Friday, August 17, 2012

"The Strange Tragedy of Doctor Donaldus Faustus"

If you haven't downloaded this yet, you can do it here.  IT IS YOUR DESSSSSSTINYYYYYY!!!

UPDATE, 01/24/14: I've completely revised this translation; the link now goes to the better version.  You can read all about it here.

I am very keenly aware that me writing about a story that I translated using my own script is the very definition of "masturbatory."  Obviously, however, that is not going to stop me.  I think it's an interesting story worth writing about.  I'm not going to try to follow all the story's twists and turns, because it gets kind of convoluted, and besides, there's no reason for you not to have read it if you want to.  I will note, however, that when you think about it, you realize that the plotting is surprisingly sophisticated.  Everything really fits together--as compared to Bottaro and Chendi's "Donald Duck on Treasure Island," which is pretty haphazard.

The French title of this story--which, like "Sandoduck," makes me question the acuity of Hachette's editors--is "Donald Contre le Diabolique Docteur Faust," and I don't think you need to have any French to realize the two major issues here; ie, A) Donald isn't "against" Faust; he IS Faust; and B) He's not "diabolical" by any reasonable standard.  I have the sneaking suspicion that somebody somehow got Faust confused with Mephistopheles; supporting evidence for this would be the image that was chosen to represent the story on the cover, featuring Faustus breaking the flute over Mephistopheles' head.  Hmm, I say.

(Faust or Faustus? Goethe or Marlowe?  Well, the story doesn't exactly have a lot to do with either, but the fact that Marguerite is not a character in Marlowe might seem to indicate the former.  The original Italian refers to him as "Paperus," however, indicating a preference for Faustus.  Ultimately, it's kind of a toss-up; I just went for "Faustus" because that way you can just add an "-us" to "Donald" and have a nice symmetry.)

Of course, we open with our friend Mr. Framing Device.  It's quite amazing how many illustrious ancestors Donald has had, from all different cultures.  It's hard to see how this exactly works, chronologically--it's a bit like the Castlevania series, in which someone new has to head on down to defeat Dracula seemingly every other week.

This is one place where I completely changed the dialogue, on the basis that the French version is obscure and borderline nonsensical.  I'm not saying my version is a deathless work of genius, but at least it makes sense, right?  It accords with the action shown in the panels.

Here's how the French dialogue for the above panels goes:

Louie: Is this historic as well?
Donald: Of course! Recall the famous words of Pier Donaldo Capponi…
Louie: If you play the trumpet, I'll play the mandolin!
Donald: Indeed! That's one of the mandolins of our famous ancestor!

Now, I did figure out what this means, more or less.  The Wikipedia pages says, of this Capponi character:

The Florentines were willing to pay him a large sum of money, but in settling the amount further disagreements arose. Charles, who was full the Medici's promises, made exorbitant demands, and finally presented an ultimatum to the signory, who rejected it. "Then we shall sound our trumpets," said the king, to which Capponi replied "And we shall toll our bells," and tore up the ultimatum in the king's face.

…but seriously, who in God's name is possibly going to get a reference that ridiculously obscure?  And even if you do, what's funny about it?  Why does Louie seem to think that this is some kind of hilarious joke?  I can only assume that this exchange was translated directly from Italian to French, since it's impossible for me to believe that a French translator would independently hit on a line referencing some Florentine politician.  Well, THE CYCLE ENDS HERE, DAMMIT. 

So ANYWAY, the story gets going with this Scrooge/Beagle conflict.  I must say, I'm a huge fan of this green-clad Beagle leader guy, and of the Beagles in general in this story.  They seem more, I don't know…capable, perhaps? sophisticated?…than usual in this story.  If I had to fight in this war, I'd definitely want to be on Team Beagle, is all I'm saying.

(And I know it's terribly gauche to laugh at one's own jokes, but to me, that line in the second panel there is the funniest thing in the story.)

…and I swear I won't keep digressing like this, but this was another place where I felt moved to change something that didn't make sense: in the French, Scrooge is like, grrr! If I let you get away with this, next time it'll be two fake coins, then three, and pretty soon they'll ALL be fake, and the Beagle's like, yup, that's the idea--leading to the question: uh…why is Scrooge willing to keep on doing business with them if they telegraph their intention to rip him off more every time?  Guh?  Is the idea that he makes all his money dealing with the Beagles?  Not even slightly plausible, and even if so, that economic relationship would be pretty difficult to convey within the limits of this dialogue.  I just threw the whole notion out.

