Roald Dahl children's book The Gremlins Cover of the first edition of The Gremlins Book # 1 Year in 1943 it got published by Publisher Originally Walt Disney, reprinted by Dark Horse Comics Preceded by None Succeeded by James and the Giant Peach The Gremlins is a children's book, written by Roald Dahl and published in 1943. It was Dahl's first children's book, and was written for Walt Disney, optioned for a film that was never made, in part because no one could establish exactly who owned the word "gremlin" and in part because they could not figure out how to make creatures who destroyed Allied aircraft lovable enough for a cartoon. On 25 September 2006, a reprinted edition of the book was released by Dark Horse Comics.
The story concerns mischievous little mythical creatures, the Gremlins of the title, that were often used by Royal Air Force pilots as an explanation for mid-air mechanical troubles and mishaps. In Dahl's book, the gremlins are motivated to sabotage English planes by the destruction of their original home, a forest, to make way for an aeroplane factory. The principal character in the book, Gus, has his plane destroyed over the English Channel by a gremlin, but is able to convince the gremlin as they parachute into the water that they should join forces against a common enemy—Hitler and the Nazis—rather than fight each other. Eventually, the gremlins are re-trained by the RAF to help repair, rather than sabotage, the English planes, and they also help restore Gus to active flight status after a particularly severe crash. (This was a kind of autobiographical reference for Dahl, who had flown as a lieutenant in the RAF, and was barred from flying after serious injuries sustained in a crash landing in Libya. He later returned to flying.) The book also contains picturesque details about the ordinary lives of gremlins: baby gremlins, for instance, are known as widgets, and females as fifinellas, a name taken from the great "flying" filly racehorse Fifinella, who won both the Epsom Derby and Epsom Oaks in 1916, the year Dahl was born.
The Dahl creations were subsequently used by Warner Bros. in several WWII cartoons, most notably Russian Rhapsody and Falling Hare, which starred Bugs Bunny. Several variations on gremlin characters were also used in World War II propaganda and as mascots for air units, such as Fifinella, who was used by the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) on their patches.
In September 2006, Dark Horse Comics reprinted a faithfully restored version of The Gremlins as well as creating a series of Gremlin-inspired toys and figurines.
Used copies of the first edition book are highly prized and sought after by collectors of both Roald Dahl's works and Disney's; these copies may be valued anywhere between one hundred and $10,000 US dollars.
In 1984, a Hollywood film called Gremlins was released; however, besides featuring similarly destructive and mischievous creatures, this film is not connected to Dahl's book.
In 1963, a Twilight Zone episode, starring William Shatner, was dedicated to Gremlins dismantling an airliner during flight: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
In 2009, the gremlins like Gus will make their debut on the upcoming video game Disney's Epic Mickey with Gus the Gremlin becoming Mickey Mouse's Jiminy Cricket.