Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Donald Duck and the Seven Dwarfs"


For some reason, inducks lists the title of this story as the vaguely avant-garde sounding "Donald Duck, The Seven Dwarfs," but as you can plainly see, there is definitely an "and" in there.


Ha!  An idea of Walt's!  Gettin' all meta on us as far back as 1944.  Of course, the idea that Disney characters were "actors" wasn't an unusual one, but to go the extra step and assert that the man himself is part of the world--that's something else.  Maybe.  Do star actors also have to act as talent agents?  YES.  And they need pink suitcases.


Man, Walt Kelly was certainly a skilled artist, and I like Pogo, but man, I dunno about this here.  What the hell is the deal with Donald's cheerful  grin after being bashed in the face with a shutter?  How does that not seem incongruous, especially given Donald's character, which especially this early on in his evolution was set pretty firmly to "cranky?"


Actually, Donald is really surprisingly chill in this little piece, in spite of all the mild slapstick he's on the receiving end of.  The only time we see him at all annoyed is in the above, when he's pissed off about the trees.  Whoever wrote this story was…unconcerned with the characterization of its headliner.


THE FAMOUS ACTOR!


A really abrupt ending.  You read through the first three pages and realize, hey!  These are the only three pages!  What is this?  That was nothing!  I demand that this be a thing!  But alas, your cries echo in the silence.

Anyway, the punchline is that this whole little story was just a promotional thing for the 1944 rerelease of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It saw another rerelease in 1987 (yes, on July 17), explaining why Gladstone chose to reprint it.  But this "Snow White is coming back soon" business raises Troubling Questions: are we really meant to believe that, within this narrative, the whole story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was just a narrative, in which, presumably, Snow White herself was just another actor?  I find that idea dispiriting.  But wait!  The dwarfs had previously believed that Donald was the evil queen and accordingly attempted to murder him.  So she is real in this story?  How does that fit in?  Especially given that she dies in the movie?  Okay, I've got it: she was an actor in the movie, and her death there was only a movie death, but later on she turned to evil in real life.  That must be it!  Though I suppose some would argue that the real answer is that no one was meant to think too hard about a bit of ephemera like this.  TOO LATE!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a marvelous film, but I can't say that this insubstantial story, with its weird, half-assed characterizations, really would fill me with the urge to see it if I hadn't.  Well, I suppose that's irrelevant; since most people reading it no doubt had, all it really needed to do was remind people, hey!  Remember that movie you like?  It exists!  And it's coming back!  In a pre-home-video era, that would definitely have been good to know.  In any case, It's very cool that Gladstone decided to reprint it, regardless of its merits qua story.

This hasn't been published widely overseas, as indeed why would it, but out of curiosity, I decided to look at its non-American publications and see if they corresponded to film rereleases.  There's an extremely helpful IMDB page that lists 'em all (well, I assume it's 'em all).  The one French release: no.  The various Italian releases ('cause those Italians'll reprint any damn thing seven hundred thirty times): mostly no.  Possibly entirely no.  There are a few that corresponded year-wise, but the dates don't ever seem to match: the film was rereleased in Italy on January 1, 1950, and the comic was published on June 27, 1954 and again on February 25, 1950.  Doesn't seem to quite work, does it?

I must say, I'm curious as to how that last panel was handled if the story wasn't meant to promote anything.  Did they just literally translate the American dialogue, even though it no longer made any sense?  If you happen to know, fill me in.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

“Okay, I've got it: she was an actor in the movie, and her death there was only a movie death, but later on she turned to evil in real life.”

Well, how would YOU feel if you were irreversibly typecast? She couldn’t exactly move on to romantic comedies, could she?

October 3, 2013 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger mina said...

I really don't like the idea about Donald being an actor . The comics version is much better than the animated one if you will ask me.

October 3, 2013 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Did each dwarf got his moment in the story?

October 3, 2013 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Alas, no, not really. Sleepy, Bashful, and Sneezy are barely present at all.

October 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

You see, Donald Duck isn't cranky in this story because Donald Duck, "the famous actor," is not a temperamental guy. He is cheerful, mellow and patient. He just *plays* a temperamental guy, who happens to have the same name as he does in real life. Real life, where Walt Disney hires anthropomorphic ducks as actors & talent scouts.

October 3, 2013 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger mina said...

Donald isNOT temperamental? Hold me i feel faint

October 3, 2013 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

@Elaine You're blowing my mind. I think the comic should've gone all in in that regard: let's have all of the dwarfs act completely unlike their on-screen counterparts. Confuse the hell out of everyone.

