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Magazine / Disney Adventures

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Rick Moranis and Baloo, together at last!

Disney Adventures was a magazine produced by The Walt Disney Company that ran from 1990 to 2007. If you were a kid in the USA at any point during that 17-year span, you more than likely begged your parents to buy you at least one copy, because each issue featured a popular Disney character or Hollywood celebrity on its front cover.

The magazine basically featured any standard story or article you'd find in, say, Entertainment Weekly, but written in a less formal manner and aimed at kids (there was a period where most of the articles were actually written by kids, for example).

Perhaps the most memorable thing about Disney Adventures, though, were its comics in each issue, which were later consolidated into a single section, the Comics Zone, in 1995. During the early half of the 1990's, the magazine's comics were mainly based on Disney's currently-running animated properties, such as the shows on The Disney Afternoon programming block. Later on, however, the Comics Zone began to expand its horizon to running excerpts of other independent comic books, such as Bone, The Simpsons, Dr. Watchstop, Nervous Rex, and Little Gloomy. Then, in 1997, the magazine ran its first original comic, The Adventures of D & A, which opened the way for more original properties in the Comics Zone.

During the One Saturday Morning era of Disney Television Animation, the Comics Zone gradually shifted its focus away from Disney's new animated television properties (some shows, like the Hercules series and Teacher's Pet ended up getting only one comic, while some like Teamo Supremo never got featured in comic form at all) and instead put it on original comics like Society of Horrors and Jet Pack Pets (although they would still occasionally feature a short comic based on one of the Disney Animated Canon films, particularly if there was a new video release coming for the film in question). From then on, whenever a Disney animated property did get a comic story, it was a rare occasion that the story would be longer than four pages.

The magazine was suddenly canceled in 2007, and ended with the November 2007 issue...two issues after it celebrated its 17th anniversary.

    open/close all folders 
    Notable recurring features 
  • Ask Liz: A column where entertainment editor Liz Smith answered readers' questions about celebrities.
  • Big Adventures: A feature article each month that went into detail on subjects like spies, underwater research, or unexplained mysteries.
  • Card Sharks: A column about sport card collecting and card games.
  • Cool Stuff: A Spiritual Successor to Card Sharks and the DA Wish List, featuring a rundown of toys and gadgets.
  • DA Buzz: A quick rundown of popular media, slang, and fashion.
  • The DA Casebusters: A recurring series about fictional Kid Detectives who solved mysteries, and was one of the few non-comics features to get its own spinoff series of books.
  • DA Wish List: Usually run in the December issue, this features a list of toys, video games, and movies that kids might ask for during the holiday season.
  • ESPN Action: A sports column included after Disney's buyout of the ESPN cable network.
  • Hot Video Game Picks: A column about current video games, including tips on how to defeat enemies and beat the games. Later renamed Techno Mania after the move to New York.
  • Joe Rocket: Master of All Knowledge: A science column by a character named Joe Rocket, who hung out in a treehouse called "the A-ZONE" and wrote about his adventures with his sidekick MC2, brother Blubb, and their friends Chiphead, Dozmo, and Lizzie. Joe also answered reader-submitted science questions.
  • Mr. Adventure: Also called The Adventure Files, this was a first-person column written by senior editor Sean Plottner, where he would participate in jobs like survival training or tree climbing a la Dirty Jobs, as kind of a Spiritual Successor to the earlier Big Adventures feature.
  • Puzzles: Originally called Xoxxox, this section featured simple word and image puzzles, as well as a recurring puzzle called "Eye Poppers/Bogglers" where you would have to guess what an object was based on a zoomed-in photograph.
  • Ticket: The entertainment column talking about upcoming kid-friendly movies, TV shows, comics, and video games. Later renamed Flash.
  • Weird Yet True: A feature containing arcane "Did you know?" trivia nuggets.
  • Zip Code: A column printing readers' letters to the magazine, later renamed Letters and Mailbox.
    Notable original comics and storylines 
    Disney cartoons, films, and TV shows that got featured in comic form in the magazine 

This magazine contained examples of:

