In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn about the Peter David-penned Little Mermaid story that DIsney rejected.
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and ninety-eighth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.
Disney rejected a Peter David story about how the Little Mermaid’s mother died.
In the early 1990s, Disney formed their own distinctive comic book company. At first, Disney seemed to be really behind the project, to the point where they were planning on bringing in some MAJOR names for new projects. As I wrote in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed:
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Through Martin Pasko, Disney planned to launch a line of superhero comics (not only was everyone and their cousin forming comic book companies in the 1990s, they almost all were forming superhero comic book lines). However, they also planned something a bit more innovative. DC had recently gotten quite a bit of attention for their Mature Readers comics. From the massive success of Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing in the early-to-mid 1980s to the then-current runs of Neil Gaiman on Sandman and Grant Morrison on Doom Patrol (not to mention Peter Milligan on Shade the Changing Man and Jamie Delano on Hellblazer and Tom Veitch on Animal Man), DC had made quite a name for themselves in mature comic book entertainment. Disney decided that they wanted a piece of that. Karen Berger was in charge of these comics, but Art Young was her second-in-command. So Disney made Young an offer he could not refuse – head up an entire line of mature readers comics where he could hire pretty much whoever that he wanted (and it would be worth their time).
Those projects fell by the wayside when the company fizzled out, so Disney really only had a number of top notch all-ages stories based on their films, like a Little Mermaid series, written by award-winning writer, Peter David, working with a number of different artists.
Among the artists who David worked with on the series was Chuck Austen and Lea Hernandez on the very first story in the volume (which showed that Disney wasn’t afraid of being a LITTLE edgier than you would expect, with skulls and all that)…
However, towards the end of the series, David decided he wanted to pitch Disney on a story idea for resolving what happened to Ariel’s mother, who was long dead by the time that the Little Mermaid movie’s story began. He told the idea to his editor and he told David that he did not think that Disney would go for it, but David decided he wanted to pitch it anyways. So David put together a pitch and, sure enough, it WAS rejected. David isn’t sure why, whether it was considered too tragic or if Disney just didn’t want to resolve what happened to Ariel’s mother in the pages of a comic book series (especially a comic book series that was soon ending at the time).
David, though, kindly shared the unused idea in his But I Digress… column in the Comic Buyers Guide and he later posted the column on his own website.
Be sure to read David’s site for a much more eloquent description of the story, but I’ll provide the basics here. The story was called “Portrait of Life,” and it opened with a fish friend of Flounder’s confused as to why everyone is so mopey in Mer City. Flounder tells him to stop complaining, but Ariel, being a sweetheart that she is, decides to explain to the fish what the deal is.
We then flash back to when Ariel is a child. We see her mother, Atlanta, who looks a lot like her daughter does an adult, except that Atlanta has brown hair. You see, it was TRITON who had red hair.
Anyhow, just like her daughter years later, Atlanta was fascinated by the surface people. One day, while visiting the surface and just chilling on the rocks, she sees a man sketching her. She confronts him but is very impressed with his work. So she decides to let him paint her. His work becomes a sensation, but he keeps quiet about his mystery model. Another artist, though, becomes very jealous that this new artist is making him passe.
Atlanta is enjoying herself so much that she slowly but surely gets Triton gets to melt his icy take on humanity. He is about willing to let his daughters also pose for the artist. However, on the day that Triton shows up, the other artist tries to KILL Atlanta’s artist friend by pushing some rocks on him from above. Atlanta sacrifices herself to save her artist friend and, as you might imagine, Triton did not take this well at all. He is about to kill her artist friend and he is more than willing to die, as he blames himself for Atlanta’s death, as well. However, Atlanta’s spirit appears to Triton (or he sees a vision of her in a cloud) and she convinces him to spare her friend.
He returns home and locks himself in his room for ages until Ariel convinces him to come be her parent again. He agrees, but now his hair is totally white, like we see in the film. He goes back to normal, but we see that every year, on the anniversary of her death, Triton locks himself in his room and stares at the unfinished final painting.
Thanks to Peter David for sharing this awesome unused story.
CHECK OUT A TV LEGENDS REVEALED!
In the latest TV Legends Revealed – Learn about the unsung nurse who inspired one of the most heartbreaking Charlie Brown animated specials.
PART THREE SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of this installment’s legends!
Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
A Punisher/Venom Mashup Appears to Exist in Heroes Reborn
About The Author