Le Journal de Mickey
Le Journal de Mickey is a French weekly comics magazine established in 1934, featuring Disney comics from France and around the world. The magazine is currently published by Disney Hachette Presse. It is centered on the adventures of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters but also contains other comics. It is credited with "the birth of the modern bande dessinée". It is now the most popular French weekly magazine for children between 8 and 13 years old.
Paul Winkler, owner of the Opera Mundi syndicate, distributed comic strips from King Features Syndicate in France since 1928, including the American Mickey Mouse comic strip which was published in Le Petit Parisien as Les Aventures de Mickey since October 7, 1930. In 1931, Opera Mundi began a collaboration with publisher Librarie Hachette, who published books of French bandes dessinées (comic strips). Working with Opera Mundi, Hachette published reprint collections of the Mickey Mouse comic, with prose captions instead of speech balloons, as was customary in French BD. The two Mickey Mouse books published in 1931 were a great success, selling more than 500,000 copies.
In 1933, Winkler got the idea to create a children's newspaper. At the time, the only children's publications on the market were des Illustrés, magazines for young children with big print. Winkler was convinced that there was a youth market that wanted "a cheerful and entertaining newspaper" (un journal gai et distrayant). Winkler later said:
Mickey appeared to me designed to be the leader of a newspaper that would apply this formula because his presence on the screens started to attract an audience of all ages who had a common mind: the spirit of youth.
Winkler proposed the creation of a Mickey Mouse newspaper to various periodical publishers, who all turned him down. Finally, Robert Meunier du Houssoy of Librarie Hachette agreed to publish the paper, as long as Winkler would become the editor-in-chief.
Le Journal de Mickey was first published on October 21, 1934. When it began, the front page of the paper was a Sunday strip of the American Mickey Mouse strip by Floyd Gottfredson, complete with its usual topper strip, Silly Symphony. In the first issue, the series launched with the March 11, 1934 Sunday page, which began the "Mickey contre l'Ogre Grognedur" ("Rumplewatt the Giant") story in Mickey Mouse, and "La Famille Vole-Au-Vent" ("Birds of a Feather") in Symphonie Folâtre (Silly Symphony).
Initially, the magazine had eight pages, with four in color. Besides the Disney strips, the other three color pages were taken by: Pére Lacloche (Pete the Tramp) topped with Toffou (Pete's Pup), both by Clarence D. Russell; Jacques Beaunez, Policier (Needlenose Noonan) topped with Tout est bien qui finit bien (Discontinued Stories), both by Walter Hoban; and Les Malheurs d'Annie (Little Annie Rooney) topped with Si rip le dormeour revenait (Fablettes) by Brandon Walsh and Darrell McClure. The black-and-white pages featured two more half-page comics: Jim-la-Jungle (Jungle Jim) by Alex Raymond, and Qu'en Dites-Vous?, a collection of strange facts similar to the Ripley's Believe It or Not! feature.
The first issue also contained two serialized novels -- "Le Secret du Templier" ("The Templar's Secret") by Clade DaViére, and "La Main Qui Frappe" ("The Striking Hand") by Karl May -- as well as a crafts column ("Le Petit Bricoleur"), an international column ("Dans le Monde Entier"), collections of jokes and puns, puzzles, and a brief interview with Mickey Mouse.
The paper was an immediate success, with a weekly circulation of 400,000 copies; Hachette recouped their initial investment within four months.
Major differences with earlier French youth magazines with comics were, apart from printing American comics instead of local productions, the size of the magazine, with Mickey two to three times larger (27 by 40 cm), and the use of speech balloons instead of text captions. These comics were coupled with French stories and with reader interaction through letters, contests, and the Club Mickey.
Starting with issue #4 (November 1934), the column "Le Club Mickey" was signed by "Onc' Léon", the nom de plume for Léon Sée, a former boxing manager who had approached Winkler for a series of articles on boxing for Opera Mundi. Winkler bought Sée's series, and Sée became Winkler's partner in the early development of Le Journal de Mickey. The "Club Mickey" letters column became an irreplaceable link between the magazine and its readers, and Onc' Léon became a wise dispenser of advice.
