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Disney and Marvel Seek The Weird

Marvel confirms this morning what Inside the Magic broke yesterday: the next steps in the Disney/Marvel partnership. After a couple of years of speculation and floundering, January will finally bring us the fruit of Disney's effect on Marvel: Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird.

Teased at D23 with an AR enhanced poster for the Museum of the Weird, the actual book will be written by Brandon Seifert and drawn by Karl Moline. The five-issue mini-series will leapfrog around stories from various theme park attractions. From Marvel's press release:

"When their parents are kidnapped, teens Maxwell and Melody are thrust into a thrilling race through the world's strangest - and most dangerous museum! Together, they must join forces with their mysterious and swashbuckling uncle as they attempt to rescue their family and save the world from an evil secret society! And they just might discover the truth behind their wild and weird destiny along the way!"

Seekers of the Weird takes its inspiration from the Museum of the Weird, an unproduced attraction Imagineer Rolly Crump had originally intended to be adjunct to the Haunted Mansion. Filled with unusual items and illusions supposedly gathered from around the world, the Museum had been designed as a spill-over area for people waiting for the ride, with a possible restaurant like the Blue Bayou inside Pirates of the Caribbean.

Allegedly, Walt Disney had been enthusiastic about the idea, but upon his death in 1966, the Museum was shelved, though a few of Crump's ideas and designs have echoes in the completed Disneyland Haunted Mansion.

In an interview with Disney News in 1993, Crump explained his concept, "Some favored the old dark house tradition of sliding panels and so forth. I wanted to do something different - something with a tremendous amount of fantasy."

At D23, attendees received a poster that portrayed two children facing one of the most famous of Crump's designs -- a coffin clock, with a demon's head and hands on the clock face. On top of the poster in spooky lettering, the poster challenges "Do you dare enter?"

Of course this is the 21st Century, so the way to enter was to utilize the Marvel AR app, which brought up a video of Marvel editor Bill Rosemann, who promised something exciting from Marvel creators and the Imagineers.

We'll have to assume that Seifert will be working closely with Disney's Imagineers for inspiration and not just getting an unlimited pass to travel the world and ride all the rides, such as the upcoming Iron Man Experience.

According to Rosemann, "“Disney Kingdoms is the ultimate team-up for fans of Disney and Marvel. Working hand-in-hand with the world-famous Walt Disney Imagineers, Marvel’s best and brightest creators will unleash entire worlds inspired by and built around the attractions and characters that you’ve always known—but will experience for the very first time!”

Back in 2010, Disney had announced work on a Museum of the Weird movie, to be spearheaded by Ahmet Zappa. That appears to have been scuttled, but interestingly Zappa had also been one of the people in charge of the company's abortive Kingdom Comics project -- and you'll notice that this new Marvel comic does feature the logo for "Disney Kingdoms," a concept meant to encompass more than just "Seekers of the Weird."

We may be seeing a new branding initiative beyond just Marvel, something along the lines of the Disney Princesses, which can be linked to the novel series Kingdom Keepers and the still-in-production-somehow Jon Favreau film The Magic Kingdom, rumored to be like A Night at the Museum but at Disneyland.

And yes, way back in the 60s, Crump and fellow Imagineer Yale Gracey had taken over a warehouse to test the Museum, leaving it running all night. As the story goes, the next morning an entire group of janitors had resigned, spooked by what they encountered.

So the wheel turns...

Derek McCaw

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