Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Ducktargnan and the Three Musketeers"

So I was messing around on inducks, when I came this British series from 2010, called Disney Literature Classics, which seems to be a chopped-down version of a Brazilian series (to add to the confusion, there seems also to be a differently-numbered Irish version, though this could just be confusion on inducks' part). Most of the issues aren't fully indexed, but from those that are it looks as though it mostly consists of old Italian stories that have otherwise never seen the light of day in English.
As you might imagine, this is relevant to my interests, especially given the current Disney comics drought here in the states (God Bless You, Fantagraphics, but I'd still like to see some NEW stories). So I did some poking around, only to discover, to my bafflement, that you cannot find these things for sale online. Anywhere. Seriously, I did a pretty damned thorough search and…nothin.' This is quite baffling to me; I'm used to being able to find more or less anything online, let alone something of as recent vintage as these books are. Quite frustrating, I must say.

The exception is the first volume, which you can actually find quite easily. Why? Beats me. Maybe they were giving it away for free as a promotion for the series as a whole? Regardless, that's how I came to own a copy of "Ducktargnan and the Three Musketeers" (or the boring-er "Donald and the Three Musketeers," if you prefer to take the title page's word for it).

This features--as you'd expect--a "Three Musketeers" pastiche-ish thing. It's from 1957, written by the prolific-yet-rarely-seen-in-the-US Guido Martina, and drawn by the somewhat-less-prolific-and-never-seen-in-the-US Pier Lorenzo De Vita. I've never read The Three Musketeers, but I kinda don't think a heckuva lot of familiarity with the source material is required (though the book DOES include a fairly pointless summing-up of the original story in its introduction, possibly to give the book an "educational" sheen). For one thing, it's a stretch to even use that title; this is more or less a solo Donald story.

Let's jump in, shall we?

The first thing you notice, unfortunately, is that the translation is...well, it's a translation; it's not a localization by any stretch, and the story really suffers for it. This thing really needs all the help it can get. The sort of script we came to expect from Gemstone and (the tail end of) Boom was a must. Instead, we get incredibly leaden joking around like you see in the second panel above.

It is quite telling that the translators (Alison Marschner and John Janssens, I'm looking at you!) were unaware that "quack" is traditionally rendered as "wak" in English-language duck comics. A lack of familiarity with the characters is all too apparent.

Well, I'll try not to harp on this too much. There are some other things of note here...

For instance, Scrooge has, um, a Native American slave, for no apparent reason. Someone tell me: is this anywhere in Dumas? As I said, I haven't read the source material, but I have my doubts. This is…something that a localization would probably have done its utmost to smooth over, but here…well, it is what it is: totally bizarre and racially tone-deaf in the extreme.

(Also note that you can tell from the vernacular "gob" that this is a British translation--I imagine that would be pretty meaningless to most American kids. Well, even more meaningless than it already is).

The story isn't really sure how much it wants to mess around with anachronisms; mostly it's fairly restrained in that regard, but then something like a traffic light appears.

Oh, and hey, Donald says "damn you." Never tell me I've never shown you anything you haven't seen before! Looks like Disney's censors got a little bit sloppy here. In defense, sort of, of this translation, we never would've gotten to see a novelty like that had more competent people been on the job!

One occasionally-recurring joke that works pretty well is this thing where characters--seemingly forgetting that they're supposed to be living in the seventeenth century--reference future events. Even this translation is unable to render these bits non-amusing.

So anyway, Donald has to go on a secret mission for the queen (Daisy, natch), and yadda yadda. On the way, he stops at a restaurant...

...and the spectacle of him gnawing on a goat carcass is the best thing in the story, by any measure.

...though him getting drunk and seeing triple ain't bad either.

See? Funny. You don't wanna be discovering when you're an inventor--that'll get the union on your back in a hurry.

I really can't tell whether or not this guy is supposed to be Gladstone, but at any rate, Donald gets what he came for.

There's some business with Pete and the Beagles stealing the top secret thing. Pete also leads the Beagle Boys in Wizards of Mickey; apparently, it's an Italian thing. I like the way the one Beagle is trying to eat the box open.

Anyway, they open it with faith, and inside they find...Oscar the Ostrich's ancestor?

In general, the art in this story is pretty underwhelming, but this image of the ostrich giving Pete & Co the business is pretty dynamic.

