The Mickey Mouse Club was a children’s variety show that was first televised from 1955 to 1959 for four seasons by the ABC network. Walt Disney created it to fulfill part of his contract to ABC to provide television programming in exchange for money to build Disneyland. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Part of the Mickey Mouse Club show included spin off series featuring young stars in roles outside of the regular variety show format. Spin and Marty and The Hardy Boys may be the most famous of these. But Annette Funicello also had a few storylines created just for her.
Walt Disney’s Annette, the DELL comic book, is an adaption of her first serial:
Walt Disney Presents: Annette was the full name of the television serial itself and it ran on The Mickey Mouse Club during the show’s third season (1957–1958). The comic book I am featuring in this post is from 1958, so is current with the original release. It starred Annette Funicello as Annette McCleod, a poor, orphaned country girl who moves into town with her upper-class Uncle Archie and Aunt Lila.
Most of the plot has to do with her experiences in her new high school trying to fit in with all the new kids she meets. And of course, everything goes swimmingly. NOT!
Laura, a jealous teen, wrongfully accuses Annette of stealing a necklace following a party at her place. Hence the name of the DELL comic book: A clue… to the mystery of the Missing Necklace! Little did she know that the necklace accidentally fell into the piano that she had played a tune on earlier. You can see the whole ugly mess develop on the page below:
Laura and Annette become friends after the misunderstanding is cleared up. Oh, those kooky kids! You can check out a couple more sample pages below:
The artwork is uncredited but not bad over all. The likeness of Annette is quite good on most pages, but once in awhile, the artist couldn’t quite get her nose right! Now, who else do we know who had that problem?
The two pages above are separate one-page stories used to fill out the comic book. The first one (above, left) appears on the inside back cover, while the second one (above, right) appears on the back cover.
The whole comic is printed in colour except for the inside pages of the cover. The teaser page contains black and white stills from the actual television production (see image, second from top), so the back inside page had to be in black and white as well, for they would have been printed as one sheet.
DELL comics made a pledge to parents in all of their publications, namely: “The Dell code eliminates entirely, rather than regulates, objectionable material.” I can attest that to be true, unless you consider catty behavior among teenage girls to be objectionable.
DELL published comics from 1929 to 1974 and claimed to be the world’s largest comics publisher in 1953. So no wonder they were selected to print comics for Walt Disney! But the acquisitions started in 1996 and the company was passed from publisher to publisher for many years until finally resting under the Penguin Random House stable of brands in 2013.
I do have one other Disney-themed DELL comic book. You can check out the official adaption of the Parent Trap by clicking the link. It stars one of Disney’s other darlings of the screen, Hayley Mills.