Comic Review: Haunted Mansion (IDW Publisher)

Disney’s Haunted Mansion ‘Frights of Fancy’ is new from IDW. This full colour graphic novel runs 76 pages and introduces us, foolish mortals, to a new ghost named Sydney. Sydney […]

Disney’s Haunted Mansion ‘Frights of Fancy’ is new from IDW.

This full colour graphic novel runs 76 pages and introduces us, foolish mortals, to a new ghost named Sydney. Sydney was recently a hospitality manager in Baton Rouge Louisiana until the hotel was demolished last week. So, she’s arrived at the Disney Haunted Mansion, hoping to stay. The issue is that Constance, a resident ghostly bride, is having none of it. Constance, a high maintenance gal, dislikes Sydney on sight and sets about making things difficult for her.

Writer Sina Grace (Getting It Together, Read Only Memories, etc) puts the setting right for some age-appropriate scares; a Disney Haunted Mansion, crammed full of cantankerous ghosts! There are the two guys who are continually arguing about a duel, a knight in armour, an Egyptian named Marshall Mummia Mendelsohn, Sarah Slater in her ballgown, and tons of other spooky spirits from all ages of the past. A cast of thousands!

The artwork is cartoony, expressive, and enjoyable, thanks to Egle Bartolini (il Secolo XIX, etc) and Nicoletta Baldari (Star Wars Forces of Destiny, etc). The pages are full of floaty ghostly figures everywhere. The glowing keeps going page after page, with multiple figures in conflict. Yes, in conflict, but ‘tame’ conflict. No ‘sudden death playoffs’, no ‘murders most foul part deux’ etc. Safely dead and not visibly decomposing. They are walking dead, but ‘cartoon’ dead with no PTSD.

Colour work by Riccardo Giardina (Devil Wish, etc) is on the dark side, in contrast to a lot of his work. This graphic novel is indigo, mauve, and grey, with spots of bright colour here and there. It’s perhaps a lost opportunity to push more colour into the Haunted Mansion, be more adventurous beyond the blues and navies…

So, we have the team, the setting, and the characters. Unfortunately, however, Frights of Fancy might have miscast its lead performer. Young Sydney talks like a Fortune 500 efficiency expert, scoring strong points in the corporate boardroom. It takes the magic out of the mix. “Today’s goals are to work on scare-optimization,” says Sydney, as she envisions a future of solid ghostly-team work, everyone putting their shoulder to the wheel.

It’s a bit much, and needs more counterpoint; Sydney is not very exciting, let’s face it. More wackiness and stunts, more of the scary-bewarey stuff. More kookiness, more exaggeration, less spreadsheet dialogue, and the kids would pay better attention. Sales would increase, net profit would climb, shareholders would….

Bonus pages contain photos of the history of Disney Haunted Mansion, plus Disney drawings of Mansion characters, from pencil to coloured finals.

IDW Disney, The Haunted Mansion Frights of Fancy, $9.99 for 76 pages of content.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!