Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"The Voluntary Castaway"

RIGHT.  You may or may not recall that I alluded a few times back in the fall to a new translation I was working on, but for then my computer died and even though I’d saved my work I was demotivated for whatever reason and nothing happened for a long time.  Finally, however, I managed to push through and finish the damn thing, and here it is.

Let it be stated that now that there’s a new US publisher, I certainly don’t plan on continuing to do things like this; I don’t want to step on anybody’s feet (and yes, I’m aware that the notion that I COULD step on anybody’s feet even if I wanted to bespeaks a certain narcissism), but I was working on this well before the new line was announced, and let’s face it, realistically, there’s still no chance in hell that a story like this would be localized.  Anyway, if this IS the end of my short happy localization career, it’s appropriate that I’m bookending it with another Bottaro/Chendi story.

Is this thing any GOOD?  Um…seriously, man, I have no idea.  You tell me.  There was initially a certain mystique to it inasmuch as it was the first digest story I read once I’d decided that importing French digests was a thing I’d do.  I remember being very confused because I was too dumb to figure out that “Filament” was the French name for Gyro’s helper.  Ah, memories.  There were a number of things I liked (and like) quite a lot about it, that seemed to me to differentiate it from most other stories, though I think the newness tended to magnify them somewhat.  It IS pretty weird structually, though. 

This is part of what I’m talking about: the story takes absolutely FOREVER to get started; one gets the impression that Bottaro and/or Chendi were trying to buy time as they figured out what the story was going to be about.  Hence, we get this business of the kids going off to Woodchucks camp and Donald getting and losing sundry jobs; you keep think it’s going to lead into something, but then it keeps NOT.

So we go from summer to winter (and WHAT was the point of that heatwave stuff?), and there’s this…

…which leads into this.  No indication of HOW Donald got this new job, but he DID.  Just accept it.  You surely MUST imagine, however, that we’re going to now segue into something where he has a book-salesman class.

NOPE.  This is the next panel.  Huh?  DISORIENTED.  Well, forget about it, class over, nothing to see here, move on.

Still, at least now the story’s getting into gear.  And if you think I’m just self-indulgently using these panels to reference other translations I’ve done…well, you’re not wrong, obviously, but let it be noted that the Marco Polo book was included in the original, or at least the French.

The story plays it coy as to whether this book is supposed to be Robinson Crusoe, Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island, or some mixture thereof.  The story deliberately calls attention to its similarities to both books at various times.

Even though it’s just a few panels, one of the things that really made an impression on me is Scrooge reading by candlelight while comfortably lying in his money.  I find it super charming.  When you think about it, it’s a little surprising that most authors don’t have him use it for a bed.  Maybe because the bed use would be seen as clashing with the “swimming pool” use?

So, right, we finally get to the main point, where Scrooge leaves a machine to secretly take his place while he travels off to find a deserted island to live on.  The story from hereon in is divided between Scrooge and Donald doing their things.  As I said, it’s an unusual structure; it’s certainly rare to see Scrooge off doing his thing without any kind of foil in Donald and/or HDL.

I really, really like “Scrooge on a deserted island.”  There’s something about it; I dunno.  It bears some similarities to Rosa’s rugged-individualist L&T stuff…

…with the notable difference that Scrooge is competent in Rosa’s stories, whereas here he’s really just a complete fuck-up.  He proves wholly incapable of surviving on his own on this island, and as we’ll see later, his Beagle problems just solve themselves with no help from him.  So why does this work better than “The Menehune Mystery?”  Because it’s not pitched as an adventure story in the way that that one is; it’s more or less meant to be kind of shaggy and goofy.  Or at least, it had BETTER be; otherwise, I may be wasting my life.

Back in Duckburg, the computer, which is malfunctioning due to Gyro’s helper being stuck inside, is doing this stuff.  I find it funny.  That is all.


[Right, for some FUCKING reason, I can't get what was supposed to be the above image to upload.  It's supposed to be a picture of Scrooge stumbling through a cave in the dark, and then when he gets to the end, there's a sign that says "sure hope you found the flashlight at the entrance!"  I'll see if I can make it upload later]

Another thing that should be noted: Bottaro and/or Chendi are very willing to do shit like this, that makes very little sense within the context of the story or real life or ANYTHING, just for a laugh.  Whether it’s actually hysterically funny…well, you can be the judge.

Here we have more pointless circling around, as Donald tries to take the kids to witness his success only to have them wander off and have to go back after them and…is it overly cynical of me to suggest that our authors may have been trying to stretch out what was fundamentally a one-part story into two for pecuniary reasons?  I’ll admit the cop’s commentary is a little funny, though.

I don’t really have much to say about my own writing here; I think it’s straighter than previous translations I’ve done.  But here’s one part I really like.  Pieces of eight…

…and “eight legs.”  BAM.  That’s all me, baby, although admittedly, my victory is somewhat attenuated by the fact that every image clearly indicates that this is one of those rare six-legged octopi.  Some people don’t like it when you say “octopi,” on the basis that it’s not really a Latin root.  I don’t care.  I’ll say “octopuses” if it means that much to you, or even "octopodes."  But I’ll also say octopi, and if you get overly pedantic about it, I’m MORE likely to say it, just to annoy you.  TAKE THAT!

