Monday, July 4, 2011

"A Very Goofy King Midas"

I was just idly flipping through an issue of Gladstone's Donald & Mickey, and came across this story, which I certainly had never read before, because really, now--there was nothing about the idea that appealed to me. But I started reading it, 'cause it was there. Makes sense, right?
This and stories like it--catchily referred to by inducks as "Goofy as a famous historic person"--were done for the Disney Studio Program, Disney's initiative to create comics for foreign markets in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. This program was also the impetus for the creation of Fethry Duck. And man, if you click on that link, you'll see that there were fucking fuckloads of these…well, okay, probably no more than there were Fethry stories, really, but the fact remains, these would rather obviously have been much more time-consuming to create: the "main" entries in the series are forty-four pages each (there are also auxiliary stories that are shorter), and the art is such that every page is really made to count.

(Admittedly, I'm generalizing from having read, so far, just this one story, but somebody try an' stop me!)

Point being, now I have a whole new vista of stories to be really annoyed by the non-US-publication of! Lucky me! 'Cause wow, man, "A Very Goofy King Midas" is one of the best Disney comics I've ever read, no joke. Apparently, opinion was sharply divided on these things, and I can see why: the tone is wildly divergent from the more "typical" (if there is such a thing) Disney comic; and if that's not your thing, it's not your thing. But it's what I like most: let a thousand flowers bloom, please.

What "A Very Goofy King Midas" is is a no-holds-barred comedy story, in the style of only slightly toned-down pre-"Magazine" Mad (and so, in that sense, it has something in common with the works of Don Rosa, odd as the connection seems). The level of detail is minute. The story itself is more or less beside the point, which is to cram as many goofy sight-gags and visual puns in as can be done.

F'rinstance, these two guards talking about this horse--their absurdly drawn-out, deadpan back-and-forth goes on for a full three pages like some sorta Vaudeville act, filled with dumb jokes, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the main action of the story, such as it is.

Also, this is admirably smart stuff. Check it out: a pretty funny gag that's going to be totally opaque to anyone not reasonably familiar with the Odyssey. I wish to give major props to Cal Howard, the writer. Also to the artist, though I don't quite know who that is: inducks list several people but doesn't seem entirely sure of any of them. "Jaime Diaz Studio" is all I can say with complete certainty.

The story is also quite interesting with regard to page layout. You get a lot of things like the above, in which the characters appear in different places in the same full-page panel, creating a sense of progression while still leaving room for cool, large images--with plenty of jokes, like the guy applying pillars to the building with a paint roller.

"Power behind the throne." Yup. Even if you don't find a specific joke funny--and they're often pretty groan-worthy--the cumulative effect is still hilarious. There are also a lot of things that I didn't even notice on first reading, like the guard who, it appears, is about to spray the random cherubs hovering around with insecticide, which is very funny and surprisingly edgy for a Disney comic.

Yeah, so the story is a whole lotta nothing, following the Midas "story" in only the most general way: after the resolution of some confusion regarding a lost cow, Bacchus (here played by Black Pete) granted Midas/Goofy the expected ability, 'til he realizes it wasn't such a great deal after all. Alas, the later part of Midas's story in which he gets donkey ears is not included.

The story DOES smash the hell out of the fourth wall, however, which is to be appreciated (though even without doing so explicitly, all the little mini-jokes do a good job of worrying at it).

Not much like the Barks story, although there's a similar level of exuberance between Scrooge with the stone and Goofy with the power. Note that the pig was actually apparently a piggy bank, 'cause that's just how this story rolls.

Anyway, great shit, and I look forward to reading more. Too late now, of course, but you'd think that if Boom had been trying to reach this perceived younger, fickle-er audience, printing a few of these things wouldn't have been a bad idea: funny, smart, and little-to-no entry barrier. But noooo…we got Ultraheroes. Grumph.



Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


You wrote: “But noooo…we got Ultraheroes. Grumph.”

Perspective, and the effect the passage of time has upon it, is a funny thing!

At the time, my feelings on that particular group of stories was not unlike your reaction to Ultraheroes!

Recall that, during that particular phase of Gladstone Series II, there was NO “regular” MICKEY MOUSE title being published. The “REAL” (adventurer/detective) Mickey only held his meager place in WDC&S.

