Monday, December 19, 2011

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Chapter Eight B: "The Prisoner of White Agony Creek"

So now we come to the last (sob) story that Rosa ever wrote. And it certainly provides a fitting cap to his career. It is excessive, in ways both good and bad, but in either case quintessentially Rosian. Note also that the title, for once, doesn't refer to Scrooge himself. That's how devoted Rosa is to this romance!

I feel as though there may be a certain anti-climactic aspect to this entry after all this talk about whether talking about this story will alarm the powers that be. It's a li'l transgressive, sure--but it ain't that earth-shattering. Crikey.



We open with this framing sequence. I've noted before Rosa's didactic tendencies, but it's something you really notice with his nephews serving as this kind of Greek chorus speculating about his deepest values.



I really dig this part. Often, there's not that much distance between the worldviews of Donald and the kids, but here you see it very distinctly: their innocent question and his reaction to it clearly show that he understands things that they do not. Not that Donald always needs to be portrayed this way, but it's neat to see it here.



The story picks up as Scrooge is dragging Goldie off to work on his claim. That part of "Back to the Klondike," briefly glossed over, has always seemed to me to have surprisingly sadomasochistic undertones, which idea Rosa does nothing to dispel. At least he's able to provide a believable reason why she would be willing to go along with this, and it's easy to believe that Scrooge--especially given his lack of experience in these matters--would be entirely convinced that he's shanghaiing her solely to help him dig for gold.



There is of course a later scene in this story--you know the one--that gets all the press, but this is the bit I always get hung up on: I am simply amazed (and delighted!) that Rosa was somehow able to slip a joke like this into a Disney comic. It's things like this that make you wonder if he didn't plan this story as a last hurrah, and took a "fuck it--I'm just gonna see what I can get away with" attitude.



There's all kinds of stuff like this, where the two of them feel ambivalence about one another. It's not exactly subtle, but damned if it isn't effective. And as for the above, really now, you cannot tell me that Rosa didn't relish the opportunity to draw Goldie in a negligee.



Look, I'm not even going to try to pretend: I love the shit out of this Scrooge/Goldie stuff (even if it does get a bit Harlequin-y), to the extent that any sort of rational analysis just goes by the wayside. I understand why some people don't care for it, but fuck 'em, man. I mean, yes, I also enjoy plenty of Disney comics that have a somewhat lighter touch, but while I'm reading this, I just devolve into a gibbering fanboy who simply cannot conceive of anything more awesome…



…but that only applies to part of the story. I am somewhat less enthused about the switch to three-and-a-half duckless pages of seemingly randomly-chosen historical figures being set up as Scrooge's antagonists. It's not that these people couldn't theoretically have been here; it's more "okay, but why? What purpose does this serve?" The judge there at least has this weird running joke where he wants to hang people on the slightest pretext (although, per wikipedia, in spite of his posthumous reputation, "he is known to have sentenced only two men to hang, one of whom escaped"); the other two don't really do much of anything to distinguish themselves, though Masterson may well be Arpin Lusene's father:



(I was gonna say "grandfather" until I remembered that Rosa's "present-day" stories all take place mid-century-ish.)

I mean, at least the historical figures in "Vigilante of Pizen Bluff," as part of an Old-West Show, had some excuse for being where they were. These guys are just completely unmoored from anything. It's quite postmodern, really: just random bits of history floating in the ether with neither rhyme nor reason.



Oh, that wasn't enough for you, eh? Well, then how about we also toss in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 'cause why the hell not? This is excess to the point of comedy. Can you imagine Barks taking this long to set up one-shot villains like this? Mon dieu.



Anyway, back at the claim, things continue much in the vein that they were before, and I still think it's great. It appears that Scrooge has a certain level of self-awareness about the malign influence that money has on him. It's almost--almost--enough to make me think that his frequent unpleasantness in modern-day Rosa stories is meant to make us dislike him.



The other thing about these guys is that, given their elaborate introduction, you would expect them to be at least somewhat formidable--but no, Scrooge dispatches them with ease. So were they really worth all that build-up?



He only gets konk!'ed thanks to the ambivalent Goldie's distraction. No getting around it: anthropomorphic ducks kissing passionately are really weird-looking, whether here or in "Donald's Crime."



The lack of critical acuity that I'm bringing to this is not enough for me not to note that, for anyone who is reading critically, the idea that Scrooge spends his evenings staring at a lock of his non-love-interest's hair is a li'l on the creepy side.



