Friday, December 9, 2011

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Chapter One: "The Last of the Clan McDuck"

Part One! This consists of Young Scrooge getting a work ethic, driving those pesky Whiskervilles off the ol' McDuck estate, and getting motivated to go to America. That's a lot to fit in fifteen pages, but to Rosa's credit, it feels neither rushed nor over-stuffed. It's not really a favorite of mine--and, though it's obviously not its fault, parts of it can't help feeling redundant after the "zeroeth" chapter--but it sets up greater things to come!

…and, of course, there are Barks references a-plenty. Not infrequently, you hear from people who don't seem to be particular fans of Disney comics in general, but who nonetheless sing the praises of the L&T. Hey, I'm glad they like it, but I'm also slightly bemused. The whole series is a big ol' love-letter to Barks, and if you don't know Barks' work, what do you make of, f'rinstance, this Horseradish-Story bit? Presumably you would recognize that it had to be a reference to something, but if you don't already know and love that something, what do you care? Something like this, I would think, would just seem like a kind of pointless narrative dead-end. I guess the storytelling just makes up for whatever such problems might arise.

In the sketches that an extremely helpful anonymous person linked to in comments, you'll see that the story was substantially different in its original conception: Scrooge doesn't even appear until the last panel of page seven(!), the first part of the story being devoted to a lengthy history of the McDucks, some Barks-inspired, some less so. Now granted, given a fifteen-page story, this is a bit much, given how much truncation it necessitates of the main plot, but it's still pretty cool stuff, and I don't think it would have been inappropriate, in a longer story, to start with this--to give the reader a better idea of where Scrooge comes from. I'm certainly going to complain more in future entries more about the stupid, arbitrary page limits that were imposed upon Rosa, so why not start here?

They're certainly not unique to the L&T, but the little Mad-ish side-jokes are always fun in Rosa's work. This is not the only bird-versus-worm confrontation he's depicted, either.

OMG! Continuity error! For the second installment in the series, Rosa would decide, not unreasonably, that "Pothole" was a strange name for a Scottish duck, and so determined that it was just a nickname that Angus had acquired in America. The first chapter does not recognize this. Odd--you'd think this would've been the easiest thing in the world to fix for Gemstone's edition. Unless, as usual, there's something I'm missing.

…yeah, the number-one-dime thing. This is depicted extremely similarly to the way it is in the zeroeth chapter. It's hard not to imagine that if Fergus hadn't taught him this Valuable Lesson about how people are untrustworthy, he might not be such a fucking asshole all the time. I call him that with love in my heart, but you know it's true.

Going to such lengths to explain why his first coin is an American dime may well seem like some serious over-explaining (especially since Barks himself obviously never conceived it as a potential problem), but let's face it: if you object too strenuously to that, you're going to pretty near kill yourself by the time the series is through.

And then there's the bit where the ghost of Quackly (from "The Old Castle's Secret," natch) gives him helpful tips. At any rate, the American-ness of the coin is as good an excuse to send him off to Ameri-cay as any.

…and there's this rather implausible contraption by which he scares the Whiskervilles away. I tell you, if I had a nickel for every time someone's reused that line from "Duck in the Iron Pants"...well, I'd probably have fifteen or twenty cents. Score! One thing you have to love about Rosa is the elaborate splash-panels like this, which are almost always really impressive-looking.

See previous. Good foreshadowing here, and does it matter whether you specifically recognize the Crown of Genghis Khan there? It does not.

What awaits in America??? For fuck's sake, you've read this stuff--you know as well as I do. Still, tune in tomorrow for "Master of the Mississippi."

Labels: ,


Blogger Jasper Y. said...

A fine beginning chapter.
Let me tell you, when I read this I had little knowledge of Barks' specific stories. What makes Rosa so enjoyable is that even some of the more random Barks connections in his stories don't feel totally out place.

December 9, 2011 at 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Swamp Adder said...

It amuses me that Rosa went to such lengths to explain away the American dime thing, when (unless I'm missing something) there was a much simpler solution he could have used. Scrooge says that coin was the first dime he ever earned -- but did he ever say (in Barks) that it was the first coin of any kind that he earned? Maybe it was just his first American coin, and had that special significance to him because he started really building his fortune only after reaching America (and had presumably lost his first Scottish coin by that point).

... Yes, I have definitely overthought this.

December 9, 2011 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Good point about the dime. Obviously, it's reached the point where everyone just assumes it's the first money he ever earned, but even in Magica's first appearance, there's no indication that she wants it because it's his first-ever coin, but rather simply because, having had it a long time, he's handled it a lot. 'Course, I guess at this point the mythos surrounding it is such that there's no use disputing the idea.

December 9, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Comicbookrehab said...

Swamp Adder,

I recall the dime was introduced in "The Second-Richest Duck" and Scrooge remarked it was the first DIME he ever earned.

Scrooge also had a magic hourglass with him, but Rosa ditched that and just kept the reference to Scrooge's trip on that ship.

December 12, 2011 at 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Duckfan said...

And the story begins! It's a fine, solid story. But just one thing: isn't anyone a little creeped out by the fact that we see a ten-year-old putting an armor on fire on horse? Not the first thing I would think of...
Aaaaaanyway, fine story. Does well in capturing the atmosphere of the Scottish highlands and Victorian London (except that it's not London, but Glasgow). Furthermore, stuff happens and we're finally outta this place! I have nothing against Glasgow, but if you compare it to say the Yukon, the Australian Outback, or Duckburg, CS, USA... you know what I mean.

December 13, 2011 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Swamp Adder
"Scrooge says that coin was the first dime he ever earned -- but did he ever say (in Barks) that it was the first coin of any kind that he earned?": the answer is yes.

In "The Round Money Bin" (Four Color 495 or Uncle Scrooge 3), which is the fist story to feature the Number One Dime, Scrooge calls it "the oldest coin I had - the first dime I ever earned!"

In "Ten-Cent Valentine" (Walt Disney's Comics and Stories 258, March 1962) Scrooge says "My old first dime! The first coin I ever owned!"

I am not sure if there are more examples, as I usually don't read Barks stories in English.

January 27, 2015 at 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guarantee, if this had been published 10 years later, the first Headscratchers entry on TV Tropes would be "What's an American dime doing in Scotland?" I can never judge an author who's afraid to leave something unexplained.

Since I started speaking in Tropese, I'll say how much I enjoy Scrooge's Scooby Doo Hoax -- doesn't seem any more implausible than a riverboat being perfectly drivable after flipping over a waterfall. I also like Sir Quackly's appearance here much better than the trip to the afterlife in Ch. 5 -- maybe with ghosts outside of a horror/Gothic story, less is more.

I think the opening is just perfect, with how beautifully it establishes the atmosphere without being too long or too short (do we have Mr. Erickson to thank for that?)

P.S. Sure, Angus got his nickname in America, but why couldn't his family back in Scotland use it for him thereafter? I highly doubt he hasn't written his brothers a single letter since he left.

February 19, 2016 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosa captured the isolation of Castle McDuck that was such an integral part of The Old Castle's Secret perfectly here.

September 14, 2017 at 11:47 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home