If you’ve never considered yourself a comic book fan, Disney and Marvel guarantee that’s about to change. Today, Marvel Comics just released the first of five comics that explore the backstory of Dreamfinder and Figment in the latest release from the Disney Kingdoms series.
The jolly redhead, who hosted the Journey into Imagination attraction at Epcot from 1983 to 1998, is back, and in comic book form. While Dreamfinder’s foil, Figment—the childish side of imagination with a short attention span—is headlining the new series, D23 is thrilled about a story that centers around Dreamfinder and how he came to be an inventor and an explorer.
We recently caught up with Figment‘s editor Bill Rosemann to talk about where Marvel Comics is taking these two legendary Disney park characters in the new series. “We decided to go with the origin story of the characters for the comic book because in the attraction, when we first met Dreamfinder and Figment, we sensed that there was a history that wasn’t told yet,” Bill says. “We’ve met him on the attraction, but what people haven’t seen is his path and his early days. We show the moment when Figment leaps into existence and their first adventure together.” The characters that would become Dreamfinder and Figment originated as Professor Marvel and his dragon friend for a proposed, but never realized, area of Disneyland known as Discovery Bay. When that project was canceled, the characters became the symbols of imagination for the Journey into Imaginationpavilion at Epcot.
“When you think about a Marvel movie, we first like to look at the origins of the characters because you learn so much about what makes the character a hero or a villain. You meet them before they have their powers and you get to care about them. In the Marvel way, they have challenges and things they have to struggle with in their life. When they are put in extraordinary situations, their challenges don’t go away. In fact, in most cases, getting their abilities just creates more problems for them, and readers really appreciate the underdog nature of our characters and how sympathetic and relatable they are. That was our approach to Dreamfinder.”
Bill worked with some of Figment’s biggest fans to help bring the Disney parks story to life: Imagineers. “We were very collaborative with Imagineers Josh Shipley, Jim Clark, Brian Crosby, and Tom Morris,” Bill says. “They were our core group and we showed everything and bounced everything off of them. They helped us create this idea about a steampunk fantasy adventure in Victorian England.” Imagineer Brian Crosby designed the steampunk-inspired logo for Marvel Comics.
The story team set out to sprinkle Easter Eggs that pay homage to the attraction throughout the entire story. “Our writer, Jim Zub, really studied every aspect of the ride, so you’ll see familiar names and locations,” Bill says. “The theme of the story comes directly from the attraction. It will appeal on multiple levels to fans. We are always looking to reward the fan.”
When asked about what’s coming out after Figment, Bill says, “We have some various ideas up for discussion. Hanging right above my desk now is a map of Disneyland.” And if Bill were to cast a celebrity in the role of Dreamfinder, he says, “Well, I’ve always been a huge fan of Johnny Depp and I know he’s been in a lot of Disney movies. But I will leave that up to the casting agents in Hollywood.” We’ll keep our fingers crossed for a film. A read through the comic and you’ll agree it’s just asking for a film adaptation.