Friday, June 2, 2017

"The Blot's Double Mystery"

JEEZ. Sorry for the lack of posts in May; I was on vacation for half the month (I saw hella wild orangutans, but unfortunately, I forgot about the "reading Disney comics while ignoring the wildlife" photo tradition--alas!), and otherwise I was preoccupied with this and that.

Let us now speak of the Phantom Blot! Why? Difficult to say, really. It's kind of interesting and it seems like something to do, I guess. I know I've done plenty of inveighing in the past about how the Blot as a recurring villain inevitably betrays his original conception, but I also know that that argument was lost well before I was even born, so let's just go with what we've got. "Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot" appeared in 1939. After that, aside from the WDC remake of the original story, nothing more was heard of the character for quite some time. No big surprise there; pretty much the only recurring baddies at the time were Pete, the Beagle Boys, and--if you want to count them--generic pig-faced villains. But fast forward to 1955, and BOOM, this Romano Scarpa/Guido Martina story appeared. Regardless of what I think of the results, bringing back a classic Gottfredson villain was definitely a clever idea (Martina tried this trick again years later when he wrote the first-ever repeat appearance of Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex; those characters never caught on in the same way, though). A bunch of other Italians quickly started copying the idea, and the rest is history.

That was Italy, however. Western comics remained, as far as I can tell, free of European influence (actually, I would love to know if anyone at Western was even aware of the existence of home-grown foreign comics), so the Phantom Blot would remain absent therein. Until 1964, that is, when Paul Murry's "Return of the Phantom Blot" was serialized in four issues of WDC. It just goes to show how highly-regarded Gottfredson's story is that the Italians and Americans would both independently (I assume) hit on the idea of bringing back the character. The American reintroduction is a bit tentative however--SPOILERS for "Return of the Phantom Blot" forthcoming!--in that it turns out the Blot isn't even involved; it's just a self-hypnotized Goofy. I don't love the story, but Joe Torcivia is a big fan.

This Blot revival was clearly not just the work of a single writer, but something that was planned in advance: while the "Return" serialization was still ongoing, Western inaugurated their short-lived Phantom Blot comic line. It seems strange that they would assume that people would know who this long-neglected character even was, but maybe old Gottfredson stories had more cultural cachet than I know. Interestingly enough, the first story published therein, "The Phantom Blot Meets the Mysterious Mr. X," uses the same general concept as its predecessor: the actual Blot never even appears; it's all Hypnotized Goofy. The actual Blot didn't appear until the next story, "The Phantom Blot Meets Super Goof; then onward to the bizarrely-revised "Phantom Blot Meets the Beagle Boys," and the rest is, again, history, albeit insignificant and tedious history.

I haven't read any of the Italian stories that followed quickly after "Double Mystery;" they aren't widely reprinted outside Italy. Maybe I shouldn't generalize, then, but the impression I get is that the Italians depict the character as more competent than the Americans do--the character in the Phantom Blot comic is bumbling and wholly unthreatening. Here's what your Americans think of the Phantom Blot:

Yeah...I think they were more enamored of the fact that the character was in a POPULAR STORY than anything specific about the guy himself. Pretty lousy.

Fortunately, it's also an evolutionary dead-end, as far as I can tell, with the end of Western Publishing. In fairness, I must allow that some of it may have entered into foreign comics from reprints of the American stories; it's also possible that some of the Americans who write for Egmont may have been familiar with it. BUT, I think more likely we can say: goodbye and good riddance.

Wow, that was longer than expected. SO HOW BOUT THIS HERE DOUBLE MYSTERY, THEN? Well, it seems to have had an explosive impact on first publication, and if I recall correctly, for a long time it was the highest-ranked non-Barks story in the Inducks Top 100. It's gone down some, but it's still, as of this writing, ranked at number fifty-seven (of course, long-time readers will be aware that I am frequently baffled by the high marks given to Scarpa stories, so that doesn't prove much). I will say, though, if you look at the reader comments you'll see a fair bit of criticism amongst the usual best-story-ever stuff. What I think...well, we'll see. Another fun fact about this story: it was the first-ever time that Scarpa was published in the US (though of course, art-only). Amazing to look back and realize that such a pivotal Italian creator was unknown here until 1988. Well, maybe not "fun" or "amazing" per se. But it's definitely a fact!

