JEEZ. It just goes to show: I don't
imagine that Bill Walsh was actually a domestic
violence enthusiast, but the fact that he could come up with a
hilarious joke like this on the subject really does show how far
we've come. We sorta get caught up on racial depictions in old
Disney comics, and in comparison they don't seem as bad on issues of
gender (though, granted, that's in part because there are so few female characters to be bad with, which is its own issue), but they could still be pretty darned bad.
There's another point to be made, too.
I like plenty of Walsh's Gottfredson stories—and isn't it
impressive that with “Pirate Ghostship, “World of Tomorrow,”
and “House of Mystery,” he managed three stories in a row where
characters are killed (sure, in two out of three you can argue that
those deaths don't “count,” but really now)?—but you often find
a kind of artifice in them—a distance, maybe.
Like, they don't feel as close to the character as previous stories,
and his behavior doesn't feel as “authentic.” The above is just
an extreme example of that—can you really
imagine Mickey Mouse, as previously depicted, getting it into his
head to beat up his girlfriend? Of course not;
it's total nonsense (you can see something similar, if less obviously unacceptable, in the disproportionate number of Walsh strips where Mickey is lusting after random human women). This shit is completely alien
to the character. Most of Walsh's work isn't this bad, of course,
but there's a prevailing air of unreality about
it, for, at various times, both better and worse.