(The coins are called "écus" in French, but for a Faust story, something more Germanic seemed appropriate.)

Here's where you can really see Bottaro's aristry--just look how intricate that battle scene is, and then, for contrast, note the scene of not-giving-a-shit, which is quite funny.  My favorite bit is the grinning Beagle chasing a butterfly.  It would be nice if real wars could just peter out like this, but nooooo, you always have your fuckstick generals stirring things up and making sure that as much pointless slaughter as possible happens.

A story like this really bends under the weight of its contradictions: on the one hand, it's a long war, fercryinoutloud; people are obviously being killed.  If they weren't, why would the demons care so much about it?  And yet…it's a Disney comic, so you can't actually show people getting killed, and the attitudes of the opposing Beagles and ducks are antagonistic, but not really in a murderous way.  So if you think too much about it, the whole thing's just gonna fall apart.  I may have exacerbated this a bit by having Mephistopheles and Hazel specifically talk about how the war's gonna bring more souls their way, but it was never gonna be unproblematic. 

Another thing to note is that the soldiers in Scrooge's army are apparently of a different subspecies than the regular duck characters--note their thinner and longer beaks.

Yes, obviously, ANTRIP is my own thing; the French group is called "SOURD," "deaf," resulting in obvious zany misunderstandings.  We'll say no more about it.  I am really not sure about this idea of showing old-Faustus constantly looking so unutterably depressed and beaten-down.  Sure, it creates a kinda neat contrast when he becomes young again, but golly--the ending of this story isn't too cheerful as it is, and that is only (unnecessarily, I would argue) exacerbated by depicting him like this.

I wanted to include a line or two from Faustus's terrifying final monologue at the end of Marlowe's play, and this seemed like the only really appropriate place for that.  I really like the effect; I think it goes well with the art.  If you'd read this in French, all you'd've gotten would've been "No! Help me!"  My version is what we call VALUE for MONEY!

I also like all these crazy demons getting into the game.

It's kind of amazing to consider that Bottaro was also responsible for the art in that woeful "Mr. Duck" story.  I would argue that this image of Donaldus sobbing is the only place we can really see the resemblance.  An' thank goodness for that!

Hokay, let me talk a bit about the use of profanity of a sort in this story.  I should state up front that I think Scrooge calling the Beagles "bastards" in the above panel is the one thing in my script for which there's really no possible justification, unless "I thought it was funny" counts--I just liked the abrupt tonal shifts, so I went with it (I definitely had the classic "letter to Neil's bank manager" sequence from The Young Ones in the back of my mind).  Mea culpa!

Of course, the script also contains a fair few references to Hell and damnation and the like (some of this was present in the French, but I'm not going to sit here and deny that I played it up a bit).  Now…that sorta goes with the territory, I think.  Seems to me that the absence of stuff like that would call attention to itself more pointedly than its presence.  Also, for the record, I would like to note that I did not pioneer the use of "damn" as an expletive in a duck comic.  Certainly, I could have excised all this stuff; kept the story thoroughly G-rated (well, maybe not quite--the mere presence of all these demons along with the somewhat violent fight scenes still probably would've bumped it up a notch).  Indeed, reviewordie suggested as much, noting that it would be similar to the way various old Japanese videogames were bowdlerized for US release.  That would certainly have been an interesting stylistic exercise, but in the end, I thought, hell--as long as I have complete editorial freedom, I might as well just run with it, as long as I don't do anything that seems really jarringly out-of-place.  And to me, nothing does.  Your mileage may vary of course.

…but forget all that; from my perspective, this is the bit that should really excite comment, if anything should.  This is the kinda language that back in the day woulda gotten you burned at the stake if you used it at the wrong place and time, or at least locked in the stocks for a fun day as a rotten-fruit target.  Here's my thinking: this story is actually quite goofy in many ways, but it's still a burlesque on the Faust legend--and to my mind, this burlesque is more effective if there's some sense that it's playing off of something real and serious, as opposed to something that was never anything more than a silly joke.  Compare, for instance, Barks' more historically-grounded treasure hunts to the sort of floaty, all-made-up stuff you'd get in a Ducktales episode.  The latter can be okay in its own right, but it's never going to have the same sort of resonance.  

