Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Ten-Cent Valentine"


Here we have the second-ever story featuring good ol' Magica.  The main thing I always wondered here was this: is the perfume on the valentine meant to literally be magic, or is it just a natural aphrodisiac of some sort?  Upon further consideration, though, I'm pretty sure it's the latter.  Note that Magica's not using it here to trick Scrooge or get him under her power in any way.  I think it's just meant to emphasize the "sexy" in "sexy sorceress."

In response to that, you might say, "oh yeah?  Well it sure seems to work like magic on Donald.


True, and that's the main reason I'm not one hundred percent sure of Barks' intent.  I don't know if he was either.  But I think that this is just meant to be indicative Donald's tendency to go gaga over pretty girls, as in stories around this time like "Queen of the Wild Dog Pack" and "Mythtic Mystery."  That just seems to make more sense than the alternative--ie, that the aroma arbitrarily does and does not work as a mind control thing as needed.


The ending seems to confirm this?  Maybe?  Donald's all verklempt, but no one seems worried that it's sorcery or anything like that.  Also, Scrooge seems to be having a similar reaction to the recover of his dime.  I would guess that it's really just a natural thing.

Anyway, if we've established this much, I can go on to say that I just think it's really funny for Scrooge to be smitten like that.  True to character?  Hmm…let's not get carried away.  This was, after all, published at what was probably the nadir of Barks' career.  You betcha if Don Rosa had written this, the scent woulda reminded him of Goldie, for better or worse.  Finally, I'd like to note that Magica's doggerel there actually isn't bad.  The stresses are slightly off on that fourth line, but that's really the only problem, and I highly approve of the word "snaffle."


I also like Magica turned into a jogger, and especially her bizarre dialogue as she shoves Donald out of the way--another sign that this is sixties-era Barks!  You will note that she had previously been disguised as Miss Quackfaster.  Along with Magica herself, this was only the character's second appearance (or not, as it's not actually her) (both had debuted in "The Midas Touch"); since she hadn't really been established yet, there was no need to establish what happened to the actual Miss Quackfaster.  Barks probably wasn't even envisioning that there was a "real" one, even though he used the same character design as he had in the earlier story.  But from today's perspective, it's hard not to wonder with what sinister device Magica got rid of her.


The other question is: how come Donald apparently doesn't recognize Magica here?  True, he only saw her in one previous adventure, but she's nothing if not distinctive-looking, and given that Scrooge was quite forcefully bemoaning her earlier on, you'd think she's be on his mind.  Once again, it's probably that Barks hadn't quite got the template settled; hadn't realized that she couldn't simultaneously be Scrooge's arch-nemesis and constantly be seducing him and his family members.

Do I have anything hugely profound to say about this story?  Clearly not.  Writing this was basically just a chance for me to pose miscellaneous nitpicky questions which occurred to be as a I reread it recently.  It's not any kind of spectacular story, really; it's basically the exact same thing that later writers would reenact thousands of time over, and not, on the whole, to substantially worse effect than we see here.  Still, this one came first, giving it pride of place if nothing else.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Note that ducks didn't recognize Glomgold when they meet him for the first time.
I asume there it's some short memory thing.



P.S. Magicas the greatest Barks villian ever!!!! :D

September 7, 2013 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo writes:

“You betcha if Don Rosa had written this, the scent woulda reminded him of Goldie, for better or worse.”

Probably so. In fact, I’d say ABSOLUTELY so!

But recall, at this particular time, that Goldie was a long-forgotten one-shot character who had yet to appear in an American reprint. So, it wasn’t a likely option for Barks.

As the second appearance of Magica – and remember this was a day when not everyone would have even SEEN the first – I think Barks took the correct approach overall.

Goldie, Neighbor Jones, Flintheart Glomgold, The Phantom Blot, Shamrock Bones, Dr. Einmug, etc. would have their revivals all in good time. Some sooner, and some (like Einmug) considerably later.

September 7, 2013 at 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

It also seems that HDL recognize Magica immediately when she comes into the kitchen, making it stranger that Donald doesn't recognize her at the door...unless he's already bespelled by the perfume wafting his way.

When I read this story aloud, I read the fourth line of the valentine poem as "is that first dime...", which makes it scan better.

And speaking of great words (snaffle), I also love the line: "I, Magica de Spell, sorceress, have been hornswoggled!"

September 7, 2013 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

GeoX, I'm not arguing with you, but why do you refer to this point as "the nadir of Barks's career?"


And a similar perfume is used in "Oddball Odyssey."

September 9, 2013 at 2:43 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Good point about "The Midas Touch;" that seems a natural evolution of what we see here, though in that story, of course, it's DEFINITELY magic.

As for my off-hand comment about Barks' "nadir," I may be guilty of sort of generally lumping the worst of his sixties output together, even though it really came out over a period of six years. But pace Pan, I'm not generally a big fan of Barks' Magica stories--to me, they feel like a symptom of a certain creative played-out-ness. I was also thinking of stories like "Mythtic Mystery" and "That's No Fable," not to mention ten-pagers like "The Olympian Torchbearer" (the meanest story he ever did?).

Still, it's undeniably true that you're going to be able to point to at least a few decent Barks stories from any year he was active.