The opening's kind of ominous and spooky. What's the Phantom Blot up to?!? I don't know. But I feel fairly confident saying that whatever it's no good.

You remember--that magazine article? About hypnotism? Spirals, dontchaknow? Let's hope this doesn't spiral (haha) into some Uzumaki shit. Actually, let's hope it does. That might validate the inducks review that declares this "perhaps the darkest, most gruesome ever told by a Disney artist." Otherwise...mmmm.

It compels Mickey to do...something. This is this, but I'm not going to try to cover the entire plot here; it would drive me mad. How mad? Funny you should ask...


Yup...the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland is a character in this story, and yes, this seems odd as hell from an American perspective. Of course, we saw our fair share of silly movie/comic crossovers from Western, but generally in those cases, the gimmick was the whole point of the story. Whereas here, no one really makes much of this. It's just...oh. The Mad Hatter. Of course! Why wouldn't you expect such a thing? It has little meaning here, but I kind of like it, to be honest, and at any rate, it paved the way for Martina's best story.

Well, I think it's a reasonably decent joke. What can I say?

I also like the Hatter's last comment there. The art and dialogue work well together. Please take note of this hat thing, as it will be relevant.

So there's this whole confusing business with stolen taxis and things, one of which is driven by Goofy. It's not super-coherent, and I REALLY don't see why someone (is this Martina or localizer Dwight Decker?) decided that it would be a good idea to give it the license number of 1313. As we know, Donald's license plate number is 313, and his address number is 1313. WHY IS THIS WHOLLY NON-DUCK STORY ATTEMPTING TO EVOKE DONALD??? It is pointless and distracting and dumb.

The idea, as we'll later see, is that Goofy didn't even bother taking it to the station; he just decided to take it back to the taxi company 'cause criminal evidence? Pfft, whatever! But this little mystery plays no role in anything.

Oh, you've got that feeling, do you? Listen, Guido: if you're going to try to create this paranoid, trust-no-one atmosphere, you have to actually do something to earn it. You can't just have Mickey say this and then include absolutely nothing else to validate his opinion. It just makes the character look crazy for no reason. BAH.

Ya GOTTA love this. Apparently, the Blot was at some sort of convenient vantage point with a pen and paper, patiently waiting for someone to say something that would allow him to respond with a snappy rebuttal. Lucky he got the opportunity he did; I think the far more likely situation would be that he takes too long to think of it and so by the time he flings the knife Mickey and O'Hara don't know what he's responding to and it's just confusing.

I will take this opportunity to note that the whole hat thing is a massive, pointless distraction. This is a spoiler, I suppose, but if you haven't read this sixty-year-old story, I can't help you: the hat itself is meaningless; the Blot's just bluffing, using it as the extortion device. And so the question remains: why the fuck do you need the damn hat in the first place? If they're so willing to believe that you have the means to do what you're threatening, there's no reason that this dumb hat would make them more likely to believe. Dammit, Martina, just because Scarpa's drawing this story doesn't mean you have to channel his narrative sensibilities.

This whittling thing is just meant as a throwaway joke, but in a story this needlessly convoluted, it can't help but look like it has some significance. It's not...great.

Okay, everyone, that's all for today! Check back in July!

No...probably not. So, summing up so far: am I a fan of this story? Well...not really. It occasionally succeeds in seeming ominous and atmospheric, but only very occasionally, and it's too pointlessly complicated for its own good. If a story's going to be difficult to follow, I want there to be some payoff for making the effort. We don't really get that here. Still, let's see what's next!

HERE'S THE PLOT SO FAR PLEASE ENJOY IT. As I said: pointlessly complicated. One of those things where you kind of feel like you're losing your mind when you read it. AND FOR WHAT?

