Friday, May 31, 2013

"The Cube"

Well, inducks is willing to concede that this one is probably by Lockman, though they qualify that with a "(?)." Why they're not willing to do that with the rest of the issue, I don't know.

It's a trivial story, but I like it a lot. One of my favorite Lockman efforts, for sure. Its dismal (sub-twenty-thousand) inducks rating isn't fair, but that's what happens: stories with big names attached to them that aren't liked so much get disproportionate negative ratings, rocketing them down below plenty of awful stories that benefit from nobody remembering them. But this isn't an awful story at all.  Really.

The opening here always really cracks me up: Gyro's new sport seems to be a combination of Calvinball and blernsball, the sport in Futurama that's like baseball only completely inscrutable. Give Lockman credit here. The fact that these people have all packed a stadium to see a completely new sport apparently completely on spec could be seen as a flaw, but to me, it just adds to the humor.

(And it must be said, "You can't stick-it-up on your finger!" is never not going to sound really dirty.)

Possibly the above is why inducks is willing to attribute it to Lockman--it's the most Lockman-y thing around. I have to admit--and it's a bit surprising, in light of how abysmal his work would become--that Lockman in his prime could turn a decent phrase ("un-cubelike vegetables"). 

And further credit should be attributed to Gus's tale of woe here, even if it seems to run counter to our usual perceptions of Gus's blissfully lazy existence.  This whole bit on the farm is really just making time, but it's much more engaging than it could've been.

Sheesh, man--they're just rubber cubes with holes in them. Not really much of an "invention." My understanding was that the real invention was the game itself (still an unusual thing for Gyro to be concerning himself with, but at least a little more substantial), but for some reason Gyro's just hellbent on finding something to do with this low-tech sports equipment. Maybe he's just determined to get rid of them because he wants to recoup on the substantial investment he made in them on the assumption that Cube would be a smashing success. We must question his judgment on assuming this, but hey, he's Gyro. Not that he's ordinarily concerned with anything so practical as financial matters…

Well, and so it ends, kind of lamely. What, all the problems with the nonsensical rules are solved because players are wearing plungers on their heads? Color me skeptical. Look at that rodent dude in the top panel there, though. It's hard to imagine that Lockman specifically stipulated that this is what the character should be, so I can picture Barks just deciding to do something unusual to amuse himself. So there you have it. Again: a completely trivial story, but I think we're all a little richer for having read it. Well done, Messieurs Lockman and Barks.

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Anonymous Elaine said...

I also like the game, here--first read this story in WDC 518, which I still own because of the spiffy infinity-gag Jippes cover. I do like the fact that the plunger headgear was Helper's idea, but I'm not entirely clear how Helper was supposed to have communicated this brilliant suggestion. Did he write a note to Donald? Did he make himself a little toothpick/suction cup beanie to demonstrate the idea?

June 1, 2013 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


"Cube" seems to make about as much sense as Quidditch, which is not necessarily a bad thing...

The fact that the story ends with a slight adjustment to the game marks this as a Lockman tale. Joe Torcivia noted that one very common Lockman gambit is "an object being used for something other than its originally intended function." That didn't occur here, but the idea of adjustment remains.


June 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM  

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