BUT, DONALD AND MICKEY was the only other available venue in which we could see “The Real Mickey” – and it was maddening to see nothing but these, month after month… when great new ground was being broken with the Mouse by David Gerstein, Byron Erickson, and others at Egmont.

In hindsight, I have to admit, these are pretty good – for what they are! But “what they are” is NOT what comics readers would regard as “The Real Mickey” – and they should NEVER have supplanted “The Real Mickey”, but rather SUPPLEMENTED him!

Again, just like Ultraheroes!

15-20 years from now, I’ll be back to see if you’ve softened on that one! Somehow, I doubt either of us will!

PS: You’ll find more stuff of this nature in Disney Comics’ GOOFY ADVENTURES title. You might want to check out some of those issues.


July 4, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Yeah, you make a good point. I can definitely see how, if these were the ONLY Mickey(ish) stories on offer, it would've been frustrating.

July 4, 2011 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


The great thing about comic book letter columns is that they are a lasting testament to how readers felt (of course, through an editor’s filter) about the comic book in question. Your Blog and mine may be gone in 20 years (Perhaps less, I’d say!) but, as long as copies of the books themselves exist, the published letters will give you a look back at the time of publication!

My letters to DONALD AND MICKEY (at least those that were published) ran AGAINST those stories, for the reason previously started.

Then again, my letters to GOOFY ADVENTURES were complementary.

WHY? Because MICKEY MOUSE ADVENTURES was also being published at the time, making this an appreciated SUPPLEMENT, and not “something that takes the place of what I really want”!


July 4, 2011 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

Joe wrote:

Perspective, and the effect the passage of time has upon it, is a funny thing!

A resounding YES!!! When GeoX made the MAD comparison, I realized that these would like pretty darn good comics to a student of comic book craft and history who had no background with or partial feelings toward "real" Duck and Mouse comics.

But, at the time...

The “REAL” (adventurer/detective) Mickey only held his meager place in WDC&S.

And to make matters worse, all they did was serialize the Gottfredson stories that appeared in Gladstone I's albums just 3-4 years earlier, when there were still plenty of untouched Gottfredson stories (and BY NO MEANS had ALL of them become controversial or potentially offensive with the passing of time!)


July 5, 2011 at 4:05 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

There's another problem with some (albeit not all) of the Goofy History series: frankly, neither Goofy or Mickey act much like themselves. Goofy is often a self-important, bossy coward and Mickey his easily flustered, cynical face-saver: DAFFY and PORKY, anyone?
Adding to the ambiguity, Goofy's usual "goof-speak" is almost entirely absent!

July 5, 2011 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Kawa Mek said...

Thanks for the review. I absolutely loved this series when I was a kid, longing for the date they would come out, and feeling sad when they stopped. Here's a good account of the publications:

Fourteen albums were published in Denmark; actually until five minutes ago I had no idea that more albums had been published in other countries (now I'm jealous!, there are so many!), or that they were not published in the USA.

You are absolutely right: the feel and the content of the gags are rather untypical of Disney, they are so much more crasy and surreal in imagination and decoration of each page; and this is what is so wonderful about the albums.

Now I am reading the old albums with my five year old kid, he loves to delve into the drawings on each page while learning some "history".

April 7, 2014 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

The same authors also did a "Goofy Frankenstein" story which has been edited in France in an autonomic comic book (which is extremely rare I must tell ! ONE STORY PER ISSUE and ISSUE WHICH ARE NO PART OF A COLLECTION aren't things you usually see in France). They use the same strange page layout… And the story is actually very funny ! You should buy it if you liked this one. I guess it's on Amazon somewhere… Just search the title "Goofy Nouvelles Aventures" (yes, because even if the story inside is entitled "Goofy Frankenstein" they manage to write another title on the first page. NEVER MIND).

May 27, 2015 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I wrote this story out of youthful enthusiasm; it was the first of these I read, and I was just delighted by it. Then I read some more, and realized, wow, these are wildly inconsistent and tonally all over the map. I'll look for Frankenstein, though!

May 28, 2015 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger Kawa Mek said...

Oh yes, Frankenstein was one of my favourites! I have the Danish version where the cover looks like this:

December 11, 2015 at 4:27 PM  

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