It's your money that we want, and your money we shall have!
Can we have a Very Serious Discussion here? Now, as you may be aware, these days you can buy Disney comics from Comixology; it used to be that you could only read them on an ipad or whatnot, but now you can just use any plain ol' web browser. No links here, for reasons that will become obvious.
Now, it's well-known that I personally vastly prefer to read comics in paper form, but put that aside for the moment. Maybe this is where the industry as a whole is going, and maybe, my preferences aside, that's not even a bad thing. Perhaps other people have no problem reading stuff in this format.
But here's the thing, and it is not a small thing: the English scripts for these digital comics are not good. It's pretty obvious that they were largely machine-translated and then just given the barest minimum of oversight to verify that they weren't ungrammatical. It's not unlike what you see with the Disney Literature Classics volumes (though, I hasten to add, rather worse than those Carpi volumes I uploaded), but at least there you have the excuse that Britain has no substantial tradition in this area. Here, not so much. Here's one bit I got hung up on:
Well, of course Skunk Tussle is "called after a skunk tussle." What else would it be "called after?" I bet you feel pretty dumb now, all right, wondering about a thing like that!
What's more alarming: the possibility that that panel was never looked at by a native English-speaker, or that it was, and he or she thought, eh, good enough? I can't say I find either option very encouraging.
Now, for a while, Comixology mostly just had these rather uninteresting contemporary Italian stories, and that's still the case. But these days, they're hitting me closer to where I live, with vintage Carpi and Scarpa material. And this is where I just become filled with rage. You know how people sometimes say the opposite of love isn't hate, which requires similarly powerful emotion, but rather indifference? Well, if that's so, this is a classic example. It could not be more obvious that nobody involved in this undertaking cares even a tiny bit about these comics. There's probably a bit of the ol' "ah, it's just kids' stuff, and kids are dumb, so who cares if it's any good?" going on, but really, it's clearly about the ol' cash-grab more than anything else, and I do not like it.
Just this week, they added Scarpa's "Mickey Mouse in the Delta Dimension" to their library. Out of some insane delusion that maybe they'd gotten their shit together, I bought the first part of it. I suppose I had in the back of my mind this idea that they would've seen Gemstone's excellent localization of the story and went, "huh. This makes our stuff look like it's been translated by trained bonobos. We'd better up our game here." Ha ha! This, of course, was a deranged thing to even half-but-not-really believe. Almost certainly, they weren't even aware that the story had previously been localized, and certainly certainly, they wouldn't have cared even on the off-chance that they were. All I'm saying is, don't sell off your copies of Mickey Mouse Adventures 11 just yet!
Which leads into my main point: lately, I've been reading a bunch of these early-sixties MM stories that Scarpa did, in French editions, and let me tell you, Scarpa's batting average is much higher with mice than it is with ducks. There is some great stuff here--stuff that easily goes onto my increasingly-unwieldy list of shit that NEEDS to be published in the US, dammit. And yet…I can easily imagine most of these stories at some point being barfed up onto Comixology, and the very idea fills me with woe. That this classic material, for which we have been waiting for so long, should be treated so cavalierly and with such an utter lack of respect, is just repulsive to me.
And that's not all: I feel like if this stuff IS out there, in some form, there's less incentive for anyone to ever do it properly--and, more than that, I feel like as this all drags on, and there continue to be no real Disney comics in English, this shit just becomes normalized, and people unfamiliar with the history of European Disney comics in the US are just going to assume that this is what it is. It's just this really poisonous situation. Some might argue: okay, sure, maybe they're not GREAT, but you've gotta buy them so that it will be apparent that there's demand in the US, and then maybe there will be real comics again. Maybe, but I think it's more likely that "it will be apparent that there's demand in the US, and people in the US have really low standards so we can just give them whatever, in whatever form." I just cannot tell you how much this whole business irks me.
No doubt these things are being released as they are because, without having to get professionals to localize them, there's really low overhead. Maybe doing a good job would be more trouble than it was worth for them. I don't know. But what I DO know is that, if these stories were being done with care and consideration, I would buy them (that's right: all of them), and I would strongly encourage others to do the same. Sure, I may not love the format, but, you know, I can deal with it, and I'm in favor of acknowledging and encouraging good work. But as it is, yeah, I bought a few just to check them out, but no more, and I would certainly discourage anyone listening from supporting Comixology or Disney in this. Don't get me wrong; I'm not under the illusion that I have any great influence on anyone. And I am forced to concede, alas, that if anything, this entry is likely gonna do more harm than good as some of you, who may not have even heard about this business before now, ignore my entreaties (and who could blame you? I probably would too in your place). But I cannot let my irritation go unvoiced, because what that's in large part what this blog is for, innit?
I'm actually not sure whom I should be mad at. Who specifically is responsible for these things? Is Comixology themselves buying and translating them, or is it some Disney subsidiary doing the work? And if so, who? The thing is, I really want to know who I should be blaming here. But whoever it is, I am blaming them. I am blaming them so hard.