Daring to Dream

Comics


There were tie-in comics released as part of the Little Mermaid franchise, and on this page I list out the ones that I'm aware of.

Official movie adaptation (1990) Limited Series (1992) Sebastian (1992) Marvel Series (1994) UK comics (1995) Russian comics (1995) Comic Hits (1995) Acclaim Books (1997) The Christmas Spirit (????) Disney Princess (2016-2021) Cinestory (2016) Dark Horse movie adaptation (2019) Ariel's Adventure Journal (2020) Twisted Tale (2023)


Official movie adaptation (1990)

An official movie adaptation comic book/graphic novel written by Tom Anderson was released in January 1990. It follows the entire plot of the movie, though it simplifies it some. The comic has been re-released multiple times over the years, with some of the covers as below. Images of the individual pages of the comic itself are in the  movie adaptations gallery.

Left-to-right below: The 1990 movie poster-style cover, the two 1991 "Under the Sea" Cartoon Tale covers, the 1992 VHS-style cover, the 1994 "Disney Studio Albums" cover, and the 2017 "The Story of the Movie in Comics" cover.

1990 original

1991 Cartoon Tales: Under the Sea

1991 Cartoon Tales: Under the Sea

1992 VHS-style cover

1994 Studio Albums (Ravette Publishing)

2017 The Story of the Movie in Comics (Joe Books)

Images of the comic were reused in the 1992 "Junior Graphic Novel", which intersperses the excerpted artwork with prose of a novelisation. In 2015, the whole comic was included in the "Disney Princess Comics Treasury" volume 1, a Joe Books collection that compiles various princess comics in an omnibus. In 2020, the whole comic was given a fresh look by Spotlight, with the artwork touched-up and recolourised. Thank you to visitor Merfolk Saloon for letting me know about the refreshed comic!

1992 Junior Graphic Novel

2015 Disney Princess Comics Treasury (Joe Books)

2020 (Spotlight) with updated artwork

Below are samples of the refreshed artwork in the 2020 publication by Spotlight, compared with the original artwork.


The Little Mermaid Limited Series: 4 issues (1992)

In 1992, Disney's The Little Mermaid the television series premiered on TV. Around that time a 4-issue comic Limited Series written by Peter David was released, with storylines that fit neatly in the premise of the TV series and featuring some of its newly-introduced characters.

#1: Serpent Teen Part 1 (Feb 1992)

To kick things off with the comic book series, they've got an opening scene with Eric and Grimsby on board a ship (hey, just like the movie!) followed by Ariel's introduction. I don't think they ever said how old Ariel was in the tv show, but she's fifteen in this issue, and already making surface visits like it's going out of fashion.

At the palace, Triton's daughters are having music rehearsals with Sebastian, but Ariel is once again absent because she's busy doing her own thing. Arista, ever the nice one, points out that Aquata, the eldest, is supposed to be in charge since Triton's away but she can't even control that one mermaid.

That one mermaid, by the way, has discovered a mysterious chasm of dark water, and swims through it to discover a race of Moray, who are pretty much like merpeople, except they are half moray eel and their skin is green. Ariel is treated like a frightening freak of nature and captured by Celia, Princess of the Moray. Things get sticky when Aquata, feeling guilty for her lack of authority, tries to find out what's happened to Ariel herself and ends up being captured as well. All that happens in the first issue, with a cliffhanger leading into the next.

#2: Serpent Teen Part 2 (Mar 1992)

The second issue of Serpent Teen immediately picks up where the first ends, with the sisters Ariel and Aquata stuck in pretty dire straits in the Moray kingdom. It's up to them to use their very different smarts to get out of it.

Besides being released individually, these first two issues were also bundled together under the title Ariel and Sebastian, which was sold alongside the movie's official comic book adaptation, and that was how I bought my copy. The artwork in these two issues is gorgeous, the more so when compared to the 1994 comic series that was not as fluid and tended to be more obvious in their referencing of stock art and images from the film.

