Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Chapter Eight C: "Hearts of the Yukon"

So according to Rosa's commentary, this story was "commissioned by Gladstone Comics as part of Canada's centennial celebration of the Yukon Gold Rush." Am I to infer from this that the Canadian government actually contacted Gladstone and asked "hey, can you do a comic for us?" Because I'm already quite fond of Canada, but if that's an actual thing that they did, man, it would really push them over the top in my esteem.

Keep in mind that this was written well before "Prisoner of White Agony Creek" was even conceived of, so it was Rosa's golden opportunity to actually get Goldie involved in a story--although we all know from the start that she can't actually meet Scrooge again in any substantial way, which causes certain problems that I will get to (also, note the title, which lets someone other than Scrooge in for the first time--a nice, appropriate touch).

I merely stick this bit in because it's a funny bit of misdirection. I also like Scrooge's indifference towards the guy.

…no, this "Steele" fellow is actually a Mountie--apparently to help Canada celebrate, it was mandated that Rosa include these guys in some way, so it's less arbitrary than some of his stuff in this vein. Of course this is a real person, as is the other subsidiary Mountie, and what the hell, let's throw Jack London in there too, 'cause that's just how we roll. There's a somewhat strained running gag where he, Steele, is trying to think up a good motto for the outfit, and he keeps coming up with maladroit alternative versions of "we always get our man."

Also, Casey is back. As you can see, he's a blonde this time (not Rosa's fault, obviously). Kind of an odd character--he keeps just appearing with no explanation, here, in "King of the Klondike," and earlier in "Last Sled to Dawson." But for whatever reason, I like the guy, and I sure wouldn't have minded seeing him play a central role in a Rosa story.

The idea is that Goldie pressed charges against Scrooge in order to get him to come back. "Mutual pressing" certainly isn't as risqué as some moments in "Prisoner," but it's still pretty well up there.

I like this because you can actually see Scrooge suffering, which, as I noted, you couldn't very much in "Klondike."

And I also like his weird hallucinations. There's a tendency for dreams in fiction to always be super-meaningful, eliding the fact that, however much so they may seem, they also generally feature some weird-ass shit for no apparent reason (here, Scrooge is about to be picked up by a Santa-ish guy in a sleigh, so it's not totally left-field, but still pretty much so).

Anyway, blah blah, he ultimately gets to the town and there's a fire (apparently, historically it burned down on a regular basis). This is clearly where Rosa's real interest lies. Notice Goldie's long shadow--much like the shadow she'll cast on Scrooge's future life! Ho! Symbolism for the win!

But seriously...I think this works pretty well.

But see here's the problem I have with this story: it's this essentially tragic narrative, where Scrooge and Goldie are desperate to get back together but we know damn well from the start they're never going to--and yet, it's interwoven with all this goofy slapstick stuff, which isn't just tonally jarring, but tends to devalue the emotional impact. I mean, seriously? He loses out on his chance to meet up with her because he's clonked on the head with a piece of ice from a hose? That's not the stuff of legend.

Sigh…but then there's the ending. I can't say I find Scrooge's behavior all that sensical here, but clearly that was how it had to be, and I don't feel as though the impact is much dulled.

Fuck! Fuck, I say! In all seriousness: fuck fuck fuck! I can try to be all cool and cynical and above-it-all and everything, but it's hopeless: whatever problems I may have with the story, or with this conception in general, this last bit just kills me every time. Well done, Mr. Rosa. Damn you.

But--and I know I'm not saying anything here that isn't obvious--this raises an unanswerable question: if they have this passion, and it somehow stays alive for sixty-odd years, dude, why don't they just get together in the present-day, fercrissake? Rosa keeps hinting that this is foremost in Scrooge's mind (in, eg, "Attack of the Hideous Space Varmints" and "Quest for Kalevala"), but then nothing ever comes of it. Of course, this is because nothing can come of it--Rosa can't make such a radical change to the duckiverse, and besides, it would make Scrooge into a different and surely less-interesting character. But trying to have it both ways--keeping them apart in spite of this constant yearning--kinda just makes them seem like crazy people. You say "pride;" I say, okay, pride, but even if they weren't wholly reconciled after "Back to the Klondike," they certainly were after "Last Sled to Dawson." Come on, now. All of this strikes me as a none-too-subtle indication that Rosa's trying to force something here that was never meant to be. Not that I don't like it, as I think I've pretty clearly indicated, but…well, I suppose when you're as ambitious as Rosa, these things happen. His imagination was never really as beholden to Barks as he wants us to think it is.

