Monday, October 3, 2011

"Diner Sore"

Just a quick hit: here's a story I ran across while I was looking for Fethry stories, and, upon rereading it, I was every bit as baffled as I was the first time. So here it is: "Diner Sore," a title which, unless I'm missing something really obvious, appears to be a feeble play on "dinosaur," even though this story is not in any way dinosaur-related (nor does it have much to do with diners, come to that, except that it involves thwarted plans to eat). Hmm. I assume the reason for its US publication is that it was drawn by fan-favorite Freddy Milton.

I believe this is the only story I've ever seen with Gladstone as the marquee character. There's a reason the guy doesn't get more starring roles, and it's not just because he's irritating as fuck and we all hate him (which isn't to say that he's not a great character, but really: who "likes" Gladstone, even in an antihero kind of way?). What the hell can you possibly do with the guy? He's lucky. Either lucky things happen to him, or, by some contrivance, they fail to happen to him; in either case, it ain't much. If you were really determined to put the character in the lead, you'd pretty much have to do some sort of deconstruction/critique/satire for the results to be effective. But this story here?

Well, you see what's going on: he wants his luck to bring him food, but FUCK IT'S NOT WORKING HOLY CRUD AM I EVER HIGHLY INVESTED IN GLADSTONE GETTING HIS LUCK BACK.

But no; vague existential crisis results that really just makes us hate him more--or at least, it would were it anything new with him. It would be better if he were planning to hurl himself off the bridge.

But never fear! His luck returns, in the usual contrived fashion and he gets servants and a wheelbarrow of cash. There's a Gurgleurp reference, anyway, even it makes little sense under the circumstances, and seriously, that is all.

So the question is: have you ever told yourself, "man, that Gladstone. He just doesn't get enough credit for his awesomeness. If only there were a story that really focused on how great he is, and then there were some sort of thing that threatened to make him seem less great, but in the end, his essential greatness was confirmed!"

No? I suspect that you are not alone.

This thing is just so fantastically, mind-bogglingly ill-conceived. I try to see if I can't reframe it as some sort of satire, but no matter how hard I look, I just can't find anything that would be even the subtlest of tip-offs. Gladstone's behavior isn't exaggerated or anything; it's pretty much indistinguishable from how he always is, only here there's no one else to root for or identify with. Did some publisher have the misguided idea that Gladstone stories were the wave of the future, and the writer (Piet Zeeman) decided to show them just how bad an idea that was? If so, well played, I guess.

Labels: ,


Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

That is one HORRIBLE story – and I say that having lived through the Whitman Era!

If you must do something that horribly clichéd, useless, and just plain wrong, at least acknowledge that by making fun of it in the dialogue.

At its core, it SEEMS to BE a satire of the typical “Gladstone cliché”, so why not pump up that angle -- the ONLY angle that might have made it work – to ridiculously laughable proportions.

October 4, 2011 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Yikes! Nobody likes me, everybody hates me; guess I'll go eat worms! (-:

I'll freely admit to having chosen this story (and translated it, though I was accidentally left uncredited)—though somehow, I didn't view as being quite the clinker you think it is.

No, it's not as a satire. Yes, that might have improved it. No, the story doesn't provide much beyond a very basic look at Gladstone's luck. Yes, I chose the title because the story "involves thwarted plans to eat" (though why I used the dinosaur gag confounds even me!). No, the story doesn't provide much beyond a very basic look at Gladstone's luck. But yes—it's only three pages long, and since Gladstone wasn't actively using his luck to torment another character, I figured he stayed just sympathetic enough (if only backhandedly) that the short story would read as more amusing than frustrating, at least in its *short* length.

Oh, and did I mention it was *short*? So if you didn't like it, you could just move on! Blake Petit and Chris Barat seemed to (even giving the story some faint praise in the process! Feel that peer pressure... any minds changing yet? No? Damn!)

I'd be very curious to see what you think of "Copious Quantities of Cod Liver Oil" (WDC 620) and "Party of None" (WDC 634), both of which put Gladstone through similar luck inversions—and, at their longer page count, add both some satiric touches and some deliberate efforts to make Gladstone more sympathetic, as if to justify the length of time spent on him.

Joe: it's the hog roast, isn't it? (Geoff: private joke!)

October 4, 2011 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


I did like this story... I really appreciated David slipping in the DUCKTALES reference (did you catch it?). However, it is hard not to agree with Carl Barks' own statement that doing a GLADSTONE GANDER book akin to the GYRO, DAISY, and GRANDMA DUCK books would have been a "grind." Gladstone is most effective as a character when we see OTHER characters reacting to (1) his luck, (2) his obnoxious complacency and trust in said luck.
Making him a "star" character would seem to be (ahem) pressing one's luck.


October 6, 2011 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

If I'd noticed a Ducktales reference, I would've pointed it out. Now I'm really curious.

October 6, 2011 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Tommy José Stathes said...

It's when a desolate Gladstone moans that he'll "have to get a job like normal people!" The line comes from DIME ENOUGH FOR LUCK, an episode that "Diner Sore" reminded me of: another attempt to make Gladstone more sympathetic, and another that seems to have fractured the base down the middle...

October 7, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Ah--thanks. I didn't get that because I've only seen the episode in question once, and because it just seems like the sort of thing you'd expect him to say under the circumstances, and thus didn't strike me particularly.

October 7, 2011 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Richie said...

Even if Donald's the marquee character, Rosa's The Sign Of The Triple Distelfink is at least co-starring Gladstone. I don't think his luck ought to be defined by a specific event, but it's a nice little tale. Fun ending.

There's also this shelved Barks' story:

October 10, 2011 at 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Gladstone! He never gets any brake from the fans :(

November 13, 2020 at 7:11 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home