on your face! Hey Rick! Pretend to clean some blinds! Perfect! Hold it there! And beautiful!”

The sharpness and conciseness of his answers make him sound like he’s impatiently trying to make the interview as short as possible, but I suspect that the interview was just edited down from a longer conversation so that it wouldn’t lose the attention of the kids reading it.

Given what we now know about orcas in captivity, Shamu is totally obsessed with the thought of eating those children.

An informal Day Thread reader’s poll revealed that when asked if they recognize the name “Tevin Campbell”, half of the responses were lyrics cited verbatim and the other half were snarky responses about Neve Campbell and soup. So, I’m going to wager that even though they’re making him out to be the next Prince, that was a little ambitious as to his actual legacy. Sorry Tev.

Wow, look, famous white people are wearing baseball caps like famous black people have been doing for the last five years! Poppin’!

I love that everything mentioned on this page went on to be so successful that all of the titles and people are still immediately recognizable from mention almost thirty years later…except for that One Good Cop movie. You tried, Disney, you really did.

Oh, children…alienation is more than just a costume, it’s a state of being (I know it was a TV show). And what’s wrong with bringing a pizza with you if you’re dressed as a ninja turtle? Sounds like a party!

I remember this survey would pop up every few months, likely in a time period remarkably close to the end of the fiscal quarter. I always filled these out but never bothered to send them in. The “small gift” was probably just a postcard with Marsupilami on it anyway, and I had PLENTY of those.

…no, I’m not still salty or anything.

From a Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers comic. Every comic in this issue was a hefty 8-14 pages long, so I can only give you a taste of what they were like. True to what I remember, the art and writing quality of these comics were better then they had any right to be for a children’s magazine.

Dammit. I really need to know if he does!

A full year’s magazine subscription cost significantly less than a VHS tape. That’s hard to wrap my head around.

Gotta love that unmistakable “ugly flat primary color” art aesthetic.

From a feature on the history of cowboys. Shout-out to both libraries and Riders in the Sky, who are The Best.

Side-eye at “old Eskimo medicine man”, which is probably exoticizing the hell out of “local veterinarian”, but it’s a cool story nonetheless.

From a TaleSpin comic in which Baloo takes Rebecca out on a date to Louie’s roughneck pilot’s bar and many punches are thrown. I never really warmed up to Rebecca as a character, but anyone who’s that cool with drowning the creep who stole her necklace wins some points with me.

Only douchebag kids with rich parents owned stuff like this.

Doing followup research on The Jaminator led to the discovery of this very perplexing website, which I think was last updated in 1998.

Magica was the best, wasn’t she? This story was written by Bob Langhans, who would go on to write some of the most famous Ducktales comics.

The best thing about those Zwirl footballs is that they would soak up all the rain if left out in the yard overnight, which made it extra fun to throw at someone and nail them right between the shoulder blades like a heavy, cold, sopping-wet rag.

I had the Baloo one and the Molly one. They were actually made of out die-cast metal with plastic moving and figurine parts, and they were not very effective at flying, but boy did they hurt when you and your siblings threw them at each other.

Yes, CDs at one point often came in long cardboard boxes – sometimes with a jewel case inside, sometimes with slots to hold multiple discs. These looked very fancy in stores and made for a harder attempt at shoplifting, but people really hated them because they were ugly and hard to organize and overall pretty wasteful.

From a Roger Rabbit comic in which he decides to have a nervous breakdown over his racist presumptions against his new neighbor as a means to put off doing housework. Like you do. I love that these comics are written for kids without insulting their intelligence. Roger is allowed to be overly verbose and the average kid will probably understand less than half of his dialogue, but the action and expressiveness of the comic is plenty enough for the kids to follow along and enjoy it.

Looks like they remembered to include the title this time!

Prior to this week, I didn’t realize that the cat in Toei’s logo was this character from their Puss In Boots cartoon, which was released in 1969 and apparently got a video game adaptation two decades later. I also didn’t realize that this was an ad for a video game until I saw the Nintendo seal in the corner, probably because other than the seal there’s barely any indication that this isn’t for something on VHS. A few screenshots go a long way, Toei!

Then again, if you can’t make an ad without shoving all of the copy into painfully narrow columns that cause constant line breaks, maybe Toei was on to something.

And finally, the back cover, which pays tribute to the best totally non-canon animated Jungle Book spinoff that takes place in an alternate dieselpunk universe where  Baloo the bear fights off airship pirates!

Thanks for reading another week with me! Next week we’re going back to the 60s to read Teen Set from September 1967, featuring the DREAMY Davey Jones!