Tuesday, December 25, 2018

"Merry Christmas"


Merry Christmas, with this appropriately-titled story from 1961's Donald Duck Merry Christmas! Although, again, this is, like the last one, really more just the name of the book it appeared in than the title of the story per se. Who cares! Because, yes, a real Christmas miracle, behold: a genuinely good story! Seriously! The sort of thing you hope to find when reading these old Western things but rarely do.  I mean, no, not perfect, perhaps not likely to change your life, but one about which I can say that, with very few qualifications, I like it. It's well-written and executed and it very much deserves to be reprinted. So there! I have the feeling that, as so often with stories that I actually like, I'll have less to say about this than some others. But that's okay, hopefully! Silence is golden.  Well, obviously not "silence," as such.  But...oh, come ON.  Let's just GO.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Christmas Parade"


You know, I just realized that I'm writing more Christmas entries here (thirteen, not counting the intro post) than I have other entries period for the whole rest of the year (eleven, not counting a hit-and-run anti-IDW post). I should up my output, probably--though I suppose, all things considered, an average of one a month isn't that bad.

But never mind that, because now, Duck Comics Revue is proud to bring you: a basically pretty okay story! Turns out Western's non-Barkses were capable of producing these on occasion! Yes, I know, that Barks story kind of wrecked the curve, but pretend that never happened and appreciate it for what it is! It's called, kind of, "Christmas Parade," apparently, but I don't think that really applies to the story in any particular way. It's more a thing they would sometimes do when the title of the Giant would double as the title for the first story, even when it's not all that apropos (there are zero parades here, Christmas or otherwise). We'll see that done again next time. This was published in 1962, in the first Gold Key issue of CP; it's also the last original marquee story that the series would feature. After this it would be Barks covers along with a few lesser reprints--including, in the last issue, in 1971, "The Big Switcheroo." Dammit, Western, it really wasn't enough to drive one generation of comic-loving kids the brink of madness. Impossible to imagine why it was the last issue. Anyway.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

"Grandma's Present"


"Hey! You got your Barks in my non-Barks Christmas!" Well...yes. It's true. I came upon this in a Christmas Parade and realized, WHOA, Barks Christmas story I haven't done, and it kind of seemed unavoidable, especially when I realized I'd miscounted and had an extra day open in the schedule. Anyway, this is really your fault: when I was doing the last of Barks' holiday output last year, I specifically asked you people to point out any I'd missed, but did any of you point to this one? Like fun you did! Therefore, you must suffer, by reading about a good story.

Well, maybe that's needlessly jaundiced. But I've been reading a lot of these non-Barks things and thinking about the things about them that work and (more often) don't work, and sticking a Barks story in the middle of that really underlines what we does right that other people don't. So, let's check it out!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Santa's Unexpected Visit"


And now, another eight-pager, also from CP7. You more than likely know this one, at least if you're American, as it's been reprinted TWICE in modern times: first by Gladstone in 1988 in their first Christmas Parade, and then by Disney in 1990 in their first Holiday Parade (WAR ON CHRISTMAS ARGLEBARLE). It's not too bad for what it is, but printing it twice in three years still feels like significant overkill. Disney was kinda bumbling around for a while during their tenure as publisher. They probably weren't even aware the story had just been reprinted.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

"Curious Kids"


...but what sorts of stories do you find in these Christmas Parades once you've ventured past the openers? you wonder. Well...pretty much what you'd expect, really: some MM stuff, a bit of Bucky Bug, Chip'n'Dale, Li'l Bad Wolf...not really very interesting. Some Grandma and Gus stories with those detestable mice, which...yeah. But occasionally you also get some additional non-farm-oriented duck stories! Which typically aren't very interesting either. Nevertheless, we will look at a few of them, starting with this guy from 1955.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

"Donald's Trick-Type Trip"


Good lord, THAT TITLE. Could anything be more opaque and impossible to pronounce (okay, I guess it could be called "Xjsqyjjjqq;" that would be harder)? I keep feeling like it should be some sort of pun involving the word "triptych," even as that seems somewhat too highbrow for a story like this (plus, it would have no relevance to anything) and it's just a completely ridiculous train wreck in my mouth (the worst place for a train wreck). Inducks has it that the story is by Carl Fallberg, and I suppose I must defer to their knowledge (though really, I have no idea where said alleged knowledge comes from), but the title sure screams Lockman to me. Woosh. Anyway, this one is from 1960, and it appeared in a book called Walt Disney's Merry Christmas, and yeah, I have NO idea why they decided to release these in lieu of Christmas Parades for two years.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Reindeer Roundup"


Not to be confused with this thing, from CP 4:

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Dinner at Grandma's"

And now, this, from 1955's CP 7.  You know, the thing is, I actually wrote this entry as well as the next few before doing those damn Connell stories, and now that I've done them, I'm actually feeling significantly more charitable about these.  Not that I think my criticisms don't hold, but CRIKEY, sure, they were written by people wanting paychecks with no thought of l'art pour l'art, but they at least make an effort, sort of, and the characters, as dumb as they can be, don't generally seem like bizarre space aliens.  They're more or less earning that paycheck.  So good job, Lockman et al!  Please read this entry in that spirit.