I would've loved to see this episode animated properly, because it's got a wonderful adventure story and pits Ariel against Celia, who's a great new character. They're very similar, stubborn princesses who believe that rules are made to be broken, but Celia is what happens when rebelliousness isn't balanced out by a decent moral compass. Other things that are great about these two issues are that there are plenty of throwbacks to the movie (eg. Eric's appearance, Ariel's thingamabob collection, the origins of Ursula's home), the writing is pretty sharp and plenty of characters get to be awesome, among them Aquata and King Triton himself.

#3: Guppy Love/ Eric Meets Her Highness/ Culinary Cut-Ups (May 1992)

While the first two issues had a lengthy adventure story, this third issue contains three short stories. They're just as fun as the debut (which remains my favourite comic of them all) by being and have awesome throwbacks to the movie, though Flounder does get a tad out-of-character.

The main story is Guppy Love, where Ariel befriends a little pink guppy named Jenny (short for Guinevere) who has a crush on Flounder. Ariel tries to get Flounder to be nice to Jenny, but Flounder's fish friends Snorkel and Fantail tease Flounder about it. The peer pressure makes Flounder act quite rude towards Jenny, which disappoints Ariel. When a fierce shark named Scarface enters the area, that's when Jenny shows exactly what she's made of. It's rather jarring to see Flounder with fish friends his own age, but I suppose that if Ariel can hang out with fellow mermaids (Gabriella, Pearl) Flounder ought to have his own mates as well.

The second two-page mini story looks at Eric meeting the Princess of Glowerhaven, who was mentioned briefly in the movie. The princess isn't quite how Eric or Grimsby expected her to be.

The third story focuses on Scuttle and Chef Louis, who do tend to be neglected since they're not under the sea and all. In this story, Scuttle has his own comedic rivalry with the French chef, much like Sebastian's.

#4: The Hunt for the Redhead Down Under / Hair Today / Clams Casino (Jun 1992)

This is the fourth and final issue of the limited series. Like the previous issue, it's divided into three short stories.

The first, and main, story is The Hunt for the Redhead Down Under (I LOVE PUNS) which features a brief appearance by Eric in the opening. The prince is miffed because he has to abandon one of his ships when it falls apart due to shoddy workmanship. He's looking for a new shipbuilder and is approached by Professor Thelonius Paxx, an arrogant but brilliant nautical engineer who has the idea to build a submersible boat. Eric is interested, but needs proof that the design is workable. Thelonius decides to use his single-manned version to go under the sea and collect "proof". That proof happens to be a certain red-headed mermaid he'd spotted by chance. This story is very similar to the series episode Metal Fish, only in this case the submariner isn't a nice guy.

The second story is Hair Today, and it's about Ursula! Unfortunately it's only two pages long, and highlights Flotsam and Jetsam's incompetence, which strikes me as a sound change from their appearance in the movie.

The third story, Clams Casino stars Sebastian and a bunch of other sea creatures. When a treasure chest of gold coins lands on the sea bed, some of the Atlantican sea creatures decide to create a casino where games are played to see who can get the most gold coins. If you squint just so, the message of this story is that HUMAN MONEY IS EVIL AND CORRUPTING.

Others: Alternate covers, reprints & collections

All four issues of the Limited Series have alternative variant covers that used images from the film. (A tad confusing, that.) The first two issues ("Serpent Teen Part 1" and "Serpent Teen Part 2") were also collected in a trade paperback titled "Ariel and Sebastian: Serpent Teen", which was part of the "Cartoon Tales" trade paperback umbrella with the movie adaptation comic.

There's another comic collection series of that era titled "Disney's Colossal Comics Collection", which mostly collected stories of various Disney Afternoon comicbook tie-ins. A couple of Limited Series stories were reprinted in this collection, specifically: collection #7 has "Guppy Love", collection #8 has "The Hunt for the Redhead Down Under", and collection #9 has "Clams Casino".

The 2015 "Disney Princess Comics Treasury" featured reprints of the stories "Serpent Teen", "Guppy Love", "Eric Meets Her Highness", "Culinary Cut-Ups" and "The Hunt for the Redhead Down Under".

