The stories behind the stories

Lion King: Wild Schemes and Catastrophes

“You had better hope the king doesn’t find out about this little jaunt!” — Zazu

“Wild Schemes and Catastrophes”

A quartet of tales about a little lion and his friends!
Published by Dark Horse • June 4, 2019
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Timothy Green II, Danilo Anoniucci, and Alexandra Fastovets

Lettered by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt

Colored by Jordi Escuin Llorach, Danilo Antoniucci, and Julia Zhuraleva

Cover by Timothy Green II with Jordi Escuin Llorach

Edited by Freddye Miller and Judy Khuu

Not long after I had started work on the graphic novel that would become Dumbo: Friends in High Places, Dark Horse editor Freddye Miller asked if I would be interested in a similar original graphic novel associated with another Disney cartoon remake. Iron Man director Jon Favreau‘s Lion King wasn’t exactly live action, but the characters were to be appear more photorealistic.

Only after I agreed to the project did I realize that there really hadn’t been much in the way of Lion King comics in the United States; just a single Disney Comics Hits issue starring Timon and Pumbaa. So we’d be one of the first!

The graphic novel needed to be an anthology by multiple artists, but I was allowed to set the original stories whenever I wanted in the story’s timeframe. I chose to set the stories during the happier time when Simba was a cub and when Mufasa was still alive; that allowed us as well to do a story with Timon and Pumbaa before they met Simba.

I also decided to do something I’d first seen in a Looney Tunes comic book from when I was a kid: I ran a very light connection through the stories. The subplot about the hyenas’ hunger and the secret plan it drives them toward ties everything together with the final story.

“I have an idea. Let’s have dinner — together!” — Scar

“Lions on the loose,” said on page one, was the name of a “movie plot” I imagined when I was nine. I think then it was one lion — a stadium mascot that had gotten loose!

Because of the photorealistic nature of the movie, I provided a lot of information to ensure that the artists only use animals that were native — or who might have wandered into — the Serengeti. This becomes the source of an in-joke by Pumbaa, who mentions orangutans. Timon has no idea where he got the name from!

With regard to Prince Okala, I worked to try to finesse the fact that a lot of prey animals were coexisting with the lions of Pride Rock. Mufasa, we learn, is merciful with the impalas when their herd is in need due to drought.

The mountain story was a bit of a geographic stretch, as Kilimanjaro is some distance from where Pride Rock probably would have been. But Rafiki sort of suggests it’s only visible on a really clear day!