A good idea that would solve a LOT, though not all, of these problems would be a Love in the Time of Cholera-ish thing: tired of waiting around, Goldie marries someone else while Scrooge is off doing his money-making thing--someone who dies at some point during the thirties or forties while Scrooge is off being emotionally dead. I know Rosa would never go for something like that, but if you ask me, it would be both more mature and more romantic; ie, it acknowledges that that's how life works, and, if they're able to rekindle this long-distance non-relationship afterwards, shows how deep their connection goes. It has to be a happy marriage, mind you. Otherwise, it would be kind of manipulative and anti-feminist (ie, Scrooge "saving" Goldie from her own poor decision).

(Yeah, I know I'm basically fan-fictioning it up here, but let me ask you: is that really so different from what Rosa does? Really?)

(And as irrelevant as this is to Rosa (and me, honestly), I know that Romano Scarpa gave Goldie a granddaughter. She has rarely appeared in the US and never in a substantial role, so I don't know whether or not it's coyly hinted that she's might be Scrooge's granddaughter or who her parents are supposed to be or what, but it at least indicates that someone else agrees that Goldie's been doing more than just torch-carrying for fifty-odd years.)

In any case, enough of this emotionally draining stuff. Tomorrow the tone shifts substantially as we return to Scotland for "The Billionaire of Dismal Downs." Holy shit, you guys and gals, you're going to get a lot of babbling from me about Scrooge's economic philosophy. Oh, you better believe it'll be a blast.

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Blogger Christopher said...

I would have liked to have seen a story where Goldie's letter was recovered by some character later and seen the aftermath– at least the Mounties didn't arrest Scrooge for littering.

December 21, 2011 at 2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A short story starring Donald. "The Master Postman of Duckburg".

Donald is hired as a postman, and is told that a recovered letter from Dawson's Post Office has been found. We see it's old, yellowed, but with a shiny new stamp: But a hand covers the sender's address. "We returned it to the sender, who wanted to make sure it was delivered. Do your duty, Postman Donald!"

Donald doesn't recognize it, walking in to the Money Bin to give Scrooge the letter... who promptly ejects him and tells him to get rid of that letter. Donald has to get past the Money Bin's defenses, swearing by the postman's creed that he will deliver the letter. Donald gives Scrooge the letter at last, and we see it's from Dawson. We flash back to a full page montage of the two of them together. No words spoken. Scrooge and Goldie's kiss. The punch. The yelling. Money being thrown in his face. The shot of her on the stage. The look on his face before he's knocked out. And the shot of the letter, back when it was new, the look on Scrooge's face, and Scrooge dropping it wordlessly in the snow.

Last page, second-to-last panel:

Scrooge sits at his desk, looking at the worn, yellowed letter in his hands with trepidation. "Goldie..."

Last panel:
Exterior shot of the Money Bin, with just the 'rip' sound effect from the window, which we've seen repeated throughout the story when people tear up paper or open letters.


December 21, 2011 at 2:56 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

That sounds lovely, and it's just the sort of thing Rosa would dig. Still, as with most of his stuff with Goldie, there's a high frustration factor: what's the POINT of all this stuff when, for obvious reasons, it can never ever go where it obviously *should?*

Well, I suppose there's something to be said for an individual work of art even if there's a greater whole that it clearly should be, but isn't, contributing to.

December 21, 2011 at 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. I've probably taken more from Rosa when it comes to writing for children than anyone, when it comes to the emotional gut-punches. And seeing a reader squirm with ambiguity, wondering whether Scrooge is a tragic, self-destructive character or one capable of change? That's how you grow as a reader, I suppose.

