Since Disney purchased Marvel back in August 2009, there hasn't been much of a noticeable effect on the actual comic books.
Sure, Marvel published Tron: The Betrayal last fall and have been reprinting some of the recent Disney comics originally produced by BOOM! Studios, but Disney properties haven't been interacting with Marvel properties — other than Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso joking at conventions about the possibility of "Deadpool vs. Goofy."
As of this month, two characters that are small in stature are looking to change that notion in a potentially big way. Prep & Landing - Mansion: Impossible is an eight-page short story that places Wayne and Lanny, the protagonists of Disney's series of animated TV specials, in the Marvel Universe. The elf duo, who first debuted in 2009, are tasked with preparing houses for Santa's arrival, and their latest target happens to be Avengers Mansion.
"For me, it was important to let the worlds kind of touch on each other, but they don't really interact directly," Kevin Deters, writer of the short story and co-director of the animated specials, told Newsarama. "Our approach is a little more tongue-in-cheek. They're not fighting supervillains together or anything like that."
So rather than a full-blown Disney/Marvel crossover, the story is more about the dramatic irony created by the fact that the elves don't realize the significance of their surroundings."They don't have a real appreciation for where they are, and that's kind of an important distinction for me," Deters said.
The story is illustrated by Joe Mateo, a storyboard artist who has worked on Disney projects from Prep & Landing to Pocahontas. He told Newsarama that he finds comic book work "more challenging" than his day job.
"When storyboarding, I don't have to be super-tight with my drawings," Mateo said, as opposed to comic book illustrations, which are typically more detailed. "The big thing in storyboarding is clarity."
Mateo, who cites Stan Lee and John Buscema's How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way as a major artistic influence, said he wanted to be a comic book artist before becoming an animator and calls Mansion: Impossible a "dream come true." Both Deters and Mateo describe themselves as life-long fans of superhero comics, and cite the genre as a major influence on Prep & Landing.
"It was sort of inspired by a lot of the stuff that Joe and I grew up on, as far as comic book heroes and gadgets," Deters said. "It was definitely a heavy influence on the development of the actual project. I thought that Prep & Landing would lend itself well to the comics medium."
So Disney came to Marvel with the idea, and they were receptive — especially given that Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada was already a Prep & Landing fan, as he noted when the project was initially announced last month at New York Comic Con.
Though this is Deters and Mateo's first work for Marvel, they've dabbled in comics before. They both contributed to that anthologies Who is Rocket Johnson? and What is Torch Tiger?, produced by Disney animators and sold at Comic-Con International 2008 and 2009, respectively.
For Mansion: Impossible, Deters and Mateo only had eight pages to work with — effectively shorter than even 2010's seven-minute Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa — so a big part of the task was condensing things down to fit the space.
"There were so many awesome ideas, you can make a graphic novel out of it," Mateo said.
Prep & Landing – Mansion: Impossible debuts as a secondary feature in Avengers #19 and all-ages title Super Heroes #20, both due out Nov. 16. It also appears one week later in another all-ages book, Spider-Man #20. The latest Prep & Landing TV special, "Naughty vs. Nice," debuts a couple of weeks later, Dec. 5 on ABC.
"It's sort of a natural extension of the characters that you met in the first Prep & Landing," Deters said. "What we're trying to do is really expand the world. It's something we're pretty proud of, so hopefully everybody enjoys watching it."While Mansion: Impossible is the only Disney/Marvel crossover publicly announced at this point, Deters isn't ruling out the possibility of more Prep & Landing comics, or more interaction between the two entities — though Deadpool vs. Goofy is probably still a ways off. Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!