Saturday, March 5, 2011

"70th Heaven"

"70th Heaven" is the marquee story from WDC715, as you likely all know. It was originally published in the Netherlands in 1992 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Dutch DD comics. However, the dialogue in the US edition has been rejiggered to recognize the seventieth anniversary of Walt Disney's Comics [and Stories]. Well, technically, the seventy-first, but hey, you know…close enough. It was originally scheduled to appear in Gemstone's never-published WDC700, as "700th Heaven." I do like the fact that they were able to maintain the "seven" business.
I would have written this entry earlier, probably, but, since I couldn't find scans of the issue (which, apart from my inconvenience, is a good thing--online scans are very useful to me, but let's not have current material available, shall we? Boom's doing good work, so support them, dammit!), I had to scan all the relevant images myself, which is a somewhat time-consuming and tedious procedure. But I did it all for you!

It has been suggested that this story might not be the sort of thing I'd like, possibly because of the huge assortment of cameo appearances by characters from other Disney comics and movies. But the truth is--while I certainly wouldn't want every story to follow this pattern--I find it totally delightful. Definitely the best crossover comic I've read; it's not fair to think of it in the same breath as such dubious efforts as "April May and June meet Scamp," "Grandma Duck meets Dumbo," or "Moby Duck meets the Big Bad Wolf" (all real, actual things that happened--thanks a bunch, Lockman). This story is fundamentally different than other crossovers (and you could easily argue that my appreciation for this story says nothing about my feelings on the form in general)--but we'll get to that. Basically, there are two awesome things about "70th Heaven:" first, the portrayal of our heroes; and second, the fact that it has more bits that make me grin widely and helplessly than just about any other story I can think of. Actually, I guess that "first" might be a subset of the "second." Never mind! Let's stop dealing in generalities and get down to business.



Donald, HDL and Daisy are the scrappy editors and publishers of an alt-weekly sort of thing called the "Webfoot Waddle" (which stands in, in that metatextual way, for WDC itself). And I have never seen Donald portrayed like this; ie, as highly driven and competent but not at all hubristic about it, as in Barks' "brittle mastery" stories and their descendants. I just find it super, super cool. Daisy is also very pleasingly written. Not that there weren't stories even way back in the day in which she asserted herself, but her dominant portrayal remains that of object, and it's pretty awesome to see her just buckling down to work, totally blowing off Gladstone's smug advances.



See? Just look how totally cool they all are! It's fucking fantastic!

I'm not sure what specifically those numbers are referring to; all I know is that 698 was the last Gemstone issue of WDC and 384 was the first Boom issue of US.



'course, there's still a bit of the old Donald here--he wants to have a big party to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the paper (the question of how these characters can possibly have been working on this thing for seventy years--or whether this is in fact supposed to be the case--is another li'l bit of line-blurring). His eyes are bigger than his stomach, obviously, but it doesn't mean that he relapses permanently into blumbliness.

Funny bit with the comic-pirate-accordianist.

But never fear--the ducks have their own talents! Such as:



Hey, I recognize that song from Barks' "Screaming Cowboy!" Nice call-out! That was a fun story!



...oh. I don't know whether that helpful footnote was in the original or not, but it's one of these things for which there is just no good justification: if you know the story, it's just lame to have the joke explained that way, and if you don't, then how is that going to help you? Surely you would gather that it was meant as a reference of some sort without outside help, and what else do you get out of this? Anyone who has an old copy of WDC137 lying around to consult isn't going to need the reminder. Imagine if Rosa's stories were annotated like this--the footnotes would take up half the page as often as not.

On the bright side, the idea of Donald so casually deciding to play William Tell here is pretty funny. I like the goggle-eyed horror on the one nephew's face.



…but they do ultimately get their shit together, and we get to see their rehearsal, which--again--is Totally Awesome.



See? Totally Awesome.

But we haven't gotten to the "crossover" portion of the story, have we? It's pretty convoluted how it works, but basically, Gladstone, by various circumstances, gets roped into having a party for rich people, and a bunch of invitations fly away, through space, time, and dimension, to reach a whole bunch of Disney characters from here there and everywhere. It would be fun to go through and ID as many characters as possible (which would be most of them for me--I've seen nearly every Disney movie, including super-obscure ones), but those jerks at inducks spoiled the fun by listing them all in the story's entry. Grumph. Oh, don't be like that. You know I love you, inducks.

Suffice it to say, there are a LOT of them--Jippes really comes through with the art. Sometimes it feels a little arbitrary which ones were chosen--Basil of Baker Street? That stupid mail plane from Saludos Amigos? Really?--but it's still super-cool.



This one is my favorite. Just cracks me up.



Unfortunately, Jones has plans to sabotage our heroes' party (there are two parties at this point, you understand; our heroes' and Gladstone's). Dammit, Jones! Usually I kinda like the guy, but not here. He wasn't even provoked like he usually is--he's just bein' a jerk. It's kind of odd that he's ultimately the only real villain in the story (especially since normally he's not really a villain at all).

