Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Cave of the Winds"

Haven't been posting here much because goshdarnit, I'm trying to teach two sections of comp while simultaneously really getting down to business with my dissertation. Earlier, it wouldn't have bothered me to not update indefinitely, but, somewhat ludicrously, perhaps, now that I have some sort of readership, I feel I have some kinda vague obligation to update on a semi-regular basis. Plus, you know, I like doing it.
(And one of my "followers" LEFT me! What the HELL, dude? You can run, but you can't hide!)

Reader Mike Matei requested this story, from 1960. It seemed like a somewhat unusual choice--and I hadn't read it in a long time, and then only once--so what the hell? thought I. Let's go for it!

These here Gyro/Scrooge stories always seem vaguely unnatural to me, due, I suppose, to the fact that they always appeared in special issues. I wouldn't say this story is incredibly incredible or anything, but there's some interesting/amusing stuff in it.

Say what you want about the quality of Barks' work at this time--that's some nicely evocative writing in the narration box.

After this splash panel, we flash back a bit:

Two observations here: one, man, those are some weird-lookin' Beagle Boys. You might well not guess that this was Barks unless you knew it in advance. They're even weirder-looking in my copy of the story, in which their shirts have inexplicably been colored (or not colored, as the case may be) white.

That brings up an interesting question: why are their shirts orange? Is this actually something that Barks specified when he introduced them, or was the tradition just started by some lost-to-history colorist? What a claim to fame!

Oh yeah, I said "two observations," didn't I? Two: "Business and banking section of the city?" "Respectable?" Ha ha! Oh, that Barks! Whatta card!

Anyway, as sometimes happens, Scrooge feels that his money is in danger, so he recruits Gyro to figure out a way to move it.

Ladies and gentlemen: SCIENCE! Not that this hasn't happened elsewhere, but this seems like a pretty extreme example of the blurring of the line between "inventor" and "witch doctor."

The idea this devilish brew comes up with is for Scrooge to convert his money into government bonds so that if there are any problems…the government has to help him out? Look, granted, I have no idea how government bonds work, but I'm kind of thinking it's not like that.

Well, I guess Scrooge knows better than me. He likes the idea and asks for the bill.

That's really great. I like it a WHOLE BUNCH. The Little Helper is earning his title.

Whether or not his services were actually worth that kind of money, it's good to see him actually getting something out of Scrooge here. Usually he doesn't, and he doesn't care that much because that's just the way he is, but it rankles the reader. You kinda think if he were more confident and assertive about it, he'd never have trouble getting money out of Scrooge. After all, the guy may be stingy, but he's still a businessman, and sharper than the sharpies; he wouldn't have gotten where he is if he were totally unwilling to spend money when called for.

It's kinda hard to imagine how Gyro thinks inflation actually works--that's rather obviously more than one hundred pennies in the bag, so does he think they've started minting coins worth a fraction of a cent? Shouldn't that be something they'd do in case of deflation?

Well, actually, I guess it's pretty clear that he's making the implicit assumption that "one dollar" is a stable, fixed value, and that the amount of actual currency needed to equal it can fluctuate up and down. I don't mean to engage in self-aggrandizement here or anything, but I think I should probably win the Nobel Prize in Economics* for that observation.

*Not technically an official Nobel Prize, I know.

The Beagles try to rob him, but again, Helper to the rescue!

This is just plain badass. Two-fisted tales! Helper plays a bigger part here than he does in most stories, and I think that's just swell. Anyway, let's move on to the actual "cave of the winds" portion of the story entitled "Cave of the Winds."

Wait...you did what with the bonds? Dammit, Scrooge, I was just now defending your business sense, and you go and do something like this? Well...I guess it's no more nuts than hiding your money in trees.

There's a reason they're called that, you know. The origins of the word "Aeolian" are never spelt out in the story, which I like a lot. Barks trusts in the basic literacy of his audience. If it seems a bit hifalutin and old-world-y to have a place in the vicinity of Duckburg called the "Aeolian Mountains," just remember that the town is also home to a giant gothic cathedral and of course "the dreaded castle of the ancient mad duke of Duckburg."

