Friday, July 1, 2022

"Trapped in the Shadow Dimension"

Look, I have no excuses to make as to why I don't post for long intervals and then sort of abandon plans I had--or so it seemed--been setting up for series of posts.  Had a lot on my mind lately.  Well...that's only a partial excuse.  But it's true!  Did you know I have a teaching fellowship in Estonia for the 2022-23 academic year?  'Cause I do.  That tends to distract from things.  BE THAT AS IT MAY, let's get into it.

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

"Rip Van Donald"

Man!  Draggin' my feet, and now apparently my plan to look at Gyro stories has been aborted.  Well, maybe not, but I read THIS.  And I wanted to write about it.  So I am.  Any questions?

It's worth dwelling on this opening, I think, because it's very important in that it explains the stakes for the entire story: why HDL are so upset about having to go south and so motivated to get themselves back north.  Whatever you may think of wintry weather, you have to admit that Barks does a good job making it look as appealing as possible.  Any ol' anyone could write a story with the plot "nephews forced to go south; trick their uncle into returning."  But, due to lack of artistic skill or just lack of interest, a lot of these anyones would do a cursory or nonexistent job of showing why they care that much.  You can't just say "they like the winter;" you have to show it.  This is also a good counterexample to bring up to anyone who asserts that writing and art in a comic are completely discrete: here, the art helps to tell the story.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

"Trapped Lightning"

 We'll get back to early Barks stories one of these days, maybe, but now, I want to write about some Gyro Gearloose shorts.  Such is my mercurial whim.  You have problem?

So natch, we start at the beginning.  Well, not Gyro's beginning, but the Gyro four-pager's beginning.  I think we all know the story by now, but it was the weird thing where you got different postal rates if your comic books featured stories with completely discrete casts, which is also why issues of Donald Duck featured Goofy four-pagers for a while.  How long did this system last?  That's not clear to me.  The Goofy ones didn't start appearing until a few years after the Gyro, when you'd think it would've been a no-brainer to institute them both at the same time.  Also, how specifically did it work?  If Barks had contrived to write a U$ story not featuring Donald, could he have then been used in the Gyro short instead, even if he was going to feature in the main story next time?  Ah, the mysteries of life!

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

"Adventure at Bomb Bird Island"

 Every so often, I say to myself, "hey, self, how about 1959's 'Bomb Bird Island?'  That's a story you fondly remember from your childhood.  You should write an entry about 'Bomb Bird Island!'"  And then I reread it and realize, man, I have basically NOTHING to say about this.  It's not that it's bad--it's certainly in the top half of non-Barks Western stories (and when I have I ever been circumspect about covering bad stories anyway?).  It's just that...somehow it never seems to have much about it to comment on.  But now, I have decided, it's "Bomb Bird Island" come hell or high water, dammit!  Let's do this!  It is how we will ring in the new year!

We start...here.  And the first thing you notice--or the first thing I always did--was the butler using Louie's full name.  Wait, aren't they pronounced the same either way?  Unless he's putting a particularly strong French spin on the pronunciation which Louie disapproves of.  Hard to say (yeah yeah, obviously he's meant to be pronouncing it "Lewis"--but it's sort of hard to imagine this hoity-toity butler using anything other than the French pronunciation).

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Twice Upon a Christmas: The Ad

Consider this a Saint Stephen's Day celebration: Just as a brief pendant to the Twice Upon a Christmas post, I thought it might be a tiny bit interesting for me to present the ad for the book that ran in Christmas Parade 2 and probably in other issues:

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Saturday, December 25, 2021

"Mickey's Dog-Gone Christmas"

 Well, due to unexpected events, I've sort of had to give up my idea of cramming something else into the Christmas schedule, but we will, at any rate, finish up Twice Upon a Christmas with a story about...Pluto!  Very climactic.  Merry Christmas, by the way.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"Donald's Gift"

 For whatever reason, or more probably no reason, this one comes after "Christmas Maximus" in the movie but before it in the comic.  Right.

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

"Christmas Maximus"

 I guess the rule was that the title just had to have "Max" in it?  Okay.  Impressive work, everyone.  Time for coffee and doughnuts!

