Monday, December 22, 2014

"Santa's Stormy Visit"

Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…well, okay, maybe I haven’t said it, but I’ve definitely thought it, dating back to when I was very small: it would be fun to work in a lighthouse.  A nice cozy space with a great view—what’s not to like?  Okay, so the reality would probably be less cool than my imaginings, but those imaginings are pretty darned nice.

This story’s kind of interesting for someone like me, who likes keeping track of stories where Santa is real versus ones where he’s not.  in that one.  This time the kids do believe in him, but they’re unambiguously wrong.  Ha!  I mean, unless you think Santa exerted his benevolent influence to make what happens happen.  Which is kind of an unusual theological idea, but we can’t rule it out!

In addition to everything else, this is notable as one of Barks’ first “pet” stories, where an unlikely animal saves the day and is welcomed into the ducks’ home.  This one is a big winner mostly because the albatross is just so goddamn adorable.

Even—or maybe especially—when it’s using its karate skills to smash the radio.  Look at it in the last panel, menacing the remains of its fallen foe.  You want some more of me?!?

Dramatic, and VERY reminiscent of the later story featuring everyone’s favorite frog, Catapult (I would’ve SWORN that I had written about that story, but apparently I’m actually just losing my mind.  That’s a relief).  It’s very good, especially for an early story like this.  No one else at Western could’ve drawn this kind of dramatic ocean scene.

The sailors are so good about everything.  Real Christmas cheer.  I like it a lot.  We can also probably see a bit of the Cuspidora story here.

Good scene of plenitude to end things, with Donald’s puzzlement to cap things off.  Barks clearly has things a bit more under control here than he did in “Best Christmas.”  It manages to be festive without being schmaltzy.  Of course, that’s in part because it’s a different kind of story, but what the hey!  Turkeys for all!  Though I feel like the coloring makes that one there look sort of gross…



Blogger misterken said...

Thanks for the Christmas memories!

December 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...


Really, now... a bird karate-chopping a radio set to pieces?? Did that radio set come out of the Johnson & Smith catalogue?


December 22, 2014 at 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I'm very fond of lighthouse Christmas stories; in Duck comics, that means this one, Cape Quack, and a nice Christmas/New Year's one by Jan Kruse (Vuurtoren). Though I've never quite understood why Donald sees it as such a problem that the albatross casts a shadow by the lighthouse beam.... It's not as though that interferes with the lighthouse's effectiveness at its job, does it?

You're right, the stormy trip with a message does indeed prefigure Catapult (which is one of my top five favorite Barks 10-pagers, so please do write about it sometime!).

On the reality of Santa Claus: I suppose another possibility is that SC is real, but that as HDL also believe, he needs to receive their letter through the US Mail in order to deliver the goods himself. As we know (though HDL do not), he never got their letter, so he couldn't bring them anything this year.

December 22, 2014 at 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Unca Paspasu said...

Donald thinks he's the one who should buy them presents (panel 1.5). This doesn't mean Santa Claus doesn't exist, as in "Letter to Santa" it says "[Donald's] Christmas shopping problems are being handled this year by an expert - Santa Claus!" So normally children will write a letter to Santa and their parents will read it and buy the presents, but it is also possible to mail it to Santa instead.

We don't know whether Donald believes in Santa in this story, but at least he doesn't believe Santa can deliver the presents to the lighthouse during a hurricane. HDL disagree with him. At the end their theory explains the data (as the ducks have it) better and it leaves Donald puzzled.

I like the mechanics of the hook.

December 23, 2014 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I love whenever Barks draws sea during a storm. It looks much more realistic then any thing else but at the same town it blends itself with the world and the characters. Good stuff

December 25, 2014 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Chris Chan said...

I always enjoy seeing Donald's "one and done" careers. Much like Homer Simpson, he has a wide variety of jobs aside from his standard one of working for Uncle Scrooge.

December 28, 2014 at 2:31 AM  

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