1992 Issue #1 variant cover

1992 Issue #2 variant cover

1992 Issue #3 variant cover

1992 Issue #4 variant cover

1992 Ariel and Sebastian: Serpent Teen

1992 Colossal Comics Collection #7

1993 Colossal Comics Collection #8

1993 Colossal Comics Collection #9

2015 Disney Princess Comics Treasury (Joe Books)

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Disney's Sebastian: 2 issues (1992)

This 2-issue comic series starring Sebastian the crab was released around same time as the third and fourth issues of the above Limited Series. The two issues of this series tell a pretty much continuous story about Sebastian, albeit one broken up into episodes that follow Sebastian's travels outside of Atlantica.

#1: Fiddling Around / Sebastian in Scotland / Out of Africa and into the Frying Pan / The Big Finale (May 1992)

The two-issue comic series starts out with Sebastian feeling under stress and acting strange, which has Ariel and Flounder worried. A little investigation reveals the cause: Sebastian's mentor and famous composer Arthur Fiddler Crab is visiting Atlantica, and Sebastian badly wants to impress him with the composition of a new music piece. Stage fright has Sebastian doubting himself, but Ariel and Flounder manage to talk their friend around, reminding him of his talent and how all of them believe in him.

Sebastian works hard and presents his new piece in a concert, which impresses the Atlanticans but Arthur Crab describes as merely "adequate". This deeply rattles Sebastian's confidence, and he decides to take a sabbatical from Atlantica to find new musical inspiration and creativity elsewhere. When Ariel asks him how long he'll be gone, Sebastian says, "As long as it takes."

So off Sebastian goes on a journey to musically find himself, and this journey takes him through peril, slapstick hijinks and kinda-incidental inspiration in Scotland, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

#2: Untuned Symphony / A Fright at the Opera / The High and the Flighty / While da Crab's Away (Jun 1992)

Following the previous issue, Sebastian is still traveling the world in the search of musical inspiration. This time his journey takes him through an adventure off-Ceylon in Serendipinsea, where he's imprisoned by the Maharajah's music-hating son and needs to use his own wiles (with help from some new friends) to figure a way back to physical freedom and musical freedom.

After that there's some more slapstick hijinks in Venice when Sebastian investigates opera, and then in an encounter with a clumsy bird in the South Atlantic. At long last, while Sebastian is in Germany and is offered to role of music teacher to the young protege Amacrayfish, he's finally hit with homesickness for Atlantica. He daydreams being welcomed back as a hero, or a nightmare of having been forgotten by all.

The reality that greets Sebastian upon his return is the shock of finding that his former teacher, Arthur Fiddler Crab, has taken Sebastian's job as the royal court composer. Sebastian feels rejected at first, but is then lovingly welcomed back home.

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Marvel's The Little Mermaid Series: 12 issues (1994-5)

This Marvel comic book series was launched in 1994, around the time that the TV series was having its third and final season. It ran for 12 issues.

#1: Sink or Swim (Sep 1994)

The first issue of the second series is a lighthearted and fun story that features an appearance by the Evil Manta.

One of the duties that comes along with being royalty is to make appearances at special official-type events. When Triton and his daughters are attending one such event, during the speechifying bits Ariel nods off to sleep, embarrassing her father. Triton declares, "Can't you do anything right?"

Ariel runs away from the palace, hoping to find a job and prove to her father that she's not useless, leaving behind a note to explain her actions. After she leaves, who should drop by but the Evil Manta (wait, he's swimming right by her bedroom window but doesn't get seen?) and he modifies the note to make it seem that Ariel has been kidnapped, with the ransom being King Triton's crown.

#2: All That Glitters (Oct 1994)

I wish this issue had been the debut of the new series, because the story is adorable and makes me squee throughout, plus Ariel's extended family (Triton, her sisters and Urchin) are all there.

While out riding her seahorse (who looks like Stormy, not Sea Biscuit, *cough*) Ariel realises that her saddle is ruined from overuse. She asks Triton for a new one, but happens to catch him at a wrong time, because he's stressed out about an important treaty that needs to be signed, and Ariel's six other sisters had just been badgering him for new jewelry. Ariel, ever the creative one, decides to make new jewelry that she can use to trade for Arista's shiny unused saddle.