Actually, I'm slightly boggled: in looking up information about Max, I learned that Goofy had previously had a son, possibly called Goofy Jr, who appeared in a series of fifties shorts.  And my boggling is because I had NEVER seen any of these and so never encountered this version of Goofy before, presented as a kind of everyman with a completely different voice than normal.  Thanks, I hate it.  I had no idea such things existed, which is kind of interesting, but the result...boy.  I forced myself to watch a few of them to get some idea of what they were about, and they did NOT grow on me, I will tell you that much.  This was apparently Walt's own idea.  Well, they can't all be winners--though it does deal a blow to the Dorfman/Mattelart idea that there's nefarious intent behind all the nieces and nephews.

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Friday, December 17, 2021

"Christmas: Impossible"

 If I don't overly like this story in cartoon form--and I don't--it's at least in part because, out of all the character designs here, the nephews' are unquestionably the most hideous:

BWAHAHA!  Merry Christmas.  Seriously, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  And if this was the best you could do, why did you go ahead and release it?  Just chalk it up as a learning experience and destroy all hard drives containing this footage.  Come on.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

"Belles on Ice"

YOU FOOLS!  Little did you know, Christmas had already started!  Except for Pan Miluś.  Somehow, improbably, he knew.  Why can't the rest of you people be maniacs like him?  Boy, I don't know.  So yup.  Having covered the DTV movie known only as Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas or possibly just Once Upon a Christmas or possibly, if you want to get fancy, Disney's Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas.  But why would you?  And now, we are covering the comic-book adaptation of that movie's sequel, where "once" is replaced with "twice."  Actually, that comic book was my introduction to the franchise, if you want to call it that.  I guess I kind of vaguely figured, insofar as I did, that there had to be a "once" out there somewhere, but I never bothered to check it out, and I think I thought that "twice" might be a comics-only thing.  So I've exposed myself to some new media this holiday season, for better or worse.  You decide.  This includes five stories, so we'll cover one every few days.  Also, I cannot absolutely guarantee that there won't also be something or other at the cartoon site.

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Saturday, November 20, 2021

"The Hard Loser"

Beware of this story!  Do not be tricked by its wiles!  You will THINK this is a normal ol' Barks ten-pager, but it has a Dark Secret: it was ACTUALLY published in that same dang "Mummy's Ring" one-shot, NOT in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories!  I cannot tolerate such deceitful behavior!

...or can I?  Well, let's find out.  I really like both the idea and the visual of Donald playing a carnival game, as if that's just a normal thing that people do on a regular basis.  Look his into it he is!

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Sunday, October 31, 2021

"The Mummy's Ring"

Hi, I'm back!  Okay, this entry was pretty predictable.  It's actually kind of weird that I never covered this on a previous Halloween--it seems like a natural.  The truth is, I always sort of discounted it.  I shoudn't have!  It's full of interesting firsts!  But rereading it to write this entry was only the second time I'd ever read it period.  The first time I dismissed it as not that good and thought no more about it.  I'm not going to say that it's an all-time classic qua story, but there are still--I hope--interesting things to say about it, and it is historically important if you're talkin' 'bout Barks.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

"The Mighty Trapper"

 Okay, why has it been a month and a half?  It JUST HAS.  No excuses!  Here we are!  Blah!  I talked about this one briefly with regard to that Seventy-Fifth anniversary book, but let us now examine it in more detail.

Here, I feel, we start to see those Barksian dynamics really coming together.  Donald being a blowhard and telling these tall tales--it's good; a lot of specificity, and the Donald-vs-Nephews dynamic is very familiar (also, dig that picture of a weird bearded duck).  Somehow I especially like his face in the first panel.  And yet, in another sense, this story is slightly alienating to me, focusing as it does so heavily on indiscriminately murdering the shit out of all kinds of animals.  We are a long way from Junior Woodchucks territory here.  You know, I occasionally like to read Trollope novels, but good lord, the interminable fox-hunting scenes are both distasteful and very boring to me.  And yet, they don't generally have much bearing on the overall plot, which makes this rather worse.  Or so I believe.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

"The Limber W Guest Ranch"

Okay okay, how many of YOU have comics blogs where you post more than once a month if that?  And if you do, don't tell me about it.  By proving me completely wrong, you're undermining my point, and I don't appreciate that.

The dude ranch!  Or "guest ranch."  When they were retroactively naming these stories, why the heck did they go with "guest?"  A concept that I definitely learned about from Disney comics, and that as a matter of fact I'm not sure I've ever heard anything about that's not related to them.  They seem old-fashioned yet fun.  I want to go to one.  This comic is significant because, although we've sort of seen these things before, this is the first one that really depicts the hubris and overconfidence that would becoming a Donald trope.  So enjoy it!  

