Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who's "we," paleface?

A letter in Uncle Scrooge Adventures 19 from a fellow named John Martin:
What I really wanted to write about was to ask if Don Rosa plans to write a sequel to "Micro-Ducks from Outer Space."  The plot could be this: eight years have passed and the micro-ducks return as they promised, but they are followed by their GIANT enemies.  They could have a name like, say, Colossal-Ducks.  I don't mean to be pushy, but I think this would be a thrill.  Do you think it is possible that my idea would be considered?

…and Gladstone's weirdly presumptuous response:

We did consider your idea, but it's not likely we'll use it.  One problem with a micro-ducks sequel is that eight years of real time have to pass, which means that by the time they return, Huey, Dewey and Louie would be teenagers.  Of course, this could be ignored by leaving them out of the story, as in the Gutenberghus sequel, but in the end, we've decided to nix the idea of a sequel in general and printing the Gutenberghus story in particular (it's just not "special" enough to warrant publication).

HEY GUYS I'M PRETTY SURE THAT IF DON ROSA HAD WANTED TO DO A MICRO-DUCKS SEQUEL, HE WOULD'VE, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU'D "DECIDED."  And you'd have printed it, too, since it would've been Don Rosa.  All I'm saying is, you were NOT the ones with the power in this situation, so getting off yer high horse might've been warranted.  Also, does "the Gutenberghus sequel" refer to something other than "Return of the Micro-Ducks?"  'Cause don't look now, but HDL are very much in evidence in that story.  Once again, if you were going to somewhat condescendingly explain to this guy why his idea could never work (sounds like an okay concept to me--the "eight-year" thing would've been easy to fudge--but what do I know?), the least you coulda done woulda been to have a firm grasp on what you were talking about.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1: That post cracked me up. Particularly the all-caps portion.

2: Watch me fix this with one line of dialogue.

"We found a new power source that exponentially increases the speed of our engines!"

3: Don Rosa works using 'comic book time' so hard it's not even funny, and Gladstone's (for lack of a better term) letter-answerer could not be more full of shit. HDL are exactly as old in the story 'A Little Something Special', which definitely takes place in 1952, five years after they first met Uncle Scrooge in Christmas at Bear Mountain. To his credit, in the flashback in W.H.A.D.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N. he does make an effort to draw the boys younger. But that's a cursory effort at best.

I agree with your post in its entirety.

Honestly, that story is my favorite from Barks. Call me a sap, call me unable to appreciate Barks' supposed artistic peak, but it's absolutely true. And nothing would please me more than to follow in the footsteps of Rosa and write sequels in that micro-continuity that's been established by Barks and Rosa, but I have wracked my brain trying to come up with a sequel for it for... well, a year or so.

I'm not even kidding. I have about 20 Duck stories fully outlined, more than a few of which have been inspired by your insights on this blog.

And... well, within the framework Rosa works in (where he considers rocket-based stuff to be non-canon), it's pretty hard to sequelize. In 1989 when the letter was published, The Incredible Shrinking Tightwad hadn't been written, but ignoring that story...

Hm. I can see it very easily being a retread of the excellent original, or a rip from every other 'I got shrunk' story. The original theme as I see it, explored in that story, was sincerity and its merits. But if I was going to do a sequel that fit the hybrid Barks/Rosa continuity/style? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm...

I'd have Scrooge say something extra-dickish, and Donald commenting on how callous Scrooge has been in certain instances, calling to attention some of the things that have been mentioned as overly cruel to Donald. Scrooge is angry and feels that no one does anything nice unless they have something to gain for it, and fires Donald for the umpteenth time.

The Micro-Ducks return, not just for a new transaction, but because they want to pay back their fair and gracious business partner Scrooge by presenting themselves to the Skeptics Club on his behalf. They get in contact with Scrooge over radio, but it's broadcast on a public station, causes a frenzy in Duckburg to try and capture the Micro-Ducks and get the reward for themselves (along with other unsavory things like 'scientific study' from shady types).

Scrooge sees the commotion, there's racing to get the Micro-Ducks back, he doesn't call Donald because he figures he'd have to pay the 30 cents an hour.

The Micro-Ducks are surrounded by greedy idiots, there's not enough gas to gas the whole crowd, and Scrooge can't get to them despite his best efforts. He is struck by a brilliant idea: He offers TWO billion dollars to the first person who gets to his Money Bin.

The crowd disperses, Scrooge gets the Micro-Ducks, and the transaction goes as planned. They ask where Donald is, he says they had an argument, explains it, and they mention that the one billion dollars he got from the Skeptics Club doesn't match the two billion dollars he spent to save them from unsavory sorts.

Story ends with Scrooge calling Donald, counting his Micro-Duck coins with a smile (peaceful, not greedy). "I've had a change of heart. The position is 35 cents an hour. ... Yes, this really your uncle! Just be on time, first thing tomorrow morning!" *SLAM*

I do hope you don't mind my thinking aloud. Your blog is a fantastic thought exercise and I enjoy reading your posts. :) And I guess this makes 21.

February 8, 2012 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

One thing I know from my scripting of Duck stories for Gemstone and Boom is that it is an absolute truth that you can (as you say) “fudge” anything – and “reviewordie” even shows us how!

