COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Walt Disney refused to allow a comic called "Donal Duck's Atom Bomb" to be reprinted.
Reader Eric Henry sent me in the following recently:
I have a potential comic book urban legend for you. I have seen listed in the Overstreet Price Guide a comic book called 'Donald Duck's Atom Bomb' and have heard that Disney will not allow this book to be reprinted (thereby making it a valuable collectible). I was wondering if there is any truth to this story.
There is, indeed, some truth to the story, Eric.
In fact, it's just plain old true, period!
In 1947, Carl Barks wrote and drew a 32-page (done comic strip style, though, so like an 11-page comic book) giveaway comic that was given away with boxes of Cheerios.
The comic depicts Donald Duck's attempts at creating an atom bomb. The comic has, indeed, been banned by Disney from being reprinted as it was originally written. This was confirmed by the good folks at the Bruce Hamilton company. The late Bruce Hamilton published Gemstone comics, which reprinted a good deal of Barks' past comics, and they confirm that Disney would not let the original comic be reprinted, leading the original giveaway (remember, this comic was FREE sixty years ago) to sell for upwards of $1000.
But why can it not be reprinted?
Was there something racist in it?
Heck, did they make unwise statements regarding nuclear power?
Nope, it was that Donald Duck acted "mean" in the comic.
In the comic, the radiation from Donald's atom bomb causes everyone to lose their hair. At the end, a scientist wants Donald to keep working on his bomb. Donald has other ideas.
Here are the last two pages from the comic...
Disney felt that this was too mean of Donald, so banned the comic from being reprinted as originally written. The new version has Donald saying, "No thanks, Professor! I've got more than money in mind!" And the banner at the top of the booth now no longer says the word "Atomic" and now reads: "Free Samples -- Growth Guaranteed!"
Pretty funny, eh?
Thanks for the question, Eric! And thanks to the Bruce Hamilton Company for the information.