So, in this instance, Mephistopheles may be a cartoon character, but he's still a denizen of Hell, and no joke.  Lines like this remind you of that, and the other advantage is that they're sufficiently archaic that they don't really signify in the same sense that they would've a thousand years ago, so you can stick 'em in a story like this without (hopefully) inciting too much outrage--an instance of sort of being able to have your cake and eat it too.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Here's a really inexplicable bit.  In the French text, the knight is just saying "I'd love to, but I don't think my wife would like that."  So…what?  Is this picture on his chest meant to be said wife?  His wife's a man?  Is this is a lady knight or a gay knight?  In either case, why would s/he want a picture of his/her significant other looking so angry?  Or is it just that this is a SHORT knight, and that's his actual face?  In which case, the joke is…what, exactly?  Very odd.  As you can see, I just went with Absurdist Non-Sequitur.

Hey, did I note that Witch Hazel is in this story?!?  Well, she is!  And this is her last appearance in it before she just sorta vanishes!  Note that this is only her second European story (the first, also a Bottaro/Chendi thing, has never been released outside of Italy).  Also note (yeah, I'm just free-associating here) that her second appearance ever was pretty much the most ultra-obscure thing in the world: a 3-D Cheerios giveaway that has never been reprinted anywhere in any form ever.  Dammit, now I want to read that shit.

Hazel doesn't make a huge impression in this story, but somehow I like her anyway--maybe just residual goodwill from "Trick or Treat" and those Bloch stories she enlivened.  When you think about it, you gotta figure that if Magica had existed at the time when these stories had been written, she almost certainly would've taken Hazel's place, and the character would never have achieved whatever level of prominence she did.  I like to think that after this story, she broke off her affiliation with Hell and became an independent mischief contractor.

Everything is just so goshdarned happy!  I love this armistice stuff...

…but then, things get real dispiriting real fast.

NOW LOOK: I'm aware that we have this tendency to want to see Dark Sides to things; to believe that things have been sanitized and that saints are really sinners.  To a great extent, this seems to me to be a healthy attitude; people really will cover up some dark shit because they want to maintain an image.  It's not to condemn them unilaterally to note that most of America's founders were slave owners; it's merely to recognize that they weren't plaster saints, and maybe the way we in the US fetishize them goes a li'l bit overboard at times.  Still, sometimes this tendency can get pretty stupid, as with the idiotic urban legends about Fred Rogers having had a criminal past or been some sort of sniper or having flipped off the audience at the end of his last show--sure, we like to be cynical, but man, sometimes you just have to accept that things are what they seem to be, meaning, in this case, that Mr. Rogers really was one of the most profoundly decent people to ever live.

Um…where was I going with this?  Right, okay.  So another sort of manifestation of this is the people who claim that there are subliminal dirty messages in Disney movies.  This isn't always quite the same mindset as the attitude I described above; it's often more a matter of wanting to feel offended/persecuted, and the people doing it are often probably the same scary lunatics shrieking about how their baby dolls are trying to make their children into Muslims.  Still, a similar thing; there's the whole "HA! You think Disney is so wholesome and g-rated, well WHAT IF YOU KNEW THAT ALADDIN WAS EXHORTING KIDS TO GET NAKED WHAT THEN HUH HUH HUH?!?"  This shit always annoys me, because it relies on people being willfully stupid because it fulfills some sort of unhealthy psychological need.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, if there's some innocuous explanation for what exactly that bump just to the left of Satan's right knee there is…well, I don't know what it is.  It sure looks to me as though Bottaro put one over on the censors, for whatever reason.

…but seriously, isn't this just about the most depressing conclusion to any Disney comic ever?  Good lord.  Okay, granted, given that he was given the gift of youth by the forces of hell, repercussions of some sort are inevitable.  At least he doesn't lose his soul (though that's another thing--the idea that Satan wouldn't want it because it's too "noble" doesn't really fly--I would've thought that would be the kind he wanted the most)!  Still, I dunno…if the story were longer, he could reap his rewards for a while until the devils come to collect, and then something could be figured out.  People who aren't familiar with the particulars are often surprised to learn that in Goethe's drama, Faust is actually spared from hellfire in the end (for those interested, there's an interesting discussion of Goethe's Faust and its relation to modernity in Marshall Berman's classic study All That Is Solid Melts Into Air).  I'm just saying.  It doesn't have to be as grim as possible.

