What Southern California museum inspired a Marvel comic book? In an ideal world, I’d vote for Jeffrey Deitch’s MOCA. In this world, the answer is Walt Disney’s never-realized “Museum of the Weird.” The latter was to have been an attraction at Disneyland. Disney took his museum idea seriously enough to commission animation artist Rolly Crump to design it.
As I wrote in a 2010 post,
“Crump was an ‘in-betweener’ in more ways than one. He was an assistant animator, a beatnik, a doper, and a modernist sculptor influenced by Alexander Calder. In the 1950s, while working for Disney, Crump produced satirical posters promoting jazz bands and recreational drugs. After seeing an in-house show of his mobiles and marijuana posters, Disney decided Crump was the man for the museum project. But after Disney’s 1965 death, management decided the museum was too weird for Disneyland.”
Fast-forward to 2009. The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Comics. Pirates of the Caribbean was a global goldmine, and Disney bean-counters were fanning intellectual property detectors over every Disney park ride. One outcome is Marvel’s Seekers of the Weird comic book, based on Disney and Crump’s imagineering. The first issue is due in January 2014.
There was film interest well before the comic book. In 2010 Frank Zappa’s screenwriter son Ahmet was pitching a “Museum of the Weird” movie. (And lately Frank Zappa’s weirdo music has gotten renewed attention—at Disney Hall.)
Below is Rolly Crump with a maquette of his Grandfather Coffin Clock, featured on the comic book’s cover.