"The Code of Duckburg"
Got time for another Christmas thing? Of course we do! After all, as we are all aware, the official Christmas season stretches until Twelfth Night and Epiphany on January sixth. Ever wonder why that's the date specified for Jesus's birth in the "Cherry Tree Carol?" Huh?? Well all right then.
This 1956 effort is probably a lesser-known Barks Christmas effort, but I like it anyway. Looking back, it's actually one of the very few Christmas duck comics I actually read as a kid. My dad didn't have many of 'em.
This opening was sure to draw me in, because I definitely could identify with the first-world-problem agony of having to pull a sled up a hill. I had all kinds of weird fantasies, chief among them a special hill that would pivot so when you got to the bottom, bam, you were at the top again. A horse would've been okay too, though.
A rare opportunity to see the kids interacting with Gladstone on their own, and in a non-acrimonious context, no less. Contrived it may be, but there you go. Why these "clubwomen" thought this would be a good prize is anybody's guess.
Still, it's some nice wish-fulfillment. Not only do you get your sledding laziness all resolved, but you get an adorable pet--love his expression going down, though I do kind of doubt that that would work very well. Seems more likely that his weight would just crush the sled, or at least mash it into the ground.
WHOA WHOA WHOA--WHAT ABOUT BOLIVAR?!? At any rate, though, it's good that HDL now have carte blanche to rack up a nice squirrel collection. I always liked HDL-centric stories as a young'un (well, I still do, but you know), and the kind of benign subterfuge that goes on in this one really works for me.
Ah, yes--the "Code of Duckburg" itself. This always amuses me, because it's one thing to say that there's this arbitrary regulation forbidding gift returns, and it's quite another to call it the "Code of Duckburg," as though it's the single, central principle on which the city was founded. Seems to me as though this here code would make a good plot point for a future story or two by some enterprising writer. Who knows; maybe it has been and I just don't know it.
Here's a bit of strangeness that never registered with me when I was small, but it sure does now: Donald has in-universe "admirers?" Is this a little drop of spillover from the old conceit that the Disney characters are really "actors" within their comics or cartoons, with their own fanbases? I certainly don't remember seeing this in any other Barks story. It seems somewhat common in Italian stories, though; I've read a number of them in which the main story is framed as the characters performing roles in TV shows.
I really do admire the nephews' chutzpah. It's not like it's terribly long or anything, but the tension of the evening really comes home to me.
"Until Spring?" What kinda wimpy code is this? I suppose there would have to be SOME sort of statute of limitations here, but this makes the whole thing seem pretty weak. And what are they gonna DO with ol' Roscoe in the Spring? It's not like they have a receipt, and in any case, I'd have to think that everyone would be pretty attached to him by that time anyway, making it quite painful to just ditch him.
Ah well--no need to think too hard about such things. Mostly, this is just a pleasant, gentle story. We note the functioning of karma here--the kids trick Donald, and so in turn their own presents get riddled with bullet holes--but the stakes are so low and the tone so genial that it's ultimately no big deal; they can just laugh it off, and we neither see nor really expect that there would be any other big explosions from him. Good fun.
Labels: Carl Barks