Yeah okay okay--and then there's this. I feel like no panels I've ever included in an entry were more preordained than these are. So…yup. What can I say? I seem to recall Rosa saying (probably on the essentially-defunct Disney Comics Mailing List) that the original idea was to have the snow melting off the roof in the rightmost panel, but that was apparently a bridge too far for the censors--though it's hard to say why, really, if they were willing to let him get away with the "between the legs" bit. I don't know whether he knew that this was going to be his last hurrah when he wrote it, but regardless, it seems appropriate that he should go out by pushing the thematic limits of the form absolutely as far as they would go. I strongly suspect that nobody else would've been allowed to get away with a story like this, but I'm glad that Rosa was. You could undoubtedly make a psychoanalytic argument that this segment is--from the perspective of Scrooge's development--the natural final culmination of the character's development.



I do enjoy the judge's speech there. Although…depending on what exactly Scrooge and Goldie were doing in there…in certain states…and given that he's talking about the law in Texas…oh, never mind.



...but of course, that's not gonna last, for reasons that are obviously necessitated by the nature of the comics themselves, though the reasons aren't very heavily clued within the story itself.


…and thus, Rosa's career ends, with the word "no." It's the reverse Ulysses!

There's a pretty obvious problem with all this Scrooge/Goldie stuff, that I'll get into next time. But for now, that is that. Tomorrow, the final installment of this Klondike trilogy, "Hearts of the Yukon."

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42 Comments:

Blogger Christopher said...

I forget... is it ever made clear how Scrooge got that lock of hair and ribbon?

I like the opening a lot. Often it seems like the kids raise Donald, not the other way around.

December 19, 2011 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

A bear was trying to drag her away by her hair and he threw a knife into a tree to cut her away.

December 19, 2011 at 10:17 PM  
OpenID reviewordie said...

This is my favorite comic book story of all time, and the final page is my favorite page of any comic I have ever (or likely will ever) read.

It really is a shame that there are art errors on a couple pages with Goldie's rings, it's my big niggle with the comic, not the hair lock.

Cause we all know Scrooge is an incredibly fixated, obsessive person. His tea, his money, the same coat, same hat, let alone his absolute adoration for his old Yukon clothes in Last Sled To Dawson... and other stuff that I am likely forgetting.

Is it strange that for Rosa's final story, Scrooge probably pulled off the least ridiculous 'Hulk smash' moment, as you phrased it, in the whole series?

Though uh... Scrooge giving her money immediately after that transition shot... it's good to fit in to Barks' continuity and all, but if this weren't a kid's comic this would be EXTREMELY uncomfortable and kind of the worst thing Scrooge ever did, ever. I really don't think Rosa thought that one through. Or the censors.

December 19, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
OpenID reviewordie said...

PS: Did you notice that Rosa actually added to that Back to the Klondike scene with a panel?

THAT was weird to me. Especially after he gushed in the commentary. It fits so well I can't help but wonder where it went when I read Back to the Klondike. God Rosa fanboyism is a terrible thing on my part.

December 19, 2011 at 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I also really love the panels where Goldie and Scrooge are thinking the same things. And I do appreciate the panel you show wherein Goldie informs us of her reasons for going along with Scrooge to his claim. Does help relieve the "vigilante enforces penalty of temporary slavery" feel to this whole sequence of events.

December 19, 2011 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Yhe. I like Rosa's "The secret orgin of one of Dickie Ducks parents" story as well :) Not his best but I like it.


I found the part with historical characters alone to long as welll and I don't think Rosa gave them as fun personalities as he did with most one-shot characters he used.


I'm glad you mentioned the psychological aspect of te fact Scrooge had sex. Sex is very improtant part to persons psychological development so reading those stories as Scrooge biography and tracing how he develope as a person this is incredeble important part (It would be kind of sad if Scrooge would spent his entire life as a virgin. Unless youre calling is to be a monk or a priest that's just suck to spent entire life without expiriancing this stuff. Than agian I'm still whaiting for my Goldie so... )


Plus I think the fact Scrooge and Goldie had sex is very romantic ;)

October 16, 2012 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

I disagree

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/uncle-scrooge-mcduck/articles/235797/title/opinion-about-white-agony-creek

June 29, 2014 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Gosh, I hate to have to be so vehement, but...you're unambiguously wrong on this one. The text supports it, Rosa himself confirms it, it happened.

June 30, 2014 at 1:13 AM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

If you would read the article I posted the link to, you'll see that not all fans believe they had sex.

Also Rosa NEVER confirmed it, what he was: "What happened that night in 'Prisoner of White Agony Creek', it's for us duck fans to imagine in our own minds. I have my own I ideas but it is a Disney comic."

