Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” is a fine movie. But alas! You’re not going to find anything about that here. Sorry about that. This is about a different Disney Nemo. A Captain Nemo. And where to look if you want to find this Captain Nemo in comic books.
At left is where Walt Disney’s Captain Nemo first appeared in comic book form. “Dell Four Color #614”. The year was 1955, and the artist who gave the sequentially-illustrated movie-adaptation life was Frank Thorne.
Frank Thorne began his comic-artist career in 1948 at the prolific Golden Age publisher, Standard Comics. From there he moved on to drawing “Perry Mason”, a King Features newspaper strip. And on from there he began doing comic book work for Dell which included drawing duties on, among others, “The Green Hornet”, “Flash Gordon”, and Walt Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
Thorne is best known by comic fans for his work at Marvel in the 1970s for the exceptional work he did drawing “Red Sonja”.
With the re-release of the Disney movie in 1963, the “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” comic drawn by Frank Thorne was republished. This time under the Gold Key imprint rather than Dell. Gold Key came into being in 1962 when Western Publishing split off from its partner Dell taking with it many licensed properties.
In the same year, 1963, Gold Key also began publishing a new original series of short stories starring Captain Nemo. Stories of what Captain Nemo was doing before the events of, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
There are six “Adventures of Captain Nemo” stories all illustrated by Dan Spiegle. Spiegle had started with Western in 1956 drawing mainly movie and television adaptations and tie-ins.
The first three stories first appeared in Walt Disney’s World of Adventure. There were only three issues of this series published before it was canceled.
1. “Doom Island“ – Walt Disney’s World of Adventure #1 (1963)
Kirk Douglas and friends weren’t the first “guests” of Captain Nemo. A lone sailor is rescued by the Nautilus.
After hearing the sailor’s story of escaping hard-labor and cruel sadistic guards on Doom Island, Captain Nemo decides to put a stop to the brutal treatment and rescue the other prisoners.
Reprinted in, Walt Disney Comics Digest #4 (1968)
2. “Lightning Justice” – Walt Disney’s World of Adventure #2 (1963)Some very bad men are trying to rob and enslave a tribe of Nemo’s friends. Nemo uses a balloon-borne lightning machine of his own invention to scare them off and free the tribe.
Reprinted in, Walt Disney Comics Digest #19 (1970)
3. “Mysterious Birdman“ – Walt Disney’s World of Adventure #3 (1963) Nemo takes to the skies with his invention of a helicopter. After crashing his flying machine on an island during the test flight Nemo is captured and has to fight to keep his technology from reaching the mainland where it could be used for evil.
Reprinted in, Walt Disney Comics Digest #8 (1969)
Walt Disneys World of Adventure was a quarterly comic, but the series ended with the third issue which left the fourth installment of The Adventures of Captain Nemo temporarily sidelined.
Three months after the third issue, however, the comic adaptation of, “The Horse Without a Head” appeared in newsstands with the fourth installment of “Adventures of Captain Nemo” as a back-up story.
4. “Dr. Neptune’s Sea Monsters” – Walt Disney’s the Horse Without a Head (1964)
Nemo and his crew investigate the origins of a giant sea-serpent. They are captured by Dr. Neptune, the mad genius who has been creating giant beasts.
One noticeable difference between this and the previous “Adventures of Captain Nemo” stories is that the word balloons are rounded rather rectangular.
Reprinted in, Walt Disney Comics Digest #13 (1969)
The final two “Adventures of Captain Nemo” stories only appeared in the small format anthology series, “Walt Disney Comics Digest” and have never been printed as full size comics.
5. “Mr. Malison’s Mansion” – Walt Disney Comics Digest #26 (1970) The villain of the story, Mr. Malison, is using enslaved orphans to mine for gold. It’s up to Nemo to free them.
6. “Isle of the Lost” – Walt Disney Comics Digest#36 (1972) Nemo investigates a desolate island to discover why a man was marooned, and by whom.
With “Isle of the Lost”, we come to the end of the list of Disney’s Captain Nemo comic book stories. I’m always hopeful someone at Disney, or whomever owns the rights to these stories, will be inspired to reprint all of the Disney’s Captain Nemo comics into one book.