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"Good Deeds"

 JEEZ, at this rate, we will never get anywhere with this retrospective!  Can't go more than a month without posting.  It ain't right.  Well, it's because I have a teaching fellowship this summer, and I'm spending a lot of time on class preparation and absurd, unnecessary things like that.  But!  Duckdom will never die!  Although this story sort of almost has, I feel like (nice segue!): for extremely mysterious reasons, it has been reprinted notably less often than others of the time period.  It's never been reprinted in the US in a standard comic book, in fact; just in the two CBLs.  And now, we shall look at it.

The opening is pretty funny, with Donald explicitly being a jerk just to be a jerk.  He is nothing if not focused.  Also: first Jones appearance!  Kind of.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

"Lifeguard Daze"

There are some interesting firsts in this story, and it has a deceptive depth to it--you can see a lot of themes in utero that would be more fully explored in Barks' later work.  So let's jump in.

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Sunday, April 4, 2021

"The Rabbit's Foot"

Happy Easter!  Is this a seasonally-appropriate story?  Well...rabbit's foot...rabbits...might be a bit of a stretch, but let's go with it.  I must say, going off on a tangent as I do, Stardew Valley is one of my all-time favorite videogames, but it's definitely pretty weird that when you get some rabbits for your coop, they periodically drop rabbit's feet.  Thinking too hard about the mechanics of that will do nobody any good.  So let us proceed.

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

"The Victory Garden"

Whoa, three entries in a month?  I'm on fire!

Perhaps you have heard of a little thing called "Carl Barks' first ten-pager."  You probably also know that it wasn't exactly a Barks original, the script having been written, supposedly, by his editor of the time, Eleanor Packer.  Barks: "It was a rather indefinite sort of script. I worked it over and made more sense out of it."  It would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to see this original script, but I don't think it's extant.  If I'm wrong, please let me know.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Donald Duck Fun Annual 1981

Okay!  Something slightly different today, but hopefully as interesting to you as it was to me.  So there's this British book:

I ordered it some years ago from amazon or ebay or something, without having any idea what it was, and then just put it aside when it seemed to be a kind of boring children's book of minimal interest.  But on picking it up lately, I realized that, while it certainly has its boring aspects, it's of more interest than I had thought.

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Sunday, March 7, 2021

"The Money Ocean"

 Okay, it is time for something new, and that something new is...well, I guess the title gives it away.  Foiled again!  It would be hard to keep secret, really.  This is one of those famous old-school Rota stories, along with "Night of the Saracen," "From Egg to Duck," and the never-published-in-English "Paperino Pendolare" (notice how I implied that my fan translation of "From Egg to Duck" somehow constitutes a "publication."  You can't stop me!).  But this one is currently Rota's top-rated story on inducks, at fifty-nine, and I'll go along with that.  Why haven't I covered it before?  It is a mystery.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

"Donald and the Elixir of Love"

Happy Valentine's Day!  And today, we have a rare seasonally-appropriate entry.  I'm excited about this one; I'd been wanting to get to it for some time, and when I realized the holiday was coming up, it seemed the perfect opportunity.

So as some of you already know, over the past few years I've become a huge opera fan--and classical music in general, but opera in particular.  I can't get enough of it.  Are there Disney comics based on operas?  OF COURSE there are!  I actually wrote about one years ago, but that was before I knew anything about the form--I definitely had not seen the Ring operas at the time.  But here's another!  

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

"The Case of the Purloined Pearls"

 I've been reading those Disney Masters books lately.  I have faithfully purchased every one (other than the ones with Paul Murry; we must maintain SOME standards), and they're good fun, mostly.  I think the best is still the first, The Delta Dimension, featuring three smashing Scarpa stories.  In spite of all his preposterous nonsense, when the man was on, he was on.  Somewhat surprisingly, however, I think the second-best may well be the recent Hubbard/Kinney volume.  It is rad as hell to have all these Studio Program Fethry stories printed in the US at long last.  I have definitely warmed to them, even if I'm still a little ambivalent about Hubbard's art.  There's nothing wrong with doing things a little differently, but I dunno: Fethry's stringy hair and the lines under his eyes are...not wholly appealing.  He looks strung-out in an unwholesome way.  Or so I feel.

