Friday, January 3, 2014

"All Creatures Great and Small"

A slightly belated Happy New Year to all.  Here's a story by Dave Gerstein that he pointed to when I asked about New-Year-themed stories (which I had read before and which came back to me upon this reminder).  It's a good opportunity to look at something less predictable than another Barks "resolutions" story (in spite of THIS being a "resolutions" story too--I feel like that's pretty much the only salient aspect of the holiday that people can think of to use, which isn't surprising--there isn't actually all that much TO it, really, and its other main feature--ill-advised drunken hook-ups--probably wouldn't work too well in a Disney story).

I don't know if this was intentional or not, but this story sort of gestures in the direction of that perennial Barksian mystery: what the heck happens after page ten to the innumerable animals the Duck Family adopts?  Your Cheltenhams, your Catapults, your Rockets Wing?  I always like to imagine that they're all still there; they just somehow manage to remain off-panel in all future stories.  But if they're really just accumulating, you could run into problems.  This would have been the ideal opportunity for a shitload of Barks call-backs, but I don't think that's how Egmont rolls, alas (actually, I think basically no one rolls like that, which is part of the reason Don Rosa seemed like such a revelation).  

It must be noted: for a story taking place in the deep midwinter, everything sure looks awfully verdant, the odd tiny patch of snow notwithstanding.  And is "Duckburg [?]wells" some sorta reference I'm missing?

The idea is that the kids resolve to get rid of the pets, while Donald resolves to be more tolerant of them.  ZOMG!  What will happen next?!?  This dynamic is just about identical to Barks' "we'll only eat healthy foods" vs. "I'll only feed them sweets" thing.

…the problem is, as Dave himself noted, that there's a certain confusion here: in the absence of some sort of wager, what exactly is Don's plan meant to accomplish?  To me, it looks very much as though the story is sort of unconsciously piggybacking on the Barks story and to that end implicitly assuming there is a wager, even though no such thing has been established.

"Rue Morgue Pet Palace"--now that's funny.  Geoffrey Blum would approve.

Ah, St. Canard!  Is this the gods' way of telling me I should get back in the saddle with the Darkwing Duck reviews?  And am I so incredibly narcissistic that I assume everything is about me?  The answer to both questions is: apparently so!  Actually, the reference kinda sets me up to expect there's going to be some sort of DW reference ahead, even if it's just a tiny visual thing.  No such luck, alas!  Though now I'm getting slightly dizzy trying to rationalize the notion of this decidedly non-Ducktales story existing in the same world as DW, which itself exists in the same world as Ducktales.  Egads!

Does this seem somewhat dubious?  It does.  Note also that the original pet premise kinda vanishes as soon as the ape business starts.  They're just unceremoniously shuffled out of the house, and evidently we're just meant to take it that that's that.  That's one of these things that really bothered me had I read this story when I was small (though granted, I was probably more sensitive than most in these matters).  

Okay okay, the ending's sort of cute, if a bit…oh, abrupt, I'd say.  Not the kind of dynamic you'd be likely to see in Barks.

Look, I'll level with you: I do not have strong feelings about this story.  It's one of those things where you read it; you think yeah, that was all right; and then you forget about it pretty quickly.  Still, it's interesting for the helping us to think about a Barksian question.  For "Rue Morgue Pet Palace," also.  Thanx to Dave for pointing it out.  What will 2014 bring, duckwise?  Stay tuned.

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Blogger ramapith said...

"Duckburg [?]wells" = the Duckburg Gadwells, sports team first mentioned in this Rosa story. Who knew?

Glad I could point you to something New-Yearsy I'd worked on... though wak! I completely forgot about "New Year's Daze," a story that makes "All Creatures"' comparatively brief St. Canard set-piece look like so many bushroots.
G'wan—before the New Year fades... you know you want to.

