Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Gigabeagle: King of the Robot Robbers"

Hi, ev'rybody! It so happens that I've come into a big ol' stack o' IDW comics, so now we can delve into this material. I'm not going to try to write about EVERY story, because A) that sounds like a lot of work; and B) sometimes I just don't have that much to SAY about a story, and in those circumstances, when I try to force myself to write about it anyway, the results—as we've seen on a number of occasions—are not pretty (unless you don't know what I'm talking about, in which case, ho ho, a bad entry on the almighty Duck Comics Revue? An impossibility!). Still, it should provide a rich vein to work with. I'm trying to space out my reading here to some extent for savoring purposes, but so far I see no reason not to be HAPPY AS HELL with the line. Long may it reign!

SO, here we have the first story in the first IDW Disney comic: it's “Gigabeagle: King of the Robot Robbers,” a 1966 story drawn by Scarpa and written by Cimono. Reviews on inducks seem to indicate that Cimino was fond of doing stories about giant robots in this period, but I don't know nothin' ' bout that.



So the story opens with this thing where Scrooge is having a nervous breakdown due to lack of Beagle attacks. It's the sort of thing that makes me roll my eyes a bit: the story kind of calling attention to the fact that Beagle attacks are a convention at this point. It's sort of like what Don Rosa liked to do with Scrooge's treasure hunts: oh, look, another one will happen 'cause that's just what you do! It feels contrived, is what it does.


Also worth noting is that this was written in the period where Scarpa was drawing these really off-model ducks—HDL most obviously, but really all of them. I don't understand why he went from drawing normal-looking ducks to...this. His later art doesn't look like this either. Is it because Cavazzano was doing inks at this time? Can inking influence the artwork? Doesn't seem like it ought to, but I dunno. It's the same sort of artwork you see in that "Donald Fracas" story I translated. Has any Disney artist had such radical shifts in art style throughout his career as Scarpa did?

Still, credit where it's due: the actual Gigabeagle is pretty darned cool-looking, especially viewed straight-on from the side like this. A very cubist sort of robot. Naturally, there are call-backs to Barks'
“Giant Robot Robbers” (in Jonathan Gray's English snappy English script, at least; presumably not in the original). This is edifying because, as I've argued elsewhere, the “robots” in the Barks story do not deserve that name: they have no individual autonomy ever; they're really closer to giant construction vehicles.  Being humanoid-shaped is not, in itself, enough to make a robot. Whereas in this story? Yup, that's definitely a robot. No question there.

Now look, the thing about this story that one cannot help noting is that the ducks are utterly useless: Gigabeagle defeats itself; they're really just helpless onlookers. It may not have been wise to emphasize this fact with that “even when I lose, I still win!” because it's easy to imagine the layreader seeing that and thinking, yeah—he wins just 'cause he's Scrooge. What the hell?

This is irksome, but the story kinda won me over anyway as an all-out piece of mockery of Scrooge for being so useless.


I love, for instance, this business with him ramming into a wall to try to come up with a plan.


...and I love even more the fact that he does it again in an even more baroque way. But what I love most is that neither of these efforts results in any kind of plan. I like to imagine that he has tried this technique many times in many different situations and never once actually gotten anything out of it. It may just be the story making time, really (it's not like this actually has much to do with anything), but it's still one of the best things here.



In a similar vein, I enjoy Scrooge blowing himself up with his own landmine...


...and again...


...and blowing up the police as well.

This is all a lot of fun, though it really raises the question: how the hell did this guy become a multi-kabillionaire? He's completely useless. It's amusing in the context of this story, but it's not a well you would want to go to with any regularity. Scrooge passively winning through no virtue of his own is something that would get old pretty fast. I read a fair few Scrooge-vs-Beagles stories with this general tone when I was in Morocco, and this hyper-neurotic characterization of Scrooge is common, but generally he or his relatives at least do something positive that lets him triumph over Beagledom.


Whatever causes it, though, the End of Gigabeagle here is quite striking in a nightmarish kind of way. Scarpa's weird-ass character designs may actually end up benefiting the robot.


The ending's not too bad either. Donald's protestation there is something that we've all probably wanted to hear him shout at Scrooge after being unfairly blamed for one thing or another. And Scrooge ends up taking part of the blame! Well, as the nephew sez, kinda. I must admit, I don't one hundred percent understand what this blame-taking involves, but given the condition of his hat there, we can conclude that it involves some degree of getting mixed up in explosions.

So there you have it! Gigabeagle! A story that may well be entertaining more in spite of itself than anything else, but one that I was happy to read. Excelsior!

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7 Comments:

Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo:

Welcome back… in EVERY sense of the word!

You write: “Has any Disney artist had such radical shifts in art style throughout his career as Scarpa did?”

Well, we haven’t seen EVERY Disney artist in the world (…though maybe our esteemed Archival Editor David Gerstein HAS), but I would tend to think not!

No greater proof of this may exist than that found within this first IDW issue itself – when you contrast the art in “Gigabeagle” with that of “Stinker, Tailor, Scrooge and Sly”, some of the art of which you can see in my own review of the issue.

The contrast IS amazing, isn’t it! From “totally out there” to “modern classic” in the space of just a few pages!

You’ve got a LOT of IDW issues to read and review (and, most of all, ENJOY), my friend! Get busy! :-)

September 23, 2015 at 4:22 AM  
Blogger Clapton said...

To me Gigabeagle was the perfect way to start the IDW line. The story was funny enough to attract old fans and also not intimidating to new ones. I hope your gonna review the lead stories from U$# 2 and 3. Those stories are perfectly structured, funny takes on the Duck Universe. Looking Forward to whatever you churn out :)

September 23, 2015 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Excellent post as usual but you got messed up with the panels. It looks like the picture that's just before the paragraph
"Now look, the thing about this story that one cannot help noting is that the ducks are utterly useless: Gigabeagle defeats itself; they're really just helpless onlookers. It may not have been wise to emphasize this fact with that “even when I lose, I still win!” because it's easy to imagine the layreader seeing that and thinking, yeah—he wins just 'cause he's Scrooge. What the hell?"

is supposed to be just after the last but one picture at the end.

September 23, 2015 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Regular GeoX said...

No, that was intentional. I put it there to illustrate the problem with the story, then went back to note things I liked anyway.

September 23, 2015 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Oh.

September 25, 2015 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

>>>Reviews on inducks seem to indicate that Cimino was fond of doing stories about giant robots in this period, but I don't know nothin' ' bout that.

Kinda :P
Giants and not-giants:

http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++686-B
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++704-AP
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++724-D
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++756-C
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++800-B
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++934-AP
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++939-C
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++643-A
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++666-D
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php?c=I+TL++629-A

>>>Has any Disney artist had such radical shifts in art style throughout his career as Scarpa did?

In Italy, most of them. Read, for example, this page about Cavazzano (from "Cavazzano's art periods" on):

https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~fms27/disney/cavazzano/

>>>Naturally, there are call-backs to Barks'
“Giant Robot Robbers” (in Jonathan Gray's English snappy English script, at least; presumably not in the original)

The original name of the robot is "tetrabassotto", i.e. "tetrabeagle", I don't really know why.

October 26, 2015 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Yilin Zhang said...

I'm quite surprised that you didn't mention one detail that bugs me a lot: where did Beagle Boys get their materials? Sometimes the villains were depicted to be so powerful that made me wonder how could they fail for so many times? Like Magica in Scrooge's Last Advanture. But I may think too much...

April 6, 2017 at 7:36 AM  

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