"The Isle of Can't-Be-Can"
Bah. I would be posting more, but for things. And stuff. I WOULD be saying something about the new Gottfredson book, but I fucking DON'T HAVE IT yet. And when I asked the Fantagraphics people what the deal was, they told me it had been BACK-ORDERED--even though I preordered the thing in April. I know this is the kind of thing for which the phrase "first-world problems" was invented, but still...shit the what, people?
So anyway, that's forthcoming, if they ever get their act together. In the meantime, by popular demand (for a somewhat idiosyncratic definition of "popular), let's say a few words about "The Isle of Can't-Be-Can" (which goes by the uninspired "Donald and the Uninhabitable Island" in the Italian), as drawn by Cavazzano and written by some dude named Giorgio Figus, whose work has not otherwise appeared in the US.
Now, as you can see, the basic premise is that Donald and Gyro have to go to this island the inhabitants of which were driven off by something mysterious. The story itself has decided ups and downs, which we will get to...NOW.
Up One: Dave Gerstein's script; I'm not going to do a lot of babbling about it, but suffice it to say that it's of the usual quality--and even more than usual, it's chock-a-block with pop culture references (oh man, don't you just LOVE it when things are chock-a-block with other things?). I like these a lot, but let's face it: it would not be hugely fascinating for me to spend a lot of time enumerating them here.
Up Two: The way the initial mystery is established, with a genuine sense of foreboding.
Since we were talking about Gyro of late, it would also be meet to note the way it contrasts the two characters--logical versus superstitious. Let's not get carried away, though--the story doesn't really push this theme all that hard.
"All that junk"--oh, Gerstein. Also, you have to like that silhouetted image. You really do get a strong sense of atmosphere from all this.
Up Three: then, nightmare monsters visit Donald, and, while they ARE jokey, the extent to which they're actually genuinely alarming is impressive. I don't always like Cavazzano's artwork, but he deserves credit here.
…and for this shadow monster especially. That's the kind of shit that could give little kids nightmares. Also appreciated: the flashback to Young Donald.
So on the one hand, the fact that we only see Donald's childhood nightmares in action is meant to contrast the two characters. On the other hand, given that, as we can see, Gyro does have nightmares, the fact that we never get to meet them makes the story feel sort of unbalanced. On the third hand, the story would probably drag a bit if it were just set piece after set piece of nightmares. I don't know--I don't think I have an answer here. But something feels a bit off. Full credit for that crazy machine-nightmare, though.
Down One: this explanation. I suppose, given that this is a Disney comic, it had to be some pat thing like this; you certainly couldn't expect the mystery to be just left mysterious, and it's unlikely that it would be anything genuinely sinister. But when you just lazily wave the story away like this by going "oh, it was SPACE MAGIC all along," it can't really be all that edifying. Also, it has to be noted that Donald and Gyro don't actually do anything to solve the mystery; they just run into the guy, tell him this is a bad idea, he leaves, and that's that.
Down Two: this ending. See, I feel like it's fair for Scrooge to get pissed off at Donald over things that aren't exactly his fault. Like, he may have encouraged Scrooge to dig up a pyramid or go in search of an undiscovered island or buy a bunch of miniature land deeds (THESE ARE BARKS REFERENCES), but that doesn't mean it's his fault when they don't pan out--in spite of which I think it's fair and true-to-character for Scrooge to be pissed off at him. But here…fuckin' eh, man. Donald and Gyro do exactly what they were asked to do, to the letter, and then Scrooge is enraged because they didn't do this really non-intuitive thing that he talks about like it was completely obvious? That just makes him seem kind of psychotic. It really feels here like ol' Figus was determined to run this stock ending--Scrooge chases hapless nephew off--and could only come up with this really, really forced way to make that work. There's unfair and then there's unfair, and for me, this falls on the wrong side of that equation.
What to the evs, though (as the kids may possibly be saying). There's still enough good stuff here for the story to be at least worth checking out. I haven't really given much attention to stories from Gemstone's digests on this blog, but given that, as you can see, I was able to solve the scanning difficulties, more or less, perhaps I should do more. SUGGESTIONS WELCOME.