Consider Scrooge unexpectedly producing a giant firecracker in the story I called “Uncle Scrooge Meets the Synthezoid from Deepest Void” (UNCLE SCROOGE # 370). I came up with a reason for that – and one that was consistent with both past Barks stories and real world events. Not to mention a good “cheapness” gag.

For “The Last Auction Hero” (UNCLE SCROOGE # 397), I threw out the whole script and wrote my own.

And, in WDC&S # 720, I had the impossible task of explaining why Mickey and the Gang were considered CELEBRITIES in Italy – down to the ancillary characters like Brigita and Trudy! Some people liked what I did there, others did not – but that’s what you have to do.

Surely the Microducks sequel – or ANY story for that matter, could be patched-up to a level of acceptability.

February 8, 2012 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Comicbookrehab said...

I'm surprised nobody thought of a sequel featuring all the aliens that appeared in Barks stories. A whole galactic federation of assorted aliens out there in the duck universe. It is interesting that, aside from Takion Farflung (who is not a Barks creation) - they're all good guys.

February 8, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering why I felt a little disconnect between the art and story, even when I was enjoying it! :) It's definitely proof that things can be salvaged or patched up. I try to abide by 'If the sequel does not enhance the original narrative, you probably shouldn't write it' though, cause I've seen shows go on for three seasons too long until there's nothing left but the patches...


I am ashamed to say I completely forgot the last word of my line. "We found a new power source that exponentially increases the speed of our engines: wheat!"

February 8, 2012 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

reviewordie: think aloud all you want! The louder the merrier!

Joe: I'd be interested in hearing more about why you felt "Last Auction Hero" needed such sweeping changes.

February 8, 2012 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

“Reviewordie”: Adding the word “wheat” makes your fix all the better! It takes something Scrooge and the Microducks did in the original and adds it to the accumulated lore, while remedying the continuity issue of the sequel!

That’s exactly the way I would go about it – as with the Out-of-Place-Outside-of-a-Looney-Tunes-Short Giant Firecracker being designated in my fix as Scrooge’s good will gesture for “Brutopian Independence Day” (Barks lore reference) compounded by his calculating the shipping costs and deciding to send them a card instead (cheapness gag – and the reason he would have the darned thing on hand to use against the Synthezoid)!

Geo: As for “The Last Auction Hero”, I’m not about to overly denigrate the efforts of anyone who actually writes original stories – since I only write dialogue scripts (He said having publically called “Bird Bothered Hero” the worst Disney comic ever! See Geo’s post on that!) – but the original script (such as it was) that came with the art was completely devoid of both humor and the unique characterizations of DuckTales.

As indicated by its original title, “The Emerald Auction”, you can surmise that it was a dull and by-the-numbers-affair, with little to recommend.

For some reason, DuckTales has rarely been done “right” in comics – going all the way back to the earliest, pre-Van Horn Gladstone issues, thru the horror that was Disney Comics’ “Scrooge’s Quest” with its pointless meandering and absolutely unacceptable final chapter, and into Boom’s last-gasp original efforts with their well-documented problems.

I wanted to “do right” by the property, as did David Gerstein in his own scripting of previously-existing stories, so I chucked the original completely and just “wrote from the heart and mind”, according to what was presented in the art.

Even in an extensive rewrite of an existing script, I always retain certain elements of the original as-written but, in this case, I don’t believe a single word or phrase was left as-was. And, as the published product shows, what was missing in the original script was missing no longer. Unlike WDC&S # 720, this one was universally liked by both friends and strangers alike.

Finally, regarding WDC&S # 720, I later learned, from an Italian poster to my Blog, that (in the Romano Scarpa Universe) the reason “Mickey and the Gang were considered CELEBRITIES in Italy – down to the ancillary characters like Brigita and Trudy” was because they APPEAR WEEKLY IN TOPOLINO!!!

Now, REALLY! What in the world was I supposed to do with THAT gigantic brick wall of a continuity problem staring me in the face – especially after having scripted Part One, and knowing we were up against a deadline for what might STILL prove to be the final issue of WDC&S?

If you’ve read the issue, you can see how I turned that into a positive (even if some disagree) – to such an extent that it allowed Mickey to deliver a final line that I love: “Here’s to the greatest bunch of characters I know!”

I wrote that line with the bittersweet knowledge that it might very well be the last original line of dialogue to appear in the historic run of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. And, if that turns out to be true – and even if it is my own opinion – I think it’s a great line to go out on!

And, to return to the topic at hand, it all resulted from one of those necessary fixes we have to do to make the comics better!

February 9, 2012 at 3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Geo! I will try to think better stories aloud in the future, because that one would be mediocre at best.

Aye-yai-yai... I wasn't able to buy WDC&S 720, but I wish I had! A very fitting tribute. :) I was just so turned off by the Scarpa stuff in the Duck stories...

I honestly have to wonder if the Disney comics model can truly continue under the new regime as it did under the Stone/Boom era (reprints and translations) when the European comics' aesthetics are, in my eyes, almost alienatingly different than American content. I read Barks and Rosa (from trade paperbacks) to my nieces and nephews frequently, but I couldn't read any of the Scarpa Duck stuff to them. I'm an adult and I sincerely could not tell you what is happening in some of those stories!