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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Christmas One-Page Silliness


And now, a Post-Connell Palate-Cleanser. Just for kicks, let's look at some one-page things found in Christmas Parades. Why not? Why not indeed?

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Friday, December 7, 2018

"Uncle Scrooge's Generous Deed"


Well, now it's time for another Connell story, from CP 4 in 1952. Please try to restrain your excitement.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Presents for All"


MORE CONNELL?!? Jesus, MUST we? Yes, we must. Ours is not to wonder why; ours is but to do and write about stories by awful hacks. Or so it seems. This is from 1951's CP 3, meaning it's the first non-Barks marquee story. The quality drop-off is...noticeable. Although actually, it could be worse; this story would be basically inoffensive except for just one damn thing, that you will see RIGHT NOW:

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Monday, December 3, 2018

"The Big Switcheroo"


CP 6, 1954. You know, I said that that last story was the worst one on the list, but as much as I might not *like* the fake-snow thing, it at least made for a coherent story; it wasn't a madman's dream that no human mind could follow in its inhuman contortions without descending into an endless howling, shrieking void. So it had that going for it.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

"White Christmas"


It's a nice day for a...too obvious? Okay, how about this: Hey Western writer, what have you done?

Well...you've written THIS. "You" apparently being Del Connell and "this" being a 1953 story from CP 5. And this is...an interesting one. Now, I know what you're thinking: "does that mean 'bad?' It sounds like that means 'bad.'" Um...yes. Honestly, I'm starting here so that all the other stories we look at will look better in comparison. So on THAT ominous note, let us begin!


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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Preview


So tell me, Germ from Night in the Woods, what do you think about my idea of celebrating Christmas this year by writing a series of posts about seasonally-appropriate non-Barks Western stories?


Yes. Thank you for your encouragement. Honestly, you're not wrong, but hopefully, it can be an at least somewhat interesting weird bad time!

So Western released a series of Christmas Parade Giants from 1949 to 1971 (though after the first Gold Key issue, they stopped being giants and became less ambitious in general) (also, for unclear reasons, the 1960 and 61 issues were just titled "Merry Christmas," with no Parade in sight). The first two featured, respectively, "Letter to Santa" and "You Can't Guess" as their marquee stories, and later issues featured the Barks-drawn "Christmas in Duckburg" and "Christmas Cha Cha." But aside from that, there were an awful lotta issues, and they couldn't just be filled by endlessly recycling Barks, no matter how much they woulda liked to (though one kinda wishes they had kept him on permanent Christmas Duty--I know I know, given the prodigious amount of stuff he was cranking out, something would've had to give, but still--man. Imagine a world with a half dozen additional Barks Christmas stories). So...there are quite a few--nine, to be exact--full-length, marquee Christmas stories by people other than Your Only Man (in Christmas specials, at least; there are probably a few others in regular issues of Donald Duck or whatnot, but...let's not go crazy). That you probably haven't read unless you're an obsessive like me (well, maybe it's different for some of you Europeans--a lot of them have been reprinted over there in recent years). Aren't you the least bit curious about them? Welp, you're in luck, because I've read all nine, and I'm gonna tell you aaaaaaall about them. All of them? Yes, all of them, plus some extra little bits. I wasn't sure at first whether I was going to be able to manage that, but at this point I've already written the first three entries, so I think I'll be good. "Shouldn't you save some for next year?" Do you REALLY want two straight years of this stuff? "So what..." We'll worry about that when we come to it. For now, this! I know it seems dopey, but I'm actually unreasonably excited about it. I'm gonna expose the internet to a whole shit-ton of stuff that it previously knew nothing about! And for good reason! Huzzah!

Well you might ask: these are all going to be bad, aren't they? You basically just admitted it. Don't you think this is a fairly dispiriting way to celebrate the holiday? Well...some are worse than others, is all I'll say in that regard. But it's true that you're not going to be seeing a whole lot of transcendence this year. And yet--don't tell anyone!--I can't help having a certain sneaking affection for a lot of this stuff. Some of it's too bad even for that, it's true, but, I mean, I don't find writing about this to be an unpleasant process, as much as I joke about it, and I hope you won't find reading it to be either. Let's try to have some fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"The Not-So-Ancient Mariner"


HA! You didn't EXPECT a story that has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Halloween, DID YOU?!? Well...my excuse is that "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is kinda spooky. I know some people don't think ghost pirates are really Halloweeny enough, but surely we can all agree that the Pogues' "Turkish Song of the Damned" is the best Halloween song of all? C'mon.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Wispy Willie"


