Thursday, October 30, 2014

"The Hada House"

Okay, so I've been shamefully negligent here of late: blame it partially on me having to adjust to new and frequently difficult circumstances, and partially to a rather disastrous computer meltdown (though I DID manage to save the files for my ongoing translation, to your undoubted relief). NEVERTHELESS, if you thought I was going to let a great holiday like Halloween get by me—HA! HA, I say!

So! Ready to do the time warp again? Today we are going to take a look at a little number by Marco Rota; Rota, of course, is responsible for my second-favorite Halloween story ever, (and even if it we ARE talking about a bit of a shallow bench, it really is great) and he's also written a number of other pretty great spooky stories (like this and this, which Elaine says she finds too disturbing to be enjoyable, but which I think is pretty great) that I hope may see American publication with this exciting new IDW deal.


For now, however, we are stuck with “The Hada House.”

Okay, so that didn't exactly sound like a red-hot recommendation, but actually, there's something to be said for this one, if you adjust your expectations appropriately. Boy, THAT didn't sound like a recommendation either. I am NOT on a roll here. But...okay, better stop while I'm ahead.


To the extent that this story gets by, it does it on atmosphere. As with many Rota stories, plot isn't exactly a priority. This can be okay; “The Halloween Huckster” isn't plot-heavy, either. Sometimes it can just leave a story feeling aimless, though. But whatever else you want to say, this definitely looks good and puts you in the Halloween mood and also there's a reference to the old English rhyme that became a pretty solid Steeleye Span song and whether or not it's one hundred percent thematically appropriate, I WILL TAKE IT.


Seriously, man, the looming mansion, the oddly-tilted gargoyle, the silhouette inside—GOOD STUFF. If the story could stay at this level throughout, it would be one of the all-time best.


But, well, it can't, not quite. Once our hapless couple actually gets inside the mansion and is dealing with its cartoony inhabitants, things get less interesting, and the story never really does anything with the initial Rocky Horror inspiration, though I would assume that “Rafferty” is in reference to Riff Raff from the movie. You know, if they ever make a comic about his adventures, and it starts with self-contained stories but later moves on to continuity-driven episodes in a longer ongoing plot, you can watch Rafferty turn into a serial. Just sayin.'


Mostly, Donald just sort of pinballs around. It's not the greatest thing ever, but I'll admit that it has a certain aesthetic appeal. Hell, there are a fair few early Barks stories that are basically flimsy excuses for us to watch Donald get injured, so there's precedent.


We could do worse, is what I'm saying.


Yes! THIS is what we want from a Halloween story! It makes me forgive quite a lot of silliness. STAY FOREVER!


Yay!


Unfortunately, we inevitably come to the Big Reveal. I cannot say that I am transfigured by anger—I'm mellower than perhaps I once was, and I'm kinda used to such things anyway—but I would definitely say I am transfigured by slightly exasperated indulgence tinged with irritation at the inevitability of the whole thing. Is that something you can be transfigured by? Well, I am.


GRUMBLEGRUMBLEGRUMBLE. The other question is, what's with the sinister-looking cameraman in the lower right?


Of course, there's a bit of a kicker in the end; that too was inevitable. And don't think I don't appreciate it—it at least goes some little way to mitigate the lameness of the denouement—but it's not quite the spookiness I was hoping for.

Oh well—as sometimes happens when I pick through a story I'm not that enthusiastic about, I actually find that I like it somewhat more than I used to.

...but what's this? A gravestone, obscured by weeds and moss and spiderwebs? Let's carefully wipe them away, and...whoops, the flashlight is going out. Jiggle it to make it go fitfully on again. Okay, let's see...“Duck Comics Revue, 1857-1879?” WHAT?!? HOLY SHIT! THE BLOG WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME! DAH DAH DAH! AND WHAT'S THIS RUSTLING NOISE?!? AAAAHH! IT'S THE BLOG'S VENGEFUL SPIRIT! RUN AWAY!!!

...oh, wait, it was just a cat. PHEW.

A CAT WITH A BLOG-SHAPED SHADOW!

MUSICAL CRESCENDO, ROLL CREDITS

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's near-impossible for me not to read that "Zat's ze idea!" in Tommy Wiseau's voice. That makes the scene, shall we say... a bit less frightening than it could have been, though I guess I can't blame Marco Rota for it.

October 30, 2014 at 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I was disappointed by the reveal, but still found the story enjoyable overall. The art, of course--the atmospherics you mention, and Daisy running away in terror in the last panel of p. 10. I also liked the reference to Magica with its mini-story (Rafferty spurned her because she's not rich!). But I would have enjoyed the story more if the threats inside the house had been horror-story stuff rather than slapstick.

My favorite David Gerstein line: "Ze beauty of your smile lights ze jack-o-lantern of my soul."

Anybody know what Daisy is supposed to be feeling in the last two panels? I'm afraid she looks a bit besotted with the count, which I find annoying.

While I did, as you say, find the Duck Street story disturbing, I agree wholeheartedly with the Inducks rating of "Nightmare Ship," which just may be my favorite duck story ever by someone other than Barks or Rosa. Crossing all my fingers and toes that it will be printed here in time for next Halloween!

October 30, 2014 at 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Swamp Adder said...

Is that line about being "dried up and blown away" a reference to "The Old Castle's Secret"? It seems likely, given that "blowing away" is an odd thing to expect when trapped underground.

October 30, 2014 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Oh, and another thing...I had the impression while reading this story that its Duckburg is somewhere in Europe, as is often the case in European stories. Hard to imagine a central European noble family buying a summer house in America in 1721. And if this Duckburg is in Italy, that helps explain how Rafferty ran into Magica near Mount Vesuvius.

October 30, 2014 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Anon,

"You are tearing me APAHHHT, Comfort Chamomile Tea!" 😃

I remembered Rosa drawing a pretty good looking vampire in this story. As do often happens with Rota stories, however, the good will engendered by the attractive art is somewhat neutralized by the occasionally mystifying plotting.

Chris

October 30, 2014 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Elaine—if Daisy looks besotted with the Count, I'm afraid it's intentional. Rota, like Taliaferro, loves to show Daisy swooning over random third parties when it's least convenient for Donald. On the anti-sexist side, though, he characterizes Donald exactly the same way.

Donald being repeatedly catapulted around the castle reminded me less of a pinball machine than a video game—which is one reason I put a variation of this line in the Count's pointy-fanged mouth.

Donald saying "Darn it, Daisy!" was his G-rated version of "Dammit, Janet!"

November 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I have no particular problem with Daisy swooning over random third parties, especially since Donald does likewise. I think my problem in this case is that the Count had put Daisy through the mill in a very direct, one-on-one way, and I didn't believe that Daisy would so quickly move to finding him attractive. She might forgive him, given the explanation and the handsome payment they get, but it doesn't seem in character for Daisy to suddenly turn around and swoon over him. I would think that after an initial outburst (you put us through all this for a *commercial*?) she might, at most, say something indulgent, in the "little boys with their toys" vein. But not "Oh, I hope I meet him again someday" with dreamy eyes.

November 7, 2014 at 10:15 PM  
Blogger Natteravn said...

I didn't read the ending as Daisy being smitten by the Count, but rather enthralled, as in the Count cast a spell upon her, as if wont to happen in a lot of vampire stories.

April 13, 2015 at 10:59 AM  

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