I'm not saying all European content is bad. But it's a lot harder to rope kids in because of how fundamentally different the storytelling is, and how the characters are interpreted over there.

And when you add to that the reprints of content that seems very dated... (Barks excepted, of course) it just turns out to be a very insular thing.

I'd give my eyeteeth to present my story folder to the new regime. (But absolutely not the Micro-Ducks sequel!) And I'd give my left leg if someone better was able to step up to the plate for what will invariably be the Marvel/Disney imprint! Anything to stop writers from patching up stories for the sake of having something to print, no matter how well such things may turn out from fine translators like Joe.

Shit, I want to know what that kid from the Gladstone letter wants to write, if that letter back didn't turn him off to Disney comics forever. He seems like he's got some ideas.

February 9, 2012 at 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Reviewordie: I'm with you (and GeoX) on Scarpa's duckworld. Too alien for me. I can't stand Brigitta, and I haven't liked any of the Scarpa-written stories printed in English. The only Scarpa-written story I've found that I like is his Robin Hood story, where the ducks are acting out Robin Hood roles in the present day. (I have it in the nifty hardcover version published last year in French, Donald des Bois.) I can understand your question about whether or not American duck comics could survive on reprints and translations of European comic stories, and I would surely love to see Disney/Marvel nurture some new American talent. (Or, "old" American talent, now working, if at all, for the Europeans.)

I would still say, though, that there are plenty of as-yet-untranslated European stories that would work for the American fan. I've been buying French and German comics this year to feed my habit (and wishing I could read Dutch, or Italian, or one of the Scandanavian languages!), and have found some that I (a dyed-in-the-wool Barks/Rosa fan) like very much. For instance: Guido Martina and Cavazzano's Vascello Fantasma, wherein U$, Donald and the boys sail on the Flying Dutchman.

Of course there are stories I like by Dutch or Scandinavian writers, but I was surprised by finding ones by Italians (Martina, Chendi, Cimino) that I like a lot. There are Italian duck stories without superheroes or female stalkers! (I realize it's possible that I only like some Italian stories written decades ago, and not current ones. The jury is out on that question.)

February 9, 2012 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Scarpa's stuff DOES tend to drop you into vistas of howling madness, doesn't it? It's one of these weird things: US publishers seem to think he's just the crème de la crème, and yet when read him, you often feel like you're kind of losing your mind. You may recall those little editorials by Alberto Becattini that Gladstone ran on occasion trying to explain Scarpa's work and praising it to the skies for being profound and/or prescient. Whenever I read one of those, I would think, okay, ONE of us is insane. I'm not necessarily saying it isn't me, but a world in which both he and I are thoroughly in command of our critical faculties just doesn't make sense.

Still, in Scarpa's, I suppose, semi-defense, I sometimes sort of enjoy this stuff in spite of everything. And on occasion, he can surprise you by really getting it together: I don't know whether either of you like Mickey stories, but my favorite thing I've read of Scarpa's is "The Mystery of Tapiocus VI," which Gladstone published back in the day. It has a few credulity-stretching moments, but fewer than usual, and I found the mystery in question quite engaging.

I agree with Elaine that far from ALL European--or even Italian--Disney comics are inaccessible to American sensibilities. It's hard to exactly stay current with this stuff if you're not actually Italian, but I'd be surprised if there weren't still good stuff being produced. I KNOW there is, in fact: once again, this comes down to whether or not you like MM stories, but Casty is the real fuckin' deal--"The World to Come" and "Quondomai Island" are both stone-cold classics. If there's anyone doing work remotely that good with ducks...well, it needs to be published in the US tout de suite!

TL;DR--I'll try to spotlight some good Italian stuff in the near future.

February 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm probably being harsh on Italian creators. I think it's because I read a little Paperinik New Adventures and the panel layout just made me want to murder the artists. There was a very alien feel to the way the story was being told, and I'm consistently told that it's one of the best things to come out of Disney. It's readable, enjoyable, but strange.

Can't wait to see GOOD stuff then!

February 9, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

I feel there will always be room (hopefully, lots of it) for European creators and stories in any future Disney line, just as I’d say it’s impossible to paint all European creators and stories with a single brush.

The Italians are “out-there” alright but, alternatively, so much of the stuff from Egmont looks like Barks – and in the dialoguing hands of someone who (frankly) “gives a shit” can also READ like Barks, or reflect the values of a modern American audience.

David Gerstein may be the BEST THERE IS at doing this. I’d include Jonathan Gray and myself as well. Back in the Gemstone days, Gary Leach. And Geoffrey Blum was the patron saint for us all.

Let’s go to cases, shall we? I’ll even limit it to stuff I’ve worked on.

Despite being ABOUT “aliens”, is the aforementioned “Synthezoid from the Deepest Void” REALLY that “alien” to the American audience? To me, it’s the kind of thing “Sixties Barks” might have done. Yes, I had to “fix” it a bit, but that should be transparent to any reader who doesn’t know me, or read Blogs that I post on.