Well, YES, Eega Beeva. Given that his appearance a bit later is a big surprise, do you REALLY think it was a great idea to spoil it in this splash panel? Evidently so! Well done, everyone! Let's break for coffee and scones!

Why does the Blot have a castle? Difficult to say. But at least it gives us some much-needed gothic atmosphere!

I do like the PS. This section isn't bad. Well, this brief section; let's not get carried away.

The idea being that after Goofy ate the food, they're willing to have a go, and don't ya just love O'Hara's touching concern for their friend's well-being?


Okay, hypnotizing Mickey into attempting to murder O'Hara? Pretty hardcore. I'll admit it.

Goofy has installed a WHAT now? Using the rope and hooks that he brought with him? Without Mickey noticing? Blargh? And, again: HOW COULD THE BLOT POSSIBLY HAVE PREDICTED THIS?!? We could be generous and say, oh, he didn't NEED to predict it; he already had plenty of evidence; this is just a bonus. But in that case, why would he care about the logistics of the sleeping arrangements? Blerk. It's really, really feeling as if Scarpa had written this dang thing himself.

This bit from O'Hara is just stuck in so casually that you could skim right by it, but WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU GOT AN "ANONYMOUS TIP?!?" DID IT NEVER OCCUR TO YOU TO WONDER WHO IT WAS FROM, YOU ABSOLUTE MADMAN?!?  WHO WOULD POSSIBLY BE WANDERING AROUND THIS CASTLE GIVING OUT TIPS OTHER THAN THE BLOT?!?  ARGH, I can't even joke about this. It's just so shamelessly nonsensical. Surely even as Martina was writing it, he must have realized on some level that it made zero sense. And yet...he kept at it. And THAT is how Guido Marina Amalgamated Enterprises Ltd became what it is today. Let it be a lesson to all of us.'s a bit silly, but this is one part where I can't actually complain too much; the law instantly turning on Mickey after he's been framed is such a common plot device that you've gotta just roll with it. IS noticeable that O'Hara doesn't even seem to care about the question of possible motive. Does he assume Mickey's just had a sudden psychotic break, or what? In which case, I think it's fair to say that this boy don't need a judge he needs an analyst's care. WHATEVER.

Didn't you know? If you commit a crime and escape, the police are free to beat a confession out of your unrelated friends. I guess I shouldn't joke about that, though. Not with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as my country's top law enforcement officer. Sorry to bring you down by alluding to US politics.

If nothing else, this depiction of the Blot is to my mind preferable to the later ones of him as a generic megalomaniac. Here he's all about the revenge and nothing but, which seems to me to be a better fit with his original appearance.

Um...yes. So...this happens. And although convenient coincidences are far from uncommon in Disney comics, I do not believe I have e'er seen so egregious a deus ex machina. Even fans of the story tend to agree that it's downhill after Eega Beeva's appearance. I don't have anything against the character (other than finding those endless p's grating as heck), but insofar as the story has a tone, he is off of it. Really, with him around we might as well sum up the remainder as "and then some magic stuff happened."

I mean...yes, if there's darkness behind a window it'll reflect, but there's no danger that anyone's going to mistake it for a mirror. Well...I suppose that's the least of our problems here. So let's barrel onward on to part three.

Also, not to belabor the point, but "O'Hara is warned to hide..." STOP USING THE PASSIVE VOICE TO ELIDE AGENCY YOU USELESS MOTHERFUCKER! GAH!

Yeah...back to the dumb hat, which anyone would be forgiven for having forgotten about by now. And let it sink in how truly useless this plot point really was. Aaaaahhh...

I mean, I guess this whole thing with Mickey being hypnotized whenever the Blot gets close is all right. It has potential. If only it were connected to a better story.

Eega's enhanced interrogation techniques are amusing.

...and that's all I have to say about that.  I like the Blot's look of horror in the second panel.  Though again, you would be forgiven for not finding any kind of humor that brings torture to mind funny in this day and age.

As I said, if nothing else, I do appreciate the Blot's single-minded fixation on revenge. Guy knows what he wants, and it's a bit less silly than what he wants in future stories. Whee.