  • Briefer Than They Think:
    • The magazine's Burbank production, often seen as its "golden age," lasted just over 4 out of its 17 years, from November 1990 to December 1994.
    • It's often remembered as an annual feature, but overall there were only three issues with the 3D gimmick: November 1992, November 1993, and July 1994.
  • But Now I Must Go: Founding editor Tommi Lewis gave a brief but heartfelt goodbye on the December 1994 "Hello" page, explaining that she wasn't moving to New York with the rest of the magazine's production.
    Tommi: I hope wherever I end up, we'll find each other.
  • Catchphrase: ADVENTURE ON!
    • Joe Rocket's catchphrase was, "Play hard and think deep."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Really, it depended on when you first started reading the magazine. However, the first official issuenote  in particular was quite a bit different than what readers would see throughout the rest of The '90s. For starters, the magazine itself was billed as the "Official Publication of The Disney Afternoon." Zip Code and Ticket had threadbare layouts, there was a technology feature called "Cyber," an action section called "Impulse," and the puzzles section was called "Xoxxox."
  • Elephant in the Living Room: The last issue, November 2007, doesn't outright say it is the last issue, but as discussed here, it certainly implies it with the opening collage of all 201 covers, and in the comics section.
  • Fusion Fic: The April 1993 "Hello" page took the front cover — which featured various Disney characters as Star Trek: The Next Generation characters — and wrote a brief, fanficcy story around it where the Enterprise crew goes to the Magic Kingdom, and Walt Disney transforms them into Disney characters: Riker turns into Launchpad McQuack, Data turns into Pinocchio, Guinan turns into Magica De Spell, Geordi turns into Darkwing Duck, Troi turns into Jessica Rabbit, Worf turns into Beast, Picard turns into Scrooge McDuck, and Dr. Crusher turns into Gadget.note 
  • Intrepid Reporter: Mr. Adventure, aka senior editor Sean Plottner, who wrote a feature each month about a different activity that he got to participate in (i.e. Civil War re-enacting, survivalist training, basic CIA spy techniques).
  • Kid Detective: The DA Casebusters.
  • Never Had Toys: According to an article about Toy Story 2, Al (of Al's Toy Barn) was never allowed to play with toys as a child, which explains why he became a toy collector as an adult.
  • Oddball in the Series: The August 30, 1997 issue completely removes almost all of the magazine's regular features to cover lists of "What's Hot" in entertainment, activities, sports, and so on, leaning heavily into the entertainment focus that would come to dominate Suzanne Harper's time as editor-in-chief. Even the cover itself shies away from the format used by the magazine at the time. The only regular feature in the issue is the Comics Zone, which only runs the debut of The Adventures of D & A and no other regular comics. This is the only time the magazine would attempt this format, although the annual newsstand-only music specials starting in 1999 would come close.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Or at least a version of it. Many of the magazine's classic covers featured celebrities interacting with Disney characters - including, yes, Roger Rabbit.
  • Ship Tease: For several characters on Doug. "The Case of the Missing Journals" from the April 1999 issue, which promoted Doug's First Movie, printed pages from several characters' journals; Doug's has an angsty entry about having crushes on both Patti Mayonnaise and Cassandra Bleem, Connie's talks about her crush on Roger, Skeeter's has a backwards love poem dedicated to Beebe, Beebe's has a word search with her secret crush's name (Skeeter) hidden, and Patti's talks about an unnamed guy she really likes (but her doodle of a maze has Doug as the only solution).
  • The Smart Guy: The eponymous character from the Joe Rocket column, which was discontinued shortly after Tommi Lewis left, was a smart kid who had adventures each month with his friends, and answered science questions sent in by readers.
  • Take a Third Option: For the October 1998 Mailbox page, the editors had asked readers to write in and answer who would win in a fight: Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sabrina the Teenage Witch. One reader response said that Buffy and Sabrina were both good people, probably wouldn't want to fight, and would probably become friends instead.
  • Technopath: One of the finalists in the 1994 Superhero Contest, a female character named Games (described as "The video-game vigilante"), appears to be a technopath based on the reader's drawing.
  • Television Tie-In Magazines: Downplayed as providing tie-in information is not its primary purpose. However, its iconic Comic Zone section reunites short comic stories about Disney's animated productions.
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: For its first few years, the magazine had an annual 3-D issue, complete with a 3-D comic and 3-D ads.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: According to Heidi MacDonald, DA was the brainchild of founding publisher Michael Lynton, who was born in Denmark and came up with the idea of an American version of Disney's Topolino magazine that was popular in Italy.

The Comics Zone contained examples of:

The Legend of the Chaos God, The Adventures of D & A, Gorilla Gorilla, and Comic Zone: Lilo & Stitch each have their own pages.
  • Adaptational Badass: Roxanne from A Goofy Movie. In the movie she was a somewhat shy Satellite Love Interest; in the magazine's comics she rescues Max from a snake, and directly confronts Max's noisy and intimidating neighbor Mr. Kong.
  • Adaptation Distillation: More often than not, the comics based on the TV shows were generally pretty good, but the comic adaptations of the Disney Animated Canon were shoehorned in quite a bit. For example, the "Colors of the Wind" sequence from Pocahontas was reduced to a mere two frames in the DA adaptation.
    • Their ''Donkey Kong 64' comic, in which King K. Rool's Kremling mooks look like miniature versions of K. Lumsy and the storyline bears very little resemblance to the game.
  • Animated Adaptation:
    • Actually, "Animated Adaptation Which Was Already Adapted From Animation". One of the Recess comics, "The Long Hot Recess" from 1998, was slightly re-made into an episode, "The Coolest Heatwave Ever", in 2001. Some elements of the plot were changed.
    • One Pepper Ann comic about Pepper Ann attempting to gain access to her school's teacher's lounge was later adapted into an episode of Recess with TJ's gang attempting to do the same. The Recess episode even had the same twist ending.
  • Band Toon: The Super Music Action Ready Team comics. Every pop music act and boy band from circa 1999 (and we do mean all of them) were made up of superspies.
  • Bowdlerise: When DA reprinted Bone, for example, it changed the beer at the Barrelhaven Tavern into soda, replaced all mentions of God with "Gosh", edited out the dragon's cigars in the second half, removed Thorn's cleavage in one panel, and cut out two scenes entirely.
  • Brick Joke: The final issue featured a sequel to the DuckTales (1987) comic from the first issue.
  • Briefer Than They Think:
    • Heidi's Comic Zone column, one of the more well-remembered features after the magazine's move to New York, was only around from January 1995 to December 1997, just barely under three years.
    • The Adventures of D & A only appeared in three issues, and Luna Park only appeared in two.
  • Captain Ersatz: Nimrod the Rabbit from the Bonkers story "Temple of Doom" is very clearly one for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who Disney still didn't own the rights to at the time.
  • Cross Through: 1994's The Legend of the Chaos God story arc linked the continuities of TaleSpin, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, DuckTales, and Darkwing Duck. The story focused on a god-like dragon sorcerer that was sealed in an ancient jewel trying to free himself by reuniting the jewel with its setting, a golden necklace. The story concluded with the Chaos God being freed and fighting Darkwing Duck.
  • Cut Short:
    • As recounted here, Luna Park was discontinued after Heidi MacDonald's departure; its second and final installment appeared in the May 1999 issue, which was also Heidi's penultimate issue.
    • Kid Blastoff also didn't return to the magazine after its first story.
  • Cute Kitten: One "Junior Comic" was an adorably-drawn strip about a typical day in the life of a kitty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mickey Mouse, believe it or not, in the Disney's Tall Tales comics, a comic which is almost like The Ren & Stimpy Show with Mickey being a less Jerkass version of Ren, and Goofy being Stimpy.
  • Fad Super: Disney Adventures published The Adventures of D & A at a time when stories of the paranormal (such as on The X-Files), or of kids and/or secret organizations involved in secret conflicts with aliens (such as in Animorphs or Men in Black) were popular.
  • Happy Fun Ball: The Toonstone from the Bonkers two-parter "Temple of Doom," which apparently is the source of all humor for toons, looks like an egg with a colorful face painted on it. But it's also dangerous to humans, as the spirits stored inside of it are far too funny for humans to comprehend. That said, the Toonstone is technically a MockGuffin; Bonkers tells Lucky that toons actually don't have a source for their humor and are just naturally funny.
  • Homage:
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Lucy, the Gadgeteer Genius in Kid Blastoff. She recognizes that Dr. Hugo Boom's sentient bombs are ridiculously stupid, and she saves Kid Blastoff twice during the story.
  • Interquel: The Recess comic in the December 1997 issue takes place during the events of the second episode, "The New Kid", right before King Bob declares Gus "New Kid."
  • Left Hanging: The third-to-last issue reprinted the first half of a Darkwing Duck story (most likely attempting to advertise the show's second DVD set), but despite the promise made in the last panel, they forgot to run the second half in the final two issues.
  • One I Prepared Earlier: Parodied in a comic featuring Timon and Pumbaa. A fictional cooking show uses fake ones they prepared earlier. As it just so happens, the day they were doing pigs was the day that A) they forgot to put in the fake and B) the day Pumbaa climbed into the fake oven. With hilarious consequences.
  • Parental Bonus: For both the Comics Zone and the main magazine, but the comics in particular made sly references to people or things that kids most likely wouldn't have heard of yet.
  • Recursive Reality: The short Darkwing Duck comic titled "Cogito Ergo Something" has Launchpad holding up a dandelion and positing the existence of countless Recursive Realities to Darkwing. Sure enough, the perspective changes, and we see another world inside the dandelion seed where an alien Launchpad is presumably saying the same thing to an alien Darkwing about an alien flower. Then the perspective changes to inside the alien flower, and we see the "normal" world again (inside the inside), where Darkwing promptly blows the whole idea off as nonsense and blows the dandelion seeds to the wind.
  • Re-Cut: Eighteen years after the story originally ran in the magazine, writer Doug Gray posted his original version of the second Fluffy story, "Cat in a Hot Tin Suit", on his blog.
  • Retraux: Around the time that Toy Story 2 came out, DA ran a series of Woody's Roundup comics that were meant to look like aged comics from the 1950s. The entire pages themselves were even yellowed a bit to complete the illusion.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Was also there in a few of the comics. At least two DA comics featured "Weird Al" Yankovic interacting with cartoon characters, and one featured the actual DA staff dealing with some cartoony villains (and a Contest Winner Cameo, since the villains were the winners of a contest where readers submitted their best original villains).
    • There was also has an issue with a story meant to promote Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland. In it, the backgrounds were photos of the park but the characters were hand-drawn (rather badly).
  • Uncatty Resemblance: The Jet Pack Pets all bear some resemblance to their owners.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • No explanation is given for how Fidget survived his plunge into the Thames in the final issue's The Great Mouse Detective story.
    • At the end of the Bonkers comic "Temple of Doom," Gloomy smashes the Toonstone, releasing spirits that carry him off. A panel later, the Toonstone is somehow back in one piece, with Lucky asking Nimrod if Gloomy is trapped forever.