Friday, August 31, 2012

"Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper"

(This being part seven of a nine-part series covering the stories in Volume Three of Fantagraphics' Floyd Gottfredson Library.)

Oh man, people!  You know, Mickey as written by Gottfredson did a lot of crazy shit, from meeting a scientist living on an island in the sky to exploring a lost world of dinosaurs to befriending a man from the future who subsists on kumquats to serving as advisor to a kingdom of genies--but from a contemporary perspective, none of his stories were quite as fanciful and out-there as this one, in which, get this, a newspaper has integrity and actually cares about the truth and is able to genuinely make a difference, without stooping to tiresome both-sides-do-it he-said-she-saidism.  What a fanciful idea!

Of course, I shouldn't romanticize the past too much--after all, the whole point of the story is that most newspapers aren't willing to speak truth to power, a judgment confirmed by various Upton Sinclair novels I have read.


At any rate, this is an exciting story because it has a real David-and-Goliath feel to it.  You'll note that I used the old title for this post.  I did this for a reason, and it's not JUST because "Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper" sounds really funny, whereas "Editor-in-Grief" is just a meaningless pun.  The former title really does suggest a little kid getting involved with "adult" issues, and there is indeed a substantial element of that to the story.  Just look at that front page: sure, it's full of typos and upside-down photographs and things! But look! We did it! Our own newspaper!  Would it REALLY be this, uh, dubiously literate? Maybe not, but presenting it as such really conveys the feel of the thing.  There's great attention to detail, and the typos really look like real, legitimate typos.


Hey look! It's Donald Duck!  Is this his first appearance in a Gottfredson strip?  Nope--the Sunday "Vanishing Coats" sequence (or the Sunday comic just before that, if you wanna get technical) beats it out.  But this is his daily debut!  You can see here some of his character traits in utero--greed in the first line, arrogance in the second, and bad-tempered-ness elsewhere in the story.  Still, it doesn't feel like Gottfredson really has a very clear idea what he wants to do with the character.  This is something that might have been resolved in time, had he not stopped using the character when he became a breakout star in his own right.


Note that Pete (uh, spoiler?) and his gang really overreach in this story--there's no indication that Mickey was interested in this gang stuff before these guys started roughing up his guys and trying to make him pay protection money.  If only they'd left him alone, everything could've just kept on keepin' on.  Then again, maybe if they had let the War Drum get away with it, other papers would've started getting fresh.  Tough situation.


Boy, they sure brushed up on their writing skills fast enough, I'll tell you that!


Oh, Dippy--you really ARE an idiot, aren't you?  Note that "b'gosh" seems to have been an early Dippy/Goofy catchphrase that fell by the wayside.


I must say, I really like ol' McSnoop.  I feel as though he could've easily become a recurring character.  Imagine the clashes he could have with O'Hara's police department, once it was established, trying to get the inside scoop on crimes, and Mickey's divided loyalties and efforts to mediate between them.


Pfft.  No-bid contracts?  Who cares about THAT?  Sure, a few kooks might be upset, but not enough to shake up any balances of power or cost anyone any elections or anything.  No use getting too deep in the weeds here about politics, but it's both inspiring and kind of heartbreaking to see the idea, presented here, that this shit could actually MATTER.

Also, I want to note that O'Rourke here has perhaps the most overdone accent in Disney comics.  Also, that, given the history of anti-Irish racism, depicting him as an ape may not have been the all-time greatest idea.  Not that I'm suggesting prejudice on Gottfredson's part, but he was clearly working from a general cultural consciousness of this sort of thing.


And…I must say, the climax of the story is ever-so-slightly tarnished by the fact that the "we used the alternate printing press!" thing had already been used in the story.  Sure, foreshadowing, but you gotta put a new twist on it.  Otherwise, it feels a little lazy.


And here's your Mistake, Mickey: you really, really don't want to get so cuddly with the political establishment; even if none of these guys are in any way corrupt, which seems questionable, you're just compromising your impartiality in covering their political activities, especially when you allow yourself to be flattered by their compliments like this.  Look how tongue-tied you are!  Probably just as well that you're leaving the business, under the circumstances.

Still a great story, an' now we have the all-time classic "Race for Riches" to look forward to.

Labels:

12 Comments:

Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo:

Despite my well-known love of puns, I must admit that I have also always preferred “Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper” over “Editor-in-Grief”!

Here’s something I wrote some time ago as part of a DVD review of the James Cagney film “Picture Snatcher”, which you can find somewhere on my Blog. It was thoughts of both that film and “Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper” that drew me to the conclusion I write about – and that’s why I include it here.

