1986: Zorro in Old California

Zorro in Old California (1986) #1 by Nedaud and Marcello.

This is a rather puzzling thing for Eclipse to be publishing:

It’s a collection of six ten-page Zorro stories originally published in French, created for the Disney empire and published in Le Journal de Mickey. It’s by a pair of creators that have absolutely no pull, commercially or critically.

So perhaps the people at Eclipse discovered some incredible gem that they just felt they had to publish?

Nope. This is bog-standard professional, competent European boys’ adventure comics, which used to be produced by the metric tonne.

If you try to imagine “European version of Zorro produced for Disney”, the vision you’re seeing is just what’s on these pages. It’s moderately entertaining, but… why? Whyyyy?

The translation is mostly pretty competant.

Since this is Disney, this is how racy it gets in the sex dept.

And while there is some shooting and stuff, the violence is also very kids-friendly. (You get the feeling that there’s a joke in the dialogue here that didn’t quite translate…)

So what gives? I tried Googling, but found nothing much. But with the Comics Journal search engine I struck pay dirt:

Eclipse Comics (Box 199, Guerneville, CA 95446) brings back the classic character Zorro, created by novelist Justin McCarthy in The Curse of Capistrano. The Eclipse Zorro, in a $6.95 graphic novel format, features a Tom Yeates cover and six ten-page adventure stories written by Nadaud and illustrated by Carlo Marcello for Le Journal de Mickey. “We like Zorro” said Eclipse publisher Dean Mullaney. “We wanted to do an original, and this is a way of testing the market to see if Americans are interested in Zorro, not just for comic shops, but if we can move a good number through the regular bookstore channels. If so, there’s enough material for a second volume, and we’re looking at the possibility of doing an all-new story that we would create with an American artist and an American writer.

So Eclipse thought they could move some units in bookstores if they had a well-known name on the cover. I guess that makes sense. He doesn’t mention the fact that the exact same album was released in Europe; here in the Swedish translation. So presumably Eclipse could roll this out very cheaply, too. Or perhaps they sold the entire package back to Europe.

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