“Horrifikland” – white space

Mickey, Donald and Goofy are the owners of a detective agency in which agents are hiding; They then agree to go on the trail of a missing cat, an investigation that leads them to an adventure in the long-abandoned Horrifikland amusement park, whose dark and disturbing atmosphere is king.

Louis Trondheim Signed the eighth volume of the Disney graphic novel series for the French publisher wisteriaand the third edited by him (the previous one was in collaboration with the designer Nicolas Keramidesincluding this one), in Italy now panini cartoons In a dedicated private series.
On this occasion, he writes a somewhat linear text in its development, taking a direct interest in a double source of inspiration: A 1937 animated short lonely ghosts (ghost hunters) and an unrelated comic adventure Mickey Mouse and the Seven Ghosts (Mickey Mouse in the haunted house) from 1936, directed by Ted Osborne And the Floyd Gottfriedson.
The conspiracies have already experienced various developments, as often in those years: striptease story In fact, it took advantage of the wider narrative space available to significantly strengthen the story, constructing a true thriller complete with the precision of the thrill textbooks, while boxes The nine-minute span occupied by gags that saw the three heroes fight pranks played on them by the title ghosts.

Horrifikland_2Trondheim is not just a remake of those Roomas much as we are inspired by the two works by remixing them with some original ideas and some different hypotheses, but always faithful to the hilarious gothic atmosphere of ghost stories with Disney sauce.
Indeed, in the dreary amusement park, the heroes confront the aging owner and Pietro Gambadelligno: they are then injected with elements that can change the structure and the direction of the plot, but at the same time the trio must deal with old and spooky attractions. capable of causing knockdowns and diversions.
This structure is a harbinger of ineffective gags, but on the other hand it fragments the narration, which moves in the central part more through loosely connected curtains rather than a coherent development, thus approaching the language of animation but involving little of weakness in the year of storytelling on paper.

However, the screenwriter says he is familiar with the classic Disney character adventures, starting with the characterization of the same Mickey, Donald and Goofy who seem fully committed to what was seen those years on the big screen.Bold, courageous, joyful the first, cowardly but proud the second, naive and distracted the third. A combination that made a fortune for this trio, on various occasions they sometimes worked together Golden age From the animation, this faded over time, even as the three teamed up again.
On the other hand, Trondheim manages to take up this harmony and re-propose it with freshness, creating the illusion of reading an unpublished story that comes straight from the 1930s.


In this he is brilliantly aided by the designs and colors Alexis Nesme.
In fact, the artist uses a pictorial technique to illustrate the comics, giving the paintings a three-dimensionality full of suggestions.
The one that stands out the least subtly is Mickey Mouse, who in this vision seems a bit fused with the background, like he’s a puppet behind the scenes. The realism that the Nesme style imprints on Mickey creates an effect similar to strange valley1which results in designs that are paradoxically less realistic than conventional designs. There is no dynamism in his character but on the contrary, he is static which makes him always rigid and not at all lively.
The reverse discourse of Donald Duck and Goofy: The two friends benefit greatly from the volumetric treatment provided by the artist’s brushes, and stand out on the page with a tangible and appropriate effect. Old.
As for the sets, no one can fail to recognize the extreme care given to the places where the heroes evolve: The rustic and airy atmosphere of the first tables, with the village in which the trio evolves, is effectively transmitted through the circular lines that mark the buildings and streets, as well as through the warm colors that turn into shades of yellow and ochre.
As you venture into Horrifikland, the backdrops are filled with gruesome buildings, with choppy lines and unbalanced architecture. The images are often twisted and cut to convey a sense of constant uncertainty, and the animation is full of all that classic anxious detail, from skulls and weird cracks in tree trunks to mummies and ghosts. The stage obviously loses the warmth of the first paintings and lingers in the dark blue, green and uncertain light of the torches, thanks to the play of shadows.
The cage has a fairly regular rhythm, without much separation, but sometimes the bases of Nesme affect four beats, inlaid with some custom frames, coinciding with the passage from one scene to another, as if denoting a subdivision into chapters .
Aesthetically, it is an exceptional work, drawing much inspiration from the Disney brand of the 1930s, appropriating and honoring it at the same time, with a well-finished and detailed end result.


The artist’s personal style meets the typical Disney flair that emphasizes knowledge of the original materials (the ghosts are fully committed to their appearance lonely ghosts); Knowledge also found in the text of Louis Trondheim, which in addition to referring to the adventure in the haunted house provides quotations from other sources.
There’s the Mad Doctor from the 1933 short of the same name, for example, starring the evil lawyer Lupo in Gambadilegno which comes straight from Gottfredson’s American tapes.
They are not presented as ends in themselves: in the first case, the character adapts particularly well to darker plots – in fact already taken up on other similar occasions – while the second is functional for the deception that Gamba wants to commit a crime. against the park owner, who needs the help of a suspicious lawyer.

land of horror It is not primarily this work that seeks to deconstruct Disney habits, but on the contrary, plunges into them with conviction by taking a direct interest in the atmosphere of some of the tales of the golden age in which live these characters and playing appropriately with the Halloween atmosphere.Sprinkle this humus with great power and a strong authorial character concentrated in the graphics. A pleasant and quality read.

We talked about:
land of horror
Louis Trondheim and Alexis Nesme
Subtitles by AmarenaChicStudio (Milan)
Disney Panini, 2021
48 pages, hardcover, colors – €14.90
ISSN: 977272466000610003

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