Meanwhile, the other half of the treaty signers arrives in the kingdom, namely, the King and Queen of Pacifica, plus their son Prince Waverly. Ariel witnesses the second royal family's fancy arrival and finds Waverly quite the dish. (I always laugh at this bit, because I find Ariel unexpectedly acting her age hilarious.) But unknown to her, Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp want the treaty talks to break down for their own nefarious purpose, and recruit Pearl to their cause by appealing to her desire to get Waverly's attention for herself.

#3: The Daredevilfish (Nov 1994)

Pearl is initiating Adella into her exclusive "Daredevilfish Club", which is only for the bravest of the brave who willing to do whatever dare Pearl can think up with. Adella and Attina are already in the group, and Alana wants to join. You'd think that Ariel would be a shoo-in for a club that has to do with "courage", but Ariel is initially uninterested because she (awesomely) doesn't like taking orders from Pearl.

As can be predicted, one of Pearl's dares goes awry. She dares Alana to swim past the lair of the Seaclops. Alana does it, but she is caught by the ancient Seaclops and hypnotized to follow his bidding. (In this comic, the Seaclops is an intelligent, lucid creature much like the Evil Manta, unlike the rampaging monster he was in the episode Calliope Dreams.) Alana tricks Pearl into going right into the Seaclops' clutches, and she, too, gets hypnotized.

By then Ariel has had enough, and is bursting with curiosity about what the club members are getting up to, so she agrees to one dare. Hypnotized!Pearl dares Ariel to steal Triton's trident, which the Seaclops wants.

#4: Whirlpool World (Dec 1994)

It's adventure time! Ariel gets into an argument with Arista and leaves the palace in huff. She decides to ride her giant seahorse Sea Biscuit, and ends up getting sucked by a massive whirlpool, ending up in a new place called Aquaria. Ariel even says: "Golly, Sea Biscuit, I don't think we're in Atlantica any more."

In Aquaria, merfolk are divided into two factions: the Jets and Sharks Bluefins and Redfins. Since Ariel is neither (she's technically a Greenfin, I guess) she is welcomed by Scallopa, a Redfin mermaid, and her family. The Redfins and Bluefins have been suspicious of each other and fighting for as long as anyone can remember.

In secret, Scallopa confesses to Ariel that she is in love with Indigo, a Bluefin. There's only one way this story can go forward, which is with a big confrontation between the two factions, with Ariel and the star-crossed lovers right in the middle. But all's well that ends well, and it doesn't turn out to be a dream in the end. King Triton also shows up to adorably give Scallopa's father some good advice: "I've always found that if you give in on the little things, you can be firmer about the really important things."

#5: My Dinner with Crustacea (Jan 1995)

This issue introduces a brand new member of the Atlantican royal family, Ariel's Great-Aunt Crustacea. King Triton is too busy with duties to show his Aunt Crustacea around, so Ariel offers to be her tour guide for the day. Flounder joins in (for fun), as does Sebastian (as ordered by Triton).

Aunt Crustacea is a lovely little old merlady who has a cheerful disposition and terrible eyesight. She needs her reading "crystals" (translation: glasses) to see, but often forgets them, which causes her to Mr. Magoo her way around. This becomes difficult when Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian take Aunt Crustacea to the market, and she wanders into Hatchet-Fish Alley, the "toughest part of Atlantica".

Aunt Crustacea doesn't realise what sort of trouble she's in, and cluelessly befriends the rough 'n tough fishfolk. Ariel, Flounder and Sebastian come to her rescue, but Crustacea happily thinks it's just another fun outing in Atlantica.

#6: Room at the Palace (Feb 1995)

King Triton orders his seven daughters to clean up their stuff that has been littered all over the palace. They do, and Ariel is left with the problem of figuring out what to do with all the stuff that she doesn't need any more.

At this time, Spot the killer whale arrives in Atlantica as part of his regular migration. He tells Ariel about a special holiday that the humans celebrate. Though Spot doesn't know that it's actually called Christmas, he teaches her in his own way what humans do during the celebration... Namely, exchange presents, decorate a tree that they put in their house and so on so forth. Ariel decides to have a celebration of their own under the sea modelled after the humans' celebration.