The most wonderfully Barksian story I had the pleasure of working on was the one I called “A Game of One-Cupmanship”, a European story written and drawn by Kari Korhonen (UNCLE SCROOGE # 380). That’s the “free cup of coffee” tale, based on those ‘50s-era barks gag pages. Could anyone level the “alienatingly different” charge at that one? I think not.

Indeed, anything that comes from such talents as Lars Jensen, Gorm Transgaard, and Korhonen reads more Barksian / American than much of the original Duck output from Boom, which reads more like convoluted fanfic than entertainingly concise comic book stories. They DO need fixing in places. No doubt about that. But, again, get a skilled “fixer” and there’s no problem.

As for Scarpa… For the longest time, I was in the same camp as many of you. Too much gratuitous “weirdness for weirdness sake”. A general trait (more or less) of the Italian stories, overall.

But, at some point I came to the conclusion (…and please feel free to disagree) that the translators were the ones falling short – in conveying the lunacy Scarpa wished to impart to us.

When I finally had my opportunity to work on his stuff, I decided to “meet his madness head-on” and reflect or compliment – not mitigate – what he was trying to do.

For examples of what I mean, please refer to “The Pelican Thief” (UNCLE SCROOGE # 403, a book that leaves off my credit), where I took a simply awful English translation and loaded it up with more show business and political references than have ever appeared in a single Duck story. From riffs on Tex Avery, Susan Boyle, and Jay Leno to Alan Greenspan, Blackwater, and the T.A.R.P. Program and other bailouts, I took Scarpa’s lunacy and gave some of it back! It’s STILL not a great story, but read it and try to imagine it dialogued as it would have been earlier by Boom!

Scarpa’s “The Treasure of Marco Topo” (MICKEY MOUSE # 309 and WDC&S # 720) was superbly translated from Danish (not Italian) by David and we had the most fun imaginable dialoguing it… again, both of us just going with Scarpa’s madness.

Take the gratuitously weird scene at the lawyer’s office at the beginning of MM # 309. Here is where I gave Scarpa back every needlessly strange thing he threw at us! Someone else might not have “called his bluff” as I did – and the results would have been awkward, or at least more ordinary.

And, my previously mentioned fix to Scarpa’s “celebrity conundrum” in WDC&S # 720 was another case of my embracing the weirdness, rather than bucking against it. Does the “Embrace the Weirdness Theory” make sense to any of you? I’d like to know.

Please feel free to offer opposing views, but it’s nice to be able to discuss this before an interested and dedicated group. And, thanks to reviewordie for the kind words on my work.

February 9, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Joe, if I understand your theory aright, I believe I agree with it. It's better to revel in the weirdness and throw in random stuff that will surprise/delight the reader than to translate more straightforwardly and leave the reader going, "Huh?" But the best that approach can do for me personally is to give me a bit more enjoyment as I read the Scarpa story the one-and-only time I ever will read it. (I do remember laughing out loud at one of the political references, though I don't remember what it was.)

In the comments on GeoX's post on "Anti-Dollarosis," both Joe and Susan D-L opined that Scarpa did better by Mickey than he did by Scrooge. As I'm pretty much only a duckfan, I'll never spend the time/money to find out. I feel the same way about Mickey that Rosa does: Mickey never became a living character to me in my childhood, and still has not done so. Certainly the main reason is that Barks was way better at character-creation-through-narrative than the authors of the Mickey stories I read in childhood. Another reason for me as a girl may be that Mickey has no family, so it feels like a more exclusively male world. That is, it's just one guy, with guy pals and colleagues and a girlfriend, out doing stuff. While Barks did not do a great job with female characters (!), the fact that Scrooge and Donald have family connections, and that the three kids are central players in their adventures, made their characters/stories feel less stereotypically male. Donald is, after all, a single parent, and Scrooge is an uncle (dickish and exploitative though he often is), and though Rosa may sometimes have been a bit too sentimental in how he expressed it, he's right that Scrooge's family connections to Donald and the boys *do* redeem him and save him from ending his days as the Misanthrope of Bear Mountain. Anyway, I feel that (a) the role of HD&L as child protagonists and (b) the familial roles/relationships of Scrooge and Donald gave me as a girl-child an "in" which the Mickey stories did not provide.

February 9, 2012 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

It's a fair cop, vis-à-vis Mickey and gender. One thing I will say, though, is that if you read the old Gottfredson serials, you realize that Mickey's relationship with Minnie is actually pretty cool--they actually really *like* each other in a kind of sweet way, and they often work well together as equals. I'm certainly not saying it's wholly unproblematic, but when you compare it to Daisy hurling crockery at Donald because he got her the wrong birthday gift or whatever, the difference is notable.

February 9, 2012 at 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Rosa says that if he had grown up reading Gottfredson, perhaps Mickey would have become a real character to him. And in light of your observation, if I had grown up reading Gottfredson, perhaps Minnie's role and Mickey's relationship to her would have given me that "in" that I needed as a girl reader. Maybe. Like any girl, I learned to empathize and identify with male protagonists in books, comics and movies. But it did help if the male character was embedded in family or family-esque relationships. (Daisy didn't help much at all. I identified with her rarely--e.g., in the "Daringly Different" Daisy's Diary story, which doesn't concern her relationship with Donald. I did not identify with Daisy-as-girlfriend at all.) As a child in the world, and as the child of parents, I could identify with HD&L, much as I did with Little Lulu. And as a person with familial connections, I could identify with Donald more than with Mickey.