So that about covers it. I dunno; I've certainly read worse, but for such an influential story, this is really pretty bad. The Blot has been used to better effect, that's for sure. STILL, given its historical importance, you have no choice but to read it, and I'll still rank it above "Return of the Phantom Blot." So...please enjoy.

Also, in proofreading this (probably not wholly effectively), I was struck by just how many damned...ellipses I tend to use in these posts. Is that a problem? is what it is!

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Blogger Achille Talon said...

Note that, because the localizator here obviously thought having the Mad Hatter in there was too weird, they never call him the Mad Hatter — he goes by the name of 'Thomas Topper' instead, and they jumble his color scheme to in no way resemble the movie's.

June 2, 2017 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Mickey refers to him as the Mad Hatter in one of the quoted panels.

June 2, 2017 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Uh? Billowing hatboxes, you're right. But… why, then? Why did this Dwight Decker fellow invent a normal-sounding name for the Mad Hatter, which would have made some amount of sense as an attempt to erase the odd crossover from the story and just have it as a sight gag ("Heheh, look, this hatter looks like the Mad Hatter!"), only to still acknowledge him as the Mad Hatter later on? What's the point? I'm confused! If our old French translation is anything to go by, he was just called the Mad Hatter in the original.

June 2, 2017 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

OH - MY - GOSH!!!
You meet the orangutans in person? OMG! OMG! That's so cool! How are the organgutans realy like? Tell us all about them and don't skip on the juicy details!!!

In Polish translation the Mad Hatter get name Mateusz (which is the avrage Polish name) but Mikcey still calls him "The Mad Hatter" in that panel.

I do enjoy this story - for how dark it was. When I seen the title on your blog I (wrongly) asume you refering the mention "Rerun of Phantom Blot" story for a moment, which is on the list of stories I would love to see your review of (mainly for the WTF ending... you just spoiled for the world... drat)

Did American translation did had the line that Mickey is geting the "electric chair" for his murder attemp? It was in Polish translation and I was like - WHAT? THIS IS DISNEY?!!!!

June 2, 2017 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

The orangutans are our friends! You've probably seen the picture I took on facebook.

Whoa, no, no "electric chair" mention here--Disney comics in the US have been more or less restrictive at various times, but I'm pretty sure that would never have flown. I might cover "Return" sometime, but I'm just not sure how much there is to SAY about it. It just kind of goes on and on and on until that somewhat goofy conclusion.

Unrelated, one other thing I just saw: in the issue of Mickey & Donald 2 where the first part of it received its US publication, it says that "this story was originally published in an unknown 1955 issue of the Italian magazine Topolino." One's first impulse is to make fun of this--and you DO wonder if there really wasn't a source for this information--but that's dumb, since obviously we have it way easier than those chumps in 1988. it just goes to show how invaluable inducks is, that I can, with virtually no effort, tell anyone who may be interested that in fact that "unknown issue" is Topolino 116-119, published from June 10 to July 25, 1955.

June 3, 2017 at 6:39 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

It's not mentioned here, but the ending panels both reference and overlook the story of Eega Beeva's introduction. An uncharacteristically stubborn and angry Goofy denies that Eega Beeva exists until the end. Now, Goofy seems to both deny Eega Beeva AND the Blot's existence, leading to the conclusion that seems uncharacteristically goofy even for... you know...

June 3, 2017 at 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

You have the same section of panels twice, the first time right after your unfortunate Jeff Sessions reference (AAAARGH!)--I think you meant to quote another section there.

On "The Return of the Phantom Blot"--like Joe Torcivia, I loved this story as a kid. It's one of ten Disney comics stories neither written nor drawn by Barks which I remember fondly from my childhood. (Since you ask: two by Fallberg, two by Lockman, one by Ogle, five including "Return" by ?) I do not think I would have been so enamored of it if I had first encountered it as an adult. But the mystery, spread out over four issues, was very spookily effective to child-me, and the ending very satisfying. Like: they gave me clues, maybe I could have figured it out, but I didn't!