So Donald gets back, and learns the reason for this mission. Women…so shallow, amirite fellas? Laughed? I nearly exploded. Yup…that's pretty much my favorite kind of joke ever.

Oh ho ho actually NO, my favorite kind of joke ever is the one about hideous, amorous women. IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE NO MAN COULD EVER LOVE HER ROFLMAO. Ugh. In addition to everything else, the translation telegraphs the "joke" by calling her the "Princess of Beards."

But at least after that we get this, which is pretty good. When you're a kid, it never occurs to you that wars are named after the fact so, you can totally see someone going, "yup--now it's time for the Thirty Years' War. Bummer."

This doesn't sit well with the ducks, so they decide to fuck off to America.

And I must say, I find this to be a quite charming--and somewhat inspiring--conclusion, them dashing off like that. Somewhat utopian, really: don't want to fight in a war? Then don't! Just straight-up leave everything behind and run away to a new life! Look how excited they are! Never mind that that last panel might reasonably be construed as somewhat less than canonical...

So that's what that story is all about. In spite of poor translation, questionable art, and a few truly awful jokes, I found myself, on balance, enjoying it. Certainly this is the sort of thing that we rarely if ever have seen in the States (I don't know if you've noticed, but other than Scarpa, virtually no vintage Italian stories have come here), so it's definitely historically interesting.

And hey, in the unlikely event that you're in any position to hook me up with any or all of the other elusive volumes in the series, drop me a message. Let's work something out.

UPDATE: I should acknowledge the possibility (probability?--it would explain a lot) that this is an abortive series; that none of the other volumes were ever actually published, and that inducks jumped the gun. Frustrating, but highly plausible, now that I think about it.

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Blogger Christopher said...

I don't recall any Native American character in "The Three Musketeers," and I read the whole nine-hundred page version of it. Notice how Donald angrily demands a roast lamb, but he settles for a roast goat, and he happily eats it without complaint, despite being very specific about his desires one panel earlier.

July 30, 2011 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Dumas was the grandchild of a Haitian slave, though.

July 30, 2011 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

These volumes were absolutely published, and some British newspapers are still distributing them today.


'Nother example:

July 31, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Yeah, I'd seen announcements like those, but the total impossibility of finding them online had me second-guessing myself.

July 31, 2011 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Someone's found most of them. Your move. (-:

July 31, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

@Christopher, this "English" reads so awkwardly that it wouldn't surprise me if the translator actually mixed up the words for goats and sheep!

Speaking of wording, I've seen "damn" and "hell" in British Disney comics as early as the 1990s. "Hell" was all over Fleetway's promotions for Disney's HERCULES feature.
By contrast, however, the Brit comics wouldn't touch the word "bloody," which I've seen (and used) plenty of times in US Disney comics—ironically, in a deliberate effort to sound British.

July 31, 2011 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

"The requested topic does not exist." WHY DO YOU MOCK ME SO?!?

July 31, 2011 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Hrmph! Try this:

July 31, 2011 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Man-0-man, would I love to have a shot at dialoguing THIS!

It looks as if it lends itself to my type of humor!

Nice use of Jones as the cook!

August 1, 2011 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

Geo, what is it that you don't like about the art? I can see where some of the background could be taken as uninspired for what's supposed to be a period piece. But I like the overall style: illustrative scenery, and a rubbery, expressive characters, but still what I call "classical" (e.g., Barks, Gottfredson, Walt Kelly) and not extremely stylized and jagged. Definitely reminds me of '50's Scarpa.

I thought of Oscar the Ostrich, too -- his "ancestor" looks like he has more of a mean streak, though!

Certainly this is the sort of thing that we rarely if ever have seen in the States (I don't know if you've noticed, but other than Scarpa, virtually no vintage Italian stories have come here), so it's definitely historically interesting.

What about Gemstone printing "Mickey's Inferno"?

Yes, Joe would've elevated this to a whole new level, turning it into a Freakazoid!-esque spoof!

As always, Geo, nice job selecting and covering something obscure and "a little different". Your observations are a lot of fun to read.


August 3, 2011 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

"Mickey's Inferno" is the reason for the "virtually" in the above statement.

As for the art? I just don't think the characters are particularly well-rendered. The whole thing has a very "cheap" feel about it. And Scarpa drew some pretty awful art in his time, too!