February 10, 2012 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Elaine writes:

“Joe, if I understand your theory aright, I believe I agree with it. It's better to revel in the weirdness and throw in random stuff that will surprise/delight the reader than to translate more straightforwardly and leave the reader going, "Huh?"”

Yes, that’s exactly it. It’s too bad you don’t read Mickey, because the “lawyer’s office” sequence in MM # 309 is a perfect example of what I’m saying.

For reasons known only to him, Scarpa chose to make the lawyer (for lack of a better term) “horror-obsessed” in the mood and décor of his chambers. It had NOTHING to do with the story or any element to come. Mickey didn’t have to spend the now-clichéd night in a haunted house, or anything. So, I met it head-on and tried to match Scarpa point for point.

Indeed I even HAD Mickey say: “I hope we don’t have to spend the night in some SPOOKY OLD MANSION to collect!”

I’d imagine others might have muddled though this really weird sequence, perhaps making excuses for it in the dialogue, before moving on to the main plot – that, again, had nothing to do with horror.

Instead, I named the lawyer “Karloff J. Kryptminder”, had Goofy wonder if the grizzly portraits adorning the halls were “the firm’s partners” and look for a sign that says “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here”!

Finally, the lawyer greets them with Alfred Hitchcock’s signature “Good Eve-ven-ing!” and admits that his horror trappings are: “Merely an amusement to FRIGHTEN OFF OLD LADIES AND CHILDREN! We ARE lawyers, after all!”

I couldn’t do anything about the weirdness – it was already there, so why not pump it up! I feel it makes for a better read that way!

As for your feeling on Mickey, get one of the Fantagraphics Gottfredson Mickey volumes, and that should change your mind. David Gerstein puts some amazing effort into these volumes. They are SOOOO worth it!


February 10, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I do read Mickey stories in the comics I buy, I just don't generally buy mostly-Mickey comics; but I did buy 309 in order to get the whole story. And yes, Joe, the lawyer's office sequence is an excellent example of your Scarpa-translation approach. Definitely superior to leaving a significant message in the art completely unjustified by the plot and unmentioned in the text. "Vistas of howling madness" is right, GeoX!

February 10, 2012 at 9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gottfredson stuff really is worth it. I adore the Mickey books and the relationship between Mickey and Minnie is done in a lovely way, and I only wish that the Barks books had been edited by Gerstein *sob*.

So... 'alien'. I definitely picked a more provocative word than intended... particularly with my own lack of experience. But I'm looking at a story I read once, The Lentils of Babylon. This is, quite frankly, my least favorite Duck story ever (not the worst, but it's my least favorite), for a number of reasons. But the reason most germane to this discussion is its pacing. I know it seems like I'm picking on Scarpa (guilty) but it's only because it's the only common reference point I have to offer.

Since I am being a huge dick to Scarpa when I talk about this, I will say he and my favorite Duck artist, Don Rosa, have two things in common: Their desire to tell long stories, and their unique voice. That unique voice is meaningful to people, and embracing weirdness, as Joe said, is what allows Scarpa's work to be appreciated by us English speakers. I don't think it's possible to mistake Scarpa's work for someone else's, anymore than you can mistake Rosa for another artist. That's a good thing. It means there is a desire for a unique, clear identity in their creative work, and the multitude of Disney comics out there CAN speak to different readers. Broadening a kid's horizons by exposing them to Scarpa, despite my personal lack of appreciation for his work, allows them to better appreciate a breadth of work.

I am currently on the 11th page of this... comic... and the action has just kicked, sort of, I think. But it draaaaaaaags. It drags like mad! (by the time I got to the end of this, I was on page 41 and the action had... I think... started completely)

The larger page count of Italian comics is of course the reason why he's taking his time. There is far less of a need to focus so strongly on economy of space and language when you have the ability to create 72 page stories. But that very breezy, meandering sensibility makes it difficult for me to get engaged as an adult, and would have tried my patience something fierce as a kid.

I read a lot of translated works, good and bad, comics, movies, TV, but I never feel like I'm watching something that my culture created. I still appreciate it, or I wouldn't read/watch and enjoy so much. And you can translate work in a very Barksian manner, flavor the dialogue, add gags, fudge the plot... but it will never 'feel' the same way as something created locally and in your time, because the sensibilities are different. My best experiences as a child were when I was able to create a connection to a comic where there was nothing but me and a story that felt like it was crafted for me to read and enjoy. I've still gotten that with translated work, don't mistake me, please! I'm not quite that ethnocentric. But it is very hard to deny that things created of your own culture, of your own time, have a stronger possibility of grokking with you.

To have good stories that are home-grown can give something that localized stories, or even reprints, are likely to give: Many of the reprints have influenced a current generation of writer/artists, and allow them to use those techniques better than those who came before.

If I were the editor of the line, I don't know what I would look for with American writers/artists, but I would certainly be interested to see what they could bring that hasn't been done before... and keep the reprints in too. :)

February 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Reviewordie: Once you;ve finished reading "Lentils," read David Gerstein's comment on it on this blog, in the comments under "Anti-Dollarosis."