For what it's worth, Rosa's stories were never in chronological order. A Little Something Special is what I choose to believe is 'canonically' the last Scrooge story. Yes, it ends with Scrooge trying to blow her off, but I like to think he's grown enough to throw off a little of his pride, enough to ask her out for coffee AFTER his work is finished... off panel, of course. What you're asking for isn't shown, but it is most certainly an interpretation you could take if you choose.

Rosa has never made his timeline public, though the clues are certainly there if you pay attention. And it sure as hell feels like an ending to me. Penultimately I would have A Letter from Home though, because I'm a sap who likes everything wrapped up in a neat little bow.

December 21, 2011 at 3:31 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

You really think he blows her off? I guess it's a little ambiguous, but I always read it as him relenting at the end. Good call on it being the 'last' story; that's really the only way that makes sense. I've always had a *lot* of trouble with that ending, but your way is definitely a good solution. Otherwise, I think you have to think of it as more of a tribute to the character's legacy than a concrete thing that happens, per se.

December 21, 2011 at 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Scrooge/Goldie romance plot could be permanently resolved without altering the status quo by a sufficiently cynical writer... let's say a story involves them actually getting together in their old age, only to find out that they actually have little or nothing in common anymore - Glittering Goldie, the Star of the North, the coldest heart of the Yukon, the girl Scrooge has been pining for all his life, if she ever truly existed as he perceived her at all, currently only exists in his head. They realise that they can never truly rekindle the youthful passion they felt during that one month in White Agony Creek, and mutually agree to just stay apart, finally free of their unhealthy heart-crushing torch-carrying. The End.

Now, granted, this idea might be pushing just how mean you're allowed to get in a Disney comic (and I doubt Don Rosa would approve), but if you really want a definitive resolution to their love story, I think this is probably the closest you could get within the boundaries of the form.

August 19, 2014 at 4:47 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Not a bad idea--but as, you note, realistic as that would be, there's no way it would get editorial approval.

August 19, 2014 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Fethry Duck said...

I don't know if it'd be that difficult to get editorial approval- you'd just have to pitch it more as a comedy. Start the story, "let's try dating". Have the story be a bunch of them getting mad at each other over personality clashes, almost like a ton of Donald and Daisy stories that are around (I'm having the recent The Adorable Couple short in my mind, even). Towards the end, have them go "we're old, I'm sorry, you grew up from what I knew you as and I was being unfair" "let's be friends then", the end.

July 25, 2015 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

On Anonymous's "no possible love anymore" idea, I'm glad to tell that, in an altered way of course, it HAS been used, in Marco Rota's "What goes around ?" (D 98371), with a synopsis by Lars Jensen and a script by Rota himself. In the story, Scrooge knocks his head (or something else that makes him dizzy, I don't really remember) and when he wakes up, finds that he's married with Goldie for years and thinks that the life he thinks he remembers is just the dream he had after knocking his head. (so of course it's the other way around and he's dreaming about being married, but the editor probably wouldn't have allowed it otherwise). And we see that, although SCROOGE has no problem with being married with Goldie, Goldie can't bare that her husband is always off earning money money money, and after all those years becomes so bitter that she HIRES THE BEAGLE BOYS TO STEAL SCROOGE'S MONEY AS A PUNISHMENT FOR NEGLECTING HER. In other words, Goldie is unable to love present-day Scrooge, which seems consistent enough with "Last sled" where Scrooge figured he had to choose between stopping at 1 million, buying a cottage and marrying Goldie, or either not marrying Goldie and continuing to win money). For you american fellows, it's in Uncle Scrooge 350, Inducks says.

August 19, 2015 at 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, since I started commenting...

Question: Your frustration about Scrooge and Goldie not getting together -- Is that in a personal way ("I want these 2 to get together so badly that it hurts to see their pride drive them apart!") or in a critical way ("Them not getting together is unnatural and badly written")? If the former, it's a sign Barks and Don Rosa really did their job right by making you care so much about them, even if the conclusion makes us want to reach into the pages and strangle them for not swallowing their pride and telling each other the truth.

