Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Wispy Willie"

I have to admit, the main reason I haven't been more active here in recent months is horror at the direction my country is going in, and not fun, seasonal horror either. I think that's basically what I said LAST Halloween, so...that may not be a good sign. BUT. The show must go on, so let's look at a not-really-Halloween story. Hey, it's not the first time, nor the last. You know, of course, that this story isn't actually called "Wispy Willie;" Barks wasn't titling his ten-pagers at the time. Granted, that title refers to the most memorable thing in the story, but it's certainly not the story's centerpiece. It doesn't really have a centerpiece. It does have its moments, though.

A classic David-and-Goliath story, or so one might think. "By refusing to sell, you are stopping progress!" seems like an ideologically freighted thing to say. The story does not really pursue this line of thought, however. Just an excuse to have a fracas. Though really, why would you need an excuse? A fracas is a fun thing to have!

Can't help but support Donald's principles here. Bite me, you vile plutocrat!

Yup. This is purely Evil Scrooge, though not quite in the alienating way you see in so many Italian stories. His Book of Diabolical Stratagems is funny. I will admit it.

So the story is really a fairly standard thing: a series of short set-pieces as Scrooge tries to do his thing, and then a kind of arbitrary denouement. Still entertaining, though. I really enjoy those mice in the top left panel, just sittin' there looking on. And WHOA, "our cat?" Just stuck that in like it waren't no thang. Is this Tabby from "Joe from Singapore?"

Sure, why not? The difference seems to mainly amount to a matter of coloring.

And the second thing is scary monsters (and super creeps) trying to scare the ducks off, and I very much enjoy Donald's sangfroid in the face of all this terror. That broad, ironic smile is the aspect of Donald that basically nobody does but Barks, occasionally. See also: "Only a Poor Old Man," my avatar.

Seriously, I love the fact that he doesn't even come close to cracking at any point, even in the face of HDL's more reasonable reactions.

Note non-dogface woman.  If Donald had seen that, he would have known TRUE terror.

Yeah, if only assault were legal...again, this is a pretty darned brutal Scrooge we've got here. You wouldn't be likely to see him so hard-edged in later years.

Well, now we come to the part of the story that people remember. It does have an excellent atmosphere. The scientist's equipment in the top panel and the spooky surroundings in the bottom really do say "Halloween" loud and clear. Please drink it in.

More. It does feel a little awkward that we never see the ducks actually venturing into the mine's mustiest depths. That could've provided some extra chills.

Yeah, that's the stuff. Definitely a super-cool and spooky character design, even if we don't actually see much of him. I was never quite sure if ol' Wille really was meant to be alive, or just a special effect. You'd certainly think he was, given that he has to eat, and also given how cool he is and it would be disappointing if he were just a phenomenon, so what the hey, let's say he is. Has anyone ever written another story featuring the character? Alas, no, not even Brazil (they're too busy these days electing fascists to worry about such things, is my understanding).

NO LIVING THING CAN STAND THE HORROR OF SUCH A SIGHT! That line always cracks me up, as does Donald's and HDL's reaction. Alas, however, that is the last we will ever see of Willie. He is unceremoniously dumped when no longer needed.

Unfortunately, I really hate the ending to this story. "Rich bastard uses his money to force his will on the common people" is only an edifying outcome if you're a Republican. Otherwise, it's kinda dispiriting and doesn't seem thematically in accord with anything that's gone before.

And phooey to this. I can't stand this "oh they're both so nutty" stuff. Yeah, they are, but only because you just decided to make Donald's principled resistance into a joke. I DO NOT APPROVE. Well...even Homer nods, I guess. I can't say I love this story as a whole, but it has enough good moments to recommend it anyway, I think.

Thanks to Pan Miluś for suggesting this one.  Expect another Halloween entry tomorrow.  It's another Barks story.  You can try to guess if you want to, but I would be rather surprised if you were right, unless you're just indiscriminately hurling titles out there and you get lucky.



Blogger Achille Talon said...

Technically, Willie did make one further appearance in a Halloween cartoon by the mysterious S. Eberhart for The Barks Collector,where he is inexplicably depicted as female (complete with hair-bow and eyelashes), and meets Smorgasbord the Bad.