February 10, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I'm just not sure what it would MEAN for a Disney comic to be "homegrown" in the US in this day and age. There's already a substantial number of contemporary American Disney-comic writers--the Blocks, the McGreals, Sarah Kinney, Dave Rawson, Janet and Michael T. Gilbert, John Lustig, and so on. These people are doing their thing, and I don't see how it makes a difference whether their stories are actually produced in the US. I suppose the fact that the artists are usually Europeans (or South Americans), and that they have European editorial oversight, probably makes some sort of difference, but I can't imagine that their work would look a whole lot different in any case.

February 10, 2012 at 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elaine, I just read them: And yeah. I have to agree. Thanks for pointing it out. :)

Geo, I think even if the artists were the same, much of the difference would probably be the audience, but that's just me. Honestly though, when I look at an example of a 'homegrown' Disney comic (as much as I am sure it is likely to be considered blasphemy to link them to 'classic' Disney work) I say that early Darkwing Duck is a great example of storytelling by way of modern, US sensibilities. It IS clearly a Disney comic. It feels like Ducks, at least to me. It's enjoyable for everybody, kids and adults. But there is a very distinctive way that the story is told because of a different kind of storytelling tradition, both artistically and in its writing style.

Such a style would, I believe, be well suited to Mickey Mouse stories in the vein of Gottfredson. And I don't think it's even remotely possible that such a thing would be published from Egmont based on comments Don Rosa got for his sequence in King of the Klondike.

... but considering Paperinik New Adventures, it probably coulda gotten published in Italy.

February 10, 2012 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Okay, now I’m confused!

In this thread, we seem to be holding up Barks and Rosa over European creators – being “homegrown” vs. “Alien”. I get that. I don’t fully agree with it, but I get it.

But now “The Disney Comic Book” (American version) should be like Boom’s Darkwing Duck?!

Really? How, in any way, is that reflective of the values of Barks and Rosa vs. the Europeans?

Good as that early DW stuff could be -- before it all came crashing down at the end – it was far more reflective of the values of Marvel and DC comics than what we know as a Disney comic – IF we are to hold Barks and Rosa as our standards.

If the aim is to REINVENT the “Disney comic”, I might understand, but the theme of this thread (certainly as *I* perceive it) is that “Those Euro Guys” just can’t evoke the same feelings as “Good ol’ Carl and Don”.

I’ll assume everyone involved has read “A Game of One-Cupmanship”, in UNCLE SCROOGE # 380.

If you didn’t peek at the credits, or make note of the “D” story code, does ANYONE see a reason this could not have been created by Barks – or Rosa, back when he was doing shorter gag stories?

My contributions aside, this wonderful tale was written and drawn by a lone European creator (Kari Korhonen) – just as Barks, Rosa, and Van Horn would have done.

Does this story NOT reflect the look, feel and values of an American Disney comic? It sure does! And far more than anything coming out of the Darkwing Duck title.

We don’t need Susan Daigle-Leach to “color me confused”.

February 10, 2012 at 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize for the confusion. I post this only to clarify what I meant, as clearly as possible.

But... yes, actually, that's very much what I meant. I think that a homegrown Duck/Mouse comic WOULD be more like Darkwing Duck specifically in the _way_ the story was told, because it's much more in line with general American comic book sensibilities.

And I'm not comparing it, or all of Europe, to Barks or Rosa, because doing so would be silly. Barks is a completely different kind of classical storyteller whose work could serve as easily as animation storyboards as a comic, and his last story (Horsing Around with History not withstanding) was in the 1960s. Don Rosa, while one of my favorite comic writer/artists ever, uses his layouts very methodically in a way which is (as I see it) far more similar to a newspaper strip than a typical comic book, which works because he is Don Rosa.

I'm not saying that DW is better than Barks or Rosa. I'm not saying DW is better than Scarpa, or Rota. Nor am I saying it is worse. But it probably reflects the typical US comics culture much more strongly _purely in the way the story was told_ than say, my favorite comic in the entire world, ever, 'Prisoner of White Agony Creek'.

When I say the way the story was told, I'm not talking about the contents. I'm talking about pacing, layout and aesthetics. The way motion is portrayed, the more dynamic panel shaping, the use of 'beat' panels for silence, among other things. And yes, partly the lack of one-and-dones. That serialized form of storytelling is as much an American aesthetic sensibility as anything.

I am not saying European stuff is bad. I am not saying I don't want to read it. I am not saying DW is like Barks or Rosa. I am not saying it is better than Barks or Rosa or Scarpa or anyone else, for that matter. I am, however, of the opinion that DW is more American in the way that its story is told, that it is in some ways better suited to a modern audience of children for the reasons above, and that I believe that Disney would be well suited to use American talent _as well as_ the work that's come from other, fantastically talented writers and artists around the world.

February 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Okay. Then, as I suggested above, your aim *IS* to “reinvent” the “American Disney comic”. To infuse it with more Marvel / DC sensibilities over the more “traditional” Dell / Gold Key / Gladstone / Gemstone sensibilities.

I don’t agree with that either, but I DO understand it.