I have to admit, the main reason I haven't been more active here in recent months is horror at the direction my country is going in, and not fun, seasonal horror either. I think that's basically what I said LAST Halloween, so...that may not be a good sign. BUT. The show must go on, so let's look at a not-really-Halloween story. Hey, it's not the first time, nor the last. You know, of course, that this story isn't actually called "Wispy Willie;" Barks wasn't titling his ten-pagers at the time. Granted, that title refers to the most memorable thing in the story, but it's certainly not the story's centerpiece. It doesn't really have a centerpiece. It does have its moments, though.
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

"My First Million"


RIGHT WOT'S ALL THIS THEN?

I first read this story in the old Comixology version. I'm not actually quite sure how that came to pass. I've read very few stories that way on account of the rubbishy translations. Maybe I'd come back after a long time wanting to know if they'd improved at all (spoiler: no). But however it happened, it happened. So when I saw that this was going to actually be printed in an IDW book, I thought, HEY, why are they printing this mediocre-at-best story? Well, because the powers that be mandated it, presumably. Just because they're powers doesn't mean they're particularly bright. But, I thought, well, at least it'll be a better localization, which might give it a bit of a shot in the arm. I did not know at that time that change was afoot at IDW...

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Will somebody kindly tell me...




...just what the friggin' frig the deal is with this?

I mean, do I need to elaborate on that? Probably not, but I will anyway: the comic is known as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. By leaving off "Walt," this new version looks bizarrely decapitates the title for no reason that I can see (somehow, I think of those old photos from Stalinist Russia from which liquidated party officials would be edited out as convenient). And compounding the bizarreness is that it remains "Comics and stories. "Stories" is the anachronistic part of the title. It hasn't published text stories in forever. There have been incarnations of the title which lopped off "and stories;" I don't love that, but it makes sense and I can't get too het up about it. But this--let's not mince words--fucking bullshit of getting rid of Walt (I mean, the renumbering sucks too, but at least you can sort of explain, if not justify, that)? The only possible explanation I can think of is that someone at Disney decided that they want to deemphasize the man himself and only have "Disney" used as a corporate signifier. That possibility does NOT speak well of anyone, but, well...what am I supposed to think? But whatever the reason, it sucks. A lot (I want to love you, Disney, I really do, but you sure don't make it easy). WDC is a beloved, venerable institution and does not deserve to be fucked with in such a manner. And really, whatever wildly misguided notions anyone may have about branding, from a marketing perspective, this is just nonsense: new readers are not going to care one way or the other about this, and stalwarts like us are just pissed off. What brain trust is responsible for this?

I think IDW may be having some kind of psychotic break. There's this, and then there's the extremely ominous talk of "fresh and modern" translations, or whatever the fuck? I mean, if you want to switch up translation philosophies for some sort of articulated reason, that would be, well, at least theoretically justified, but does anyone think this is going to be anything other than an exercise in blandness, probably precipitated by some clueless bureaucrat's resentment over liberties and perceived liberties taken with the Most Holy Text? Especially given that they're kicking off with the mediocrity that is "Uncle Scrooge's Millions," I think the question comes very close to answering itself.

But hey, by all means, don't listen to me; I'm just an intense, long-time fan. I'm sure you can make up for alienating people like me by attracting random dilettantes. Really. This is an extremely coherent, well-thought-out idea. Don't worry about a thing. Knock yourselves out.

Still...you should probably at least know this much: if your comics go in the bad direction that it looks like they're going to go, I'm going to stop buying them. No, you don't care about that per se, but look: this blog may not be particularly popular as blogs go, but as English-language Disney-comics blogs go, it's pretty comfortably in the number-one spot. That sounds like bragging, and sure sure it's a bit like winning the "tallest dwarf" contest, but it is what it is. If I write about a story (assuming it has an even slightly distinctive title), my blog entry will appear among the top google hits on the first page.  Point being: do you want me to give you unrelentingly negative publicity? 'Cause if you earn it I will, and it seems like that might not be the all-time super-greatest thing for you, given how marginal this field is. Think about it,'s all I'm saying.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Money Is the Root of Upheaval!"


So I haven't really been saying anything about the current IDW stuff for a while. It's not that I'm not buying and reading the books; just that, for whatever reason, I haven't felt like I've had much to say about them. They're good; I like them. I might be cool with not quite so many of these damn Donald/Fethry team-ups, and I don't like WDC being reduced to a quarterly (expanded page count or not), but it seems ungracious to complain too much. I also like the Fantagraphics Disney Masters books. Oddly enough, that Jippes/Milton one seems especially good; there's only one previously-unpublished-in-the-US story, but most of them were previously only published in low-quality Gladstone I editions, so it's cool to have them in good quality. I must say, I object on ideological grounds to Paul Murry being referred to as a "Disney master," but aside from that, it's all good.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

"Boat Buster"


Pan Miluś wanted me to write about Rockerduck's debut, so here we are. He also referred to the story--accidentally or on purpose, I'm not sure, it amuses me either way--as "Boat Bastard." That certainly has more force than the so-called "real" title.

