Silly Symphonies Vol 1: 1932-1935

Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935

This first of four volumes presents all the strips featuring Bucky Bug, the first Disney character to be originated in newspaper comics, as well as adaptations of several popular Silly Symphonies cartoons, such as The Wise Little Hen (introducing Donald Duck!), The Tortoise and the Hare, Peculiar Penguins, Birds in the Spring, The Robber Kitten, and The Cookie Carnival…plus the “Mickey Mouse Movies” bonus toppers!

Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 1
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 2
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 3

It’s hard for me to express in words how much I enjoyed this book. The strips were all done in-house at Disney Studios, written in rhyme and illustrated by animators. They’re clever, fun, and an all-ages delight. A very clear reminder of why Disney was the preeminent source of all-ages entertainment.

A little more than half the book follows the adventures of Bucky Bug, from birth through his leaving home, joining Bo the tramp, settling in Junkville, becoming a general and fighting off an invasion, finding his parents, journeying to Mother Goose Land, and finally getting married and honeymooning. All in all nine stories follow Bucky on his adventures, who always has a positive attitude and tackles adversity with pluck.

The rest of the book is broken into six individual stories that feature a wide cast of characters, and a one-pager fits Mickey and Pluto into the strip to explain a few things. These stories provide fun characters, bright colours, and good morals whenever possible. We’re also introduced to Donald Duck with very yellow feathers and none of his speech issues.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the rhyming text, moving me through each panel and trying to get the cadence of each strip. Earl Duvall and then Ted Osborne worked hard to keep it going and their skill shows.

The art begins with Earl Duvall and Al Taliaferro for the first four stories and then it’s all Taliaferro the rest of the way. I couldn’t see any difference so perhaps Duvall was only providing layouts or breakdowns? Either way, every page screams classic Disney. Background details varied based on the scene, but the characters are always front and center.

Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 4
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 5
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 6

Quite a few of the strips feature an activity that readers could cut out. The largest and most prominent are the Mickey Mouse Movies, which were introduced by that one-pager of Mickey mentioned earlier. I was sorely tempted to make a colour copy of one of them and try it out. Maybe later…

The design is bright and bold, but some choices I find odd. Using a pixelated image for the cover, when that is the one place you want your best image. A mixture of colours for the endpapers, cover, and chapter breaks that don’t seem to go together. Also the very large white margins on the page. I’m guessing the size of the book was chosen to match the other Disney books in the Library Of American Comics, but they’re only using two-thirds of the page. The page size is probably a factor in the price of $49.99 USD for one of the smallest LOAC page counts at 192 pages. I appreciate the table of contents and the page numbers with dates along the bottom center of every page, but page numbers in the table of contents are missed.

Production is excellent: a hardcover with sewn binding of medium weight glossy paper. The scan quality of the strips is excellent and the colour has been recreated based on originals from the Disney Archives. The book has a dust jacket featuring the exact same artwork as printed on the front and back covers. And as always I must call out the silk ribbon for its wonderful utility!

Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 7
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 8
Silly Symphonies Vol 1 1932 1935 interior 9

The strip starts as Silly Symphonies in 1933 but switches to Silly Symphony on February 18, 1934. Will have to wait until I get into Volume 2 to see if it switches back. There was no title in the colophon so I went with the cover.

The introduction and chapter breaks spend a lot of ink tieing these strips to the animated features of the same name and listing the differences, and that is a great touch for fans of the animation, but I would have liked more focus on the strips themselves and the creators involved. There is excellent information about the strips and their creators, but l would have liked this ancillary material to focus on the strips and not be concerned with comparisons to the animated features. It’s nicely illustrated and features some great movie posters and book covers.

Demand for this out-of-print volume is strong and there is little hope in a reprint as I believe LOAC no longer has the rights. Keep your eyes peeled for any possible bargains, especially eBay.