But, because there was never a significant period of Disney comic books that had previously reflected these values – values that the great Stan Lee has held high since the early-mid 1960s – we ARE talking about a “reinvention”, and no longer bemoaning the fact that there are no new “Carls ‘n’ Dons” out there.

…Because that’s not the way “Carl ‘n’ Don” would have done it.

For the record, I don‘t think it’s such a bad idea to have the “two schools” co-exist, side-by-side. Indeed, we HAD that with Boom for a very short while. And, during that all-too-brief period, the first half of 2011, I feel we had one of the best overall Disney comic lines of modern times. …Then, Boom went and… Aw, you know! (Buncha words I can’t say on a Family Blog!)

What a thread this has been! Bet ya never thought we’d end up here, Geo!

February 10, 2012 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The serialization comment was really more of an afterthought, not the thesis of my post.

February 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

No, I certainly never expected a quick throwaway post like this to generate this sort of conversation.

I kind of see what you're saying, reviewordie, and I think I sort of kind of agree to an extent that maybe there's something intangible about the likes of Barks and Rosa (you might put the sadly few Block-drawn stories into this category too), but the argument is just so vague. Sure, there are some things that obviously have a very European sensibility that may be off-putting to American audiences (but let's leave aside that Duck Avenger stuff--I think that's a pretty significant outlier), but I think Joe's point is well-taken in this regard. If you were wholly unfamiliar with either artist, and someone showed you comics by William Van Horn and (to use Joe's example) Kari Korhonen--do you really think you'd immediately be able to pinpoint which one was created by an American? Really? Because maybe you're genuinely a lot more sensitive to these things than me and would have no trouble with it (not meant to be a snide comment--people have different aesthetic reactions, and that's fine), but I sure don't think I would. And (allowing for the fact that I may be somewhat lapsing into solipsism here) I kind of thing the great bulk of people wouldn't be able to either.

February 11, 2012 at 2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the post's original topic: I have heard that Don Rosa had once wanted to do a Paperinik/Duck Avenger story but he was forbidden to. Maybe they could have done the same if he wanted to do a sequel for the Micro-Ducks story. Unless he just had said he wanted to do a PK story just to please Italian fans and then realized it wasn't his style.
Funny, I wanted to get on the original topic and ended talking about italian stuff anyways. In that case: Read PKNA! Uno is so cool!

February 11, 2012 at 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

How to tell a European story from a made-in-the-USA story.... I was amused by the fact that, just as this discussion was going on, I was given a copy of the Danish Anders And 2011-29, which has a Neighbor Jones story written by Knut Naerum and very nicely drawn by Daan Jippes. The plot concerns Donald's attempts to get Jones to buy HD&L's JW cookies! Of course in the end Donald gets stuck buying the whole truckload. But it made me laugh, thinking of our discussion--to print this in the USA, you'd have to have it rewritten/redrawn with AM&J replacing HD&L, since boy scouts would never sell cookies. (I actually have, in Ludwig von Drake #1, a story wherein AM&J--not as Chickadees, but as girl scouts called "Red Robins"--are selling scout cookies!)

February 13, 2012 at 10:09 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Man, how come random strangers never come up and give ME Danish Disney comics? I must not be living right.

February 13, 2012 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

JW Cookies?

Returning to one of this massive thread’s original themes, there’s always a way to fix that!

How ‘bout, the cookies are the result of the ‘Chucks ability to whip up different foods in survival situations – and they’re SO GOOD at it that the end result is delicious (and non-fattening) COOKIES instead of the “Nuts and Berries” that even Yogi Bear traditionally turned up his nose at!

Or, better yet (if we MUST associate cookies with female organizations), the JWs lost a bet or competition to the Chickadees – and the result is that HD&L (and all the other disgraced and dismayed male ‘Chucks) have to SELL the cookies – maybe even within a stipulated interval of time, in order to save face.

With either scenario, you could also “layer-on” that there is a Woodchuck “Salesmanship Award or Merit Badge” at stake – and even give it a long Woodchuck acronym-type name!

Just find a dialogue balloon or balloons with enough existing space to handle the additional exposition. Jettison something else, if need be! If an editor is nice, he/she might even add a caption for you!

And, THAT, on the fly – mind you – is how you “fix” a story with inappropriate or inconsistent elements to it! The art doesn’t change… The art NEVER changes, so forget adding AM&J, and the basic plot of the original authors doesn’t change, but we now have a reason for HD&L to be selling cookies.

Feel free to offer some fixes of your own!

February 14, 2012 at 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Joe, on "the art never changes"...I recently found out from INDUCKS that "Spirited Drizzlepuss," a Mickey water-ghost story with art by Bill Wright, was re-written/re-drawn by Nils Rydahl with ducks! DD for MM, HD&L for Goofy. So that's what I was thinking about when I suggested re-writing/drawing the cookies story. But I'm sure that the general rule is as you say.

The cookies come in boxes, which come in truckloads, so I think your second fix would work better than your first. :)

GeoX, my friend who went to Denmark for an academic conference was nice enough to go to a comic book store for me with my want list. (Of course, it's Denmark, so there was a great comic book store three blocks from his hotel!) From my want list, the only thing he could find was the issue with Rota's first Zampata story...but then he also got me these three summer 2011 issues which were packaged with a three-volume edition of Rosa's Life & Times, so I now have that in Danish. I am here to report that in Denmark, Matilda is a redhead and Hortense is a blonde. Perhaps the Europeans do not have the association of red hair with temper? (I speak as a redhead, myself.)

