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Disney Books New Comics Deal With Gemstone

After a four-year hiatus for Disney comic books in the U.S. market, Disney Publishing Worldwide has signed a deal with Gemstone Publishing to bring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and other Disney favorites back onto the printed page. Gemstone will release the first two monthly comics, WALT DISNEY COMICS AND STORIES and UNCLE SCROOGE, in June at $6.95, while the first bi-monthly, DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES ($7.95), debuts in July, and monthlies DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS and MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS ($2.95), arrive in September.

Up until 1998, Disney comics were published under the Gladstone label, but when owner Bruce Hamilton retired the company went out of business. Gemstone Publishing president and CEO Steve Geppi decided to go after the Disney line -- Gemstone's first venture into comic book publishing. Previously, the company published only collector type guides like THE OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE. Early negotiations fizzled, but Disney came back to Gemstone recently and a deal was solidified.

John Clark, Gemstone's editor in chief of the Disney line, said to AWN that for the first year they would be mining the vaults of Disney Publishing's pre-existing European content. The comic books will contain the work of Disney artists Patrick Block, Daniel Branca, Daan Jippes, Don Rosa, Noel Van Horn, William Van Horn, and the legendary Carl Barks. With Diamond Comic Distributors handling the distribution in the U.S. and Canada, the books will first appear in comic shops. Clark said that Gemstone is working to seal deals with major booksellers and wholesalers including Barnes & Noble, Borders, Walden Books, Amazon.com and Baker & Taylor, as well as newsstand firms, which could increase the circulation from 10-15,000 units to almost 60,000.

"There has been a strong tradition of Disney comics, which have been enjoyed by audiences around the world for over seventy years," said Deborah Dugan, president, Disney Publishing Worldwide. "Thanks to this collaboration with Gemstone, Disney has been able to renew this tradition in the U.S. with the retail launch of this timeless comic book series."

Geppi added, "As the comic book industry is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, Disney comics can now be enjoyed by a whole new generation while some of us older folks have the opportunity to once again be enchanted by their distinctive artistry and humor."

Disney Publishing Worldwide is the largest children's publisher in the world and publishes more comics around the globe than any other company. The first Mickey Mouse comic strip debuted in 1930 and the first comic book reached shelves in 1935.

In addition to comic book price guides, Gemstone Publishing produces HAKE'S PRICE GUIDE TO CHARACTER TOYS, THE OVERSTREET TOY RING PRICE GUIDE and THE OVERSTREET INDIAN ARROWHEADS IDENTIFICATION AND PRICE GUIDE. To find out more about them or to subscribe to their publications visit www.gemstonecomics.com.

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Rick DeMott
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