Friday, November 26, 2010

"Had a Gobbler"

Okay, so I'm a tad late for Thanksgiving, but hey--everyone has Friday off, right? So we're still feeling the effects of the holiday. So it counts! For which I'm thankful!
There's a somewhat sizable corpus of Thanksgiving duck stories, most of which involved the attempted acquisition of a turkey, and this one is no exception. It's written by Lars Jensen, with whom my interactions on the Disney Comics Forum have been somewhat, let's say, fractious, but what the hey--never let it be said that I have allowed personal tiffs to warp my judgment; and drawn by the disturbingly omnipresent Vicar. I chose it because of its obscurity compared to your average Barks story, and because I feel like our English scripter, David Gerstein, deserves some sorta prize for that title, which really goes above and beyond the call of duty in the service of truly groan-worthy punning. I'm thankful for devlishly painful puns!



…also because, for no obvious reason, Monsieur Matressface from Barks' "Fabulous Philosopher's Stone" makes a walk-on appearance. I am thankful for Monsieur Matressface! I also like when anyone uses the word "swell." And that narrative box is pretty good, too. Look at everything we have to be thankful for!



Yeah, okay, so anyone even remotely familiar with duck conventions could tell you that as soon as you see the word "raffle," you know who's going to appear next--and in this case, obviously, you can go rather further than that in telling what's going to happen (ie, Gladstone is going to claim the prize at the last minute). It's interesting to contemplate the extent to which duck stories (or any stories with many-times-recurring characters) are determined by such tropes. I am thankful for ducktropes!



So since we know what's coming, I probably don't need to share the gory details. On a personal note, in re the above, I'd like to say that, as a non-consumer of meat products, my feelings in these "get a turkey OR ELSE" stories are somewhat ambivalent; I would, however, be happy to try the vegan turkey substitute. They really can do pretty uncanny things with simulated meat these days, you know. I'm thankful for resourceful food engineers!



…okay, with regard to "Win Ben Holstein's Money," all I can say is: forgive, but never forget. Hmph! I am NOT thankful for such pop-culture references.



...so the bulk of the story consists of Donald attempting to snare the turkey; it's all amusing enough, if not especially pulse-pounding. Somebody please tell me why the phrase "or know the reason why" is so naggingly familiar. I'm thankful for things that are amusing enough and phrases the origin of which I can't quite put my finger on!



Also, the long, honorable tradition of ducks being incredibly dim when it comes to recognizing one another's flimsy disguises continues! I'm thankful for the efficacy of lame disguises! Also, I'm thankful for the mental sound-image of Donald trying to affect an Indian accent in his "quacking" voice from animation.



The above is for anyone who wants a bit of psychological insight in their duck stories. It certainly would make sense that Gladstone's obnoxiousness in general and antagonistic relationship with Donald in particular is something of a vicious circle (not cycle!): it's kind of a chicken-and-egg thing to try to figure out where it all started, but essentially, Gladstone acts insufferable, Donald shuns him, and so in retaliation/defense he acts even more sufferable, prompting ever-more shunning. This is especially notable here because, as we'll see, every other Barks-canonical member of the duck family has been invited. And none of them seem to have a problem with Gladstone's exclusion. That's really gotta hurt, even if you can't totally blame Donald. It's actually quite tragic when you think about it. I'm thankful for psychological acuity, even when it illustrates a painful dynamic!



…but anyway, things are resolved. Huzzah! Thankful for resolution!



And all is well. I'm thankful that there's further conflict at the end to cut down the sentiment to manageable levels! However, I'm not thankful that their conflict doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The whole point of the wishbone is that two people break it and the one with the bigger piece gets a wish. Hoarding it is not at all to the point.

But never mind that; ultimately, I'm thankful for a pretty okay story.

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9 Comments:

Blogger ramapith said...

Hey, GeoX—glad you liked Lars' story and my take on it. But one important thing to note: the US dialogue writer doesn't always come up with the title. In fact, "Had a Gobbler" was called "Had a Gobbler" even in its original, internal Egmont version...

(...where, actually, I suggested that awful title too, as Lars and I have been friends for one eternity. But it's more the *principle* of the thing... as dialogue writer, I've been credited/blamed—by tons of reviewers—for many past story elements that were really the work of the *original* European story writer.)

I, too, love any story where Ducks successfully fool each other with goofy disguises (especially bizarre "foreign" costumes, like Lars' Rajah of Rubadub—and I loved how Lars had Donald talking about an elephant like a car; he added droves of nice details here).