August 3, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

@Ryan: Joe would *have* to do it! After a profoundly difficult experience with Toby Tortoise and an island prison known to some as "Mont St. Marshmallow," I've sworn off musketeers.

August 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

David: Even if you'd rue working with the subject matter, there's no doubt you'd do a masterful script, too -- I was just echoing/reinforcing Joe's comment above!

Geo: I can see where some panels are boringly staged, but overall it looks pretty good to me. But, I'd have to see the whole story, in all fairness. I do rather like the wide panel where the on-edge Donald and his bewildered horse's shadows are cast on the stone wall, and panel in which the police(?) are hauling Donald off.


August 4, 2011 at 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is a list:

Story enjoyable to read:
Donald’s Odyssey
Donald Duckzukov in War and Peace
Donald Duck and the Count of Monte Cristo
That Missing Candelabra
Mickey and the Mayflower Treasure
and also:
Duck Quixote
Uncle Scrooge Journeys to the Centre of the Earth
I didn't read or remember the other stories.

The pity of it is that the english edition excluded stories such as:
-Dr. Paperus
-Paperopoli liberata
-Paperin Meschino
-Paperino il paladino
-Paperin furioso
-La Storia di Marco Polo detta Il Milione
and many others.

August 5, 2011 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerstein is right. In the italian version Donald states "Quando dico "arrosto", intendo un capretto arrosto!" ("When I say "roast", I mean a roast GOAT"). When Donald has to pay the bill, in the italian version the innkeeper states "Se non ti spiace, ora vorremmo essere pagati" ("if you don't mind, now we'd like to be paid"). It's quite funny the fact that the innkeeper says ironically "we" because Donald sees triple! Unfortunately in the translation the "we" was left out (another possible translation could be "it's time to pay US the bill").

In the italian version the duke of Duckingham is named "Gastone di Paperingham" ("Gladstone of Duckingham"), so the duke should be Gladstone's alter ego. In fact, according to INDUCKS, Gladstone appears in this story.

About the publication of non-Scarpa "ancient" italian stories, don't forget "Moldfinger" (by GB Carpi, one of the best artists ever for his dynamic art), and some of Rota and Pedrocchi stories.

August 5, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Merci! For whatever reason, Rota just sort of "feels" different to me than Scarpa and his cohort, and I always think of Pedrocchi as being from a different universe, since he was pre-Barks. Right you are about "Moldfinger," though.

August 5, 2011 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Ah, yes… “Moldfinger”! I can recall having something to do with that!

Did you know that we were also slated to get a sequel? Before my former publisher decided otherwise.

In the great tradition of James Bond parody titles, I called it: “Tycoonraker… Or, From Zantaf with Lumps!” It was to introduce a character I’m told was a recurring villain: Dr. Zantaf.

But, for some time now, it’s been relegated to “That Pile of Stuff I Did That Never Got Published”… Alas, there are a few of those.

Here’s a sample of what you missed:

Zantaf has developed a gas that will make the richest of the rich turn insanely generous… toward HIM!

Scrooge enlists his “agent” Donald to stop it:

Pic 6
Scrooge: He may just settle for tycoons # 2-5: Glomgold, Rockerduck, Gotrocks, and Longhorn Tallgrass…

Pic 7
Scrooge: …But, as # 1, I can’t take the chance!

So, now you know the five richest beings in the “Duck Universe”… IN ORDER! You won’t get stuff like this from Warren Spector, folks!

Oh, and there’s an astronaut called “Buzzard Aldrin”!

…Someday, perhaps!

August 5, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

And, I can’t believe that no one mentioned the “Pirate Gold” sequel, seen just some months ago!

That’s another one for the list.

August 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

And, I know we’d all like to forget it… but what about Ultraheroes?

August 5, 2011 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I think you would be hard-pressed to apply the word "vintage" to Ultraheroes. If we're just talking about "Italian stories in general," then you might well ask, what about every issue of Gemstone's DDA and MMA? Not to mention fuckloads of "regular issues? No, what I'm talking about here--I probably should have been more specific--is this very specific, long-ish sort of story from the fifties or sixties that doesn't fit very well into American comic books but which was apparently a hugely big THING in Italy back in the day. This and the aforementioned "Mickey's Inferno" are the only examples that leap out at me--an aspect of European comics publishing that remains largely invisible stateside.