The octopus irritatedly bonking Beagles and returning to its chest as it mutters to itself is quite charming, and characteristically Italian.

…and, as I said, the Beagles defeat themselves.  Maybe not the most rewarding denouement!

However, Scrooge crashing into a Binful of books is good fun for kids of all ages, no doubt.

…yeah, there’s no denying it: we end up with Psychopath Scrooge, so unfortunately familiar from many a Guido Martina story.  But, it could be worse, as we'll see.

For a long time, I thought that this was the actual ending; it’s certainly a familiar story-ending image.  Then, I looked at the page count and realized that the next few pages were also Bottaro, which I think distinctly improves the story.

I mean yes, okay, so this business with Scrooge literally enslaving Donald and Gyro here is maybe perhaps not anyone’s favorite thing ever…

…but this little reveal…

…is amusing, if maybe a bit predictable.

And this ending is made more cheerful than it might be, thanks to how happy Donald, Gyro, and the penguin look about the whole situation.  So, you know, could be worse.  And I've decided that I really DO like the story, in spite of its general idiosyncrasies.  So there.  Enjoy it in good health.

I’m not going to touch them here, but my translation also includes the six “bridge” pages written by a couple of also-rans.  I figured hey, it’s there, and Anglophone readers are CERTAINLY never going to get to see any of these bits of ephemeral nonsense through official channels, so what the hell.  Well, they will if they're able to find copies of the handful of British digests published in the early eighties, but what are the chances of that?  ANYWAY.  These segments, if you’re not familiar, were meant to sorta kinda link unrelated stories.  Sometimes they’re unspeakably strange and pointless and anticlimactic; this one, I’m afraid, is just unspeakably banal and pointless and anticlimactic.  But you may enjoy it anyway (SPOILER: you won’t enjoy it anyway).

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Blogger tymime said...

I hope I'm not the only one to notice the "in the year 2525" reference.

March 18, 2015 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

The explanation why Scrooge doesn't sleep in his money is simple : When Scrooge takes a bath in his pool of money he washes all the dirt out of him. This is why he don't go to sleep in his bin. You wouldn't want him to be sleeping in his own dirt, would you Geox?

You know? I've seen plenty of Italian stories that ended with joke about Donald with Gyro (or Feathery or HD&L or VonDrake or whoever he was co-working with Donald for Scrooge in the particular story) hiding in a far a way country "for months" (usually in some tent in a jungle or north pole or Sahara or whatever the wheel of exotic location will show) It appears to be a frequent running gag in the Italian stories...

March 19, 2015 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I wonder if that originated in Barks' "Master Wrecker," where Donald ends up demolishing igloos for penguins.

March 19, 2015 at 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Duckfan said...

This story is one of those classic 60s/70s Italian stories where the humor is broad and the plot wildly unrealistic, but there's an energy running through the thing that makes it irresistible for me (and I'm not just talking about the art style and the chase sequences). And of course all those little charming things you mentioned. There's something about that, I don't know.

It's not great, but it's one of the first ones I ever read.

March 20, 2015 at 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a pity nobody's translated them yet, but there's actually been an attempt at giving Donald a consistent love interest OUTSIDE Daisy in Italy - a certain Reginella, who is an alien queen, having been in five stories where sadly their love is true, but can never be permanent. [Also, Scrooge actually helps Donald out of the kindness of his heart, which is how you know this is an Italian comic.]

April 17, 2015 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I actually wrote about the first Reginella story; I found it an interesting concept with a somewhat questionable execution.

April 17, 2015 at 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see. And I also see nobody posted the Italian script after all.

Original: Addio, Reginella! Ti restituisco il medaglione! Anche se la nostra primavera non é diventata, estate, ti ricorderó e rispeteró il tuo segreto per sempre!

Translation: Goodbye, Reginella! I give you back the medallion! Even if our spring did not become, summer, I will remember you and respect your secret forever! (Problem comma? Maybe.)

I understand why you wouldn't like it, but as it stands, it seems to have been more from the French version being... well, less better.

Also, I can't easily navigate your blog for some reason. No 'Older Posts' or anything...

April 17, 2015 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


I hope you’ll celebrate with us “in spirit”, even if you can’t do so “in person”!

It’s FINALLY HERE , folks!

April 20, 2015 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

About the claim that I wouldn't "enjoy anyway" the Perego bridge-pages… I actually did to a small extent. You know, the thing with Perego is that he's very, very, very bad at drawing Disney characters. But in general, he's a pretty good artist. I had guessed that from a few examples of his works, but I see it confirmed by the splash panel of the helicopter over the Congo jungle.

May 17, 2016 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I see your point. Glad someone got SOMETHING out of it!

May 17, 2016 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Lieju said...

I think lot of artists and writers have made Scrooge's mattress and pillow filled with money.

August 18, 2017 at 4:11 PM  

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