Re: Ben Holstein's Money... Double bah! When Barks had Donald reference the song "Don't Fence Me In," or when he mocked Elvis, and when Gottfredson spoofed World War II military slogans or Peg Entwistle's dive from the Hollywood sign... or even when Dick Kinney had a character in the Sahara speak of "walking a mile for a camel"; there's a grand old tradition of Disney comics pop culture refs, and I'm proud to be part of it. (Hey, even the title "Had a Gobbler" was a pop culture ref—just to something premodern. Don't tell me *modernity* is what bugs you!)

November 26, 2010 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

(Hmm, that's odd. I had a phony HTML command after that "double bah" to suggest that I was turning off a Zeke Wolf dialect engine. I guess your comment reader thought it was real HTML and scrubbed it.)

November 26, 2010 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

David said:

"But one important thing to note: the US dialogue writer doesn't always come up with the title. In fact, "Had a Gobbler" was called "Had a Gobbler" even in its original, internal Egmont version"

Why not, David?

All of my titles (for both Gemstone and Boom!) have been my own! And you’ve been witness to it all!

Indeed, why would anyone wish to rewrite the Egmont dialogue, yet keep the Egmont title! (Unless, of course, they loved that particular title, for some reason!) That’s like just going NINE of the required TEN YARDS!

Joe.

November 26, 2010 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, and Geo… I’m thankful for Blogs such as yours that treat “being thankful” as a recurring, call-back gag!

…I’m also thankful for recurring, call-back gags!

Joe.

November 26, 2010 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Thanks, Joe--I'm thankful for knowledgeable, interested readers.

As far as titles go, the real question I would have is: do foreign stories really get English-language titles? I mean, I know English is fairly widely spoken in Scandinavian countries, but is that really something you'd do?

As for "Ben Holstein," yeah yeah, there's probably no way I can logically argue my instinctive irritation (well, there IS the fact that Ben Stein is a pretty big tool, but I suppose that's not really the point). I know, Barks and others did it too, but that was THEN! And this is NOW! So THERE! As far as the title goes, it strikes me as rather more understated (I'd like to see a venn diagram of duckfans and Ibsen enthusiasts) and less jarring. But no, I know it's not really a rational thing (he said, secretly continuing to believe that it was TOTALLY rational!).

November 26, 2010 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Also, before anyone else points it out, I'd like to note that yeah, I just realized that the lack of April May and June means that it's technically not true that "every other Barks-canonical member of the duck family" is at the party. But the fact that I totally forgot about their existence while writing the entry probably speaks pretty strongly to their relative importance in the Barksiverse.

November 27, 2010 at 2:06 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

GeoX, the Egmont stories ALL get English titles—and have all been produced in English since at least about 1980, though it's sometimes only a rough "working" English depending on the creators involved.

Joe: "Indeed, why would anyone wish to rewrite the Egmont dialogue, yet keep the Egmont title! (Unless, of course, they loved that particular title, for some reason!)"

"What Goes Around," "Guzzler Gus," "Santa's Helpers," "A Fowl of the Future," "The Keeper of Babylon Gardens"; all were Lars Jensen stories where I "Gersteinized" Lars' dialogue within the story, but liked Lars' titles just fine as they were: liked the atmosphere they created or just the juxtaposition of words he used. Same goes for the titles of many stories by Gorm and Kari, just to name a few.

November 27, 2010 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

David and Geo:

About titles, like everything else in the cosmos, some Egmont titles are good and worthy of being left intact – and some are not.

Also, for the record, Lars Jensen is one of the very best writers at Egmont today! In that class, I’d also include Kari Korhonen, and Gorm Transgaard.

I’ve had the privilege of working with their original material and it is always excellent!

However, when it comes to titles, I take much influence from Mark Evanier – waaay back when he wrote for Gold Key comics, and crafted the greatest titles of the era. “One Nation in Dirigible”, “Warranty and Peace”, “Lights Camera Traction!”etc.

So, when I get a story titled “The Coin Collector”, it becomes “Heads You Win Tails You Bruise” (Uncle Scrooge # 367).

And, the painfully generic “The Emerald Auction” becomes “The Last Auction Hero” (Uncle Scrooge # 397).

Again, it’s my personal preference, by way of Evanier, to turn in a title along with a script – but I think that, overall, it makes for a better read.

Oh, and I would loved to have done “Win Ben Holstein’s Money” if only I’d been clever enough to have thought of it first! Great job by David on that!

Joe.

November 27, 2010 at 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Kevin Johnson said...

Is it me, or is the art here particularly bright and gorgeous? That first panel is particularly luscious.

Interesting that the story solely focuses on the turkey-grabbing and doesn't try to shoe-horn in too much about "being thankful" lessons. I wonder if that's a key difference between the comics and the cartoon (among other things).

November 29, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

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