While Ariel is learning about Christmas, Urchin is acting suspicious and unlike himself. Food has also been disappearing from the palace kitchens. (By the way, their Atlantican chef is the underwater version of Chef Louis.) Ariel and Flounder make the connection that Urchin has been stealing food, and get to the bottom of it... which just turns out that Urchin has been snagging food for orphans. Just in time for Christmas, too!

#7: There Goes The Neighborhood (Mar 1995)

It seems that drama always turns up in Atlantica whenever King Triton is away. In this issue, Triton and Sebastian leave on business, and Dudley the sea turtle is left in charge.

The moment they're gone, a merman named Sir Figmond turns on the Flooglefish, a bunch of noisy party-hardy fishfolk, declaring that they cause too much noise and have to leave the city. Poor Dudley takes so long to speak that nobody hangs around long enough to hear his explanation about why the Flooglefish are important: they keep the Floogleweed population down by eating it. So without the Flooglefish around, Floogleweed quickly overgrows everything.

Ariel quite reasonably suggests that they apologize to the Flooglefish and invite them back to Atlantica, but Sir Figmond is having none of it. What follows is a chain reaction where replacements are invited in to take over the task of the Flooglefish, but they only make things worse, and have to be dealt with, and so on so forth.

#8: Gone with the Waves (Apr 1995)

King Triton and Sebastian arrive back from a trip to Olympia, and he has presents for all his daughters. Ariel in particular gets an elaborate necklace that reminds King Triton of a necklace his own mother wore when he was a merbaby. It's hate at first sight for Ariel when she sees the necklace, but Triton is so happy to see her wear it that she can't bring herself to say what she really feels. (Shades of Calliope Dreams, right there.)

Completely by accident, Ariel ends up losing the necklace. King Triton misinterprets Ariel's angst on the lost necklace and declares that no one shall rest until the precious trinket is found.

Meanwhile, Sebastian is reunited with his beloved Crab Scouts, and they head out on a camping trip which proves to be most fortuitous.

#9: The Sea Horse Tournament (May 1995)

It's time for the Sea Horse Tournament in Atlantica, an event where sea horse riders get to show off their skills in various events. Ariel wants to participate but her father is having none of it. Ariel would have let it pass but her hackles are raised when a cocky participant, Snapper, brags about his skills and confidence that he'll win.

Donning a costume that includes a full-face helmet, Ariel sneaks off from the royal box in the audience and enters the tournament as a mystery participant, challenging Snapper. At first she only intends to enter a single event, but she gets caught up in the excitement and the chance to prove a point, and along the way she uncovers that not only is Snapper a braggart, but he's also a cheater.

#10: The Sorrowful Sea Monster (Jun 1995)

The Blowfish Ball tournament is just around the corner and the Atlantica sea lions aren't the favourites to win against the Atoll Octopalls. Ariel, Flounder and Urchin are rooting for their team, but the Octopals with their many arms have quite the advantage.

In order to stop worrying about the match, Ariel decides to check out a cave she's heard is haunted. Flounder comes along too, though he's terrified that Ariel's decided to visit the cave at night, since that's when the scary moans and groans come from within the cave. To their surprise there's a purple sea monster named Caliban inside the cave, and he's only groaning because he's lonely and sad that no one wants to visit him. Ariel declares that she and Flounder will be his friends and visit him. Ariel also sets off on a mission to figure out a way to get the Atlanticans to stop being afraid of him.

#11: The Wrong Queen (Jul 1995)

News arrives that King Triton's childhood friend, Queen Coralani of Tropicala is visiting Atlantica. The news is overheard by the minions of Pirania, a sea witch piranha-mermaid. She comes up with a scheme to seduce Triton and take over the kingdom so that she can consume it all. As part of her plans she uses her enchanted spray to transform herself into a beautiful mermaid, since Triton doesn't know what his childhood friend looks like now. The ruse works, except for where Ariel keeps seeing glimpses of Pirania's true nature, and Pirania isn't always able to control her piranha instincts.

This issue introduces a spiffy villain I would've loved to see in the television series. Pirania is similar but not quite like Ursula, and it would've been interesting to see the sea witches have history together, or work together, or face off against each other.