And as for the ending… I'm not entirely sure I see the problem. It's a fun twist, and more in-character for Donald than just being "the nice guy assaulted by the evil guy" in every way. It is entirely Donaldish of him to get fixated on a little thing like that.

October 31, 2018 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I think my issue is that "Scrooge uses rich-bastard tactics to get Donald to sell his house" meshes very poorly with "oh look, Donald had a zany demand; that was his only problem." That would be fine in a different context, but not this one, I think.

October 31, 2018 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Also, thanks for that image. It's neat.

October 31, 2018 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

While I love this story a lot (it was first Barks duck story Publish in Poland so it has plenty of nostalgic value to me) even as a kid I did found the ending thad cheap. The story for the first 9 pages is escalating in a fun way, geting more darker and darker - mouses, witches, dragons, surreal monster... and then Scrooge wins with a "ho-ho the music is to loud" trick. Just dosen't mash well with the rest. Still, I love this story!

Happy Halooween guys! I wish you that trick your treat or whatever is the proper Hallween wishesh!

October 31, 2018 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Well, I cant at least try to guess the next story.

It's "The Easter Election". Close?

October 31, 2018 at 6:37 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

As for Geox problem with the ending... I see his point.

It do feel like a cheap cop-out to make them look moraly equal, after entire story where Scrooge is clearly the villian and Donald is the victim.

...that's Geox point, right?

October 31, 2018 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Yeah, that's definitely a big part of it.

October 31, 2018 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Lieju said...

aw, but i love evil scrooge... well, provided he is given enough opposition. i love martina's scrooge but i can get why not everyone would... he definitely wrote a better evil scrooge than many people do...

i remember reading this comic as a kid. though the most memorable thing was that for some reason it translated the creature as 'maahinen' which is a type of tiny human-like creature usually.

November 1, 2018 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I'm fond of (most of) this story, but in my mind it ends with Donald and the boys playing happily with Willie while Scrooge slinks off in ignominious defeat. Can't stand the ending where Scrooge wins. I love the Willie-related plot element, where Donald and HDL become familiar with the monster by being drafted by the scientist to help in its creation, thereby subverting Scrooge's malicious intent. That's a very satisfying Halloween story, Disney-comics-style.

William Van Horn drew Wispy Willie for the cover of WCD 566, and while I usually really like WVH's drawing of Halloweenish subject matter, this one doesn't quite work for me because Willie isn't wispy enough, he's too solid-looking.

November 2, 2018 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Lucas said...

Hi, Geox! Sad I didn't see this review earlier. It always left a bad taste in my mouth that ending. It serves as consolation that Donald didn't really lose all that much and Scrooge suffered some humiliations throughout the story something that is usually reserved to Donald in Bark's ten pagers.

And yeah, my country elected the despicable, immoral and disgusting fascist Jair Bolsonaro for presidency and I never felt so ashamed of Brasil in my entire life. I hope it doesn't sour the reputation of every Brazilian around the world because almost 90 millions of us, including myself, didn't vote for Bolsonaro but it was not enough rejection. And I can't pretend authoritarianism, prejudice, ignorance and blatant fascism is not something that was always detectable among our people, specially the middle class and the rich.

November 4, 2018 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I hear you, man. Not to get too deep into politics on what's meant to be a basically lighthearted blog, I can definitely empathize, for obvious reasons. Nothing to do but keep fighting, even when things look dark.

November 7, 2018 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

Now I noticed that almost all Disney stories that I read in my life were produced in the coutries ruled (or soon to be ruled) by Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump and (de facto) Matteo Salvini.

November 9, 2018 at 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real life political notes aside, gotta say as well the Brazillians wouldn't be concerned with making Willie comics nowadays... because Disney comics haven't existed there for months either. There's no Brazillian Disney comics anymore.

November 10, 2018 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I think it's apparent that there was something anachronistic about me referencing their presidential election at all with regards to something that, had it happened at all, would have happened many years ago.

November 12, 2018 at 4:32 PM  

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