It was 1955 and Walt Disney’s Disneyland anthology TV series had been on for a year, sponsored by the American Dairy Association.
What better way to celebrate this partnership than by producing a promotional comic about how great milk is?
Disney printed several promotional comics around this time, featuring characters like Snow White and Peter Pan talking about how great various refrigerators and washer/dryers were. Another American Dairy-based comic exists featuring Brer Rabbit.
Today, though, we’re focusing on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. For this blog, I want to celebrate not only the great Disney comics out there, but also the rather strange ones that have fallen through the cracks over the years.
We open on Snow White and her husband, Prince Charming (the only time I think he’s ever been given an official name, although fans like to call him Ferdinand), who has been summoned away to a neighboring kingdom. I guess it’s one of those time when “living happily ever after” really means “dealing with politics.” No wonder the story ended with the kiss.
As soon as Charming leaves, Snow White is summoned to the Seven Dwarfs’ house via a message from a little cardinal. She journeys out to the Dwarfs, who inform her that the Wicked Queen is apparently alive and after her. The message from the neighboring king was a fake and she wanted to get Snow White alone.
The problem is, why not just tell Prince Charming before he left? The bird shows up while the Prince is only a few yards away. I suppose it was a “too late” moment, but I personally think the Dwarfs are jealous of Charming’s relationship with Snow White. Many fanfiction writers appear to agree.
The most intriguing part is that they use the Queen’s real name, Grimhilde. She has only been called that in production materials and comics, but never (to my knowledge) on any screen appearance. Also, Thumper from Bambi is in this, which is kind of neat, since I love those old Disney comic crossovers where everyone was just neighbors with each other.
The Dwarfs celebrate Snow White’s return and hope that Grimhilde never finds out where she’s hiding, although if I were the Queen, I’d check the cottage first thing. If Snow White really wanted to throw her off, she should have hidden with Pinocchio or something.
Grumpy refuses to drink his milk, so Snow White talks about how wonderful it is and that it might make him sleep better. Also, adults apparently need three glasses a day? I love me some milk, but even I’m behind on that one. Maybe things have changed since ’55.
Thumper makes a physical appearance, warning them that Grimhilde is now searching the forest for Snow White, to which I called two paragraphs above.
Snow White leaves the Dwarfs house and rides to the fortune teller, Madame Zo (who only appears in this comic), to see if Grimhilde has left any guards at Castle Charming.
Madame Zo is grumpy (the mood, not dwarf) because she can’t seem to lose any weight without feeling weak. Snow White suggests a diet that includes three glasses of milk a day. I don’t know enough about milk to dispute that, so maybe that’s the secret to weight loss? Milk? Sure, let’s go with milk.
Madame Zo is so elated by the prospect of dairy products that she runs off to buy some, entirely forgetting about Snow White’s plight. See what you’ve done milk? See what you’ve done? Are you happy now?
Grimhilde spots Snow White and orders her men to shoot her with arrows. Well, that’s a more direct way than the ol’ poison apple bit, I’ll give her that. She clearly learns from her mistakes.
Snow White rushes back to the Dwarfs’ cottage to find that Grumpy, through the almighty power of milk, has fallen asleep with a smile on his face! Perhaps as long as he drinks his milk, his name shall no longer be “Grumpy,” but rather, “Content.”
This peace is not last, of course, because Grimhile easily tracks Snow White down and is about to attack the cottage, when Charming swoops in and makes quick work of the guards, prompting a retreat.
Charming drinks his milk, you see.
Interestingly, the Prince was going to have a similar scene in the 1937 Snow White movie where he would be imprisoned by the Queen and left to drown in her flooding dungeon and need to fight his way out with the help of Snow White’s animal friends. It was cut because the animators weren’t comfortable with the action sequences involving realistic humans yet. A similar scene finally made it into Sleeping Beauty, nearly 30 years later.
According to Charming, Madame Zo’s raven informed him of what was going on, so Madame Zo didn’t fail Snow White, which means that milk didn’t fail Snow White, either. Sorry, milk. I was too hasty there.
So what have we learned from all this?
Milk, Dopey. Milk.