Saturday, February 1, 2014

"The Seven Dwarfs and the Witch Queen"

Genuinely Odd Fact Number the First: Snow White/Seven Dwarfs comics were a quite prevalent thing in Italy back in the day.  In absolute terms, there weren't that many (certainly nothing compared to the duck/mouse stuff), but they kept making them, and pretty much all the big names in classic Italian Disney comics--Pedrocchi, Scarpa, Carpi, Bottaro, De Vita père, and of course Martina, along with sundry also-rans--tried their hands at the form at one time or another.  The same cannot be said for the characters from any other Disney movie.  One can only surmise that something about the nature of the movie combined with the time it was released just caused it to strike a particular chord with Italians.  Sure, there's a comparable number of US stories, but let's face it, without having actually read any of them, it's not hard to predict that they're gonna be of minimal interest.  Whereas the Italian stories--well, they could be terrible (none of the above-mentioned had perfect batting averages, certainly), but they're also generally longer, presumably more ambitious, and have top talent behind them.  Someone really cared about this stuff.  I've ordered a few that were published in France.  We'll see what's what.

…which, naturally enough, leads into Genuinely Odd Fact Number the Second: after working on "Donald Fracas" and re-watching the movie, I found myself thinking something I never would've expected myself to think: you know, I thought, I kind of want to read some Snow White/Seven Dwarfs comics.  But, as indicated above, more Italian SW/7D comics.  However, here we've got a 1958 Sunday serial by Floyd G himself (and drawn, ably enough, by one Julius Svendsen), helpfully reprinted in Fantagraphics' second Gottfredson Sundays book.  Surely that's worth checking out.  I realize that, Adlai Stevenson aside, this is the furthest afield I've ever wandered with this blog, but hey: once I started writing about mouse comics, it was one a them slippery slopes we hear so much about.  Next up: box turtle marriage.


In the previous post, I talked a bit about the difficulty involved in establishing any kind of convincing continuity in stories featuring these characters.  In comments to that post, the extremely helpful Unca Papasu pointed us to this Scarpa story, in which, he says, it is established that--of course--the Evil Queen survives her fall at the end of the movie, the boulder having for some reason vanished.  Well!  That answers that; it's super-lame, but I don't know that there was a solution that wouldn't have been.  So I suppose the working theory must be that these stories in general must take place after the movie--which still doesn't answer the question of why she remains in Old Hag form.  The first time i saw the movie (just a few years back--never saw it as a kid), I thought that her ending fate might be to be trapped in that form, which would be all ironic and stuff since she prides herself on her beauty and that's why she's trying to bump off Snow White in the first place.  But…no.

So if she isn't dead, then why the heck hasn't she turned back?  Note that there's no indication in the movie that anyone knows that the Hag is actually the Queen, whereas now they do know about the Hag (they might infer the connection, but there's no solid evidence), so it seems like she'd have every reason to turn back.  But…she doesn't.  Maybe she is stuck?  But in that case, you'd think she'd be extremely bitter about life.  I feel like there's some phantom continuity here that I'm not privy to.  ARGH!  Why am I thinking so hard about this nonsense?!?


But as for the question of why SW isn't with Prince Robot…well, this here would seem to indicate that there's some kind of…shared custody situation going on?  One would think that ol' Princey would feel a little bit…weird about this situation.  I suppose being a soulless automaton helps ease the pain.

Note also that Gottfredson doesn't even make a token attempt to include Doc's spoonerisms and the like.


A pointless little mini-reprise of the scene in the movie.  Watch it sometime and pay close attention to Doc--you will note that, as he sort of directs the action, he pretty well diverts attention away from himself and barely gets wet at all.  He's smarter than you think.


Somehow, those narration boxes crack me up.  ALAS!  Try pronouncing them in tones.  It's very rewarding.


These panels are kinda my favorite thing in the story--the ordinary, daily-life stuff.  Hell, I'd go for a comic consisting of nothing but.  It has to be noted, though, that you have to be careful with Bashful's schtick, or it can look more flirtatious than "shy," as above.


However, we have to get the plot started here.  The idea is that the Witch has hit the dwarfs save Dopey (because THERE IS NO MORE STEW) with a shrinking potion.  Unfortunately, this is pretty much all wasted potential.  The idea of the dwarfs having to make do whilst shrunken?  Solid.  The idea of Dopey having to get it together to save them on his lonesome?  Also solid.  But Gottfredson never does anything of any great interest with the concept.  I want to blame this on him having only nine strips to work with, but given that his pedestrian retelling of Sleeping Beauty a few years hence was substantially longer, I don't think that pans out.


IT'S THE PHANTOM BLOT!!!!11  Weirdest crossover EVAH.

Sigh…if only.  I don't know quite what was going on here--was Gottfredson really trying to create suspense?  If so, it's about on the level of the "suspense" in Goosebumps books where there are fifty million fake-cliffhanger chapter endings before anything real goes down.


I mean…bah, is what I mean.  There's just nothing to this.  Will the sprayer return them to normal, or will it make them DISAPPEAR ALTOGETHER?!  O the tension.


