Saturday, August 6, 2011

"The Comic Book Crooks"

(12/06/11: a huge idiot, I accidentally deleted this post. I had the text saved elsewhere, but not the images. So until I have time to track them down again, or possibly rescan them, all you'll see is "[image]." And alas, all y'all's trenchant comments are gone for good.

02/14/12: Images restored.  Happy Valentine's Day.)
Hey, kids, sorry for the lack of updates--I had my reasons. Perhaps you've met some of them (I really, really wanted to link this sentence to a video of Albert Wesker delivering those immortal lines, but alas, a cursory google search was unable to come up with anything).

Anyway, here's this. You may recall that back in July, I reproduced a letter that appeared in an old Gladstone I comic, where the dude demanded that they start publishing a book entitled "Super Goof and the Beagle Boys." I was amused by the left-field specificity of this wish, but whaddaya know, here's a story from 1973--reprinted in one of Gladstone II's Walt Disney Giants--about Super Goof and the Beagle Boys. Dunno how common such things were, but hey, it's a start, I guess.

I only even bought this book out of some sense of completeness; the thing includes Barks' "Super Snooper" and Rosa's "Super Snooper Strikes Again," both excellent stories that I already own several times over. And what else is there? An old Strobl/Lockman thing called "Mighty Duck," and this. None too promising, even if I do find it aesthetically pleasing the way Gladstone found a theme for the issue and stuck to it. And indeed, "Mighty Duck" is a forgettable bit of nothing.

But "The Comic Books Crooks" surprised me by being generally witty and entertaining. I'd be lying if I claimed to be enamored with the idea of "Super Goof" as a character, for pretty much exactly the reasons articulated by David Gerstein in his article on the history of Disney comics, "Back to Long Ago."

The signals all pointed in the same direction. Stories once aimed at everyone were now--perhaps unbeknownst to the editors--acquiring the kids-only flavor of non-Disney humor comics.

Super Goof, more than anything else, seems representative of this. David puts a largely positive spin on the whole thing, but eh, I dunno…I suppose I can see the appeal, but really now, having grown up with Barks it just feels weak-tea-ish. It's the same problem that I'm wrestling with a lot as I watch Ducktales, and it especially explains my aversion to the Ducktales version of the Beagles.

(Let me just take a moment, in passing, to stand back in amazement as I note that, in spite of being in a notable decline, qualitywise, in the seventies, that decade was able to sustain, in addition to all the standard books, long runs of the following titles: The Beagle Boys, Chip'n'Dale, Daisy & Donald, Huey Dewey & Louie Junior Woodchucks, Moby Duck, Scamp, Super Goof. I mean JEEZ--I'm lukewarm about Chip'n'Dale and Scamp at the best of times, but my mind just boggles that the market was able to support all this shit. Gladstone and Gemstone published better-quality stuff, no question, but it's hard not to feel a wistful about the existence of such a ridiculously large market.)

Anyway, maybe I should reexamine--at least to a limited extent--my prejudices, because as I said, this story is actually a lot of fun. Let's look, shall we?

Metatextual! Actually, I should note here that while I've read a handful of Super Goof stories, it's never exactly been a priority of mine, so I have no idea--for all I know the idea that he has his own in-world comic book could be well-established, though I sort of doubt it.

BUT OH NO! Actually, I'd pay to read a story that ended like this. I think it would have been funny if in some issue the editors had actually slipped in such a thing with no explanation and then just went on as if nothing had happened. It would be as if the Beagle Boys were making counterfeit issues of Super Goof in real life, taking metatextuality to a new level. Oh no, did I just spoil something?

Damn! Sneaky Pete makes Mickey Mouse look SILLY! How dastardly can you get?!?

Let me also comment on the art in this story: it ain't bad. It's not going to win any awards or anything, but it gets the job done, which surprises me, since I mainly know the guy from his disagreeable illustrations of Barks scripts. Maybe he's just better when he's not drawing ducks? Anyway, I wanted to single out the above for especial praise. Given the lines that ol' Doodler here is given to speak, he could easily have been drawn as all cocky and full of himself. In fact, that would have been the obvious route to take. But instead, he has this look of crushing, heavy-lidded apathy, as though he's desperately bored with his own genius. To me, that's way funnier--so kudos to Wright for that.

Writing (by Mark Evanier) and art also go together well, as here--it's not quite clear to what extent editor-guy is meant to be being sarcastic here, but the juxtaposition between that line (the word "lest" really makes it) and the four kids is funny.

Man, Super Goof's "fans" are assholes. Seriously, guys, what the hell?  You can't even have a little faith in your "hero?" Jeez.

Oh! In your face, television! You just got burned, Evanier-style! Actually, I personally would purchase at least one issue of "Ralph the Seasick Porcupine." How does that title not fill you with irresistible curiosity?  Admittedly, though, it does seems like a rather limited conceit.

Probably because you were never quite that dumb in Barks stories? This story works, yes, but I nonetheless think that one of the big problems with many characterizations of the Beagles is that they're made to be just too dumb. Even Rosa's "The Beagle Boys vs. the Money Bin"--a story I like--is guilty of this.

The main reason this story is successful is the way it gleefully embraces absurdity. You might roll your eyes at the hackishness of many of the convenient contrivances that your lesser Disney-writers strew their stories with, but when you push it far enough that it's obvious it's not meant to be taken remotely seriously--as here--entertainment value can be found.

And ol' Fleagle's line here--great. That's the sort of witty comment that you wouldn't generally expect from a story like this, but Evanier is on the ball.

…also "Nothing! But they're nice to have!" Good stuff.

As I admitted earlier, I really don't know my Super Goof canon, but can it really be that anyone eating these peanuts is instantly endowed with superpowers? Regardless, that "Super Elephant's" pose there is classic.

I'm actually seriously unsure here: did "Doodler" actually do anything illegal here? Is it a crime to write copyright-violating stories in the knowledge that they're going to be illegally published? I would tend to think the publisher would have to take all the blame here, but eye eh en eh ell.

Anyway, that's a pretty passive-aggressive move there, Super Goof! But never fear; we all know the Beagles never spend long in jail. Pithy closing line goes here.

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Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Dude! I will be 100% honest - this Is by far my favorite of all the reviews you writen!

It so funny it makes me laugh out loud every single time I read it (but then agian it's a very silly stry)

Maciek/Maik/Miluś :)

September 21, 2012 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thank you! It's nice to be appreciated.

September 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little late to the party here, but as a longtime reader of Disney comics, I read a lot of Super Goof stories back in the 'eighties (they were frequently used as backup stories in Scandinavian Disney publications), and I just wanted to say that yep -- the Super Goobers give superpowers AND a pajama-like super outfit with a cape to anyone who eats them.

The character who most frequently ate the Goobers apart from Goofy was his nephew Gilbert; the only one who knew Goofy's dual identity, but I remember at least one story where Pluto ate one and used his temporary superpowers to get back at a bigger dog who had been bullying him... and most bizarrely, there was one story where Madam Mim, of all characters, ate one and became a super-witch.

February 10, 2013 at 4:18 PM  

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