Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"To the Moon by Noon"

I thought I would write about this 'cause why not? It's an unusual team-up, and Joe Torcivia is justly proud of his work on it. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk a little bit about Paul Murry.
I'm not gonna lie to you: not a big Murry fan, here, for the usual reasons: I find his more subdued Mickey kind of flat, and much less interesting than the Gottfredson version. 'Course, the plots and writing, mostly by Carl Fallberg, don't tend to be that interesting either, which isn't really Murry's fault, but whoever is to blame--doesn't tend to do much for me. An' don't try an' tell me that Goofy takes on the energy that Mickey lost, because I think that's only true to a very limited extent--his character, too, is substantially attenuated in Murry.

I'm pretty well convinced at this point that a big part of the reason it took me as long as it did to warm to Mickey as a character is that my first exposure was to the Murry version. These days, I take a certain limited pleasure in some of his work, but generally, I think he's analogous to Tony Strobl on the duck side: a competent draughtsman responsible for some modestly entertaining stories, but rarely if ever anything really transcendent. Hey, I know he has his fans. I don't feel strongly enough about him to argue too vociferously on the subject.

I generally prefer Strobl, who was working in the general Barksian vein. Rather than following explicitly in Gottfredson's footsteps, Murry's Mickey is really his own; I suppose he deserves a certain amount of credit for originality, but the results...eh. Interesting to note, however, that, as any cursory survey will reveal, Murry has way way way more representation than does Strobl in modern (ie, Gladstone I onward) Disney comics. Not at all fair, in my opinion, but this goes back to the originality thing: pretty much everyone sees Barks as "the" duck artist, from which Strobl was just an okay knock-off; whereas, given that Gottfredson was working in strips rather than books, I think that Murry was perceived as "the" mouse artist for a lot of people [citation needed].

Anyway, what's good about this here "To the Moon by Noon" is that--in large part thanks to Joe's script, I'm thinking--the story has a lot more energy than your average Murry effort. Mickey's pretty much as he usually is in these sorts of things, but that really works in this case, as it allows him to play straight-man to Ludwig, and Ludwig's dialogue is where the story really shines.



Note the old-school title logo, which, as Joe notes, is pretty much exactly what it would've looked like had the story been published back in the day. And yeah, it would've been even cooler if that inimitable "Murry font"--you know it well if you've read any of his stuff--could have been rustled up.

Note also that some of the lines here are sort of on the fuzzy side; nothing too distracting, but I sense that finding entirely pristine artwork might have been problematic.



I don't know that I have anything super-profound to say about this story. It's not earth-shattering or anything; it's just an amusing little jaunt. I like how Ludwig confuses his scientist-type exclamations in that lower-left panel there.



Also note that in addition to being quite witty, the dialogue here really accords well with the art. This is exactly how you would expect Ludwig to sound, based on his expressions.

Oh, yeah, the idea here is that Ludwig is gonna use his rocket to get to his college reunion.



There is no context in which I would not find the phrase "I made you some swell cheese sandwiches" funny, but somehow, the fact that here the word "swell" is being employed in a self-consciously anachronistic way makes it even more so.



They accidentally launch themselves to the Moon, as is known to occur. Ludwig's smaller-fonted, rambly asides really hit the spot. You may recall Brainerd Brainmore as the hapless physicist from "The Swamp of No Return."



In all seriousness, for totally unrealistic cartoon space travel here, this isn't half bad, and seems to predict the actual moon landings in a not-wholly-outlandish way.



...and here's a cute li'l shout-out to "The Twenty-Four-Carat Moon."



...proof that he landed on the moon, that is. Now that's funny, even if Ludwig appears to be insulting himself along with all those other scientists.



Hurray! Note that the business with Ludwig forgetting about Mickey is a running gag throughout.

It could justly be said that Mickey doesn't really do much of anything here, but in this case--as previously noted--his blandness works in the story's favor. He's basically just here for Ludwig to bounce dialogue off of. Stick a more volatile character like Donald in the Mickey role, and Ludwig immediately has to share the spotlight. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, depending on what you were going for, but the present dynamic works beautifully.

I am on the record as wishing that Boom had done prestige-format books; now that, to all appearances, they soon won't be doing much of anything Disney-related (the recently-announced cancellation of the "Atombrella and the Rhyming Man" one-shot absolutely breaks my heart), I suppose I should have counted my blessings. I'll say this, though: while I still think prestige-format is the way to go, when you only have a few stories per issue, you do appreciate each individual story more. Of course, for this to work, the stories actually have to be good, but Boom's done pretty well on that front, giving us some real treasures in their brief tenure. And this is one of them. What can you say about a six-year-old comics publisher that lost its Disney license?