September 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! I ment to write "Note that the ducks didn't recognize Glomgold when they meet him for the SECOND time" AAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!! Stupid, stupid... Ow, well...




Actually I will agree that non of Barks Magica stories trully "Wow" me. Many other writers made some way more interesting Magica stories... I just love this character in general.


"Raven Mad" is the one which I use to found the weakest but year later I re-read it and there is just something about Magicas plot to melt the dime in the sun and have dimes come back to her as sun ray to make her rich which I find extremly creepy... There is something trully insane about her in that story and I'm a person who find insanity scary...


I actually like to think that before Magica got hold on Circe cave in "Odball Odysay" she only use gadget or real life stuf like hypnosis.

September 9, 2013 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Elaine: "When I read this story aloud, I read the fourth line of the valentine poem as "is that first dime...", which makes it scan better."

For some reason, I've always been tickled by that phrase "you e'er did eke."

GeoX: "As for my off-hand comment about Barks' "nadir," I may be guilty of sort of generally lumping the worst of his sixties output together, even though it really came out over a period of six years. But pace Pan, I'm not generally a big fan of Barks' Magica stories--to me, they feel like a symptom of a certain creative played-out-ness. I was also thinking of stories like "Mythtic Mystery" and "That's No Fable," not to mention ten-pagers like "The Olympian Torchbearer" (the meanest story he ever did?)."

That being said, the stories of the early 60s certainly LOOK better than those of a few years previously, the "Era of Overly Tall Ducks." I'd much rather read stories from the former period than the latter.

Chris

September 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I agree with Pan here, that I really love Magica as a character, but that mostly I appreciate her as she has been developed post-Barks in stories written by others. My favorite Barks Magica story is "The Unsafe Safe"--love those Yeekers. The one that truly freaked me out in childhood was "The Many Faces." Being turned faceless was beyond creepy. And the soap-and-water cure didn't comfort me at all, because I was completely unconvinced it would truly work against such powerful magic.

And Pan, I like your idea that Magica just used gadgets until she discovered Circe's cave. That's a neat way to fit the two aspects of Barks's Magica into a continuity. In that case, where do you set this story? Since Scrooge actually associates the Attar of Araby with Circe (first panel, second page), we could say it comes from a recipe in Circe's cave and thus is truly magical.

September 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I guess since Magica was an regular person obssesed with magic I asume she propably both the Circe perfume among orher "magic items" on some ocult market.

You know the type that have "magic" stuff that have spiritual mening (goetia and such) but no actuall supernatural power... or at least not the type we see in Harry Potter but more like that lady on who reads from tarot cards on TV uses

[BTW -> As a person who loves Nemesis Now figurines I'm actually dig this type of stores since it's the only place I can usualy get them outside of amazone... ]

So the letter while Circe-related has no power, it's just smelled good ;)


Same goes for perfumes she used on Donald. It's just some potion that made him tripy and tell things she wanted (stuff like scopolamine work this way on people in real life) So no magic - just drugs.
Same goes for the letter she used on Scrooge in "Odball Odysay' only I guess it was much more tricky formula. In my "theory" Magica was more of an alchemist - her poof bombs and such where stuff Gyro could made in his laboratory.


Hey I stick to my theory ;)

September 9, 2013 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Sixties nadir? Uh-uh!

In the sixties, there was just a general trend toward more lightheartedness, satire, and dare I say “campiness” in our entertainment in general. Barks, to his great evolutionary credit, rode the crest of that wave – while most of his contemporaries, save maybe Bob Ogle, kept doing what they were doing in the fifties. See: Fallberg, Carl.

Yeah, I know that was a shot at the Mickey I generally champion, but truth is truth.

September 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

But I'm not just talking about a quality-neutral tonal shift. Stories like the aforementioned "Olympian Torch Bearer" and "Bubbleweight Champ" are just flat-out bad in ways that suggest that their creator was not feeling very into it anymore (and, of course, "The Beauty Business" is simply grotesque, but that gets a pass on the grounds that I'm pretty sure Barks was intentionally fucking with Western with that one). Certainly there are any number of great sixties Barks stories, but there are also a goodly number that are, even if not "bad" per se, then uninspired in ways that you would have rarely seen in his earlier work.

September 10, 2013 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

I’d say the sort of thing you describe went on before the sixties. That “Midget Racing” story gave me the same sort of feeing you describe for “Olympian Torch Bearer” and “Bubbleweight Champ”.

And both the “Silent Night” (with Jones) and “Milkman” stories were rejected by Western for their overt meanness. Barks managed to slip much of the “Silent Night” stuff back in, years later, with “Terrible Tourist”.

But, things like this are most often in the eye of the beholder. We may just see it differently. You’d never get “Ancient Persia” or “Back to the Klondike” in the sixties. “Cattle King” and “Hall of the Mermaid Queen” – and even “Interplanetary Postman” -- were different, but they weren’t BAD in the sense that “Bird Bothered Hero” and some of the (Non-Gerstein-involved) Boom! stuff was.

“Heedless Horseman” WAS weird, though… I’ll give you that!

September 10, 2013 at 8:18 AM  

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