#12: Of Myths and Mermaids (Aug 1995)

Ariel is beached in the palace when King Triton catches her with yet more human things. Left on her own, Ariel tries to read up on the history of Atlantica but ends up being bored by the thick history book. She explores the palace instead and stumbles on a door she has never seen before. It leads her to a room with Marlin the Magician, who is more than happy to use his magical crystal ball to show her the history of Atlantica.

A fascinating story unfolds of how many years ago the merfolk lived at the island of Atlantis alongside the winged centaurs. King Proteus was king of the merfolk, and his daughter, Ariadne, was in love with a centaur named Jason. King Proteus wanted Ariadne to marry the Sharkanian prince but Ariadne refused. In angry retaliation, the Sharkanians caused the volcano of Atlantis to erupt. The island sank, forcing the merfolk to move to their new underwater home of Atlantica, while the centaurs moved to the top of Mount Olympus, far away from the sea. Ariadne and Jason were forced to part, but Ariadne never forgot for her beloved. Marlin the Magician adds that her legacy lives on in a subtle way: every generation of merfolk has one princess who longs for the surface.

Worldbuilding stories that build on the history of Atlantica and the merfolk are just great, and I love how it ties into Ariel's identity. The throwback to the Sharkanians of the animated series is a nice touch as well.

Many thanks to Anna for sharing these scans!

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The Little Mermaid (UK - 1995)

This other The Little Mermaid comic series was shared with me by a visitor, so I don't know much about its origins, except that it was distributed in the UK.

#10: Pots and Pearls / A Lobster Calypso / A Fish Called Dora (Jul 1995)

There are three stories in this comic, all about the same length.

The first story, Pots and Pearls has Ariel and Flounder searching for a new container to hold Ariel's trinkets on her vanity. Ariel is quickly distracted from her search when she sees a human boy struggling on his boat. Though Flounder is reluctant, Ariel isn't one to turn away a person in need, even if they are a human. As it is, this particular human can help return the favour by giving Ariel a new and beautiful container for her things.

Lobster Calypso sees the return of Spot the killer whale, who is still loves music. It's a good thing Spot is in Atlantica, too, because Sebastian has just received an invitation for a calypso festival and needs to get there pronto. However, Spot's trusty killer whale navigation system is thwarted when they end up in a mysterious place known as the Navigator's Nightmare (Bermuda Triangle analogue?), where there are other ships trapped and in need of rescue.

A Fish Called Dora has Flounder all dreamy over his new crush on Dora. Ariel and Sebastian are supportive, but Flounder and Dora are both terribly shy and don't know how to talk to each other. Sebastian's solution is get a potion from his friend Hermione the Hermitess crab that can cure shyness, and it does help, but not the way Sebastian thought it would.

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The Little Mermaid (Russian - 1995-98)

A pair of visitors shared with me these Russian comics, which I don't know much else about aside from they were released starting in 1995. As I don't understand the Russian language, I cannot comment on their content but will share these images here as they are.

Issue #1/1995
Issue #2/1995
Issue #3/1995
Issue #4/1995
Issue #5/1995
Issue #1/1996
Issue #2/1996
Issue #3/1996
Issue #4/1996
Issue #5/1996
Issue #1/1997
Issue #2/1997
Issue #3/1997
Issue #4/1997
Issue #5/1997
Issue #1/1998
Issue #2/1998
Issue #3/1998
Issue #4/1998

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Disney Comic Hits (1995-97)

The "Comic Hits" series, also produced by Marvel, was an anthology series featuring stories from various animated films including 101 Dalmations, Aladdin and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This series ran for 16 issues from October 1995 to January 1997.

#12: Ariel and the Lobster's Loot (Sep 1996)

Ariel and Flounder are doing their usual exploring when they stumble upon Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp's hideout inside a shipwreck. Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp are waiting for a crook named the Abaloney Kid to lead them on a heist, so Ariel takes the opportunity to don a diguise and pretend to be the Abaloney Kid herself. It's not like these guys are the quickest fish in the sea, so they buy it.

The target of the heist are the luxury pearls belonging to Pearl, so it's up to Ariel, Flounder the "flatfish" and "big guy" Sebastian to find a way to stop Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp from getting away with their treasure. There's some throwbacks to the jokes and running gags in the television series, which is a nice touch of continuity.

