Review | Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee
Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee
By Régis Loisel
Fantagraphics Books, May 2022
For Ages 8+
Fantagraphics has been publishing quality Walt Disney books for many years, including wonderful collections of classic Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comic books by Don Rosa and Carl Barks and many overseas Disney books such as Mickey All Stars. This tradition continues with the release of Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee, French animator and comic book artist Régis Loisel’s tribute to Floyd Gottfredson’s classic 1930s Mickey Mouse newspaper strips. The Montreal-based artist used to work as a Disney animator back in the day, contributing to both Mulan and Atlantis, and has always wanted to create a Mickey Mouse comic book adventure. Originally published in France in 2016, and reprinted here for the first time in the United States, Zombie Coffee is a wonderful tribute to the feisty Mickey Mouse of old with some classic characters back for the ride.
The story beings during the height of the Depression. Mickey Mouse and his pal Horace Horsecollar are down on their luck, jobless and penniless, so they decide to take their girlfriends Minnie Mouse and Clarabelle Cow on a vacation to get out of Mouseton and away from the bleak job market. The four of them travel to visit their old friend Donald Duck, thinking that will cheer them up. Donald, as cranky as ever, is nonetheless glad to see them, and after a few days of rest and relaxation Mickey and his pals come back to Mouseton to find things are even worse than they could possibly imagine.
Mickey learns that a hippopotamus named Rock Fueler, a conniving tycoon from upstate, has made a deal with the city to build a new golf course for rich out-of-towners smack-dab in the upper west side of Mouseton. Families have been selling their property, because as part of the deal, Rock employs able-bodied dads to work on the construction of the golf course and the women and children live free in the housing projects for a year while the golf course is being built. The only two homeowners in the way are Minnie and Clarabelle and they aren’t selling, even though it would bring jobs back to Mouseton. Mickey chases Rock away by tearing up the contracts to buy the girls’ houses, but it’s only a matter of time before Rock will be back to cause more trouble for Mickey and friends.
Meanwhile, while roaming the abandoned streets of upper west side of Mouseton, Mickey discovers that something’s not quite right with Goofy. Yes, he’s always been a bit of a dippy dog, but this time something’s really wrong with his old pal. Mickey finds Goofy carrying an old coffee grinder and muttering to himself “coffee” repeatedly as if he’s in a trance. Mickey is so scared by how Goofy is acting that he thinks at first Goofy has been turned into a mindless zombie. After Mickey and Horace finally tie Goofy up and have him go through coffee withdrawal, they find out that Goofy and the whole town of men working for Rock Fueler’s golf course are under the hypnotic spell of the special blend of coffee. It turns out that Rock Fueler’s scientists have created this so-called Zombie Coffee to create obedient and mindless workers.
To make matters worse, Rock’s behind everything going on in Mouseton – he has instructed his evil scientists to feed his obedient zombified workers a lunchtime smorgasbord that will enslave the workers to him so completely that they will give their paychecks back to Rock and work for free. Also, Rock has sent his two goons, Peg-Leg Pete and sidekick Sylvester, to demolish Clarabelle and Minnie’s property so they can start building the golf course.
“Zany” is one of the best words to describe Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee. It’s a non-stop love letter to classic Disney comic strips filled with tons of fun gags, jokes, crazy plots, nagging girlfriends, pancakes, near drownings, one angry duck, scheming tycoons, clumsy henchmen, evil scientists, zombies, and everyone’s favorite mouse. Speaking of Mickey, in Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee fans will be happy to hear Mickey is much more in line with his original portrayal from Gottfredson’s 1930s newspaper strips. Mickey here is a feisty rough-and-tumble adventurer, not the boring universal ambassador for all things Disney. This Mickey is ready to fight against the evil tycoon and their goons who want to turn Mouseton into a golf course. He’s got some moxie and has the fists to prove it.
Also refreshing is the addition of Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow as Mickey and Minnie’s best friends. Contemporary fans may be more used to seeing Donald Duck and Daisy Duck as the main companions for Mickey and Minnie. Horace especially proves himself to be a strong sidekick to Mickey as together they take on Rock Fueler and his henchmen. He’s a likeable hard-luck hero and was a smart choice to highlight in this book, since he was such a prominent Disney character in the 1930s. Also it should be noted that Peg-Leg Pete is back once again as Mickey’s nemesis, the addition of Rock Fueler and Sylvester as villains are a welcome change.
Mickey Mouse: Zombie Coffee was published as a deluxe edition of a landscape-formatted hardcover. It comes in a portrait-formatted slipcase ― so the reader can shelve it vertically but read it in its full horizontal orientation. The artwork is a tribute to the daily newspaper comic strips and presented in strips that typically feature three to five panels each. The artwork in the book is in full color, with some muted tones to reflect the look of Depression-era comics. Régis Loisel’s artwork mimics a lot of Floyd Gottfredson’s art styling, but it has its own take that also owes a lot to other classic strips such as Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. There’s a lot of love for the world of Mickey Mouse here, and Disney fans as well as casual comic book readers will find much to enjoy in this madcap romp through Mouseton.
With there being so much wonderful works of Disney available in Europe, here’s hoping this trend continues and that Fantagraphics continues to reprint them for Disney fans in the United States in the coming years. Highly recommended.
About Mike Pawuk
Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, and co-author of the follow-up book Graphic Book II both published by Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO Publishing.
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