January 3, 2014 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I was hoping you will also review the "Milenium Orb" story line. If you like I can sent you scans of the entire thing in English ;)

January 4, 2014 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

@ramapith Whoa! A Rosa reference! How cool. As for the rest...we'll see :)

@Pan never say never and all, but the odds of me embarking on a twelve-part feature on a story I'm honestly not all that keen on seem...low.

January 4, 2014 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

(...or however-many-part.)

January 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

To be fair I found your reviews more amusing when you spent time pointing out why you found a particualr story bad... but I get your point ;)

January 4, 2014 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

BTW 1 - The story is fun in my opinion BTW. Especialy the Phantom Blot chapter

BTW 2- Its only 7 chapters :P]

January 4, 2014 at 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

David's link doesn't work for me--which Rosa story mentions the Gadwells? And if they are a sports team, why does HDL's poster seem to portray a guitar-playing man and a woman?

I don't think there needs to be a wager to make Donald want to get crowing rights over the boys by making them break their resolution. I think it actually suits Donald's character that he would be reluctant to simply let the boys "win" by revealing that his resolution makes theirs unnecessary.

GeoX, by far my favorite New Year's duck story is "A New Year, A New Donald" (Charlie Martin/ Vicar), current Inducks rating 1132. The New Year's festive activity in that story is a Duckburg town costume ball. I wonder where and to what extent costume parties are a New Year's thing? One also appears at the end of "All Creatures."

January 5, 2014 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


David’s link doesn’t work for me either… and I’m CURIOUS, dammit! And CRANKY from shoveling all that East Coast snow of January 03! Yes, (Snort! Snarl!) I shoveled ALL of it! The WHOLE Northeast! ...Or, at least I FEEL as if I did!

January 6, 2014 at 2:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Barks references among the pets, isn't that Joe from Singapore in the last panel of the first page? It kind of looks like him to me (not that Joe actually seemed to stay with the ducks at the end of his story, but whatever).

January 6, 2014 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Weird—my link doesn't work for some of you? The Gadwells were mentioned in Rosa's "Master Landscapist"; they were the sports team that Donald made small-talk about while pretending to be a barber.

Re: New Year's and costume parties—maybe more common in Europe?
As I originally scripted the story, the costumed "grizzly bear" on the last page was walking around town to promote a jungle movie, not going to a party.
But my editor, Stefan Printz-Påhlson, pointed out that on a frigid, snowy Jan 1, it would be cruel and unusual punishment for a theatre to have a guy outside in costume all day!
So we came up with the New Year's costume party as a substitute.

(And then, making all our effort superfluous, Vicar drew my snowy story with almost no snow at all.)

Re: Joe from Singapore: if I'd been using my head, I would have jammed this story with Barks and Taliaferro "pets" from earlier stories. But amazingly, the idea never even occurred to me!

January 7, 2014 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Link worked for me.

Man alive, it woulda been DELIGHTFUL to see this with sundry Barks allusions. :)

January 7, 2014 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

OK, here's my New Year's fantasy: someday, this story will be redrawn by someone else. The Gadwells poster will depict a sports team instead of a band (?), there will be plenty of snow throughout, and the pets will include plenty of *visual* references to single-appearance pets from classic duck stories. All possible without rewriting more than a line or two! And it would indeed be *such* fun to play "spot the pet."

January 7, 2014 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Problem with Donald's trick on the kids:

Above and beyond the trick, he has made a genuine resolution to let the kids keep their pets from now on.

However, the kids are still acting on the belief they have to evict any animal that comes near the house.

Donald's trick involves planting Cagliostro the ape at the house, expecting him to try and stay there—while the kids try to make him go. Comedy will ensue for awhile, Donald thinks.
Then Donald will own up to the gag, tell the kids about his resolution, watch them "kiss [his] feet," return Cagliostro to the pet store, and go on with life.

But wait a minute—Donald made a genuine resolution to let the kids keep their pets from now on. Returning Cagliostro to the pet store doesn't make sense with this! To truly live up to his vow, Donald would actually have to keep the ape, which he can't even afford to do.

See? Somethin' wrong here.

January 8, 2014 at 9:01 PM  

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