I really like Dewey's pole-axed expression there.  His reaction mirrors my own.  I tried to soften the blow slightly by tossing in the thing about ANTRIP--at least he gets SOME small recognition!  

(You people are aware that "Gontran" is Gladstone's French name, right?  Inducks tells me that his Swedish name is "Alexander Lukas," which I find inexplicably hilarious.)

HEY, WE CAN DREAM, RIGHT?!?  I figured maybe I could help the process along by sheer force of will.  Can't hurt.

I've gone through this story so many damn times in editing it that I probably won't need to read it again in one long-ass time.  And no doubt part of the reason I like it so much is just because it feels like one of those stories that THEY don't want you to read (don't ask me who "they" are.  I just work here).  Still, for whatever reason, I like it a lot, and you've gotta read things like this if you really want to understand the full breadth of what people can do with Disney comics.

Also, I had a total fucking blast giving it an English script.  You can definitely expect something else like this from me in the future, though I can't quite say what or when.

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Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

I hope to finally download it this weekend, when I have time. Looking forward to seeing your efforts. Next time, post it somewhere with a link. Easier and quicker for us guys on the go! :-)

August 17, 2012 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

…And, there’s nothing wrong with writing about your own work, if it’s work you’re proud of!

August 17, 2012 at 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do love the art on this comic, for 1958 especially this is some outstanding work. The modern coloring really makes the it that much better. My biggest laugh was when I saw that Donald realized (like the author) that there's no way to put a happy spin on the ending of this tale, so he admits it, gives up, and the comic ends. One wonders if they ended up writing themselves in to a corner after they sold the pitch and just couldn't bear to Disney-ify the ending. Oh the irony, it's so delicious.

It really is a lot of fun to read, and said total fucking blast you had shines in the script. If you're going to do more of these, I will most certainly read them.

August 17, 2012 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Geo writes:

“I can only assume that this exchange was translated directly from Italian to French, since it's impossible for me to believe that a French translator would independently hit on a line referencing some Florentine politician. Well, THE CYCLE ENDS HERE, DAMMIT.”

Good for you! That’s EXACTLY what a good local scripter is supposed to do.

Part of the job is always being faced with nonsensical and illogical aspects to a story - -or things that only make sense in their local language and culture. It’s the local scripter’s job to “rip and replace” with something logical, culturally familiar, and (hopefully) funny in combination!

This is never more needed than in working with Italian stories. …And, that’s how we ended up with “Calisota Shore” in the final issue of WDC&S. (…Love it or hate it!)

August 17, 2012 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


My two-scripting cents:

It’s a bit sad that you didn’t make the effort to write within the established parameters of the Disney comic book. The profanity and Christ references don’t really add anything that wouldn’t have been made up for by the extra dash of cleverness that “deftly writing around them” would require.

That said, and I as noted in my comment above, you do seem to know where to “assert yourself” and where to let the original authors carry the weight. That’s always a good thing, when preparing a script for localized consumption.

My favorite instance being: “I’d love to, but as you can see, I’m just a vengeful disembodied spirit in a suit of armor!” It’s both a great line AND a wise substitution over the original.

BTW, that floating head COULD be of a frowning old prune of a wife – and maybe that’s why he’s so Hen(spirit)-pecked.

You’d probably not get away with it in “real life”, but the last-panel reference to a new comics publisher was WONDERFUL! The kind of thing *I’D* try to slip in – and get nixed on.

The nephews’ collective line in response is almost foo flat, in view of this cleverness. I’d go for broke and have them trailing off playing on the publisher bit.

“…Yeah… Gemstein, Boomstone, Gladhand, or something. We’ve lost track by now!”

AND WE FADE OUT! (…Again, you’d never get away with it, but as long as we’re dreaming! )


August 17, 2012 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thank you for the feedback! It's appreciated.

As far as language goes, I feel like I may have been pointlessly overemphasizing the issue even by talking about it this much--we are, after all, talking about a grand total of three "damns" in the whole story, along with two small bits of archaic blasphemy. I do understand your perspective. It probably doesn't make a massive difference one way or the other, but I basically stand by what I said. It would certainly be possible to get to a point where it's just pointlessly distracting, but as it stands, I think there are at least arguable thematic justifications, and really...would anybody even be spending time thinking about it if I would just shut UP about it already? :p

August 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Looking at is as an editor might, I would have come to the same conclusion, whether or not you called attention to it. After a while you just begin naturally thinking in terms of “The Rules”. Besides, there’s a lot of good there, beyond that one aspect.