October 3, 2013 at 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Yes, it's amusing to imagine the dwarfs with opposite or exchanged characteristics (Dopey smart, Bashful outgoing, Sleepy grumpy...).

I have figured out the name coincidence. Donald Duck, the Famous Actor (henceforth DDFA), was not originally named Donald Duck in real life. DDFA had a name unsuitable for a stage name (Quentin Bobblesmith, Artemis Vanderhoven), and took as his stage name the name of the character he played in his first major role. I don't know whether any human actor ever did this (Joe, do you know?), but a dog did. The male dog actor Pal was billed as "Lassie" in all movies subsequent to his break-out role in "Lassie Come Home," even if the role he played in the later movie was a (male or female!) dog with yet another name.

I'm imagining that DDFA tried out for the role of Ludwig Von Drake in Wonderful World of Disney--the makeup was no problem, but his voice disqualified him.

October 4, 2013 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Abraham Lincoln said...

Having all the dwarves (sorry for my Tolkien spellings, but its habit) act completely different would have been GREAT.

October 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Yeah, I always have to make a conscious effort to say "dwarfs" rather than "dwarves."

October 5, 2013 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

To expand on Elaine’s wonderful theory about Donald Duck vs. DDFA, perhaps DDFA’s voice was not an unintelligible duck’s voice at all – but the “Ronald Coleman-esque” voice of the short “Donald’s Dream Voice”, in which Donald Duck the Famous Actor got to use his real voice for a time, rather than be dubbed by Clarence “Ducky” Nash!

I wouldn’t be surprised if director Jack King had that story especially prepared for DDFA, just to keep him better engaged in the role, as DDFA was rumored as becoming bored with the ceaseless quacking tantrums the series required of him.

Indeed, DDFA *could* have spoken like Ronald Coleman throughout the entire “Seven Dwarfs” story, and we readers would never have known the difference. For the moment, let’s not even THINK about what Barks’ Donald would have sounded like. All I can say is that it would have been like neither Nash nor Coleman. Perhaps he even had a different voice for the 10-page sit-coms and the long adventures.

…Don’t cha just love the places some of these posts go?

October 6, 2013 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Duckfan said...

And what do you think of the "Brave Little Tailor" sunday and "Robinson Crusoe" Mickey Mouse daily?

October 18, 2013 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Haven't read "Robinson Crusoe." I think it's gonna be in the next FG daily book, though. I'm sure I HAVE read the "Brave Little Tailor" story, but I'm not remembering it at all--reckon I'll wait to revisit it 'til I get my hands on the new FG Sunday book (which could be a while, given the company's apparent shipping ineptitude).

October 18, 2013 at 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Duckfan said...

What I meant, was that those two tales show Mickey as an actor. And they're by Gottfredson, of all people! (I don't blame you for not getting that part, since you haven't read the stories.) But both stories have a framing device where Mickey goes over to the Disney studios to 'film' the main story. In fact, he even meets up with Goofy in one of them, who is off to make his own picture (Goofy and Wilbur, 1939). And he gets a phone call from WALT DISNEY himself. There's definately more to suggest that for a long time, the situation as in this comic was the standard. (See for example the character interviews in the first Fantagraphics Mickey books, extra's from the Gemstone book "Mickey and the Gang", or even appearances like Jiminy Cricket in Fun and Fancy Free, or Donald in the Disneyland TV series.)

October 24, 2013 at 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the case someone is interested in the arcanes of Inducks, I'llexplain why the story title was listed "Donald Duck, The Seven Dwarfs" on that Inducks web page.
We have separate hero and title fields. The first is "structured", i.e. it can be deciphered by a computer as a list of character abbreviations (there could be several heroes). When the title of a story is actually only the name of the story hero (as often happened in many US comic books) we prefer to index it as hero(es). This is because a reprint of the same stories with a different hero could be automatically flagged as doubtful. For instance if a reprint has Mickey as hero, the storycode is most probably wrong. This helps correct error. This would not be possible if we used the title field which is just plain text.
The text "Donald Duck, The Seven Dwarfs" is generated from a field that is entered as "DD,SD".
Lately, however, we have added a special field "printedhero" so as to save the exact wordings and use this to display the title (while still doing sanity checks in the background with the hero field).

October 27, 2013 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

As it happens, I'm very interested in this. Thanks! And I see that, presumably thanks to this entry it's been corrected. The system works!

October 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM  

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