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Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Turkey with all the Schemings"

You know, I think this is the FOURTH time that I've thought I'd covered every Barks Christmas story only to realize, whoa, missed one (UPDATE: fifth, actually.  MY GOODNESS!).  I hadn't read this one in a long time, my memory of it was a little hazy, and I think I just assumed without really thinking about it that that "turkey" in the title meant it was probably a Thanksgiving story.  There's certainly precedent.  More fool me!  Well here we are.  And how about that unofficial title, anyway?  Nobody's finest moment, I'd say.  Getting to "schemings" from "trimmings" is a reeeeeeal stretch.  Gladstone went another direction for their reprint:

That seems better, I'd say.  More distinctive and less strained.

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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Scrooge's Last Adventure part four: "The Beginning..."

Unlike parts two and three, this doesn't start exactly where the previous chapter left off.  What a world!

So why do these titles all have ellipses, anyway?  I don't care one way or another--why would I?--but it seems like a moderately odd choice.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

"Christmas Album"

 So finally we get to the marquee story in this book.  It's still only eight pages, nothing huge, but it's obvious that more effort was put into it than anything else here.  Does that work out?  Well, reading it is what inspired me to write about this issue, before I'd even looked at any of the others, but beyond that...we shall see.  Western often did this in their  themed books: clearly, "Christmas Album" is the name of the issue, not the story itself, which is essentially unnamed.  It's kind of annoying: sure, I could make up a name for it, but the point of there being a title is so that if people google it they may find this blog, and that's obviously not happening if it's some all-new title.  IT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE WORLD AT THIS TIME.

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Friday, December 18, 2020

"The Gift Guard"

 Please, somebody tell me why I didn't do this one first!  This is very clearly the least interesting duck story in the book, and now I'm stuck with it!  Ack!  Well, I suppose in its defense, it IS more Christmasy than the previous entries.  Still, expect a short blog entry here.

Laaast Christmas I guarded our gifts, the very next day...please complete this couplet to win a free t-shirt.  Disclaimer: t-shirt may not exist on prime material plane.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Scrooge's Last Adventure part three: "The Quest..."

Well, here we go again.  Let's get right into it.

You know how I'd react if I were a creature beyond mortal comprehension and I was just chilling, when some loudmouth duck came pounding at my door?  I'll tell you: I wouldn't.  Let them just open up the door and find themselves in a featureless, empty room.  It's meaningless to talk about me "wasting" my time, since time isn't a factor for me, but there's just no reason to bother messing around with this guy.

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

"Much Ado about Daisy"

 April! May! And let's not forget: June. I suppose if there were a niece-equivalent of Phooey, she could be named July. They first appeared, unnamed, in Barks' "Flipism" story in 1953. Their first-ever dialogue?

That's auspicious for sure. Then, they disappeared for six years. Then, in 1959, they had a brief, non-speaking appearance in the Barks-drawn "Double Date." They still were unnamed at this point; it's not clear whether the writer of "Double Date" was even aware of the early story or if he just wanted three female nephew-counterparts so Barks brushed off the old design. Progress: one of them appears in 1960 in a story called "The Course in Confusion," named April. And on that same day--so says inducks--a Duck Album was published with a story called "Easy Does It," in which they are all named. At what point did they start being written as Chickadees, the distaff Junior Woodchucks? Possibly in this story, but it's a Studio Program thing I haven't read. But if so, it wasn't an enduring idea, and the first story I HAVE read where it's definitely a thing is this one, from 1970. It seems like the obvious thing to do, but I feel like some of the early writers were a bit hobbled by implicit sexist assumptions.

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

"The Mischief Mystery"

 Okay, here's this--finally we're getting to the actual Duck-Album-style stories.

Before we get to the story itself, let's take a moment to think about what the purpose is of using this format. Maybe it's obvious, but I don't think it's a bad idea to articulate it. So basically, if not for the introductory panels, these would be indistinguishable from other stories. But they give us contextless images from the stories, along with a small (very small) bit of commentary from the characters. Ideally, this would get us excited to read the story and find out what the deal is with the image. "Why would Grandma possibly, er, spank her piggie?!? I must know!"

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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Scrooge's Last Adventure part two: "The Depths..."

Gotta pick up the pace a tiny bit if we're going to fit everything in here, so...

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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Christmas Album One-Pagers

 And now, as is the custom of the country, we shall look at the one-pagers in this volume.  Usually with these seasonal things, you can see Western sort of rummaging around in their junk drawer to find whatever extra stuff to fill in the blanks.  This can go either way, interest-wise. We shall see!

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