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Monday, July 9, 2018

"All at Sea"


I feel guilty: I've been neglecting my flagship blog here. Granted, I've been kinda burning it up on the duck cartoons front, but this is the shit I REALLY care about. Let's kick it old-school with a little Barks, shall we? It's been a while. Every time I think "have I said all that can possibly be said?" I read a story and I think, huh, I have some things I want to say about this. So now: "All at Sea," from 1960. People often peg the late fifties and early sixties as Barks' weakest period, but I dunno. Sure, there may be some justifications for that, but there are also fun stories like this.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

"The Delta Dimension"


And now...ladies and gentlemen...boys and girls...tadpoles and pollywogs...terries and fermies...almond joys and mounds...peanut butters and jellies...stalactites and stalagmites...et and cetera...the time has come for: THIS!
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Matchmaker"


It's time to write about what I can only describe as "some hella dumb shit." This entry is thanks to Debbie Anne, who posted a page from it on one of the Disney comics facebook groups. And now, you get to reap the benefit! Lucky you.
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

"A Mysterious Melody; or, How Mickey Met Minnie"


This one's long overdue, innit? This is the second in the Disney by Glenat series, where the French publisher got non-Disney artists and had them go nuts with the characters and the form, to absolutely enthralling effect (actually, I believe the first and second in the series were released on the same day; whatever). I absolutely fucking LOVE the ground-breaking innovation on display here, and the stories are none too shabby neither. Leastways, not the first two. We've looked at Mickey's Craziest Adventures, so now it's time for A Mysterious Melody. This is by Cosey, a prolific Swiss cartoonist who generally does much more serious work. According to that link, he had applied to work for Disney in 1978. It's interesting to imagine how his work there would have been. Presumably, we would've had to rein in his impulses to conform with the general house style (which he certainly doesn't here), but what would that have looked like? Would he have broken new ground? An intriguing counterfactual.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Astro Pooch"


Yes, it's Astro Pooch! A comic drawn (and, presumably, written--you probably don't need a Bill Walsh for something like this) by Gottfredson as background art for a little-remembered 1968 live-action Disney comedy, Never a Dull Moment.

But as far as I know, no one's ever really dug down deep into the Astro Pooch mythos until now, and that is a shame. So let's do it, yeah? Buckle up, mofos!
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Monday, March 26, 2018

"Hoosat from Another Planet"


It's been HOW long since I've written here?!?  My goodness!  Would you believe I was kidnapped by somewhat incoherently-drawn space people? And as evidence, I present: this, a late Gottfredson/Walsh effort, for your consideration. Consider it! I order you!

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

"The Fountain of Strength"

Well, we recently learned from Mark Evanier that Vic Lockman had died on June 1 of this year, at the age of ninety. I felt that I should write something in...I dunno. Tribute? Recognition? Acknowledgement?
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"The Hammy Camel"

Give them credit: that title may have been applied after the fact, but it sounds very much like something Barks would've come up with himself.

Yes, okay. I will now simultaneously drink an intensely hoppy IPA (this one, to be specific) and write this blog entry. Good times. I mean, not "simultaneously" in the sense that I'm drinking at the same moment I'm typing, but...WHATEVER. Happy Third Day of Christmas.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

"You Can't Guess"

And now, the climax of our Christmas series! I've never quite held this in the same regard as "Shacktown" and "Letter to Santa," but I've still always felt a great deal of affection for it. As I read it over with a critical eye for the purposes of this entry, I was actually surprised by how many issues and oddities it has, but none of them really impact my overall feelings towards it. Welp, let's go.



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Friday, December 22, 2017

"The Thrifty Spendthrift"

And now, a silly, frivolous story with no thematic weight and no notable Christmas spirit that we nonetheless find highly amusing. Seriously, this obviously is in some sense a Christmas story, but holy crud is it not. I mean, say like you like about "Silent Night;" at least it was reacting to the holiday in some way. This one...well, not so much. As we will quickly see.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Christmas Cheers"

I don't know about all y'all, but I've always gotten the impression that this is Barks' most obscure Christmas story. It's been reprinted in the US often enough, but for some reason I just never think of it, and recently reading through a bunch of ten-pagers, I was surprised to see it come up: an unfamiliar Christmas story? Goodness! It can't have been the first time I'd read it, but I had only the vaguest of memories of it which sort of came back as I was reading. Well, now it shall be immortalized...in blog form!

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