“Upon viewing James Cagney’s 1933 film “Picture Snatcher”, where Cagney wangles a job as a daring newspaper photog, I could not help but compare the character traits of Cagney (in a picture like this – where he is driven, but not overtly "bad") to Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse of the 1930s! They are both determined little guys who not only succeed at – but often revolutionize – their respective endeavors. Consider the converse, if Cagney were to be cast as the lead in ‘Editor-in-Grief’ (aka ‘Mickey Mouse Runs His Own Newspaper’), as a prime example of this.

“Donald Duck comic book legend Carl Barks has admitted to being influenced by that which he saw in the movies. So, it is certainly not a large leap to assume that, in the ‘30s, Gottfredson was similarly influenced by Cagney in films like this! For all we know, the screen persona of James Cagney could have been a catalyst in expanding the comics’ Mickey’s character well beyond that of the animated shorts. I’ll bet Mickey could get some pretty nifty newspaper pictures too!”

Joe.

August 31, 2012 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Damn! Those reviews just make me buy those Phantagrahpic books more and more!


___________________________
Any way another fun to read review! If you ever will get inprison in a cage, gave me a call I will be glad to release you :)

August 31, 2012 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Geo,

"Of course, I shouldn't romanticize the past too much--after all, the whole point of the story is that most newspapers aren't willing to speak truth to power..."

Agreed. The problem is that people disagree on who HOLDS said "power."

"I must say, I really like ol' McSnoop. I feel as though he could've easily become a recurring character. Imagine the clashes he could have with O'Hara's police department, once it was established, trying to get the inside scoop on crimes, and Mickey's divided loyalties and efforts to mediate between them."

Yes, McSnoop could have performed the same "liaison" role vis-a-vis Mickey and the press as O'Hara and Casey performed in the realm of law enforcement.

"I want to note that O'Rourke here has perhaps the most overdone accent in Disney comics. Also, that, given the history of anti-Irish racism, depicting him as an ape may not have been the all-time greatest idea."

Especially since nativist cartoonists of the 19th century were known to emphasize the "simian features" of Irish laborers. At least O'Rourke was played as a solid citizen besides.

Chris

August 31, 2012 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I have read the "Best Comics: Mickey Mouse" anthology version of this story, and I guess that my version was edited– O'Rourke's (I don't remember if that was even his name) dialogue has been altered so that there's no trace whatsoever of an Irish accent. He just says "The winner TRIPLED our bid," with no "begorrah" or anything like that.

I love the scene where Mickey imitates Pete's voice, incidentally, as well as how Mickey bluffs his way into getting a corrupt councilman's name. But the portrayal of Councilman Hogg (I think that's his name, don't hold me to that) and some other politicians backs up my theory about how deeply, irredeemably corrupt politics are in Duckburg, if Mouseton is any gauge.

August 31, 2012 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Christopher says:

“I have read the "Best Comics: Mickey Mouse" anthology version of this story, and I guess that my version was edited– O'Rourke's (I don't remember if that was even his name) dialogue has been altered so that there's no trace whatsoever of an Irish accent. He just says "The winner TRIPLED our bid," with no "begorrah" or anything like that.”

Not exactly “edited”… but back-translated from Italian to English. As I believe those books were done off of Italian printings. You might not expect an Italian translation of the story to present an Irish accent.

In 1978, I was both amazed and thrilled to get a book like that – never thinking about alternatives. We live in better times today.

August 31, 2012 at 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK! Im sorry but there is just no way this guy will manage to review all nine Floyd Gotfredson stories!!

Nobody has enough balls to do it...

September 2, 2012 at 1:29 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Given that this guy's already done seven of them, I'm not sure that's a safe bet.

Or is this some sort of reverse-psychology thing?

September 2, 2012 at 1:36 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

It must be—hmm, why didn't I think of it as a means of getting you to review Gottfredson stories before this?

September 2, 2012 at 2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GoeX - Anyone can just waltz in and review SEVEN Gotfredson stories... But NINE?
HA! Don't make me laugh!

September 2, 2012 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Anon says:

“GeoX - Anyone can just waltz in and review SEVEN Gotfredson stories... But NINE?”

The last time I watched Star Trek Voyager, I gave “SEVEN of NINE” a great review. I expect Geo would do likewise!

Hey, Geo… I’ll bet you don’t have the stomach to review EVERY Vic Lockman Disney comic book story ever done! You up for THAT challenge?! A nickel sez you ain’t!

Say, this reverse psychology thing IS fun!

September 2, 2012 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

I strongly suspect that if I took you up on that one, Joe, you and others would be BEGGING me to stop in short order. :p

September 2, 2012 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Oh, I dunno. “Vic Comics Revue” has a certain ring to it! :-)

September 2, 2012 at 1:58 PM  

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