Inspired by the designs of Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump with additional credit also given to Disney Imagineers Jim Clark, Brian Crosby, Tom Morris and Josh Shipley, “Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” #1 brings unrealized ideas out of imagination and into comic books in Disney’s first co-branded, Marvel-published adventure, written by Brandon Seifert with art by Karl Moline and inks by Rick Magyar.
A single page of text at the back of the issue reveals that many of the ideas in this comic book were intended to share space with the Haunted Mansion, but Walt Disney himself pulled them aside to be used at a later date in a different attraction. That attraction was supposed to be the Museum of the Weird, but it never materialized in Disney’s lifetime. Those ideas, meanwhile, have been waiting for an outlet and a backstory to power them along, which is provided in “Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” #1.
Seifert frames the story around a fairly typical family named the Keeps: Max and Melody Keep, a nerd and a jock, whose parents own Keep It Weird, a curio store. The Keeps live above the shop in a house fit for the landscape of a Disney park. Seifert’s characterization of the Keeps is harmless enough, fit for a classic “Wonderful World of Disney” movie or a modern-day Disney Channel cult fave. The characters are likeable enough, but the adventure comes when their world is turned upside-down. The Keep parents disappear shortly before Max and Melody (along with the readers) are introduced to their long-lost Uncle Roland.
Karl Moline manages to keep pace with Seifert’s story, drawing up everything from a field hockey practice to ghost guns and shark-eagle beasts. This is truly a collection of oddities, but not overly gory or ghoulish misfits. Moline’s work, smartly inked by Rick Magyar, carries flecks of Mike Wieringo while capably interpreting the sketches of Crump (who makes a cameo appearance to boot!). Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s colors are bold and sassy, playing to a real-world collection of oddities while also setting the world of the Keeps apart from our own. The visual team, working off of Crump’s designs and heavily improvising, do a fine job imagining a world that could very easily reside in the Magic Kingdom between the Haunted Mansion, the Country Bear Jamboree and the Jungle Cruise.
“Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” #1 is packed with the same energy the early CrossGen comic books delivered: effervescent uncertainty in the midst of world-building. Like those first days, there is enough familiarity there in the structure and pacing, the comfortably detailed artwork to invite readers in. With the title “Seekers of the Weird” flying under the banner of “Disney Kingdoms,” this is a fine first offering. While it is unclear if there are many other Kingdoms to be explored in comic book form, this maiden voyage is certainly enjoyable. Seifert, Moline and company give readers enough to spark imagination and inspire us to come back for more.