Oh, looking more closely at the art, I would have concluded the nephews’ alternate final line (about the different publishers) with “Let’s go!” To indicate that they were happy to be on their way to the comics shop, after the downer ending of the flashback tale, and better match the art.

August 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I absolutely get your point (and I certainly wouldn't have tried some of what I did had this been intended for publication); it's probably not worth arguing about. And yeah, I surely could've gone a bit further with the ending. As I'm sure I don't have to tell you, the best lines aren't necessarily the ones that immediately pop into your mind.

August 17, 2012 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

...and just to say, if I haven't made it clear, I DO appreciate your kind words--I admire your writing, so that means a lot.

August 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Thank you, Geo! That means a lot "back"!

August 17, 2012 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Well If there is one character who should have an Erection in a Disney comics it's sure should be Satan himself...

August 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone's said THAT...

August 17, 2012 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

My two favorite things (and this was before I read this post, so not determined by your choice of excerpts): the Beagle's line about the eject lever, and the scene where the armies are barely pretending to fight. That's one of the funniest scenes for art alone that I've seen in a long while.

I can see how you're seeing the bump in Satan's drapery, but I actually see it as the place where the wrap is hitched up at his waist on his left (our right) side. It's an odd arrangement of cloth, at any rate. I'm assuming he has a kilt/skirt thing going around his lower body, and a sort of train-like extension from the bottom edge of one side of that kilt is pulled up to his arm, with a sleeve-hole through it to hold it there. Can't be very functional.

August 17, 2012 at 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just managed to get a hold of a complete 40 volume set of "Disney clasicos de la literatura". published in spain, it's a collection of classic (and not so classic) tales based on literature.

I've just skimmed through a few of them, but they seem promising; I'm going to start scanning them for archival purposes, but perhaps I'll translate a bit for those in english speaking countries who have never seen these.

Bravo again on the Dr. Faustus story, GeoX!

August 17, 2012 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Cool--hope there's some good stuff there. I only really liked a few of the stories in the (substantially abridged) English version of that series, but I'm sure at least some of that comes down to the lousy English scripts more than anything else. Anything you should translate I wold of course be extremely interested to see.

August 17, 2012 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a site of my own, so I'll leave a link here on your comments section some day whenever I get around to it.
Don't expect it for a while, though (couple months at least).
Just trying to do my part for Disney comics readers who deserve to get some "new" material while we wait for a publisher.
Been a long time reader here, and occasional anonymous commenter; keep up the good work :)

August 18, 2012 at 3:54 AM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


Very nice job on the translation. When I translated "The Great Paint Robbery," I took pretty much the same approach -- relatively straightforward dialogue with the occasional verbal gag to punch things up.

I'm not that bothered by the language issue. Just as it was argued above that "only Satan" could possibly have an (apparent) erection in a Disney comic, one could argue that "only a denizen of Hell" could use such language as "by the body and blood of Christ!" and get away with it. Scrooge's use of "bastards" was a throwaway, and thus OK. Plus, given the large number of medieval Beagles and the unknown nature of their parentage -- I'm discounting the existence of a Ma Beagle equivalent in this time and place -- Scrooge may literally have been describing the Beagles' legal status correctly!


August 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Richie said...

Instances such as "bastards", "by the body and blood of Christ" and especially "ROFLMAO" (Which literally made me LOL) were excellent "bonuses" to this script; given how it ain't an official one, and we aren't bound to get one anyway, it was the right choice to go the extra mile in the fun-department, for the amusement of all us Disney comics' fans. Besides, it's not like such liberties dominated the dialogue; a "bonus" here, another there.

Excellent localization, as I perhaps awkwardly commented on the original entry, and I more than encourage your plans to give another go to these kind of projects in the future. I'll be here.

I ain't one for ruining perverted fun but I think that "bump" within Satan's lap doesn't exist. Try and look at it as if that line defined his leg's joint with his body, I think that makes sense. Unless dropping souls into a cauldron of lava awakens, ahem, spicy emotions on 'ole Satan's mind!