(Okay okay, so maybe all of these things are symptoms of Barks unfairly-maligned "Flaky Period," but what the hey.)

Naturally, the Beagles get involved, having been chased out of Duckburg and looking for other criminal opportunities.

...so if I buy a few T-notes, will the government be required to send tanks to my house to protect them from malefactors? 'Cause if so, I am SO there. Also, how awesome is it that Duckburg apparently has a private army?

Note that the tanks apparently chased them to the airport, chased them out onto the tarmac, and then forced them to board their private plane. They clearly weren't joking around here.

Again, Helper helps! Didn't know he could be such a badass, didja?

...okay, this is the climax, and if someone wants to explain to me the physics of this, please don't be shy, because I've been staring at it for quite some time, and I still don't get it. The helicopter blades are sucking in the bonds, okay. So…why does that makes the Beagles' plane crash? I'm too dumb to understand science. Someone help.

...so that's that. And aside from an incomprehensible (to me) ending, it's a pretty entertaining little story, I have to say.



Blogger Mike Matei said...

Well, in the beagles first appearance, they have Red, Orange and Green shirts. With Yellow pants to boot.

As for the government bonds. Maybe that's how it worked in 1960? No idea. That part is kind of baffling. I just trust that Barks probably knew what he was talking about.

As for the ending, it's simple. The helicopter in the cave makes a suction that brings the bonds back into the cave, and also brings down the plane. The bonds, the plane, everything is sucked down. That's all there is to it.

Anyway, I liked this story a lot as a kid, I think because of the fact that little helper shot lasers which I don't think he ever did before.

And it was also interesting to me, that scrooge's entire fortune was so drastically changed in this story. That means, that in this story, the money bin was totally empty, all those coins were gone. Which seems unfathomable to me that he'd do that. Isn't he always saying how he earned each coin ext ext.. and that's why he keeps the money. For him to make the cash into bonds is just weird and very unScrooge like to me. THEN, if that wasn't enough, all the bonds end up stuck in the sky! Above a new mountain we never heard of. Of all the things that ever happened with scrooge's money, this has to be the weirdest.

September 29, 2010 at 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story choice, Mike :)
And thanks for posting, GeoX; best of luck with the dissertation.
As for the physics of the ending, I'll go with perhaps the downward pull on the chute was enough to bring the plane down? Definitely a weird/incomprehensible moment there, but I'm sure I've seen worse and just blocked them from my memory.
Good last comment there, Mike, indeed it would seem strange for the bin to be empty/coins gone and for Scrooge to accept that so easily...

October 1, 2010 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thanks, Anonymous. It's always a nerve-wracking adventure.

The idea that he's gonna be okay with converting his entire bin like that is definitely peculiar if we're taking seriously the idea that each coin is a keepsake. However, there are definitely other stories in which he converts his money into other forms--stories I might be able to name except that it's late and I'm tired. I think the level of consistency here is fairly minimal. I guess if we wanted to, we could posit that the idea of his entire bin being sacrosanct was seen as overly limiting in terms of story possibilities; hence, the Number One Dime, which retains some of this same sentimentality but reduces it to more manageable levels.

October 1, 2010 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

We could also admit that the Money Bin is still full here: what he converted is what's in his OTHER money bins (some Scarpa and Marco Rota stories show that he had at least 36 bins identical to the Killmotor one, but with less sensibility linked to them).

May 27, 2015 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

"that if there are any problems…the government has to help him out? Look, granted, I have no idea how government bonds work, but I'm kind of thinking it's not like that."

"so if I buy a few T-notes, will the government be required to send tanks to my house to protect them from malefactors?"

I think the point is that, know, the money belongs to the government, then the government is not protecting Scrooge's property, it is protexting its propery.

October 8, 2016 at 7:26 PM  

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