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Acclaim Books (1997)

In 1997 Acclaim Books launched a series of tie-in comics for various film franchises, mainly as two lines that sadly didn't last long: "Enchanting Stories" (5 issues), "Action Club" (4 issues), plus single-issue tie-ins for Hercules, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. The ones I have that are relevant are included here.

The Little Mermaid #1: Underwater Engagements (Dec 1997)

This clever "double-sided" comic features two stories that overlap pretty niftily, and feature some spiffy homages to the animated canon.

Ariel's story starts while she and her family are watching the Atlantica Olympics. Ariel is bored out of her mind and wants to go exploring with Flounder, but she sees an opportunity when the top athlete, Aquarius, dedicates his win to her and invites her for a ride in his newly-won mussel car. (Snerk.) At Ariel's suggestion they go to Stingray City and get caught up in a stingray turfwar, which is suddenly crashed by a human wearing a scuba-diving suit...

Eric's story starts with him at a fancy dinner with King Harold and his daughter, Princess Penelope of Glowerhaven (AHA) when the party is crashed by pirates who hold Penelope hostage. Their goal is the Golden Wheel of Glowenhaven, which had been lost to the depths of the sea but the pirates recently discovered its location. They want a volunteer to brave the stingrays to get the wheel. Eric may not be interested in marrying Penelope, but that doesn't mean he can't volunteer for the task...

Enchanting Stories #5: Seal of Approval (Dec 1997)

This issue has three stories, the main of which is "Seal of Approval", which stars Ariel and Sebastian. A new Alaskan King Crab, who rules all crustaceans, is to be crowned, and King Triton decides to send Sebastian as his representative at the coronation. Ariel is excited at the prospect of going to the Arctic, and asks if she can follow him. Triton allows it, so Ariel and Sebastian have something of an aquatic road trip, featuring seals, killer whales and polar bears.

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(????)

The Christmas Spirit

I'm not sure where this comic was originally published so I can't date it, but it was included in the 2015 Princess Comics Treasury.

This comic features King Triton and his daughters preparing for an underwater Christmas, and tensions running high as it tends to do during the holidays. When Triton gets frustrated listening to his daughters argue, he excuses himself to a secret grotto of his own where he's kept mementos of his late wife, and his daughters' childhoods. When Ariel and her sisters find the collection their petty cares melt away under the nostalgia for their mother (who is very carefully not shown). It's a sweet story, and a lovely idea that Ariel would take her penchant for collecting things from the father she otherwise clashes often with.

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Disney Princess Comics (2016 - 2021)

The Disney Princess comic strips are modern, charming comic strips with self-contained gags and stylized quasi-chibi art by Amy Mebberson. They were originally released by Joe Books in nineteen issues that ran from 2016 to 2018.

These comics issues were collected into four trade paperbacks, specifically the Comic Strips Collection (Nov 2016) that collects issues #1-4, Comic Strips Collection Volume 2 (Apr 2017) that collects issues #5-8, Something to Sing About (Dec 2017) that collects issues #11-14, and the supersized The Enchanted Collection (Mar 2018) that collects issues #1-14.

There were also hardcover collections released in July 2018 that focused on specific princesses, with some mild edits that change the comics format from four panels in a horizontal strip to four panels on a page. As far as I'm aware there were five such collections, for Belle, Ariel, Rapunzel, Jasmine and Pocahontas.

Joe Books sadly went under in 2019, but Dark Horse Comics apparently took over the rights for these comics strips, since they have republished the Joe Books-era comic strips interspersed with new content in new trade paperbacks, namely: Friends, Family, Fantastic (Mar 2020), Follow Your Heart (Jun 2020), Gleam, Glow, Laugh (Oct 2020), Make Way for Fun (Feb 2021) and Beyond the Extraordinary (Apr 2021).

Ariel-specific strips can be seen in the gallery: page 1 page 2

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Cinestory comic (2016)

In 2016 Joe Books released a Cinestory comic of The Little Mermaid, as part of a series of Cinestory comics of various films of the animated canon. This comic has 375 pages that are just under A5 size, and features screencaptures from the actual movie (plus dialogue and direction bubbles on top) as panels of a comicbook adaptation of said movie.