I do easily buy that Scrooge and Goldie were both too proud to make the move of confessing their feelings to the other outright, to their face -- in each of their minds, it would have seemed like a surrender, a defeat, like they were giving someone else power over them. The only acceptable outcome for Goldie would be Scrooge doing the surrendering, so she tried to push him to do just that. Her fainting act succeeded in getting Scrooge's feelings for her to override his pride, but outside forces interfered, and when he came to, he let his proud instincts regain control instead of going with the feelings he'd given into in that moment in the burning ballroom.

Despite his thoughts, I theorize Scrooge didn't open the letter, not because he was afraid it would contain "poison" that would confirm the only woman he loved actually hated him, but because he was afraid it would confirm she loved him. As long as he doesn't know that for sure, he can put that night in the cabin behind him as something that doesn't matter and tell himself to forget about it. If he accepted she loved him, however... So it's not only Pride that made him run from the truth but Fear. Fear of needing someone, of how it would change him and affect his plans, of how vulnerable loving another human being deeply and passionately would make him (in his mind). He prides himself so much on being a self-made man that the idea of needing someone else on any level is unbearable for him. This is why he can't accept his feelings for her in the present day, either -- it would mean accepting so many painful, frightening concepts that he's had even more years of practice repressing. Maybe his relationships with his family will eventually open his mind to the possibility that love isn't always a vulnerability you need to fear or be ashamed of, but at this point, Pride conquers all.

February 17, 2016 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

That's what's good about having this blog: sometimes I get insightful comments like this just out of NOWHERE.

As for the question of whether it frustrates me in a personal vs. critical way...well (and stipulating that my opinions may not exactly match my opinions when I wrote this four years ago), I think it's probably a bit of both. I do think Rosa did the best he could under the circumstances, but I do think that the exigencies of the form are limiting. So, eg, okay, you're probably right about the characters' psychology at the end of this story--but if their love remains ever-burning, then one might ask, okay, so why didn't they just get together in "Last Sled to Dawson?" Or, even if they didn't, why wasn't the subject even addressed in any way? And the answer seems to me to be: because Disney comics don't work like that, which isn't very satisfying.

February 17, 2016 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

For that matter… "Last Sled to Dawson" could be the last story in the Rosa continuity ! And Scrooge finally did marry Goldie just a few pages after the last one of "Sled"… even though we didn't get to see it.

February 21, 2016 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger dark tyler said...

Thought about A Little Something Special being the final story in Rosa's continuity because thanks to it's celebratory intent, it DOES wrap up everything (Goldie reunion, Magica realizing she can't have the dime, Beagle Boys robbing Glomgold, Glomgold losing his money), but I don't really think Rosa actually meant any of this. It's more of a 'hey it's a party and everyone's invited'. Also there's the fact that in this story they discover the underground remains of the old Duckburg as Morgan returns. We see both the old Duckburg and Morgan in consequent stories, so that can't be the end.

In any case, jill-rg's psychological analysis is spot on for me. You can never really count out fear and you can never count out pride- you definitely can't ignore these two as a tandem. And especially after growing so old, I dunno, it might be easier to just keep fooling yourself to the bitter end, than to just accept that you've wasted your life, that maybe, just maybe, you've lived 80 years and it's not the 80 years that you were meant to live.

And btw hey, all of this doesn't exist in Barks' text. That's all Rosa. Don Rosa might have structured his ground floor on Barks' foundation, but he's built the Empire State Building on top of it.

March 14, 2016 at 7:57 PM  
Blogger dark tyler said...

(Correction: The 'Morgan' I mentioned is Blackheart Beagle, sorry, sometimes I forget the translation for some of the character names.)

March 14, 2016 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Mr. Sack said...

That ending...I one day want to see this story animated in a standalone piece, and that final shot to have a falling snow slowly covering Goldie’s letter (and filling in Scrooge’s footsteps), while Tuomas
Holopainen’s A Lifetime of Adventure plays.

April 8, 2021 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

And just now I realise this blog never review "Last Sled to Dawson"... But... But... AHHH!!!

October 9, 2022 at 4:02 AM  

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