The Donald Duck pocket books are a series of paperback-sized publications published in various European countries, featuring Disney comics.
The pocket books were originally published irregularly (about 6 times a year) until 1987 and monthly since. They are roughly A5-sized (digest size) and about 250 pages thick. Each book has about eight stories, but the numbers of stories can vary widely from issue to issue. As of 2006, there were more than 300 books. Almost all stories come from European publishers - namely Mondadori/Disney Italy from Italy and, more recently, Egmont from Denmark.
Most of the artists are from Italy (among the most famous and internationally renowned being Romano Scarpa, Marco Rota, Pier Lorenzo De Vita, Massimo De Vita, Giorgio Cavazzano, Giovan Battista Carpi, Luciano Bottaro) with a minority of Danish artists (such as Flemming Andersen), and very few stories are drawn by Spanish and Argentinian artists.
Just like their larger, A4 European Disney comic counterparts and as is common with North-American superhero comics, hardly any story published in the pocket books is made by one single person, instead each story is a combined effort. An author writes a story for which the production company assigns an artist whose unique style they think most resembles the story's particular spirit, then the artist's drawings are completed, again as by management directions, first by a particular inker and then a particular colorist. These groupings can at times be only loose and variable from story to story (especially stable author-artist groupings are rare), but particular artist-inker-colorist groupings can last long enough to define what later is recognized as an artist's defined "style period". It was not until the late 1990s that the production companies began to print at least author and artist of each Disney story in their publications.
B/W vs. color
Until issue #118, a particular limitation of the pocket books out of economical reasons was that only half of the pages were printed in color, while for the other half simply the uncolored line art was printed. This was done in an alternating routine so that one pair of pages (left and right page) one was looking at was black and white, and turning to the next pair of pages they were in color, etc. It was not until issue #119 (spring 1987, shortly before the move to monthly issues) that the pocket books were printed in full color. In later reprints, these early issues were published in all-color.
Mini pocket books
In the late 2000s, "mini" pocket books have also appeared. These mini pocket books are smaller (A6-sized rather than A5-sized) but have slightly more pages, and consist almost exclusively of reprints of stories in previously appeared full-size pocket books, rather than all-new material.
A special feature of the early issues of pocket books were the so-called framework stories. In these early days, the stories used to be connected with each other by a framework story, forming a general story line throughout the entire book. For every of those early issues, the publishers mostly chose unrelated stories from a large pool, and it was only after those stories had been chosen that a fitting framework would be written, then drawn in a sub-standard quality style by artist Giuseppe Perego. As the feature gradually fell out of use, Perego was partly replaced by Giancarlo Gatti, an artist whose quality is more on par with that of the usual production level and who like Perego often publishes full-length main stories instead of only doing "filler" frameworks in between these.
The framework feature was gradually dropped during the 1980s (roughly between the issues #80-#100), as nowadays each story is usually completely independent from the other stories in the same issue.
Since the same issue as full-color was introduced, the pocket books also feature pictures of Disney characters on their spines, a feature especially appealing to collectors as these pictures make it instantly apparent if an issue is missing when the pocket books are lined up on a cupboard. The first spine-assembly picture ran from 1987 until late 1991/early 1992, since then each spine picture (usually) spans a year (= 12 issues).
In different countries
The same stories, which are mostly written and drawn by Italian writers and artists, are translated into different languages and appear in each country roughly about the same time, but there are differences of one or two months between the publishing schedules of different countries. As there was no connection between issues other than the recurring cast of characters, the early issues (until about #30?) were mostly published in different order all over Europe, so the German #3 for instance is not the same as the Danish, French, or Finnish #3.
Various local names for the Donald Duck pocket books include:
- Danish: Jumbobog
- Estonian : Miki Hiir Koomiksikogu
- Egyptian : ميكى جيب
- Finnish: Aku Ankan taskukirja
- French : Mickey Parade (from issue #723bis, April 1966 to #1433bis, December 1979)
- German: Lustiges Taschenbuch (before issue #119, April 1987, the title was Walt Disneys Lustige Taschenbücher)
- Icelandic: Myndasögusyrpa/Syrpa
- Italian: Topolino
- Norwegian: Donald Pocket
- Swedish: Kalle Ankas Pocket
- Dutch: Donald Duck Pocket
- Polish: Gigant Poleca (formerly Komiks Gigant)
- Russian: Комикс Disney since 2010
All these books started publishing in 1967 and 1968 respectively, except for the Finnish version, which started in 1970, the Polish which started in 1992, Icelandic which started in 1994 and Estonian which started in 2008. The Italian edition, published since 1949, was the inspiration for the later European editions.
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