February 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Elaine writes:
“The cookies come in boxes, which come in truckloads, so I think your second fix would work better than your first. :)”

And that’s why my first step is always to evaluate the story as a whole – for “off vs. on-target” characterization, consistency with Barks and other established canon, and for logic of plot.

I feel it’s part of the job -- and is part of the FUN of performing this particular function. It never fails to show, when this is not done. Feel free to pick certain issues of recent years, where this is not so. I ain’t pickin’ ‘em for you – but you’ll KNOW ‘EM when you seem ‘em! And, when you work with a like-minded editor like David Gerstein, it’s all the MORE fun!.

February 15, 2012 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...


I strongly regret being so embarrassingly late to this party. But the discussion is one of that's of vital importance to me.

reviewordie, your ideas for, and wants of, Disney comics strike me as similar to the inclinations, preferences, and "If only..."'s that I've had pretty consistently throughout the years.

That said, like Joe, I don't want to betray tradition. I don't want to relive the phase in which BOOM! saturated the "classic" titles with the likes of Double Duck and Ultraheroes.

(cont. in next post ... for some reason, I've been having trouble posting all of this at once ...)

February 22, 2012 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

(cont. from previous post)

Another point which I'd be cautious about: "I'm talking about pacing, layout and aesthetics. The way motion is portrayed, the more dynamic panel shaping, the use of 'beat' panels for silence, among other things." In many ways, I'm with you here, reviewordie. But mimicking the layout approach of mainstream U.S. publishers -- which is pretty much what BOOM!'s Darkwing did -- if not handled by an absolute masters of story pacing, I believe can actually result in there being overall less content per page, and, ultimately, per issue!

(cont. in next comment)

February 23, 2012 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Ryan Wynns said...

(cont. from previous post ... AT LAST!)

(I regret having taken so long to post the rest of this. When I posted the first two sections, as seen above, I was having various complications that I think may have stemmed from my browser not being up-to-date, or something. Then, to make matters worse, I've been traveling/away the past six days, and haven't until now had Internet access on my laptop -- where the Word document I'd written this in was saved.)

Anyway ...

(still re: pacing, layout, and aesthetics) I'd opine that a straightforward, steady sequence of panels that rarely vary in shape and size and are distinctly separated by the white space of the page between them borders on being the "true nature" of -- or at least a tried-and-true approach to -- these comics in particular, and the craft of funny animal/humor comic (strip or "book") cartooning in general. This style harkens back to -- of course -- the greats, Barks and Gottfredson.

In the modern era, Rosa is brilliant at slowing a visual gag down across several panels, comparable to Sergio Aragonés. While certainly not as hyper and tense as Rosa's or Aragonés' poses and representative momentum can be, Gottfredson and Taliaferro did that kind of thing, too.

For far too long, I was kind of indifferent to many of the shorter European stories printed in turn by Gladstone, Disney Comics, and Gemstone. In a blanket way, I'd dismissed them as too light-hearted and silly. In the past couple years, I've become at least a bit enlightened, and realized how well-written and well-drawn many of them truly are. They can even be subtly satirical.

But where I'm with you is in wanting (at least, I think this is part of what you're saying -- correct me if I'm wrong!) is more "serious", "epic" adventures (and mystery, in Mickey's case) stories with a sense of high stakes -- erring on having a high page count, possibly serialized.

What bothers me about a lot of the modern European stuff is that so many of the stories are overly spoofy and "wacky", to the point where they're almost trying too hard. Many of the stories in Gemstone's Adventures digest titles (I'll refer to their kind as being of the Topolino school) swung heavily toward being farce/parody. Also, their attempts at being "modern" and "hip" can come off as trite and shallow. (A lot of the material in those titles still had their merits; don't get me wrong. I wouldn't make these same accusations of, say, Jippes or Branca. In other words, I'm sort of talking the Topolino school vs. the Egmont school.)

What you're suggesting, I see as, if realized to fruition, being COMPLETELY in the tradition of these comics, harkening back to "Pirate Gold" and "Race to Death Valley". In their adventure (or mystery, in some cases) stories, Barks and Gottfredson, to a certain and large extent, played it STRAIGHT. Recently, reading Volume 2 of Fantagraphics' Gottfredson collection, this point really hit home. The story's drama, in Mickey striving to help the orphans and the urgency of his effort to capture Pete and Shyster so as to clear Horace's and his own name seems REAL; the stakes are regarded with considerable gravity. However, the Topolino school tends to approach adventures, action/thriller, mystery, sci-fi, etc. more as Rocky and Bullwinkle would!

So, when reviewordie wrote, “Such a style would, I believe, be well suited to Mickey Mouse stories in the vein of Gottfredson”, I want to lunge to my feet, applaud, and shout, “YES!!! THANK YOU!!! FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE NOTICED!!!!!!!

-- Ryan

February 28, 2012 at 4:06 PM  

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