August 5, 2011 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

...also, re "Moldfinger," you guys deserve a lot of credit for that one: the art ain't much, and the story is not what I'd call hugely coherent, but with your somewhat obsessive wordplay and other miscellaneous joking around, you managed to make it pretty durned readable and entertaining. Well done all 'round.

August 5, 2011 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Thanks for the kind words on “Moldfinger”, Geo! I must confess, it was the one I had the hardest time with. I had an extensive “act break caption” edited out of it (to contract it into a “one-part” story), a reference to UNCLE SCROOGE # 51 (“How Green was My Lettuce”), and a bunch of other stuff I can’t recall right now. But, in the end, it was great fun to do!

I'd still count "DD Finds Pirate Gold Again". It’s old, long (near-book length, at least), and its American scripter is of Italian descent.

And, maybe I lump Ultraheroes into “vintage”, so I can start regarding it as a “distant memory”!

August 5, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Sure, I'll give you "Pirate Gold." It fits the category, more or less. Good thought about Ultraheroes!

August 5, 2011 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Underwhelming art? To me it's a relief to read a PDV story. The guy knows how to draw. Just look how expressive are the secondary characters, look at the horses silhouettes in the third scan, I can actually feel how it is for the Ducks to ride their horses. The indian in the last panel of scan #4: his position when he's hearing is just perfect.
We've seen so much of the same art from Disney artists that it seems that we can't actually recognize when someone's is both original and good.

August 6, 2011 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

No, I really can't agree with that. I don't want to overstate how terrible the art is; it's not TERRIBLE, but the characters are more or less crudely-rendered, and the Beagles just look awful.

August 6, 2011 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Hey, Joe!

You didn't translate "Tycoonraker" alone, you know. (-:< I thought it was one of OUR very best. And regardless, I'm pretty sure that one day our efforts will see publication someplace.

But I'm not worried. Some dialogue jobs published at Gemstone had been waiting around for the honor since Gladstone II. I published one story in 2007 that I'd translated in 1997!

August 7, 2011 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Of course I was not alone, and sorry if my phrasing indicated otherwise. Though the specific items I brought up were among my own contributions to the finished (and unseen) product – and THAT’s what I meant to indicate.

David did more of the “heavy lifting” on both “Moldfinger” and “Tycoonraker” by translating them from the Italian, making my dialoguing contributions even possible. And, of course, he was just a large a part of the dialoguing, too.

Comics wise, there’s nothing I’ve ever touched, that doesn’t have David’s stamp on it somewhere – and aren’t we all the better for it!

August 7, 2011 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing this post somehow surprised me... I'm a Brazilian Disney fan, who helped put said collection on INDUCKS (informing them of the UK/Ireland version - though I must correct it actually started in Italy) and wrote the Portuguese wiki article someone listed above! I don't think it was abortive because I always search for issues on the UK/Irish eBay and other online shops to put more info on INDUCKS. So I hope you can find more of those, most of the comics published in the collection were awesome!

Igor (

November 3, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Sim said...

@Joe: the cook wasn't supposed to be Jones, but it would be a great idea to make him a Jones' ancestor.

@Geox. How are Donald and his nephews called in the translation?


April 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Donald is Donald Ducktargnan, as the title would indicate. HDL are, not at all cleverly, Dewey Athos, Huey Aramis, and Louie Porthos.

April 6, 2012 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Sim said...

Okay, thank you. Scrooge is Captain Thirtyville, right?

April 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...


April 9, 2012 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Also, again our (solo-speaking until now because you didn't ever answer me yet, but I'm sure that we disagree on that point when I read you) argument about what's best between a translation that is as true as possible to the original, and a "localization" in which the translator take as much liberties as he wishes. I prefer the translation, you obviously prefer the localization.

However, that doesn't stop me for loving the rest of what you say. Keep writing !

May 27, 2015 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I believe I responded to you on...was it the "Onecupsmanship" post? Obviously this "Ducktargnan" story isn't well-translated in any case, but i don't think stories done as slavishly literally as possible aren't generally that fun to read. I think the principle of the thing has to give way when it's a question of enjoyment. As much as I like these comics, they ain't exactly the Dead Sea Scrolls.

May 27, 2015 at 1:13 PM  

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