So no I not saying they didn't have sex, but it's never confirmed. And you need to get your facts straight, and stop treating your OPINION like facts.

June 30, 2014 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Please note the way I continue to publish your comments in spite of the fact that your position here is fundamentally silly.

June 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

Well again I disagree because unlike I have actually facts to back up the FACT that it is never confirmed that they had sex.

You on the other hand don't have facts that confirm your OPINION that they had sex. So if you ask me your position is the silly one.

June 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Well, this is certainly intellectually rewarding!

June 30, 2014 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

I just thought I'd mention I asked Rosa if the scene was intended to be an implied sex scene, and he said it was up to me to decide! So until Disney officially confirms it was a sex scene it didn't happen in my world.

January 1, 2015 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

The fact that you feel the need to justify yourself to me is perplexing. Still, I suppose you're basically harmless; just don't be surprised if you have trouble getting your literary criticism published. I fear there would be fairly significant methodological errors.

January 2, 2015 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

All I'm asking is that my opinion, and the opinion of other fans like me, who choose to believe they didn't have sex is respected.

January 2, 2015 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

"Respect" in the sense that I don't have you deported to a secret torture facility? You already had that. "Respect" in the sense that I don't make fun of you? 'Fraid that's not in the cards.

January 2, 2015 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

Then my first impression was correct. You sir a very rude, closed minded person, who is unable to respect the opinions of people who disagree with you!

If you would take the time to look around on the interent you would see that there are a lot of people who disagree with you. And if you would do your research you would see that Rosa never confirmed it.

January 2, 2015 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

"Research?" I reiterate my comment about the inadvisability of you going into academia.

Also, I have to say, I never imagined this thread would bring me so much joy, so thanks for that.

January 2, 2015 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

Yes research! Here's a link to a forum where Rosa says it's up to the reader to decide.

http://www.papersera.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?num=1069256543/1626

And you're welcome I'm glad I brought you some joy! Lol

January 4, 2015 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

For the benefit of anyone else who may be reading this: yes, it’s probably pretty immature of me to keep poking this poor woman. But here’s the thing: while there’s certainly at least a little someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet-itis to it, which obviously doesn’t cover me in glory, there’s also at least some principle involved. People have the right to believe any damn thing they want. What they DON’T have is the right to have other people take them seriously. The fact that we are required to take ludicrous things seriously is a big part of our problem these days. As in: a dismaying number of people have strong racist/authoritarian tendencies. This leads them to contruct ludicrous scenarios in which Trayvon Martin Michael Brown Eric Garner et horrifyingly al DESERVED to be killed. Ms. Cook has the strong idea that sex outside of marriage is wrong tout court, which leads her to build a ludicrous reading of a particular text. YES OF COURSE the central difference is that these racists are evil, whereas Ms. Cook is just silly. But I think the central principle—that ludicrous ideas don’t deserve the same standing as sensible ideas—remains. Also, I’ll bet she votes for the same people they do.

BESIDES WHICH, it’s bloody well my blog. I don’t go over and leave silly comments on HERS, so I feel justified. I think the fact that I’m letting her comments through at all displays considerable forbearance on my part.

January 4, 2015 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

Well guess what...

A. It doesn't even look like a sex scene. Heck I didn't even know that some people considered an implied sex scene until I read about it on a blog.

B. Every blog, besides yours, that I've read about says it's up to the readers to decide what happened.

C. I asked Rosa himself what his intent was and he said it was to me to decide!

D. Maybe it was Rosa's intention to stick an implied sex scene in there. But it was NEVER OFFICIALLY confirmed! And until it's OFFICIALLY confirmed it didn't happen in my world!

January 8, 2015 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

You're still here?

January 8, 2015 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You two going at each other's throats is not unlike Goldie and Scrooge themselves. Go spend a month in a cabin!

May 10, 2015 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Boy, THERE'S a gruesome thought.

May 10, 2015 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

For once we agree on something.

May 10, 2015 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Hey, I just got the following idea: most people take "Prisoner of White Agony Creek" as referring to Goldie, thus breaking the "the title refers to Scrooge" rule. But what if it isn't, actually, breaking the rule ? Scrooge is prisoner of the "hard-working stinger" persona he built himself (in other words, of his pride), a self-made prison which keeps him from admitting his feelings for Goldie and living a happy life with her.

What do you think ?

February 12, 2016 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Indeed--I think you can definitely read multiple meanings into that title.

February 12, 2016 at 5:56 PM  
OpenID jill-rg said...