As for the story itself, I think it was a real ballsy move to end it so tragically...and definitely for the best. It elevates the story and gives it a lot of punch. Not one I'll be forgetting anytime soon! The real ending is weak, standard slapstick/shallow Daisy stuff (and apparently she can sneak into Don's house as she pleases, I don't see Donald giving her a key) but the dialogue saves it :D

Great effort, Chendi, Bottaro and GeoX!

August 18, 2012 at 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, I've been a lurker at your Blog for a little while now and thought I'd like to leave a comment to say a big 'Thank You' for this.

I've recently been getting into the Disney comics thanks to the Fantagraphics publications, which I've been really enjoying. I've been interested in the parody comics but very few seem to have an English translation, so I very much appreciated the time you've spent translating this.

So, yeah, just wanted to say thanks =)

August 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

You are welcome! Thanks to all for the feedback.

August 19, 2012 at 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a fan of Disney comics and I want to say "thank you" for this english translation of one of the best italian parodies.
However there's a second part created by Bottaro only. Published in Italy in the early 2000.

Translation of the title "Donald and the story's sequel" (it lose tons of appeal in english, I fear, apart from my terrible english :)

August 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thanks, and thanks for the info--I'm incredibly curious about this sequel, and you'd better believe I'll be all over that if it's published in French. Which it might well be--looks like it was just published in Germany, Denmark, and Poland earlier this year, so maybe there's more to come.

August 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you're right about a French publication...I'll wait the sequel's translation :)
However be ready: the sequel is good, but a step below the original.

About the "bump", sorry but I have to say a big no. I think they know too well the "Disney rule": use imagination at will but don't break the taboo (sex, death, obscenities...). Bottaro created his own comics for child so he was even more sensible about that.

My two cents, of course ;)

August 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Y'all are spoilsports. Alas, you're probably right, but I must admit, no matter how many angles I consider it from, I can't quite see the "family-friendly" interpretation.

August 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Paperus said...

Speaking of the sequel, I could try and translate directly the Italian version to English. But it is in the original "Topolino" format, not the edited version I think was published in Germany/Denmark/Poland.

August 20, 2012 at 2:49 AM  
Anonymous Paperus said...

Here is a demo of what it would look like:

Let me know if you're interested! ;D

August 20, 2012 at 3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course we are, but you don't have to thank us ;)

History isn’t family-friendly, but is taught in schools. It's a matter about target audience: little boys, preadolescents...I always see the parodies also like a little teaching lesson. Before or after the story a note "Ehi boy, this story is inspired by Goethe's work".
Reader's reaction could be:
1) I don't give a cra...ehm a thing
2) Well, maybe when teacher will speak about literature it'll be less boring…just a little

August 20, 2012 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Naturally I'm interested--go for it!

August 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Natteravn said...

Joe Torciva: "Part of the job is always being faced with nonsensical and illogical aspects to a story - -or things that only make sense in their local language and culture. It’s the local scripter’s job to “rip and replace” with something logical, culturally familiar, and (hopefully) funny in combination!"

What?! No. No, NO! By doing so, the entire work is changed! Yes, sometimes it can be for the better, but that's not a translation anymore, it's a completely different peace of work. More like an adaptation really, and you take away the original author's contribution and the whole "feel" that you only get from reading something from a different culture than your own. "Culturally familiar" is safe, sound and boooring. I can't even see the point, if you want to read a story like that, write your OWN story. Just consider how vast and culturally diverse the entire English speaking world is, Australia, America, England, Louisiana, Alaska, LA, NY, etc. They ALL have completely different cultural mores, references, etc., should a story written by a someone in Toronto be "translated" for a reader in Sidney ? Think about it, the specific local references is "flavour", or "setting", and I would say they are just as important part of a story as anything else.
And consider "The past is a different country", should we rewrite stories from past eras as well?
No matter how much I love the Sherlock series, for instance, I would never accept them as a substitute for the original books if they had been published in written form. They are a Version of the original stories, but they are NOT the original stories in themselves.
Now, I'm not criticizing this translation, it's fun and it works, but it's not official.
Had it been an official translation I would feel quite differently.

