"Return to Duckburg Place"
Hi, welcome back! Normal service resumes...now! Yeah, yeah, promises, promises. Still, this blog was getting awfully lonely, and it was high time for a little discussion of a teenage Don Rosa's unofficial Disney-comics debut, so here we are (it should be noted that there's a credited co-writer for this—anyone know who Ray Foushee is?). For a long time, this story was kind of legendary; there were a few pages online, but the whole thing—which has only ever been reprinted in some high-end Scandinavian collection or other—was tantalizingly out of reach. I first read it when a heroic poster name of Sigvald on the now-defunct Disney Comics Forum (Cacou? Olivier? Give us an update here!) just casually was all, oh, yeah, I have scans of that, and started emailing them to everyone. I put it up on mediafire, and the rest is history. Really boring history.
So what's the deal with this story? Well, it is what it is, and what it is is a little joint by a couple of smart-ass kids with senses of humor typical of smart-ass kids. Certainly not as clever as it thinks it is, but by and large charmingly juvenile, and interesting inasmuch as, satire or not, it's easy to see Rosa's love of Carl Barks and even the odd preview of what his work would later become. And the art isn't actually that bad; sure, it's a bit crude, but it more than does the job, and it becomes apparent that Rosa's facility with drawing ducks didn't just come out of nowhere with "Son of the Sun." Plus, you get to see Rosa drawings of characters that he would never draw again. So let's look in, shall we?
(Why are some of these images so dark? I have no idea. The source images look normal. I had difficulty editing these, for some reason.)
So, yes: the genre of humor known as “seemingly wholesome kids' characters smoking pot” (“what if instead of Harry Potter, it was Harry Pothead?!?): hilarious to teenagers everywhere; for others of us...well, our mileage may vary. Still, that little speech in the bottom left makes it obvious that Rosa knows his Barks. They're really missing the boat here, though: no, they didn't get much material reward out of it, but all this globetrotting would easily make them the Most Interesting Kids on Campus. You can't put a price on that kind of social capital.
Okay, in order:
Goofy: “Poor old retard”...yeah, ouch. Did I say “charmingly juvenile?” Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean we can't cross over into “cringe-inducingly juvenile” from time to time.
Daisy: I feel like we have here a precursor to Daisy as she was portrayed in the alternate universe in “The Duck Who Never Was.”
Grandma: Okay, to me, this is macabre enough to be funny. Provides the most disturbing possible answer to that old question “what's the difference in the duck universe between anthropomorphic and non-anthroporphic animals?” Also, who's that in the background? Why, it's Shamrock Bones! A pretty obscure reference, even more so for a story that was published in 1970.
Now we get to the other interesting thing in the story, which is the relationship between Donald and Scrooge. Interesting because, yeah, if you want, you can extrapolate this from Barks' stories. But here's the thing: it's actually a hell of a lot easier to extrapolate it from Rosa's “canonical” stories. Satire it may be, but it also points pretty clearly to Rosa's actual perspective on the relationship between the two characters, somewhat less so with Donald (who's typically portrayed more as dumb/hapless than anything else), but definitely with Scrooge, who—I know I've belabored this point plenty in the past—is all-too-often a gigantic flaming asshole in Rosa's work.
You can also see here the kind of background details that he loved to put in his stories so.
ARGH WHY IS IT SO DARK?!? Looking up explosives in the JW Guidebook? Funny. This kind of generalized college revolutionary stuff definitely places the story, culturally ('course, naming the story in honor of Peyton Place doesn't hurt either).
I dunno; I just wanted to show this seminal picture of Gladstone's self-annihilation. Haven't we all wanted to see something like this at one point or another?
Okay, this one just cracks me up by virtue of being such a dopey pun. Rosa may not care much about the non-duck characters, but this story shows that he was perfectly aware of them. Can't say that rhyme scans very well, though.
Yup. I guess it's a kind of obvious joke, but still, Rosa drawing a Warner Brothers character: not something you see every day. Or any day other than this, really.
Here, Donald learns a valuable lesson: it's not about the money. Can't you see? It was never about the money! It's all about the mindless violence!
Seriously, I somehow find this conclusion highly satisfying. There are definitely times at the end of Rosa stories where I've kinda felt that Scrooge had something like this coming. And now, we get to enjoy it for real! Well, for some definition of “real.”
Well, that's about that. It may not be great art, but as li'l oddities in the past of a guy who would continue on to much more substantial work go, it ain't too bad. Not too bad at all. It is some extremely weak tea that apparently Fantagraphics isn't going to include the whole thing in their reprint series. Seriously, people, you people are building this up to be way more than it is with this phobic resistance to ever letting it officially see the light of day. You need to be bigger, brighter, and bolder! Sorry, that was a reference to the lame business English stuff I've been teaching. What the heck is wrong with me?
Labels: Don Rosa