Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"September Scrimmage"

So, the Eagles' annual tradition of getting fans' hopes up and then dashing them when it matters continues without a hitch. Always the bridesmaid; that's us. You might have thought that the new quarterback situation would have changed this, for better or worse, but you would be wrong. It's clearly some sort of bizarre team pathology.
At any rate, to "celebrate" this dubious tradition, here we have 1957's "September Scrimmage." Hey! I hear you shouting. Why aren't you running this in September? To which I reply: because it seems unlikely that there'll even be an NFL season in 2011. To which you reply in turn: maybe, but in that case you could run this comic to fill the gap! To which I say: look, shut up. You're being obnoxious. You are entirely free to put off reading this entry until September if it makes you feel better.

This story is the most throwaway-y of throwaway efforts. It was originally published in something called Mickey Mouse Annual, which included a four-page story for each month plus a whole bunch of lame word games and things. It's certainly the only time Barks made an effort to write about football, which I suppose gives it some interest.

...and this may have had something to do with the fact that he appears not to have totally understood the game. I can't help noting that fullback is an offensive position, for one. That may actually make sense, however, given that both teams appear to have their offenses on the field. Finally, on this subject, being behind by six hardly seems to indicate that the Barkers are an unstoppable juggernaut--the defense was apparently able to hold them to field goals.

Also, look at how Scrooge's line plays merry hell with any idea of continuity. "Webfoot Tech?" A good part of Scrooge's aura is that he's entirely a self-made man with no formal education (just like college football players--zing!). It is rather no wonder that Rosa ignored this goofiness in the L&T. Here is a highly baroque effort by some dude named Rob Klein to fit this line into some sort of coherent timeline. I remain skeptical.

...with plays like the above, of course, this game seems like it could quickly get out of hand. Louie gets injured and Scrooge has to step in. I've always said that football games would be more exciting if teams would draft random volunteers from the stands in case of injury--this is putting that concept into action!

...those players who at first glance appear to be nephews but then aren't are certainly funny-looking, I must say.

Scrooge just standin' there, lookin' like the cat who ate the canary--highly amusing. I was going to say "the extra point? Pft--so? That's a formality! Big deal!" But then some quick googling revealed that back in the day, extra points were far from automatic. Interesting--I can't help thinking that it would add some good strategy to the game if new rules were instituted to return it to this state.

In spite of this, the "attach a piece of corn on a string to the ball and get a trained pigeon to fly over the goal" seems a bit like overkill. I can't object too strenuously, however--maybe with that stratagem, Akers would've made those #$%$ field goals.

...regrettably, the story just peters out like this. Can't blame Barks for that; he only had four pages to work with--still, if it had been longer, it might have developed into something more substantial. Oh well!

Anyway, the moral of this story is, football was way cooler in 1870.



Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Ah, yes… The Good (really) Old Days when “…back in the eighties” meant the EIGHTEEN eighties!

Or maybe we’ve got it all wrong and, in post-game celebration, Scrooge took Cheerleader Brigitta McBridge to see “E.T.” or “Back to the Future”! At a half-price matinee, of course.

Great Blog entry, Geo! Sorry ‘bout those Eagles!

…And, maybe one day, Don Rosa WILL write that untold chapter of Scrooge’s Life and Times: “The Wizard of Webfoot Tech”!

January 12, 2011 at 1:52 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

God, just hearing that title very badly makes me want to read the story in question. Heck, if there are qualms about continuity, just posit it as some sorta "alternate universe" thing. It would be a hoot and a half!

January 12, 2011 at 2:05 AM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


Scrooge advocating "1870 football" must literally mean that he was "present at the creation" -- American football BEGAN in 1869 with the Rutgers-Princeton game, and then it was basically a mutation of English football (soccer). I guess what Scrooge is advocating here is that "anything goes because we're still trying to figure out the rules." Why, he can even dribble a football like one dribbles a basketball, as seen above!

I think Barks DID understand football as a fan; in one of his interviews, he ranked football and gymnastics (!) as two of his favorite sports. I get the feeling that he just threw this story together in a rather haphazard way, correct technical details be damned.

Also: if Webfoot Tech were a land-grant institution of the sort founded as a result of the Morrill Act of the 1860s, then perhaps Scrooge learned some practical mining skills there, even if he just took a quick crash course (sorry, Launchpad).


January 13, 2011 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Mike Matei said...

Don't say anything bad about those text poems Gerstein loves em!

I read this story recently and I'm always put off by sports stories. I read comics to get away from sports not to be confronted with them. So this one was pretty bad in my opinion.

Speaking of not-so-good Barks stories, one of the worst stories (in my opinion) from the earlier days is from WDC&S 117 "Wild About Flowers". I think this has to be the weakest story between 1949 - 1953.

How about a post on what you think are the worst Barks stories? Maybe divide it up. Worst between 1942 - 1949, 1950 - 1955, 1956 - 1967.

Oh, for anyone reading I don't want to give the wrong impression.. Barks bad stories are few and far between. He was the Master! But he did have a few flops here and there.

January 17, 2011 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Sure, I can find some less-than-stellar Barks stories to write about one (or more!) of these days.

January 17, 2011 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have another idea about how to explain Scrooge having played in the 1880's. Because, you know, the fact that he did some rugby in a place named Webfoot Tech doesn't implies that this Webfoot Tech was an university. Of course, we can ''guess'' so. But in french, il was clearly translated as "Club Pied-palmés" (Webfoot Club), so Webfoot Tech would be more a sport club than a university. If that's true, Scrooge could have very well be member of a sport club along with his cowboys pals, when he worked for McKenzie, couldn't he ?

March 14, 2015 at 10:54 AM  

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