I'm not putting the full comic here, but here are two pages as a sample of what it looks like:

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Dark Horse movie adaptation (Oct 2019 - Feb 2020)

A new comic book/graphic novel adaptation of the movie was released by Dark Horse comics in three issues over late 2019 to early 2020, in conjunction with the movie's 30th Anniversary. Written by Cecil Castellucci and with art by Zulema Scotto Lavina and Piky Hamilton, the comic has tight focus on Ariel's point of view throughout the whole movie, with "new" content via the elaboration of her inner thoughts as she lives through it, with the trade-off that the comic excludes scenes where she isn't there. The brand new artwork is lovely, and stylizes familiar imagery from the film. The three issues were compiled together in a trade paperback that was released in May 2020.

I'm not going to include scans from this comic here, but they can be viewed at another site: Comic Extra.

Left-to-right below: Issue #1 cover, Issue #2 cover and Issue #3 cover. The cover for Issue #1 is also the cover of the trade paperback that collects the three issues together.

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Ariel's Adventure Journal: The Curse of the Sea Witches (2020)

This graphic novel, as far as I can tell, is part of a series of three original princess stories that were parked under the umbrella series title Adventure Journals, of which I've seen three issues for that original series: one for Mulan, one for Anna of Arendelle, and one for Ariel.

Ariel's graphic novel was published in Spanish in 2020 under the title Diario de aventuras de Ariel: La maldición de la bruja del mar, and an English-language version was published in 2022, either as Ariel's Adventure Journal: The Curse of the Sea Witches or the later soft series rebranding as Ariel and the Curse of the Sea Witches.

This graphic novel is written by Rhona Cleary and has illustrations by Valeria Brancati, Marco Leoni, Andrea Greppi and Lorenzo Fornaciari. It's pretty extensive for a self-contained story, and is almost a hundred pages long, with comic panels interspersed with pages of Ariel's illustrated journal where she writes out her thoughts. The story also stradles a fine line by bringing the setting more into the real world, yet still keeps the fantastic elements from the film. Namely, in this story Eric is textually a Danish prince, and he and Ariel set out from Copenhagen in order to inspect a colonial port being built in Greenland by the Royal Trading Company.

Conflict arises because, well what do you know, there are already inhabitants of the area that the Royal Trading Company is building their port. In this case, the inhabitants are merfolk, led by Queen Arnaaluk, who already hated humans to begin with after being romantically spurned by one. Ariel is less entangled in the conflict as much as she actively throws herself into it, embracing the tug of both sides: the human world, which is her beloved new home, and the merworld, which will always be her beloved roots.


2022 retitled cover.


Alternate Bonnier Books cover.

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Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale Graphic Novel (2023)

This graphic novel is an adaptation of the Liz Braswell's YA novel Part of Your World, i.e. book #5 in the Twisted Tale series. The novel posits a "What If" of the 1989 film, where Scuttle never discovered the connection between Vanessa and Ursula on the wedding barge, Ariel never got the kick to chase after Eric, and Ursula won. The novel opens five years later with Ariel learning that her father is alive, and that she has to find a way to save him and Eric from Ursula.

The graphic novel is an adaptation of that same story, with only minor alterations in streamlining the plot and trading visuals for the introspection of the novel. The graphic novel was released in June 2023, is adapted from the written novel by Stephanie Kate Strohm, and features illustrations by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews.

I think it's a great companion for fans of the novel who get to see the scenes depicted on-page, but also accessible for those who haven't read the novel in the first place. The art has its own style and doesn't try to mimic the original Disney look, but the characters are clearly recognizable and it's just a delight to see these older Ariel, Eric, Ursula/Vanessa, Flounder and Sebastian and Scuttle, and Carlotta and Grimsby, live through and rise above the sad consequences of Ursula winning the day and beating Triton five years ago. Ariel and Eric falling in love under new circumstances is an especial delight to see and read about on-page. (Oh, my heart.♥)

I'm not going to share the whole comic here, but below are three preview pages that were shared prior to the comic's release.

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