Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Birds of a Fethry"

Things have been quiet here because, seeing as I'm almost done with my marathon Ducktales-watching session, I've been devoting most of my duck-blogging attention to my other place. But fear not--Fethry "Week" continues! Now, we will look at a contemporary Fethry story. A number of these appeared in Gemstone's books; they generally follow the format of the Hubbard/Kinney stories (except the ones in the digests--but that's a story for another day), only with less terrifying artwork--so what's not to like? For variety, here is a story where Fethry's getting on someone other than Donald's nerves.

This story is sort of reminiscent of Barks' more heavy-handedly environmentalist Junior Woodchucks efforts. It's true, of course, that cutting down a tree is somewhat less of a bad thing than killing whales, but still--that smug smile on Scrooge's face, along with his stated desire to destroy a "mighty oak," all militates towards making him the villain of the piece. Which is a bit uncharacteristic; generally, these stories involve Fethry harassing an innocent victim--Scrooge doesn't seem so innocent here.

As I said, the artwork here is a big relief to me, and Fethry's pious expression is funny.

Scrooge tries to get him down like this, and you really do have to admire his commitment to principle. I'm not really qualified to make sweeping statements here, given that I've only read a small handful of both the one and the other, but from what I have read, it seems like these newer European stories are more likely to show Fethry involved with real-world, do-gooding causes; whereas the Hubbard/Kinney ones are more inclined to show him just engaged in apolitical fads.

Actually, Scrooge does kinda have a point there--or at least he would if this were an actual, legitimate offer. Still, Fethry's great idea is humorous for the way it's gonna wind him up.

Good stuff. Dude's certainly committed, possibly in more ways than one.

I have to say, though, I feel like this does him a bit of a disservice. His manias are transient, sure, but they're also real. This implies that he was never really all that concerned about the birds. You could come up with an alternate reading, sure. But that's what I can't help getting out of it.

…and Fethry-haters everywhere will be happy to know about Scrooge's plans to dismember him with a chainsaw. Laissez les bons temps rouler.

More Fethry to come, probably.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did it end there? Also I can't help being somewhat irritated by that giant oak tree apparently materializing out of thin air. Why would Scrooge wait till it's all mighty instead of just pulling it out as a sapling?

September 27, 2011 at 6:00 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Yup, that's the end. To be fair, Disney comics ending with characters threatening to inflict violence on one another is a long-standing tradition.

Re the oak tree: yeah, but this may be an example of Scrooge's usual poor approach to money-management in action: it would've been easier to deal with earlier, but that would've cost money, so he waited until the problem got out of hand.

...okay, so probably he COULD'VE just pulled it himself. Yeah, trying to rationalize this stuff is probably a sucker's game.

September 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Re the oak tree: I think “Anon’s” larger point is that, in ANOTHER “long-standing tradition”, the oak tree – without the benefit of precedent – exists in that very spot to simply serve the story. I know I would have “taken a shot” at that in the dialogue, if that story fell to me. Perhaps David (I’ll PRESUME he did the dialogue here) did. I just don’t remember. It sure reads like him!

Just like the abrupt and sudden existence of the “Cathedral of Notre Duck” within the confines of Duckburg – a city the general feel and layout of which we THINK we’ve known for two-plus decades at the time that story appeared.

In a letter of comment to Gemstone on that story, I liken the Cathedral’s jarring entry onto the Duckburg map to the heretofore unseen huge gothic stone mansion that housed “The Gruesomes” on The Flintstones – and the equally heretofore unseen huge gated mansion directly across the street from The Simpsons’ home, created to house an animated version of former President George H. W. Bush – for an admittedly hilarious episode.

Of course, a mere contrived oak tree is not nearly as gratuitous as contrived large buildings transforming a landscape (be it Carl Barks’, Hanna-Barbera’s, or Matt Groening’s landscape) … and Cornelius Coot COULD have been careless with one of those “tiny acorns” all those years ago on Killmotor Hill. Ultimately, for all our picking, it’s all in fun!

September 28, 2011 at 3:43 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

This particular story was written by Sarah Kinney.

Somehow, it didn't occur to me while reading, but yeah. The bin's supposed to be on a big, featureless hill, isn't it? The plot thickens!

September 28, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe it's the tree that 'gave birth' to the stump in "His Majesty, McDuck". It is just a stump that Scrooge cuts up for firewood, isn't it?

September 28, 2011 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 29, 2011 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

I edited this story at Egmont, so I did "tweak" a few lines of dialogue as part of the normal editorial process. But the vast majority of what you're reading is Sarah Kinney's work. As a fellow Yank, she obviously doesn't need Americanization.

The idea came for Sarah to try a Fethry story because we were enamored of her work with Goofy, another of the great eccentric characters. Both Goofy and Fethry are often misperceived by the uninitiated as dumb; it takes a special kind of writer to get their unique kinds of intelligence right.

As for the mighty oak—yikes! The story made its way through multiple publications without my considering that we don't usually see trees this big on Killmotor Hill. My mind tends to flash back to "The Robot Raiders of Magica De Spell" (US 210), an iconic Branca-drawn story that puts some big fir trees on the hill.

Maybe Magica transformed one of the firs into an oak with her shapeshifting wand? I'm afraid the stump can't help us—in "His Majesty McDuck," Scrooge mentions that it's been a stump since he bought the land.

September 29, 2011 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Extra thought: Geoff, you say " seems like these newer European stories are more likely to show Fethry involved with real-world, do-gooding causes; whereas the Hubbard/Kinney ones are more inclined to show him just engaged in apolitical fads."

Hubbard and Kinney did include some do-gooding causes. "Preserve Psychiatry" (which we used at Gemstone) is the most iconic example, but we've also seen Fethry out to protect "rare cat" Tabby; Fethry becoming a bird fancier, buying pet pigeons and letting them roam free; and Fethry determined to pull Donald out of the city and show him the glories of nature.

September 29, 2011 at 2:50 AM  

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