The magazine revolutionised the French children's publications market and introduced the American comic strips on a much larger scale. A number of copycat magazines soon followed, including some launched by Winkler himself. In April 1936, Winkler published Robinson (périodique), a 16-page weekly filled with American adventure comics, and he followed this in December 1937 with Hop-là!, "L'hebdomadaire de la jeunesse moderne" (the weekly for the modern child). This period was later called the Golden Age of the BD.
By 1938, Mickey had a circulation of 400,000, the same as Robinson, another publication by Winkler. The most successful competing magazines only had circulations of 200,000 or less, while the most successful magazines before the start of Mickey only sold about 40,000 copies a week. One of the things that set Le Journal de Mickey apart from its competitors was its production, with quality paper and ink and better printing resulting in brighter colours.
World War II broke out in 1939, and France was invaded by German and Italian forces in May and June 1940. As a result, Le Journal de Mickey ceased publication on June 16, 1940, relocated to Marseille in the unoccupied zone of France, and reappeared from September 22, 1940 on. Circulation dropped by 86 percent, and the magazine was printed on much lower quality paper and with very limited colours. Paper shortages meant that by the end of 1941, the magazine was reduced to 4 pages of only half the original size, appearing only twice a month. As of issue #389 (July 5, 1942), American comics were dropped from the paper, including all of the Disney material, and the speech balloon comics were replaced with traditional comics with text captions. The final issue of the first run of Le Journal de Mickey appeared on July 2, 1944.
Le Journal de Mickey was revived in 1952 and reached the height of its success later in the same decade, with a circulation of 633,000 by 1957. This dropped in the following decades to the current 150,000, which still makes it the leading French weekly magazine for 8- to 13-years-old.
As of 2019, the magazine is 60 pages long, with 30 pages of both Disney and non-Disney comics. The rest of the pages are filled with games, riddles, animal facts and other editorial content.
During the 1930s
Other French Disney comics
As of 2019, Disney Hachette Presse publishes six ongoing Disney comics in addition to Le Journal de Mickey.
Mickey Junior (1985-on) is a monthly magazine aimed at kindergarten age children. It was first published as Winnie in October 1985, featuring stories about Winnie the Pooh, and was renamed Winnie et ses amis from 2012 to 2016. Starting with issue #376 in January 2017, it became Mickey Junior. The magazine features games and activities, editorial pages about animals, and stories about Mickey and his friends.
Mon Premier Journal de Mickey (2018-on) is a bimonthly magazine aimed at children just starting school, which began in April 2018. The magazine is 50 pages long, with 10 pages of comics; the rest of the content is illustrated stories, puzzles and animal facts. Some of the pages are in English, to encourage bilingual education.
Picsou Magazine (1978-on) is a bimonthly magazine primarily aimed at children 8-14 years old; it also includes features about Disney comics history of interest to fans and collectors of all ages. The magazine began in March 1972, with 116 pages. Named for Balthazar Picsou (the French name for Scrooge McDuck), the publication focuses on Duck comics from the United States and the Netherlands. Starting in August 1978 (issue #78), the comic grew to 132 pages, and later to 148 pages. Starting with issue #542 in April 2019, the comic doubled its size, growing to 304 pages. The magazine begins with an editorial section about teen interests, including movies, video games, social networks, musicians, Japanese manga and some non-Disney comic pages; the rest of the magazine is devoted to Disney comics. Since #542, the Disney comics section is split into chapters, with the first "volume" devoted to comics by "Le maître de l'univers" (The Master of the Universe), Carl Barks. The other volumes include one "Panorama d'Auteur" section per issue spotlighting the work of another Disney creator, and the rest are grouped by theme. Each section includes several pages on Disney comics history related to the featured creator or theme, and lists the first appearance of each story in its native country and in France.
Super Picsou Géant (1983-on) is a 196-page bimonthly magazine aimed at children 8-14 years old. Started in May 1983 as a larger "géant" version of Picsou, as of 2019, it's dwarfed by Picsou's new "maxi" size. The magazine is primarily made up of Disney comics from Italy, with some brief sections of puzzles and Picsou-style articles about teen fads.
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