March 10, 2014 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

These are issues that I've thought about a lot. I don't have a PhD in literature for nothing. I don't want to get too deep into the weeds here, but I do think that there's something fundamentally different about a comic than there is a literary text. With the latter the text--ie, the writing--IS the text, but with a comic, the writing itself is only a part of the whole (I know I know, I'm not saying anything that's not obvious). And in that case, how important IS it that said writing, in translation, slavishly follow the original? I agree that you want to keep the general "feel" of the original, and I kind of think Joe overstates the case a bit (after all, part of the reason I started translating stories was that I LIKED how weird and alien some of them felt), but at the same time…I've read my fair share of stories that are pure, bare-bones translations from the Italian (just about any British-published story is going to be like this), and I've got to tell you…they're pretty damned inert. I don't want to efface the writer's intention, but at the same time I don't think it does that intention any favors to just leave it to fend for itself when it clearly needs help, and yes, I realize that that sounds awfully presumptuous ("so what--you're saying you're a better writer than Bottaro now?"), but that's just where the logic leads me no matter how many times I go over it. An official American translation (assuming it was done by a Gemstone-like company in the tradition begun by Geoffrey Blum) wouldn't be quite as outré as mine (since I'm working without editorial restrictions), but I'm pretty sure it would be in the same general vicinity, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Like it or not, I don't think anyone would characterize my work here as "culturally familiar" in a US context.

March 11, 2014 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Hi! I'm an Italian Disney comics fan, and I wish to make a comment about the jokes you disliked:

1) the sentence of Pier Capponi about trumpets and bells was very well known by Italian students in the time the story was written; the joke is about the substitution of bells with mandolins in such a famous sentence, that sounds immediately weird to an Italian reader an therefore comic :)

2) about the knight in the armor's wife: yes, the knight carries a picture of his wife close to him. The reason why the picture is so ugly is that his wife IS actually an ugly and irascible person, and that's also the reason why the knight fears her reaction about her husband going to save a beautiful maid. I've found it funny :)

And about the letter dictated by Scrooge... I find your "translation" much more funny than the original text, so I offer you my congrats :D

May 1, 2014 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

You wrote: "Yes, obviously, ANTRIP is my own thing; the French group is called "SOURD," "deaf," resulting in obvious zany misunderstandings".

I don't understand where the misunderstanding woul be :/
Can you explain?

May 1, 2014 at 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone already told you… it is SUPPOSED TO BE his wife in the knight suit.

Also, you said you love the story. Well, it seems that the publishers liked too, as there has been a sequel made to that story ! But, still not translated in french… 'm waiting for it…And I suppose you will be waiting too now !

April 27, 2015 at 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am starting exploring some Classic Disney comics in this period of my annoying life (particularly Barks and Gottfredson), and from this perspective I find your blog an entertaining reading. so thank for that. also, I would like to thank you for these translations of yours. Actually I am Italian, but I do not live in Italy right now, and when I was a kid I did not read any of those parodies. Mainly because in the middle 90's they were usually republished in books a little bit more expensive that the regular "Topolino"...and I was not into Disney stuff enough to ask mum to buy me those too! So how cool to discover some of them now in these way!

Anyway, I want to point out that there is something strange in the way you translated the name of Scrooge's character. The Italian "de", as appears for instance in "Paperone de Paperoni", is the exact correspondent of the Scottish "Mc" (or the Dutch "van", or the German "von", and so on). So you should have translated here just Scroogus McDuckus, rather than Scroogus de McDuckus.

August 18, 2015 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thanks for your kind words--how cool to introduce stories to an actual Italian person! And fair enough on the correction--I'm not one hundred percent sure what I was going for there.

August 18, 2015 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

About the sequel… I haven't read it but strolling around the Italian Papersera allowed me to find out a little more about it.

— The frame sequence here is Huey, Dewey and Louie finding an old scroll in their attic where more of Prof. Donaldus's adventures are told. The story takes place about ten years after the original. Witch Hazel takes a more prominent role than in the original story, and Donaldus is just a witness to her scheme instead of a victim.

— An ancestor of Goofy is also featured, and Bottaro's usual dynamic of Goofy-not-believing-that-Hazel-is-a-witch-and-Hazel-getting-pissed-off-at-it is used with him.

— According to the commentaries I read, it has good gags, but Bottaro's art is less consistent than here and the overall story, though still enjoyable, isn't as good as the first one.

February 28, 2016 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Well, I'd sure like to read it anyway!

February 29, 2016 at 3:11 AM  

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