So whaddaya say? Wanna take a look at the first non-Barks appearance of Scrooge McDuck? Of course you do. The only problem is that, as with so many seemingly straightforward questions, "What was Scrooge's first non-Barks appearance?" does not have a single wholly reliable answer.
If you look on inducks, you will see that "Trail Blazer," a Wheaties giveaway, is listed first. However, there's also another comic in the same series that also includes Scrooge. "Trail Blazer" has an earlier number, true, but, although I can't determine this for sure, I kind of think they were all released at the same time, and thus the numbers don't really tell us anything. Furthermore, Inducks does not tell us exactly when in 1950 these were released; it's probable that it was before November, when the first regular-size non-Barks story with Scrooge came out (which some of you may remember from its reprint in Gladstone's short-lived digest series), but fairness compels me to admit that I cannot say for sure.
Man, I sure hope the insignificant minutiae of Western publishing chronology is as fascinating to you as it is to me--otherwise, you're probably not reading this because you fell asleep sometime in the midst of that last paragraph. So let's just get to the point: we like certainty, dammit. We want to be able to point to one story and say, YES! This is the first! So I hereby declare by the powers vested in me as some dude with a blog that that story is "TRAIL BLAZER!" Ah…now doesn't that feel better?
The story starts with Donald bragging about how he's just as awesome as Kit Carson, and given the chance, he'd SHOW them! He'd show them all! Golly, do you think it's possible that this most important matter might just happen by some crazy coincidence to coincide with Donald's boasting? Naw--that's just too crazy.
We're still in the stage where writers didn't quite have a grasp on the character; thus they just characterize Scrooge as "comically ostentatious." To be fair, Barks himself hadn't quite decided exactly what he was all about at this point; to be more fair, however, he sure had a better grasp than the anonymous cog who wrote this story.
Yup. There's just something about this whole HO HO HO HIS STUFF IS SO LUXURIOUS business that makes one roll one's eyes a bit. I like how the car blatantly violates the laws of physics there. It looks like it's about to be sucked into a wormhole or something.
BEHOLD! THE FIRST TIME SOME INDIFFERENTLY-TALENTED PEON DREW SCROOGE! Far from the last, though. If he's supposed to be living in such luxury, you'd think his office would be a little less barren. What's behind that blue curtain? And what the heck is that…thing on the right? It's very mysterious.
Penny-pinching in spite of seemingly being a total spendthrift: a contradiction that persisted even unto Ducktales.
…thing is, though, this is actually kind of a clever idea. The only problem is that it relies on the whole HE'S RICH THEREFORE ALL HIS STUFF IS HUGE idea that would fall by the wayside later on. You can imagine the established Scrooge going, "yeah, I was able to buy all this land SUPER CHEAP and I'll bet there's TREASURE there heh heh"--but that would be rather a different, and less interesting, situation. And anyway, here he has it just 'cause.
So they wander around in his yard for a while. And then…
…yup. Sigh. Now, this surely is not the only reason this story hasn't been reprinted (let's face it, it's just a mediocre piece of nothing like thousands of other), but it certainly can't have helped.
They're pretty much exactly the standard cartoon Indians that we've come to know and barely tolerate. Not much more to say. I do like Donald's deranged pelican dance.
…it's no "Mophead Mollie is off her trolley," I'll tell you that much. Just another demonstration of the fact that Barks was always a cut above.
Oh man. Horses were introduced to the New World by Europeans, and yet somehow this undiscovered tribe has them just like that? It's almost like the author wasn't concerned here with historical accuracy. Shocking!
…and an ending that recalls the climax of Blazing Saddles. Whee.
…well, gimme a break. What did you expect? Was there really any reason to imagine that, just because it represents a very minor milestone, this story would actually be any good, or really worthy of any serious consideration? Survey sez: no. Still, if you want, you can download it and read the whole thing. I'll bet his first Italian appearance would be much more interesting, but alas, it's only been published in Italy and, um, Turkey. Where in god's name do you go for vintage Turkish Disney comics, anyway?
Labels: Bob Moore