Summer Reading, Part 2: Marvel's Figment SeriesSteven M. Johnson
Editor’s note: Here are our book picks for the summer, selected and presented by our illustrious Disney Dads bloggers. They’re books that are poignant, books that are fun, books that are our guilty pleasures, and/or books we just think you should read for the good of humanity. Here’s Steven’s pick, number 2 of 10.
Disney Kingdoms: Figment #1, from Marvel Comics. Written by Jim Zubkavich, illustrated by Filipe Andrade, edited by Bill Rosemann.
Journey Into Imagination has long been one of the most beloved of all Disney Parks attractions. From its opening in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort back in 1983, its two lead characters Dreamfinder and Figment have become some of the most popular original characters from the parks, who continue to appear on EPCOT merchandise, and even made a special appearance at last year’s D23 Expo! The attraction has changed considerably over the years, and has gone without Dreamfinder since 1998, but Disney fans’ love and fascination with the Journey Into Imagination universe has never died.
Fans will get to re-visit this beloved world with the upcoming Marvel comic series Figment. Starting with Issue #1, available June 11, readers can explore the untold story of Dreamfinder’s and Figment’s origins and take a whole new journey into the world of imagination. I had the opportunity to learn more about Figment from series writer Jim Zub and editor Bill Rosemann, who shared “one little spark” of what we can look forward to from this series.
The first Disney Kingdoms series Seekers of the Weird explored the backstory of the Museum of the Weird, which was originally intended to be connected to the famous Haunted Mansion. Out of all the beloved attractions, why was exploring the world of Journey Into Imagination chosen as the next story in the Disney Kingdom series?
BR: After years of faithful Figment fans requesting new content starring their favorite purple dragon, the Imagineers suggested we expand upon the story told in the Journey Into Imagination attraction. Striving to surprise them with a tale they thought they’d never see, we’re peering through the mists of time and revealing how one intrepid inventor transformed into the hero known as Dreamfinder, and also created his inquisitive little friend.
Did you get to experience the original Journey Into Imagination (with Figment and Dreamfinder) yourself? What was your collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering like as you developed this series?
JZ: I’m happy to say that I did, yes. I went to Walt Disney World with my family when I was 12 years old. We did a road trip across America one summer, and Orlando was one of the places we went to. I was a huge — I’m still a huge — fantasy buff. I don’t think that’s something that goes away. So, anything at all, whether it was the castles or knights or any of that kind of stuff really inspired me. In the case of Journey Into Imagination, you had a dragon that was a mascot. I really wanted to go see that attraction, and it was fantastic. It had such a creative core to it.
The Disney Imagineering team – made up of Josh Shipley, Jim Clark, Brian Crosby, and Tom Morris – and the Marvel Editorial team of Bill Rosemann and Mark Basso are very closely involved. I deeply value their input and want to make sure we’re creating something that works as a self-contained story while also enriching and enhancing the “mythology” that’s already been established for Figment and Dreamfinder.
I started with several different ways we could approach the story, trying to give as many options as possible that would be fun for me but also build from the attraction. From there we narrowed it down bit by bit, coming up with new places and challenges for Dreamfinder and Figment while using aspects of the attraction as an undercurrent to the plot.
One of the big themes of the original attraction was combining the scientific EPCOT mindset with the playful imagination. How is this blend presented through the Figment series?
JZ: A lot of the Disney attractions have a broad-based narrative with characters, but Journey Into Imagination is also reflective of you, the people taking the attraction. It encourages you to use your imagination, encourages you to be creative, and that you have within you the ability to discover and make things. I think that’s one element that made the attraction so compelling, especially to young riders. It puts it back into your hands and says, “Look at all these tools, look at all these amazing creative things at your fingertips and what you can achieve if you push yourself and try something new.”
It’s a very EPCOT-worthy approach to creativity. I think it has a great message and really good, fertile material we can explore in this comic story.
Has Journey Into Imagination, or other Disney Parks attractions, inspired you and your writing career?
JZ: Like almost everyone, Disney animation and Disney characters have helped shaped me creatively. I started my professional career in animation and wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been inspired by films like Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast at the crucial time in my life when I was looking for a way to make art into a career.
As to Journey Into Imagination specifically, it’s definitely the ride I remember most from my trip to Walt Disney World. The next time I’m visiting my parents I need to pull out some of my old boxes of stuff and see if I can find the Figment figurines I bought from the gift shop.
What lessons do you think readers will take away from this series?
JZ: The creative process will take you to unexpected places and never go quite as you planned, but that’s not a bad thing. Adventure and excitement comes to those who push on with grand ideas and great tenacity.
Figment will be on sale June 11, available digitally on the Marvel app or in print at your local comic book store. You can find the nearest shop to you with comic shop locator.
All images ©Marvel.