I just discovered your blog last week, and I've read dozens of entries. I was hesitant to comment because you posted them so long ago, but the above non-issue someone started... I just couldn't resist. I'm a legal assistant, and the basic argument in the linked article and above comments is IDENTICAL to the argument an opponent made in a legal brief 2 weeks ago: "I claim X happened. You cannot prove Y (the alternative to X) happened. Therefore, we must accept that X unquestionably happened."

That is, "I claim they definitely did not have sex. You cannot prove they definitely did have sex. Therefore, there is no question they definitely did not have sex."

Debate 101: Logic does not work that way. The lack of proof for X does not lead to the assumption that alternative Y is unquestionably true. It's doubly fallacious in this case because the cited "proof" explicitly states "Neither X nor Y is unquestionably true."

The official word from the author (which many circles would claim is no proof at all, but we'll assume otherwise for the sake of argument) is that whether or not they had sex is up to each individual reader. The above reader uses this to justify claiming readers who decide they did have sex are wrong... even though that's precisely what the author allowed them to do! (Again, many would laugh their heads off at the idea that only an official word from an author gives readers permission to interpret anything.) In other words, "The author refuses to say they definitely did have sex. Therefore, they definitely did not have sex." Logic does not support this connection.

The only other "proof" in the article consists of: 1) claiming something as immoral as pre-marital sex doesn't belong in a Disney comic (which is no proof at all either way); and 2) claiming moments that lead readers to the conclusion the author dislikes are suggestive, not definitive. In a court of law, you want definitive evidence; in literary interpretation, you want suggestive because it's no fun if the reader has everything spelled out for them and can't draw conclusions of their own. In literary interpretation, you can't claim someone who sees something you don't see is unquestionably wrong the same way you could of someone who says "2+2=5" (George Orwell's theory on that subject notwithstanding). When you do, you lose all credibility, as the author of the linked article did in my eyes.

Your articles, on the other hand, don't attack other views -- they share yours and include examples to back up your argument/opinion, as all good reviews/criticism should, and I love every word of them.

P.S. It's obvious they had sex, and it's truly (no hyperbole) the sexiest scene I've ever read.

P.P.S. The get-a-cabin comment reminds of a night in class when this guy and I ended up leading the "Angelic" and "Satanic" (my professor's labels, not mine) sides of the debate in the Paradise Lost fandom. When it was over, I jokingly thought to myself, "If this were movie, we'd be each other's love interest from now on." We also both worked in the campus tutoring center, and the very next day at work, he ran up to me and said breathlessly, with no preamble, no introduction whatsoever, "I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I just adore you!" Long story short, I jumped to the wrong conclusion, although we did become friends. The point: spirited debate does not to sexual tension lead (sadly).

February 17, 2016 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

Awesome comment, and not just 'cause it compliments me. :) I'd love to hear more from you.

February 17, 2016 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

Clearly you've misunderstood the article. When I read it I didn't get the impression that the author was trying to prove it didn't happen, but show people it didn't necessarily happen. And that there was logic to believing that they didn't do it.

February 17, 2016 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

GOOD GOD SHE'S BACK.

February 17, 2016 at 8:20 PM  
OpenID jill-rg said...

^^ Sorry, all my fault, but like I said, I couldn't resist. I promise I will not revive that subject again but stick to wondering things like, What is the connection between wild, violent, destructive hatesex and pro-capitalist values? (First Carl Barks, then Ayn Rand...)

February 18, 2016 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

No need to apologize; it was a perfectly solid comment. I wouldn't exactly describe it as "hate sex," though, nor "destructive," except probably in the sense of "breaking stuff," in which case, fair enough.

February 18, 2016 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

@ jill-rg it's alright. I just thought I should mention that, since it says in the title that it's an opinion and the author never states that she has proof of anything.

February 18, 2016 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Magic Emperor said...

Sarah Cook sure knows how to Cook up controversy. ;D Anyway, your blog has compelled me to get back to reading Scrooge comics, especially the ones that have eluded me. Thank you.

February 27, 2016 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger dark tyler said...

Hey, awesome blog, very happy to have found it. I just finished a complete Don Rosa marathon, where I re-read every single one of his stories in the order he wrote them. Whew that was incredible. Guy's a legend.

In regards to this final story, I mean yeah, it very obviously couldn't have been any other as a final story, right? I think it really borders on being way problematic but at the same time it somehow magically manages to avoid crossing the line completely. It's a very weird, very passionate, very borderline, very Rosa story. I love it more as a finishing touch on a life's work, than as a separate story, if that makes any sense.