Minor comment on the Double Mystery: I *love* the panel full of Goofy's whittled wood shavings, and I never thought it was anything more than a throwaway joke. Just a really funny way to show the passage of time. Love the wood shaving hanging from Mickey's nose!

June 3, 2017 at 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

The Mad Hatter is also referred to as the "cappellaio matto" ("mad hatter") in the original version, and in addition he is called Matteo (though the sign says Mattia) for the sake of a pun. A possible explanation for his presence (in addition to a generic "typical Martina weirdness") is that some aspects of the story's plot are similar to John Dickson Carr's novel "The Mad Hatter Mystery" (1933) and Ellery Queen's short shory "The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party" (1934).

It's annoying how many references to "electric chair", "murder", "murderer", "kill", "freeze or I'll shot", and the fact that O'Hara/Casey wanted to make Goofy pay for Mickey's escape rather than make him confess, were all removed from the American localization. Censorship is always an enemy of art and creativity, without ifs and buts. Some other problems also originate from the translation, starting with minor things (like the first panel, where the reason PB knew Mickey was glued to the tv was removed) to major things, like O'Hara receiving an anonymous tip (he didn't in the original version) and the choice of rooms, to random things like big blocks or text or the spoiler for Eega Beeva. I see no point in adding problems to a story that already has problems on its own (many of which were pointed out in this review),though I prefer it to Western's Phantom Blot stories.

"not super-coherent, and I REALLY don't see why someone (is this Martina or localizer Dwight Decker?) decided that it would be a good idea to give it the license number of 1313": it was Martina, as the number is also present in the original version.

"Donald's license plate number is 313, and his address number is 1313": well, his car is unchangable, but his address changes from story to story. For example, in "Donald Tames His Temper" (1946) it is an unknown number of Oak Street, in "The Secret of Atlantis" (1954) is 1313 Weebfoot Walk, and 13 Quack Street in "The Day Duckburg Got Dyed" (1957).

I see that Flip 2° was turned into the original Flip. Well, not that there was a need for a Flip 2°. At the same time, the added joke about hand-made hats earlier in the story works better than the Mad Hatter saying nobody buys hats anymore.

What does Goofy says at the end in the American version?

June 5, 2017 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

@Drakeborough From what you mention Polish translation appears to be very faithfull. Maybe this is why I enjoyed this story, agian - it has a dark tone, which from what I can tell is seriously tone down in American edition.

I never liked the more goofy thake on the Blot. For me the character work best when they try to keep him mysterious and darker. In fact when I was kid most stories that came out in Poland with the Blot didn't shown his actual face so for years I wasn't even aware that there is a person under that mask which made him more exiting ala Dr. Claw from "Inspector Gadget".

I still enjoy plenty of stories that shows his face, I just wish they would makeup their minds is he in the costume when he goes to jail or not.

What puzzles me is that there are entrie stories where the Blot never put's on his costume... and without it he looks just like some generic mustache twirling bad guy so it's not as fun or exiting.

June 6, 2017 at 3:42 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

I also don't like the goofy Phantom Blot, but I also dislike I dislike the fact that in some countries he never removes his cloak, even when wearing a latex mask, or when in prison, or when at home, or when walking on the street by daylight. Maybe some artists thought he was meant to be an alien/a humanized mutant blot/whatever? It seems that in some countries the masked Blot and the unmasked Blot are presented as two different characters.

As for his unmasked face, I've heard that Gottfredson gave him the look Walt Disney had at the time (1939) oh his creation, though I haven't seen an interview that confirms it.

June 6, 2017 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Interesting comments re the localization, Drakeborough. This keeps happening: something I just assume must be true about the story turns out to just be a translation thing. No "anonymous tip" in the original? Well I'll be hog-swallered! Of course, then you just get the equally big plot hole of why O'Hara just conveniently wasn't in bed. This effort to make the story more logical has left it as illogical as ever. Ack!

June 6, 2017 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well in the original story O'Hara suspects Mickey. He receives an anonymous tip before going to the castle. Adding to that the "weird" behaviour of Mickey (his advise about distrust other policemen, his knoledge of the castle) makes him to be very wary.

