Sunday, September 20, 2020

"Donald Duck and the Pirates"

Can I just start by noting for the record that Blogger is now forcing on us this horrendous new interface that has all kinds of weird formatting bugs and makes me spend at least twice as long arranging images?  It's just such a classic bit of corporate stupidity: take something that works perfectly well and "fix" it to make it much less usable while providing no benefits that I can see.  It might be meant to work better on ios and android, but what kind of psychopath blogs from a tablet?  Good lord.  Does Wordpress work any better?

'Twas definitely cool that Boom or Kaboom or whateverthehell reprinted this thing. As you probably know, it's one of those thirty-page, one-tier mini-comics given away with cereal. So kind of a rare thing. Say what you will about Boom, but they DID give us more Yellow Beak content than any other contemporary publisher! You cannot deny them that.

I have a question about this story, though, and that question is: why is this story?  Seriously, this is a very anomalous piece of work by Western standards.  It's a...remake? remix? of "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold."  This was NOT the sort of thing Western generally traded in.  If there are other examples, well, you should tell me, because I am unaware of them.  All I know, really, is that Dave Gerstein wrote that  "In 1947...'Pirate Gold' was not yet famous for its first; instead, it was just another recent duck story.  Perhaps that's why Western Publishing saw fit to have Hannah draw a...sequel."  I have no inside information here, but I must ask, is it confirmed that Hannah was specifically commissioned to write this, or is that just a surmise?  Because it would be a weird ask.  I'd love to see how exactly the request was phrased if they did.  It just seems unlikely to me.  By 1947, it seems a stretch to me to call the five-year-old "Pirate Gold" "recent," and the idea that the powers that be would even remember the old thing seems questionable.  To me, it seems much more plausible that Hannah was just asked to do one of these giveaways so rather than think of a brand-new idea, he decided to more or less recycle previous work he'd done, no doubt correctly assuming that few people who read it would remember the original.  But then again, the story was--inducks claims--written by "Craig Chase ?" so now I really don't know  what to think.  But ENOUGH OF THIS NONSENSE!  Let's get into it!

One question that I initially had was: to what extent was the writer--Chase or Hannah or whoever--influenced by Hannah's erstwhile co-artist? Were they familiar with his work? Can you see any kind of influence in the writing? But then I realized that that's probably not a meaningful question. Are any Western comics by other writers Barks-influenced? Did anyone see him as someone to emulate? That's probably an anachronistic attitude to ascribe to anyone. I think really the most you can say is that unlike "Pirate Gold," you can tell that this was never meant to be a cartoon. The concept of Disney comics, at any rate, had been established.

It does seem extremely weird to me for Yellow Beakto be described as "a little ol' man." It may be that he has a greater level of anthropomorphism than he did in "Pirate Gold."

The first story had Henry Morgan; this one has CaptainKidd. This is following the contours of "Pirate Gold" closely enough.

Sure, fine. Donald having less money than the kids is certainly something you would see in cartoons, but it also works here.

I do have to give the writer a little credit here: this gag is actually played sort of subtly. I mean, not that it's some kind of super-clever work of genius or anything, but...more so than you would expect.

That is, at no point does it just come out and say, "hey! Where are they going?!? They just bought the lifeboat, but they're taking the entire ship! Odds bodkins!" Mind you, the question of why they're selling the ship's lifeboat is still kind of prominent. Still, we take what we can get here.

Really, we HAVE to take what we can get, even if that means dumb things like this: by random happenstance, Pete'n'the Boys just happened to be on board the ship. Okay. Clearly it's a matter of trying to conserve space in a very constrained format, but STILL. Come on. You can do better. Maybe.

This is sort of mirroring the part in "Pirate Gold" where he's all, "if we let them dig up the treasure, we can just relax!" Only considerably more bloodthirsty.

This part is extremely odd. Inserting weird magical-realist technology into the story like this feels jarring, but I guess it seemed more expeditious than having the characters mess around with maps and things.

Here's something that "Pirate Gold" gets right but this gets wrong: they're walking the plank, but they're not tied up. I feel like a lot of people conceptualize plank-walking as just kind of being like going off a diving board, but NO: the pirates are not going to just give you the opportunity to swim away. Except here, it seems. It's kind of a funny detail that Donald is holding his nose like that.

(Why is the landmark where the treasure is called "Blizzard Rock?" We will NEVER EVER KNOW.  Seriously: the story never even gestures in the direction of explaining it.)

It's very characteristic of these cereal giveaways that they really drag their feet in the early going and then have to scramble to try to pull everything together, resulting an unsatisfactorily hurried conclusion. Like here, for instance. Walkplankreachislanddiguptreasure. No time to lose! I feel like scrabbling with your hands, as Donald's doing, is about the least effective way to go about this.

I WILL say that the art is pretty nice here, although that is certainly partially related to the coloring. There would be less to appreciate in the original giveaway:


The ducks sleeping in the treasure like that might prefigure the Money Bin. Or not.

So yeah, the way this plays out is...not great. So the bad guys destroy the lifeboat...

...but then, uh, this happens. I find that "BUT BLACK PETE WAS WRONG!" positively insulting. No, let's not show how any of this actually works, let's just flatly assert that he was "wrong" and leave it at that. How the hell did they assemble that raft and lug the chest onto it? Don't go asking no stupid questions! Just accept it!

Well, that's the end of this. More Yellow Beak action...later!



Blogger Achille Talon said...

Ooh! We're in for the long haul! Are you doing all the Yellow Beak stories, or just the Duck ones?

September 20, 2020 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Also, it's called BUZZARD Rock. Because it looks like a buzzard. Check again.

September 20, 2020 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

By sheer force of will, I shall make it be "blizzard" and always have been blizzard.

September 20, 2020 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

"If there are other examples, well, you should tell me, because I am unaware of them"

Well there was a remake of Gottfredson's "Mikcey Mouse outwits the Phantom Blot"

...which from what I seen is a scene by scene retelling of the classic tale with some minor changes. But maybe it was not what you ment.

Still I can imagine how this story being propose/seen as a sequel back in the day. Cartoons would do this kind of stuff all the time where they would just tell the same story/formula and never had characters aknowllage the previews adventure. I think it might be additute with Disney characters at the time - "Oh, they are just cartoon characters. They have no past! We can have them meet Yellow Beak again for the fist time and go on another pirate adventrue with the same tropes and story elements and no one will question it! NO ONE!"

September 21, 2020 at 2:42 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

You can acess the old version of blogger if you use a link like "" (replace de "ID" number by the number of your blog)

September 21, 2020 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I would not have become a fan of Yellow Beak as a character from this story...though I do like the visual of him standing on the ship's wheel.

The weird magical-realist tech could be seen to reflect a small child's way of understanding. I seem to recall (from the movie documentary?) Fred Rogers on his show enacting a visit with the eye doctor, and when the doc looked into Fred's eye with his instrument, Fred asked whether the doc could see what Fred was thinking. So Fred thought that small children might think that a doctor looking into your eye could see into your brain *and see your thoughts in there*!

September 21, 2020 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Written Dreams said...

Yellow Beak also appeared in a Peter Pan comic, with the same plot as the original comic. Overall, I prefer Yellow Beak's first appearance the most.

September 25, 2020 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Oh, indeed! Also a Seven Dwarfs comic and a Woody Woodpecker comic. (And there's a Mickey story that recycles bits of the plot too, but doesn't have Yellow Beak.) It's all on the Wiki, you know.

September 25, 2020 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I know I'm a little late, but new entry coming in the next few days, fyi.

September 28, 2020 at 2:31 PM  
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