I also feel like they're pretty seriously trivializing the villain here.  It's one thing for Magica De Spell to retreat to lick her wounds; that's just par for the course.  But here, we have a villain who is very intent on murdering the shit out of Snow White; the whole HO HO HO!  Let her go!  Now that we've hit her with a broom, it'll be some time before she makes any more murder attempts, probably! reaction just seems gruesomely inadequate.

'Course, this story was written after the powers that be decided that they didn't want any more MM serials.  Let's hope Gottfredson enjoyed the opportunity to briefly return to that territory, but the end result leaves more than a little to be desired.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I don't know Geox. Grumpy did hit her in the but with a brum pretty hard. My guess is that's the last time they see of Her..

February 1, 2014 at 3:31 AM  
Anonymous Unca Paspasu said...

The Witch turns the Seven Dwarfs into ... dwarfs! :D

You wrote: "So if she isn't dead, then why the heck hasn't she turned back?"

In the same story I mentioned the hunter burns down the queen's castle, including all her magic stuff. She is not able to change back to normal. (In the current story she could have used the spell-remover.)

If she had only disguised herself as an old hag! But she even used a magic potion to turn her clothes black!

February 1, 2014 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I never read this one but rom what I see Gottfredson at least put some efort for each of the dwarves to get a proper characterisation...

But man! The sad look on Dopey face. His like three year old child or a puppy. Seeing him so sad just break my hearth.



SOME RECOMENDATION FOR DOPEY FANS :
There is this manga comic book series simply tilte "Grimm Manga". Each volume is collection of re-tellings of popular fairy tales, usually with some unique twist [but they aren't parodies, as some go into very deep places] In the second volume there is an "Snow White" adaptation that pays an intereting homage to the Disney movie. The story is from the point of view of one of the Dwarfs who's obviously Dopey : his smalest,have long sleves, no beard and only has few lines, making him mute for most of the story (but we hear his inner monolog). The story focus on "Dopey's" crush on Snow White but unilke the movie it's taken seriously if not tragic. While "Dopey" proves to be incredebly loyal firend (when she dies it's he who brings the prince and makes him drop the coffin having the girl spit out the poison apple and wake up) Snow White is obviously un-awarer of his feelings and for her. When on the end "Dopey" learns that now Prince will take Snow White away to be his wife his devastated but other Dwarfs tell him it's for the best since they are human. Dopey atemps to fallow the prince and beg Snow White to come back and live with him forever. I don't wan't to spoil the ending but it's one of most hearth tearing and warming thing's I've seen in any re-telling of Snow White.
STRONG RECOMENDATION!!!

February 1, 2014 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

@Unca Paspasu--thanks again for the inside info. The question remains, though: why the heck would writers be so deeply committed to the character being in witch form? Why is that so much better than the other way? This does not seem to be a Beauty-and-the-Beast-type case in which nobody really cares about the "regular" forms of the characters.

@Pan--thanks for the recommendation. That really does sound interesting.

February 1, 2014 at 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Oh...because the queen in hag-form is scarier? Because she carries all the negative power of an archetype of evil? (Note, I use the word "archetype" only to denote a cultural projection, not a timeless emanation of the collective unconscious, that Jungian escape from all critical analysis from Marxism to feminism, which last is particularly apposite here!)

February 2, 2014 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Sidious said...

"Why the heck would writers be so deeply committed to the character being in witch form?"

If I may hazard a theory, I'd say it's more about the illustators than the writers here. I don't know what Italian or American comics artists would have to say about that, but many illustrators of Belgian "bandes dessinées" admit that drawing beautiful women is quite hard--especially in the middle of a comedy universe. Hags, however, can be ugly as sin, which you can never exaggerate enough.

(By the way, I have been reading this blog silently and attentively from my native Belgium for several years. This is my first comment, but I suspect I'll get more talkative in the future!)

February 3, 2014 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Glad to have you here, and thanks for the insight! Chat away!

I think both your and Elaine's ideas seem reasonable. There may be multiple factors.

February 3, 2014 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Sidious said...

But you're welcome. :-) To be honest, I never understood the interest some authors had in using such characters in their comics. Well, in this case, the boat of the Snow White universe still sails on its own, which is fine by me. However, when the Wicked Witch appears in a Barks Christmas-themed Duck story--which you already chronicled here of course--I find that rather perplexing.

February 3, 2014 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Alberto said...

In most Italian stories the queen appears in her regular form and is able to change her shape at will. Like in the Gottfredson/Svendsen story, it's often Dopey who saves the day. This also happens in the first Disney story drawn by Scarpa in 1953, with Martina's script, Biancaneve e verde fiamma (http://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=I+TL+++78-AP).

February 4, 2014 at 6:42 AM  
Blogger Mesterius said...

Thanks for the link to the Adlai Stevenson review, I haven't laughed so hard in a long time! :D Enjoyed this review, too, but... man... what a masterpiece that Adlai Stevenson book was.

April 9, 2014 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

Thanks--always glad to hear when people enjoy my nonsense :p

April 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM  

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