Friday, 30 May 2008


As noted in below past posts, the first appearance of the Big Bad Wolf in the comics medium was in a 1936 'Silly Symphony' Sunday half-page continuity titled as 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs' which was also carried out in several major European comics magazines in the same year. Among these, Mickey Mouse Weekly of Britain stand out for its excellent-quality prints as it utilized the 'photogravure' technique. Below is the second installement of the continuity from MMW no. 10, dated Apr. 11, 1936 (click over the image to view it in its original size):
In 1941, 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs' was also carried out in the Walt Disney's Comics of the US. However, the original half-page format of the newspaper printing was modified with panels being remounted to fit full pages of standart comics magazine page layout of WDC, with the unavoidable result that the design of the original creators being hampered with. 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs' would be reprinted in its original form only in 1980 in a large-sized hardback collection from the 'Best Comics' series. Unfortunately, the color palette of this reprint book is far from appealing:
In the coming days, I intend to post an analysis of 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs' , utilizing scans from the wonderful prints of 1936's MMW, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


Two different editions of the illustrated story adaptation of the cartoon Three Little Pigs were published by two different publishers in in 1933, the year of the cartoon's release. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, titled after the popular tune of the cartoon, was published by David McKay Co. and featured b&w illustrations only (cover scan in yesterday's post). I have seen only soft-cover prints of that book, but it has been reported to be also published in hardcover as well. The other edition, titled straightforwardly as Three Little Pigs, was a hardcover from Blue Ribbons Books and featured color as well as b&w illustrations, with the b&w material being identical to the ones in McKay's Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. The first image below is from the reverse of the front cover and the rest are from the pages:
I think the above image is especially terrific; I wonder who was the artist for these illustrations (Disney researcher Alberto Becattini credits the artwork on this book to Tom Wood who headed the Disney publicity department at the time). It should also be noted that the illustration with the wolf disguised as peddler is from a scene which was self-censored out of the cartoon after its first release on the grounds it featured a Jewish stereotype.

Of the two different editions, this hardcover Blue Ribbon Book with color illustrations seems to have been picked up by overseas publishers for their own domestic editions. Below are covers of the British, Italian and the French editions. Note that the French edition features a revised cover art where Hachette seems to be unhappy with the less-visible figure of the Big Bad Book in the original version and replace it with a new drawing of their own:

The cartoon Big Bad Wolf (1934), the first sequel to Three Little Pigs, also spawned two different editions of illustrated story books in the same year as the cartoon's release. McKay's edition was titled as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf and once again featured only b&w illustrations. The hardcover Blue Ribbon Book was titled as The Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood and once again featured color as well as b&w illustrations.

Once again, the Blue Ribbon version was picked up by overseas publishers for their domestic editions. The below four scans are from the French edition (which carries a 1934 copyright but appears to be published in 1936).

I am very much fond of this map from the reverse sides of the covers (which, unfortunately did not fit my scanner entirely); 1 is the house of the Little Red Riding Hood, 2 the house of the Three Little Pigs, 3 the lair of the Big Bad Wolf, 4-6 are the various locations where the wolf attempts to get the girl and 7 is the house of her grandmother:

Wolf in drag!; we are all accustomed to the idea of the wolf in grandma's dress, but wolf in drag as a fairy (!) is somewhat a more uncanny sight, with perhaps queer connotations...

Hachette also published another edition in 1936, with pop-ups, titled simply as Les trois petit cochons (Three Little Pigs); I am eager to know if there were any original US editions of this pop-up book.

Unlike the first two cartoons, each of which had span-off two different editions by different publishers, the second sequel, Three Little Wolves (1936) span-off only the book whose cover image is below:

It is a slim but oversized publication (hence the above scan is actually missing the bottom portion) carrying a 1937 copyright and, even though I cannot find any publisher's name in the poor-condition copy I have, is often listed as being from Whitman. It seems to be a pretty rare item, apparently even rarer than one of the editions of the 1933 book. Below is a generous sample of color illustrations from it:

In addition to these books adapted from the cartoons featuring himself as the main antagonist, Big Bad Wolf made cameo appearances in two further illustrated story books published in 1939: School Days in Disneyville and Donald Duck and His Friends, both part of D.C. Heath's series of 'early reader' books featuring Disney characters.
School Days in Disneyville has an interesting narrative where Mickey, Donald and the Little Pigs are portrayed as school kids! In one episode, Donald makes Pluto scare the pigs on the way home from school as they mistake his roar with that of the Big Bad Wolf, who incidentally also happens to be in the vicinity.:

Big Bad Wolf makes another appearance in the last episode of the book as he is chased away Ferdinand the Bull in an end-of-term school picnic:

On the other hand, Donald Duck and His Friends' narrative is largely composed of very abridged adaptations of various cartoons and one of these stories is Three Little Wolves (1936):

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


Big Bad Wolf has been one of my favorite Disney characters. Despite being a villain at the outset, there was something of an underdog in him which probably appealed to me. This partially had to do with his non-bourgeoise outfit, not to mention that he lived in a hut in the forest, and partially with the fact that he was always being outwitted by the squeky-clean pigs. Curiously, he was also the only father-figure in the entire Disney comics universe (where we have inexplicably -and rather pathologically- endless cases of uncles & nephews , but never fathers & sons).
Today is the 75th anniversary of the release of Three Little Pigs, the cartoon that introduced Big Bad Wolf to the screens from where he would eventually sprang to comics where he still roams after 75 years. I commomerate this anniversary with this blog.

Of course, the Disney Studio had not created the Three Pigs vs Big Bad Wolf saga out of nowhere, the cartoon was based on a European folktale, first published in the 19th century in England. The tale had also been somehow incorporated into the 'Uncle Remus' tales, collecting the oral tradition of the African-Americans; however, since Africa (except the region of Egypt which nevertheless was not among the African regions part of the slave trade to America) was not a habitat of neither the pig nor the wolf, the story does not seem to have true African origins. Click here for several versions of the tale from 19th century:
The first tie-ins with the cartoon, which was a huge box office hit, appear to be the 1933 publications of a sheet music of its tune (first image below) and two illustrated story books, one in hardcover (cover scan in tomorrow's post above) with color as well as b&w illustrations and one with only b&w illustrations:

Walt Disney filed for patent rights of the Big Bad Wolf in December 1933 (his claim was officially granted on April 17th, 1934). This indicates that Disney had initially considered the Big Bad Wolf as simply a character in a one-shot cartoon, but, by the end of the year, he had already decided to make further use of it. Below is the 'official' figure of the character as patented by Disney:
The first sequel, which came out less than a year after the earlier cartoon, was titled after our antagonist this time: The Big Bad Wolf and was an adaptation of 'Little Red Riding Hood', another European children's tale featuring a wolf, even though the pigs were also featured in this cartoon as well (this cartoon would also spin-off illustrated story books). Two more sequels would follow up in the coming years: Three Little Wolves (1936) and The Practical Pig (1939).
The Big Bad Wolf (and the Three Pigs) made their first comics appearance in the Silly Symphony Sunday half-pages prior to the release of the second cartoon sequel. This Sunday continuity, titled as 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs!' was drawn by Al Taliaferro, one of the most talented artists of the Disney staff, best-known for his work on Donald Duck. It was carried out in the major Disney comics magazines of Europe. A 1937 Italian comics album is probably an early reprint of 'The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs!':
Another Sunday continuity, titled as 'The Practical Pig', was run in 1938, once again with art by Taliaferro. It was published in album format in Italy the same year.

The Big Bad Wolf and the Three Pigs did not make any significant appearances neither on the screen nor in print during the 2nd World War era, other than abridged reprints of the previous Sunday continuities in Walt Disney's Comics in 1941. However, they made a full-fledged and re-vitalized come-back in comics in 1945.
The January 1945 issue of Walt Disney's Comics introduced Big Bad Wolf's son Lil Bad Wolf as the title character of an 8-pages comics story, written by Chase Craig and with art by Carl Buettner. Even though three malicious siblings of Big Bad Wolf had been featured in the sequel cartoons of the 1930s, the new comics series completely ignored them, giving way to one single son. More significantly, L'il Bad Wolf was 'bad' in name only: he was not only a benign character, but was even the best friend of the pigs. This enabled far more creative story-telling potential than the simple 'Tom & Jerry' antics of the earlier cartoons.
Buettner continued with the new comics for more than a year, with a succession of other artists picking it up after him. Eventually, Gil Turner emerged as the most enduring Wolf artist with close to one hundred L'il Bad Wolf comics for 10 years from 1947 onwards.
In the US, 'Li'l Bad Wolf' spawned three one-shot comics magazines in the early 1950s in addition to its continuous run in the Walt Disney's Comics:

The father and son wolves were also very popular outside the US, probably even more popular than they were in the US (admittedly, Disney comics in general has become more popular in parts of the world such as continental Europe and Latin America than ever in the US). Interestingly, outside the US, the Big Bad Wolf himself seems to be more of an attraction than L'il Bad Wolf as several non-US comics covers feature pap wolf without his son. Below are sample of my favorite Big Bad Wolf covers from around the world:

Right now, that's all for this round-up of the history of the Big Bad Wolf to celebrate his birthday. However, I will continue this blog with more in-depth looks at specific venues of his appearance as well as an overview of Big Bad Wolf's publication history in Turkish edition comics. So stay tuned...