Gladstone's party is lame, so everyone flocks to Donald's--but alas, Jones' sabotage fucks up the ducks' great act.



…but as you can see, the people turn out to be unusually understanding, which is another nice thing that I appreciate. So instead, we see a whole bunch of other Disney characters performing, which on the one hand is ridiculous and makes no sense, but on the other, is ridiculous and makes no sense in a Totally Awesome way.



See? Totally Awesome! Okay, so the Beagle Boys aren't crossover characters per se, but placed in this non-villainous context, they're alien enough that they might as well be.



Likewise, Totally Awesome! There are a few more, but you get the (Totally Awesome) gist.



Our heroes are going to have to compete with Scrooge, but look how goshdarned excited they are about it! And now (thanks to a change of heart) they have Gladstone on their team also. It's just great--full of promise and enthusiasm for the future! And unrelatedly, let me note in passing that Daisy rarely looks as sexy as she does here. It's not just a physical thing (though that evening gown certainly doesn't hurt)--it comes in part from her competence and confidence too.



However, as a final triumph, Scrooge joins the team after all. Hurrah!

As I noted earlier, it's hard to really think of the story as a proper crossover kind of thing--none of the other-world characters really do much individually; they certainly don't take the focus off of the ducks, where it belongs. It's no joke, man: this has quickly become one of my favorite stories ever. Congratulations to everyone involved.

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10 Comments:

Blogger ramapith said...

"I'm not sure what specifically those numbers are referring to; all I know is that 698 was the last Gemstone issue of WDC and 384 was the first Boom issue of US."

Check out WDC 693's "A Look at Next Month" section, and you'll see a preview of "694" that describes the contents of what would eventually end up as 698.
When the real 694 came out, by contrast, it matched what Gemstone previously planned as 696.
To make a long story short—Gemstone was way behind schedule in releasing the books, and reshuffled things to make sure holiday-themed material came out on time.

Flashing forward to WDC 700—when Boom published this issue, some percentage of cover C was printed with the number 384. (The US 384 issue-number box had been placed on the cover as a positioning guide, and the final 700 box accidentally wasn't swapped in at first.)

In other news: Daisy, sexy? *shudder*

March 5, 2011 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

And in other other news:

1) I added the footnote that bugged you. Damn.

2) How could the Ducks have been editing the Webfoot Waddle for 70 years? Er—they haven't! Donald mentions that his grandpa founded it.
(The original Dutch version of the story, by the way, discusses two founding dates: the Dutch DD Weekly in 1952 [...yes, the actual comic book], and the Webfoot Waddle-equivalent in 1969. In Holland, the published DD Weekly actually includes a feature like the Waddle: a newspaper-style insert supposedly edited by Donald and the gang.)

March 5, 2011 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous David Kops said...

I am dutch and I know the dutch version very well!

By the way: the drawings were made by Jippes, and it has been inked by Michel Nadorp.

I think that annotation wasn't there. The song he sang was just a.. Let's call it classic dutch children's song. Or something.

Ik knew what they were saying in dutch in every panel (so it's very funny for me because usually it's the other way around!). The clue has been changed quite radically. In those ending panels they talked about how to fill up the 'dutch weekly' magazine. Jokes, Price winning contests, lots of stories, 'gallery of the great' and other redactional things. Scrooge says "Don't forget the mail box! I still haven't found my lost quarter!" We also have a 'mail box' which contains reader's letters to Donald.

I enjoyed this one!

March 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

You don't find cartoon ducks sexy? What's wrong with you?

Fair enough on the "grandfather" business, though that raises at least as many questions as it answers.

March 5, 2011 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

...and thanks for the extra detail, both of you.

March 5, 2011 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo: You wrote…

“Funny bit with the comic-pirate-accordianist.”

I told David Gerstein in person, but I’ll repeat it here… “That is one of the FUNNIEST individual bits to appear in a Disney comic… EVER!

Oddly, I was riding on a bus to confer with David at his place about the upcoming “Pirate Gold” story and other things, -- and during the ride I was reading “70th Heaven”, encountered that panel – and laughed noticeably out loud (quite loud)… in public!

Anything that passes the “Laugh-Out-Loud-In-Public-Test” is simply excellent work!

Joe.

March 5, 2011 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Indeed!

...and as for the footnote, you know, I still don't think it was necessary, but in thinking about it, it occurs to me that you could sort of justify it on the basis that it DOES emphasize the link between the book we're now reading and WDC from back in the day. It's hard to think of there really being a line of continuity here, given how different the modern version is, but since that's what we're here for, I guess there might be something to be said for making that clearer.

March 5, 2011 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger Erik said...

I enjoyed this story quite a bit, but after reading your write-up I feel like I need to go back and give it a reread. Great review!

March 6, 2011 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Thanks!

March 6, 2011 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Geo,

In my blog comment about this story, I compared the ambience to that of HOUSE OF MOUSE, and that still seems like a good analogy. Would have liked to have seen a few more created for TV characters, though. Not that HOUSE OF MOUSE gave them any but the absolute briefest of tumbles...

Chris

March 6, 2011 at 8:47 PM  

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