Friday, September 13, 2013

"Trail Blazer"

So whaddaya say?  Wanna take a look at the first non-Barks appearance of Scrooge McDuck?  Of course you do.  The only problem is that, as with so many seemingly straightforward questions, "What was Scrooge's first non-Barks appearance?" does not have a single wholly reliable answer.

If you look on inducks, you will see that "Trail Blazer," a Wheaties giveaway, is listed first.  However, there's also another comic in the same series that also includes Scrooge.  "Trail Blazer" has an earlier number, true, but, although I can't determine this for sure, I kind of think they were all released at the same time, and thus the numbers don't really tell us anything.  Furthermore, Inducks does not tell us exactly when in 1950 these were released; it's probable that it was before November, when the first regular-size non-Barks story with Scrooge came out (which some of you may remember from its reprint in Gladstone's short-lived digest series), but fairness compels me to admit that I cannot say for sure.

Man, I sure hope the insignificant minutiae of Western publishing chronology is as fascinating to you as it is to me--otherwise, you're probably not reading this because you fell asleep sometime in the midst of that last paragraph.  So let's just get to the point: we like certainty, dammit.  We want to be able to point to one story and say, YES!  This is the first!  So I hereby declare by the powers vested in me as some dude with a blog that that story is "TRAIL BLAZER!"  Ah…now doesn't that feel better?

The story starts with Donald bragging about how he's just as awesome as Kit Carson, and given the chance, he'd SHOW them!  He'd show them all!  Golly, do you think it's possible that this most important matter might just happen by some crazy coincidence to coincide with Donald's boasting?  Naw--that's just too crazy.

We're still in the stage where writers didn't quite have a grasp on the character; thus they just characterize Scrooge as "comically ostentatious."  To be fair, Barks himself hadn't quite decided exactly what he was all about at this point; to be more fair, however, he sure had a better grasp than the anonymous cog who wrote this story.

Yup.  There's just something about this whole HO HO HO HIS STUFF IS SO LUXURIOUS business that makes one roll one's eyes a bit.  I like how the car blatantly violates the laws of physics there.  It looks like it's about to be sucked into a wormhole or something.

BEHOLD!  THE FIRST TIME SOME INDIFFERENTLY-TALENTED PEON DREW SCROOGE!  Far from the last, though.  If he's supposed to be living in such luxury, you'd think his office would be a little less barren.  What's behind that blue curtain?  And what the heck is that…thing on the right?  It's very mysterious.  

Penny-pinching in spite of seemingly being a total spendthrift: a contradiction that persisted even unto Ducktales.

…thing is, though, this is actually kind of a clever idea.  The only problem is that it relies on the whole HE'S RICH THEREFORE ALL HIS STUFF IS HUGE idea that would fall by the wayside later on.  You can imagine the established Scrooge going, "yeah, I was able to buy all this land SUPER CHEAP and I'll bet there's TREASURE there heh heh"--but that would be rather a different, and less interesting, situation.  And anyway, here he has it just 'cause.

So they wander around in his yard for a while.  And then…

…yup.  Sigh.  Now, this surely is not the only reason this story hasn't been reprinted (let's face it, it's just a mediocre piece of nothing like thousands of other), but it certainly can't have helped.

They're pretty much exactly the standard cartoon Indians that we've come to know and barely tolerate.  Not much more to say.  I do like Donald's deranged pelican dance.

…it's no "Mophead Mollie is off her trolley," I'll tell you that much.  Just another demonstration of the fact that Barks was always a cut above.

Oh man.  Horses were introduced to the New World by Europeans, and yet somehow this undiscovered tribe has them just like that?  It's almost like the author wasn't concerned here with historical accuracy.  Shocking!

…and an ending that recalls the climax of Blazing Saddles.  Whee.

…well, gimme a break.  What did you expect?  Was there really any reason to imagine that, just because it represents a very minor milestone, this story would actually be any good, or really worthy of any serious consideration?  Survey sez: no.  Still, if you want, you can download it and read the whole thing.  I'll bet his first Italian appearance would be much more interesting, but alas, it's only been published in Italy and, um, Turkey.  Where in god's name do you go for vintage Turkish Disney comics, anyway?



Anonymous joe c said...

Assuming you weren't being facetious, that blue thing in the corner is a ticker tape machine with a bucket catching its output.