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8 Comments:

Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo:

Thanks for the kind words… and if, in even the smallest of ways, I’ve caused you to enjoy a Mickey story – especially a Paul Murry Mickey story – then I’m doubly pleased! :-)

As I’ve said elsewhere, my aim in dialoguing was to write a “proper” comic-book version of Ludwig Von Drake. From the start, I told David Gerstein that I wanted smaller fonts for Von Drake’s “trailing digressions”, etc. He more than delivered the goods, with not only that but the “period Gold Key logos” and more. If it were possible for him to cobble-up a “Murry Lettering Font” I know he would have done it! He’s just that good!

As you’ve noticed, I also set out to write “The Murry Mickey”. I could have gaged him up a bit more, but that would be true to neither the character nor the era.

The running gag of Ludwig continually “noticing” Mickey was my own touch, and I’m really pleased you enjoyed it! And, I’ll always throw in a Barks reference or two, wherever I can make them fit!

BTW, I don’t believe that anyone’s claimed to notice the “additional thing” I planted for anyone reading the story a second time. At least no one’s explicitly mentioned it anywhere the story’s been discussed. Care to take a crack at it? Your Blog can be where it is revealed! :-)

Joe.

May 13, 2011 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Oh boy! An exclusive!

However, I've read the story several times, and I fear I may be too dumb and/or lack the cultural context to catch this "thing." In any case, I'm gonna be off in tropical climes for the next two weeks, so not in any position to do much about it--but if anyone else wants to use this space to hash it out, that would be peachy.

May 14, 2011 at 1:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, it’s nothing “cultural” (pop or internal to Disney comics), or specifically sixties!

It’s very clear, but such an integrated part of the story, that perhaps it’s something that you might notice and “not notice” at the same time! I’ll bet many of you already have noticed.

No posts at “Duck Comics Revue” for two whole weeks?! ...But, but, what will we do?!

Okay, then… In two weeks (Memorial Day weekend), I’ll reveal it here -- or if someone gets it before then, I’ll tell them that you owe them a prize, or sumpthin’! :-)

“Tropical climes”, eh? Steer clear of parrots, maps, an’ old ships, will ya!

May 14, 2011 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Pegleg Pete said...

Yeah! Steer clear—so's *I* kin find all dem doubloons... trip-loons, even! (Woids shamelessly stolen—well, 'cause dat's what I do.)

May 14, 2011 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Pete? Stealing (my dialogue) from the Beagle Boys? Are we witnessing history here?

Say, Pete… ‘long as I’ve got ‘cha here… What’s the real deal about the peg leg?

Did you an’ Yellow Beak really go to a “two-fer-one sale”, or what?

Inquiring minds wanna know!

May 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Pegleg Pete said...

Me robbin' thuh Beagles... HISTORY? Nah! It's an OLD tradition, pal!

Like th' time we teamed up ta rob dat poil fishery! After shakin' off th' fuzz, we kicked back at their hideout for some TV cartoons an' Gurgle-Urp... an' started BETTIN' on which Battle Beastie was TOUGHER, see? An' I was right, 'cause I seen dat episode before...

LOSER o' th' bet had ta go rob Scroogey's bin UNARMED... an' while dey did dat (haw! haw!), I smuggled home half THEIR share o' th' POILS in me half-finished sody bottles! Har!

In fact, th' poils are still in me fridge ta this day, bottled up with th' Gurgle-Urp!

An' dem dopey Beagles still ain't figgered it out! 'Cause dey're CRAZY, see? Dey told me how partway through th' bin raid, they got worried if I mighta stole th' poils! So they asked some TURTLE if I had 'em... an' HE said NO... an' somehow, DAT was enough ta settle their worries!

Too bad for THEM! Why, o' COURSE I got their poils! Right here safe in dis acidy sody-pop!

Hmm, where'd dey go?

May 14, 2011 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo:

It’s been pretty quiet here, since you left… at least after I ran off Peg Leg Pete! (…Or whichever associate of mine decided to assume his identity!)

Ah, yes… The promise!

…The “Thing” I vowed to point out, that I didn’t even mention in my own Blog.

Read “To the Moon by Noon”.

Then, read the first panel once again. Or, just look up, as Geo was kind enough to reproduce it.

Mickey didn’t just “walk in on” Ludwig at that moment. He was already there… ALL MORNING!

And the readers just “walked in on” my little running gag of absent-minded Von Drake noticing him (over and over again, for the first time)… already in progress!

Welcome back, Geo…

Joe T.

May 28, 2011 at 10:57 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Thanks! That's pretty funny. More to come, as always...

May 30, 2011 at 12:03 AM  

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