Friday, May 7, 2010

"Krankenstein Gyro"

When you're a little kid, "inventor" more or less equates to "magician" in your mind. These people basically conjure things up out of nothing: Isosceles invented the triangle, Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, Cyrus McCormick invented the mccormick reaper (whatever the hell THAT is), George Washington Carver invented peanut butter, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, Scott Stillinger invented the koosh ball. They just INVENTED them: first there was no movable type, then there WAS moveable type. Magic! You--as a kid--don't have enough context to realize that these inventions came out of specific historical periods and developed out of previous scientific advances. Let's say you want to invent a remote control helicopter (I badly wanted such a thing when I was small): You don't look at the work that's been done in radio waves and aerodynamics and all this relevant stuff--you just sort of put some gears and things together, and bam--you're good to go. It's like when Calvin wanted to build a robot to make his bed for him. You think you can do these things because your perspective is skewed. Mind you, you can't just blame the kids: this goes right along with the American myth of Rugged Individualism: the world doesn't work this way (with vanishingly rare exceptions), but thanks to Ayn Rand and her ilk, a lot of otherwise (presumably) not-that-dumb people imagine that it does. Still, the point remains: MOST of us grow out of this conception of the world sooner rather than later.
In any event, Gyro absolutely plays into this sense. In fact, he may be a big part of the reason I started thinking this way in the first place. I have to say, I'm a big fan of the guy. His stories may not have the depth of much of Barks' other work (most of them are only four pages long, after all), but for what they are, they're just plain fun. I always liked their sort of cozily secluded feel--usually there aren't any significant characters other than Gyro himself and his helper (and can I take a moment to say what a great idea the helper was? His comic business and little mini-plots that run parallel to the main story really add richness to what are generally fairly simple affairs), and they're all about Gyro inventing cool stuff. I couldn't/can't help thinking of his house/workshop as a sort of self-contained little mini-utopia, if that's not getting too pretentious. Or, hell, even if it IS. It's my blog; I can be pretentious if I WANNA.

Anyway, "Krankenstein Gyro:" a perfect example of this view both of inventing and of what Gyro's world is like.

The plot is simple: after seeing a movie called Dr. Krankenstein about a mad scientist who creates LIFE!, Gyro decides to have a go himself.

See? What do these chemicals have in common? What do they mean? As I've been saying: there is no logical chain here. It's all magic. Anyway, he uses this stuff to make an egg:

"Whatever comes from this experiment will no doubt surprise even me!" In the real world, the scientist would probably at least have a general idea of what to expect, but here it's a crapshoot because--not to belabor a point--it's magic rather than science. Alakazam!

Since when does Gyro have a henhouse? Since NOW. YOU HAVE PROBLEM?

So then he and the helper mope around wondering what's gonna come of his experiment, and the sense of tension really is kind of palpable.

I have to say, those are some of my favorite panels in duckdom. There's really a poetry to this kind of surrealism, and it does what poetry does best: evokes moods that can't be translated into plain text.

The results?

...similarly surreal. You might argue that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but SHEESH--have you been listening to a WORD I've said here? Just as Scrooge's binful of cash speaks to the way kids conceptualize money, so this here speaks to the way they conceptualize "inventing." Good times all around!

Since this is a short story, let's finish this entry with a few amusingly weird examples of Gyro looking/acting out-of-character.

First, Obese Gyro:

Second, Beatnik Gyro:

And finally, my favorite, Hungry-like-the-Wolf Gyro:

That expression on his face will never fail to crack me up, both for its own sake and for the way it plays against the character's general social awkwardness. Occasionally we see Donald tempted by hot duck babes; it's interesting to see Gyro with corresponding hot crane babes.



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