September 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Was not being even a tiny bit facetious. Thanks. No doubt it's partially my fault for not recognizing archaic financial tools, but in fairness to is kind of blurry and poorly rendered.

September 13, 2013 at 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just say here that much of the art is, in fact, pretty nicely done? There's a lot more detail in the way the faces are drawn than is typical, even if the proportions aren't perfect.

I must admit, this characterization of Scrooge can be fun. Not as great as what it became, certainly. But the ridiculousness of the gags ends up being hilarious to me. I like a joke that goes over the top without crossing in to Family Guy's level of just totally strangling it.

That said, I have no excuse for the Injuns, who shouldn't be speaking English in the first place.

There's a thought, hm? An adventure with Scrooge and Donald where they don't have the kids along to translate for them. Anybody know a comic that's dealt with that concept explicitly?

... God I want to write Disney comics.

September 13, 2013 at 11:31 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I always find interesting to see the first (or early) "Non-Barks" use of Barks characters so I was happy to see this one.
Thanks Geox :)

As far this story not being reprinted much I honestly don't think that the portrail of native Americans in it was the problem in any way... or at least in Europe.

Comics like Umpa-Pa

Lucky Luke

or for example the isue of Asterix when he visits America

show Indians in WAY more political incorent fashion but censores here appear to have zero problem with that.

I actually think it has more with Scrooge being so off character (living in luxory and such). A fan from Italy once told me once his theory that the reason that the first Dickie Duck story is bearly reprinted out side of Itally is the fact that Scarpa (apperantly) shown Goldie/Scrooge relation very off character so their avoiding the story to not confuse the fans.
I guess there is a simialr thing with this one.Scrooge being so cheap that his looking in trash for food in one story and buying a limo with a swiming pool in the next one? Those not computer...

September 14, 2013 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

You are welcome.

Re reprints, I should first reëmphasize that there would be absolutely no reason to think a story like this would be oft-reprinted in any case. Its interest is mostly historical.

But when I made that comment, I was thinking (in my Americocentric way) about the United States (I know there are different standards in Europe). Given that there were Barks stories that had trouble getting past the censors and that had to be chopped up, it's hard to imagine that anyone would care enough to bother with something like "Trail Blazers," knowing there might very well be problems. Too much of a headache.

September 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Abraham Lincoln said...

You had me laughing a couple of times in there, just downloaded the story. And yeah, I was with you on the blue bucket thing until Joe enlightened us. In terms of the artwork, I don't like Donald, but Scrooge is OK, for a peon at least. Then again, I'm not that picky unless its ultra-modern Italian stuff where one leg can be twice is long as the other and situated next to their head.

September 14, 2013 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


Truly, this reads far more like an early Richie Rich story than an Uncle $crooge one. The gags involving multiple redundancy chauffeurs and the giant limo could easily have been lifted from a one-page Richie gag. There was even a story in which Richie and his pal Freckles were tasked with conducting an expedition to a "lost room" in the vast Rich mansion.


September 15, 2013 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Chris beat me to the punch on this being more like Richie Rich than Scrooge McDuck (which I was thinking while reading your post) – and a perfect illustration of why Uncle Scrooge is funny, and Richie Rich is not!

Those “bigger, better ‘n’ more wasteful just ‘cause you can be” never worked for me. Real life example see; Romney, Mitt.

September 16, 2013 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger mina said...

first: love the blog

Second: why do u write on stories you don't find interesting?

And please do more about don rosa's work

Greetings from egypt

September 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Egypt? Excellent! Glad to see you. "Why do I write about stories I don't find interesting?" Well, there's interesting and then there's interesting. I try to only write about a story if I feel like I have *something* to say about it. Granted, "Trail Blazer" isn't likely to blow any minds, but I thought the *historical* interest was sufficient to warrant a look.

September 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger mina said...

It's just there are many things i would like to see yo do on the blog
For example how do you feel about the duck avenger personally i love the character and would love to see you write about one of the stories.

By the way have u read the double duck comics? They were published in egypt and i LOVED It.


September 28, 2013 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger mina said...

I would like to see you write about a duck avenger story.

By the way,have you read the double duck stories? i loved them personally

September 28, 2013 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

This story which feature fist Non-Barksian use of Gyro looks even stranger :


November 17, 2013 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Loke said...

Those lyrics coming from the radio may be nonsense, but they appear to be referencing a real song:

April 23, 2017 at 9:06 PM  

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