Saturday, June 18, 2011

"The Mascot Mystery"

Hey I've got an idea! Let's write about old, forgotten duck stories that nobody cares about! That's my ticket to the top, baby!
"The Mascot Mystery" (drawn, big surprise, by the mind-bogglingly prolific Tony Strobl, and written by the even-more-mind-bogglingly-prolific ?) comes from the 1959 "Back to School" Dell Giant. I previously wrote an entry about another "Back to School" story, albeit from a different issue. I don't know what it is about these Giants that appeals to me; the average story quality isn't any better than that of any other non-Barks work of the time. I guess it's partially the fact that I like the weird alternate-universe in which all the adults in the duck universe are educators, and partially the sheer difficulty in finding scans of these things--as you know, for various reasons I limit my actual, physical collection to Gladstone I and later; I was only able to get a lot of these Giants via a torrent that took literally hundreds of hours to download. That sort of effort cannot go to waste! Thus: this story here.

Daisy editing the school paper! I like it, though bow and green eye-shade don't go together very well, in spite of her efforts at color-coordination.

One thing I'm not fond of in Strobl: the thing you can see with Dewey's beak in the lower left. He does that constantly, and it just never looks any better.

You know. That kind of team. Although to be fair, this sort of pointed analysis isn't notably worse than what you get in a lot of Sports Illustrated articles...

I got to this section and had to read it several times, 'cause what? Gladstone is...just walking his dog through the school football field, for some reason? It didn't register to me that he was meant to be the coach because the very idea of Gladstone as coach was just too bizarre to process. Gladstone, of course, does not work, and why would you hire him even if he did? Well, that last panel suggests one reason: "With lucky me coaching, we'll be city champs!" This just underlines the mischaracterization, though: Gladstone's luck does not work in a social way; it doesn't extend out to other people. If's for him and him alone. Sure, he rather lackadaisically uses it for Good in "A Christmas for Shacktown," but that's not a matter of him wishing the orphans fed; it's just him sharing the prize for a good thing that happened to him. If it could grant luck to anyone, he'd be an entirely different character.

That's sort of neither here nor there, since his luck doesn't actually play much of a role in this story, but then why bring him in in the first place?

So anyway, the mascot is ruining the field with his diggin' ways. I must say, I find the idea that there are rational reasons for the dog doing what the dog does to be quite comical.

No, seriously! Why do dogs dig holes like that? Why do they bark violently at invisible murderers? Why do they engage in coprophagy? It's 'CAUSE THEY'RE DOGS! Ain't no Saint Bernard psychotherapist with glasses saying "tell me about your childhood" in a comedy German accent that's gonna get to the bottom of the situation!

But in this case, turns out he was a policedog. And…after he had caught nine hardened, vicious criminals, the police had no more use for him and just straight-up sold him to a pet store. Those Duckburg cops must be some stone-cold bastards. In any normal police force, if the dog had to retire (why?), one of the officers certainly would have adopted him, especially given how friendly he obviously is. But no. That DBPD is scary stuff--barely less terrifying than the evil sociopaths they track down. Some highly alarming subtext, this is!

Anyway, they decide to let him keep digging to see what he's up to in spite of Gladstone's objections, and then there are a couple panels that pretty much succeed in justifying this story's existence.

Kerpow! Yeah, Daisy slamming into Gladstone like that is a sight to see, as is her look of pride as she adjusts her bow in the second panel, along with her qualifications for having been a tomboy only "for a time, when I was younger," as if she's talking about her lesbian phase in college.

And really, there aren't nearly enough comics in which Gladstone gets so satisfyingly, decisively flattened.

Yeah, so anyway, the dog digs up crooks digging an escape tunnel. Woohoo. And the story tries to bring Gladstone's luck into this, but none too successfully, I must say. Another thing about it: you can always tell when it's kicking in. This is a circumstance in which you could argue "yeah, that was lucky" if you were so inclined, but there's no plausible reason it couldn't have happened to anyone. Blagh.

...and then there's a pretty good ending. I would be all about a whole comic in which Daisy works as a football coach…and come to think of it, given how many of these old, forgotten comics there are, such a thing could well exist! If I run across it, I'll be sure to let you know.



Blogger Chris Barat said...


I couldn't read your description without thinking of the old rumor that Jimmy Hoffa was buried in the end zone of the old Giants Stadium. Now that would be a challenge for Sniffy!


June 20, 2011 at 5:03 PM  

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