Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"The Kangaroo Kid"

Here's a story from 1964 (and helpfully reprinted by Gladstone in DDA42) illustrated by Tony Strobl and written by the prolific Question Mark. Truth is, the only real reason I'm writing this entry is because I want to highlight the awesomeness of this introductory panel:


I can only infer that HDL initially assume that "down under" is some kind of euphemism for "eternal perdition." I find this way more hilarious than anything that Question Mark has ever MEANT to be funny. It makes me want someone to do a photoshop of Strobl art featuring the lyrics to "House Carpenter:"

What hills, what hills are those my love,
That shine so bright and free?
Those are the hills of Heaven, my love,
But not for you and me.

What hills, what hills are those, my love,
That are so dark and low?
Those are the hill of Hell, my love,
Where you and I must go.

Pretty sure that would be the best thing on the internet. Make it so, minions!

Also moderately awesome: the following panels, in which it appears that the writer is under the impression that people in Australia are literally walking around upside down:



I don't know WHAT that...thing Donald's doing in the bottom panel is meant to be. I hate for this blog to stoop to such degraded discourse, but it looks more like "constipation" than "bracing."

Oh, whatever. Aside from general unintentional weirdness, this story isn't all that interesting or anything, but I guess I might as well go through it in a bit more detail. It's all too typical of non-Barks duck stuff from the sixties, actually. It's bad in a different sense than certain stories are, but it's bad, and sometimes only barely comprehensible:



You can piece together the intended meaning here, sort of, but it's not exactly limpid, is it? Also, note how Donald refers to "these jet airplanes" in the image above, creating the impression that he and the boy each have their own jets. Was there no editor working at Western at this time?

Look, I'm not going to bother with this whole lame plot. Long story short: there are thieves disguised as kangaroos terrorizing the town. HDL disappear.



Oh no! Oh but wait:



...turns out the kids are just experiencing symptoms of narcolepsy. Phew!

Why this ridiculous contrivance? Because the writer wanted a scenario where Donald thinks they've been kidnapped but they actually haven't, and he came up with this and decided to go with it, regardless of its general dumbness. Great job, Question Mark!

So anyway, Donald gets carried around by a kangaroo--because it is required by law that this happen in any story set in Australia--when he gets caught by the thieves. Egads.



Then the action switches to the kids and this dude, and the next we see Donald:



Yup. we don't get to see this thrilling tale or anything; it is just desultorily declared to have occurred off-camera. Can I ask, Question Mark, exactly WHY you got into this career in the first place? 'Cause it sure doesn't seem to have been LOVE.

And then there's a mean-spirited punchline:



Ha ha! Donald doesn't care whether HDL live or die! Whatta card!

Obviously, the relationship between Donald and the boys is frequently extremely contentious, but some people either don't know or don't care that there are LIMITS to this dynamic. FUME.

That is all for now. As you were.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Christopher said...

This is why only Carl Barks and Don Rosa should be allowed to write Duck comics... This is why only Carl Barks and Don Rosa should be allowed to write Duck comics... This is why only Carl Barks and Don Rosa should be allowed to write Duck comics... with the occasional Van Horn story.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind more authors writing Duck comics if they could only make them funny and create great action scenes and stay true to the established characters, and most seem to be incapable of getting even one out of three.

August 11, 2010 at 3:28 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Johnson said...

Wow, that was sloppy as hell. There's lazy writing, then there's not even bothering to write a freaking CLIMAX. Runner-up: Donald not turning around to see HDL napping.

I do think this was the worse comic yet.

August 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Geo,

The ending gag really DOES fly in the face of what we know about Donald and HD&L, doesn't it?

Laugh if you must at the "being upside down" business, but some of the constellations REALLY ARE upside down a lot of the time in the Australian sky, because the southernmost stars weren't properly mapped until well after the stars north of the celestial equator were safely in the books.

Chris

August 11, 2010 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

“Obviously, the relationship between Donald and the boys is frequently extremely contentious, but some people either don't know or don't care that there are LIMITS to this dynamic. FUME.”


To be fair to Mister Question Mark RE: the value of the cameras, Donald *IS* the nephew of Scrooge McDuck! And he did get what he deserved for exhibiting that particular family trait… something that doesn’t always happen to Scrooge.

And I kinda like that we didn’t see Don’s bacon saved by a dumb animal! Makes his ineptitude somehow funnier that way. You maybe think he might be a hero, and find out after the fact that (true to form) he wasn’t!

August 12, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo:

Regarding your statement on the “Down Under” gag: “Also moderately awesome: the following panels, in which it appears that the writer is under the impression that people in Australia are literally walking around upside down”:

That WAS an oft-repeated gag in the media of the fifties and sixties. It was used in Warner Bros. cartoons… and, as I coincidently happened to see on DVD just last night, even by Alfred Hitchcock.

On his TV show, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, the master director would both introduce one of his television “plays” – usually a tense (or sometimes humorous) story usually involving a murder – and put a coda to it.

For an episode titled “A Little Sleep”, we open with a shot of Hitch “upside down” (as if he is standing casually on the ceiling). He begins in his usual deadpan:

“Good eve-en-ing. This is Alfred Hitchcock speaking to you from the BOTTOM OF THE WORLD. I mention this because if snow should appear on your screen, you won’t waste time adjusting your set.”

AN EQUALLY UPSIDE DOWN ST. BERNARD ARRIVES WITH A KEG AROUND HIS COLLAR.

“Ah… Man’s best friend… and a DOG, too!

“Even though I have all the comforts of home, I’m afraid it’s time for our play, and I wouldn’t want everyone to watch this standing on his head.

THE SCENE SUDDENLY FLIPS BACK TO NORNAL – SANS THE ST. BERNARD.

“Well, we seem to have lost the dog, but it’s nice to feel the blood rushing to my feet again. Here, proper-side-up, is our story…”

Hmmm, I guess if it’s good enough for Alfred Hitchcock, it’s good enough for Donald Duck!

August 15, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Very interesting. I suppose it has something to do with exoticizing unusual locales. I'm going to take a bold critical stand, however, and state definitively that I think Alfred Hitchcock was a greater artist than the author of "The Kangaroo Kid." Please admire my bold, free-thinking spirit!

August 15, 2010 at 1:59 PM  

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