Disney is giving its theme park attractions a backstory in comicbook form.
Marvel and Walt Disney Imagineering will launch “Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird” as the first of a new comicbook series in January that will turn its parks into the settings for adventures. Idea is to use the new stories to pull back the curtain on lands, attractions, characters, and worlds of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It’s conceivable that stories developed through the comicbooks could eventually be adapted into future films or TV series, should they prove popular with readers.
The two companies teased the new series during the D23 Expo in August. Cover of the first five-part storyline was revealed on the Inside the Magic blog on Monday (see below).
“Disney Kingdoms is the ultimate team-up for fans of Disney and Marvel,” said Bill Rosemann, who is editing the books. “Working hand-in-hand with the world-famous Walt Disney Imagineers, Marvel’s best and brightest creators will unleash entire worlds inspired by and built around the attractions and characters that you’ve always known—but will experience for the very first time.”
First series will revolve around the never-built Museum of the Weird theme park attraction. Designed by Imagineer Rolly Crump in 1965, it was to house a collection of artifacts like talking chairs and organ-playing specters from around the world and lead into the Haunted Mansion. Brandon Seifert penned the book with art by Karl Moline (“Avengers Arena”).
Story will follow two teens who must team up with their mysterious uncle and search through the museum to rescue their parents who are kidnapped by an evil secret society.
Marvel’s editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Imagineers Josh Shipley, Jim Clark and Brian Crosby first conceived of the series two years ago while attending a baseball game. WDI is the division that develops and Disney’s theme park attractions.
Disney and Marvel will discuss the first issue and subsequent storylines at New York Comic Con this weekend.
This is not the first time Disney has explored ways to turn its theme parks into settings for adventures through other forms of entertainment. Through Hyperion, it publishes Ridley Pearson’s similar-sounding kidlit series, “Kingdom Keepers,” in which a group of Florida teens are transformed into holographic guides at Disney World and battle Sleeping Beauty’s evil queen Maleficent as the park’s characters come to life.
And Jon Favreau is developing “Magic Kingdom” as the Mouse House’s answer to Fox’s “Night at the Museum” franchise set inside the company’s popular park in Orlando.
Marvel and Disney have previously collaborated on reviving the CrossGen comicbook line, which wound up being retired again when sales proved low for titles like samurai drama “The Path,” horror story “Route 666,” Victorian detective story “Ruse” and fantasy tale “Sojourn.”
Together, they also have published graphic novels based on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and “Castle.”
Disney also had considered turning the abandoned Museum of the Weird into a live action film with Ahmet Zappa scripting.