ANYway, the reason I started typing is the above disagreement. I honestly couldn't believe that there was an actual disagreement over whether they had sex in this story, but okay, to each his own. But since Rosa himself was presented as evidence (or rebuttal of evidence) I thought I might add a part of an interview I did with him a couple of years ago.

The relevant quote is this:

[on the subject of whether the censors wouldn't let him do even more mature or serious stories]

"I got as mature as I wanted to. My last story, and that's one of the reasons I quit at that time, I said that was as close to mature as I wanted to. Because I recognize that they're not my characters. I push the envelope to a certain point but I did not want to see Barks' characters doing... everything."

"So I got to a point where I let the readers decide things on a particular thing. They have imagination! But at the same time, if they're not imagining it the way I'm imagining it, they're wrong! [laughs] I know what happened in that cabin, but they can decide themselves. Somebody asked me yesterday, Hey, that scene in the cabin, can I ask you, did they kiss? Heh! Yyyyyyes, YES, they kissed alright, they did way more than that! But if you just wanna think they kissed, then that's fine!"

All of this is, unfortunately, only printed in Greek http://www.oneman.gr/keimena/diaskedash/sto_rafi/don-rosa-h-synenteyksh-twn-anagnwstwn.2746818.html
but hey, that's what you get, America, for letting one of your great legends be more appreciated in weird European countries than at home.


By the way, it doesn't matter; from the moment a story leaves its creator's table, it stops belonging to him or her. It belongs to all of us. So Don's opinion on this, matters the same as ours does. But since it's been brought up, well, there you have it, he says they had sex, in his opinion.

PS. Of course they did.

PS2. Keep up the good work. Would love to see you tackle the whole 'Letter from Home' sub-saga. That story is probably my favorite of Rosa's and clearly a sort of 'series finale' from a created who could obviously sense that he didn't have that many stories left in him and had to do that one while he could. I weep so fucking much every time I read it.

March 14, 2016 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

Hey, thanks for the kind words, and for the relevant quote. Don't be surprised if Ms. Cook shows up again to tell you how you're wrong. I have at times thought it would be good fun to do a sequence of "The Old Castle's Secret"/"The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone/""The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan"/"Return to Xanadu"/"Crown of the Crusader Kings"/"Letter from Home." The future is unwritten!

March 14, 2016 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah Cook said...

I never said that Rosa himself didn't personally see it as a sex scene, but when I spoke with him all he said, was it was up to me to decide. And as dark tyler stated, once a story leaves the creators' table it becomes ours. So my opinion has not changed, and there are others who agree with me.

March 14, 2016 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

...somehow, I feel like Ms. Cook doesn't quite understand how death-of-the-author works.

March 15, 2016 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

...also, can I say that it's super-weird that she apparently has some kind of alert set up to let her know when anyone speaks heresy about her swell theory, so she can helpfully chime in? 'Cause it is.

March 15, 2016 at 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Achille
I know I'm over 40 days too late to answer this, but on the Papersera Forum Don Rosa was asked (in 2014) "In your title The Prisoner Of White Agony Creek, I suppose that the "prisoner" is Goldie, right?" Don's answer was:

"Sure. Uh... but who else could it be?
But yet another point that readers never know is that all of my titles of all of my stories involving $crooge's youth... in other words, all of the "Life of $crooge" stories including the B & C chapters... all these story titles were references to $crooge himself, and always took the precise form of "The (Somebody) of the (Something)". I don't think any international translations ever stuck to that form. (And I recall hearing of some titles given to these stories that were really stupid! But... I'm helpless as regards what translators do, y'know!)

But then there were the three most important chapters, 8A, 8B & 8C.
The title of 8A referred to $crooge: "The King of the Klondike".
...8B referred to Goldie: "The Prisoner of White Agony Creek".
...and 8C referred to them BOTH: "The Hearts of the Yukon".

(Romantic, eh?)"

I like the idea of "prisoner" referring to Goldie alone, though maybe this is because I first read this story in Italian, where the title was "La prigioniera del fosso dell'agonia bianca", which can only refer to a female (the male version would be "Il prigioniero"). You are right, however, that theoretically it could be interpreted in more than one way.

March 26, 2016 at 6:04 AM  
Blogger Slightly Irregular GeoX said...

This may be the most pretentious comment I've made, but hell, the fifth volume of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu is entitled La Prisonnière, a title which clearly refers to both the narrator's object-of-obsession Albertine and to the narrator himself. So there's literary precedent!

March 26, 2016 at 11:39 AM  

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