June 6, 2017 at 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

Indeed, I confirm that there was non anonymous tip in the original version. Here is a direct translation of those two panels:

O'HARA: Look! This is the knife that was thrown to my desk! And this is the one that was meant to kill me! They are identical!
MICKEY: It was meant... to kill you?
O'HARA: I had some suspects, and instead of sleeping I put a dummy in the bed! This night the murderer stabbed his heart with this knife!

June 7, 2017 at 3:08 AM  
Blogger Mesterius said...

Wow, I can't believe how bad the American translation of this story is. Especially with the "anonymous tip" which the localizor just invented for whatever bizarre reason. I'm glad I have my Norwegian "Hall of Fame" book edition to read instead... it includes the "electric chair" mentions AND the original dialogue explaining that O'Hara wasn't in bed because he suspected a trap of some kind.

I don't think this story is perfect, but it's certainly much better when read in a better translation.

June 7, 2017 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

I think that one thing that everyone is forgetting about the US localization (rather than a direct translation) of this and any other story printed here is that quite often changes to dialogue are not the decision of the editors or translator, but mandated by Disney itself. A large company like Disney has an image to uphold, and sometimes material written in another country and decades before the modern day has material that Disney's PR people get nervous about. (And for clarification, I don't work for Disney, nor do I speak for anyone else who does, these are all "best guesses" as to how large corporations work.)

June 7, 2017 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Re: the electric chair comment... Even if American Disney comics would allow it, isn't it a bit unrealistic? I know we are infamous in the free world for executing people, but even we don't execute people for *attempted* murder, at least not in recent times. The Death Penalty Information Center says that no one has been executed in the USA for any non-murder offense since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. There is a federal statute authorizing capital punishment for attempting to kill an officer, juror or witness in an ongoing case involving a continuing criminal enterprise, but no one has actually been condemned to death under that statute.

June 7, 2017 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

It's certainly not realistic. I think if you were going to defend it you could argue that the whole thing is sort of a postmodern fun house mirror, of America, based on the way American pop culture filtered through to Italy. We may not actually have the death penalty for attempted murder, too, but given how generally violent we are, it certainly feels American.

June 7, 2017 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Maybe the law in Mousetown is diffrent and way less happy-go-lucky we gave it credit for? Maybe Sylvester Shyster is the new corrupted governor of Calisota and things like that just fy? Or maybe this entire thing was atempt by Scarpa to make an ingenius commentary the system for which he hoped to go down in history as "Kafka meets Orwell" of his time? WHO KNOWS?

Still, I think it's wrong for Mickey and Goofy to torture their foes, even if it's something they decided to do before killing them. Disney heroes should not act this way!

June 8, 2017 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

You've got a point--you may remember Christopher's theory that Disney comics contain all this bizarre jurisprudence because Duckburg and Mouseton are fucking insane. As a prime instance of this, you may recall Gottfredson's "Great Orphanage Robbery," in which Horace is sentenced to death before a flagrantly specious kangaroo court.

June 8, 2017 at 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Originally this Story was published in the 50s, (if I remember correctly) And in that period there was a series of Hollywood movie that portrat a Very tough US judicial system: for exemple in a b/w movie a judge equipared a kidnapping of a policeman To A murder because The Crime has a duration surpassing 24 hours.

Aldo Mickey is accused of attempted murder But There are other accusations: breaking And thief+a car stolen+extortion.
The blot is An hard working man ;)

June 8, 2017 at 5:05 AM  
Anonymous anon01 said...

P.s. Good mornings to all and compliments to Geox for the blog. Excuse me for The grammatica andare typo errors And The rude comments But I was in a tush And in difficult with The cell.

June 8, 2017 at 5:44 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

@Debbie Anne
I don't know if it was the translator/editor or Disney itself to change the dialgues (so many comics are translated that Disney cannot control everything), but still this is not justifiable. If they think certain dialogues ruin the image they have to uphold, then the problem is that the society wrongly regards certain things as going against your image. But as I said before, "Censorship is always an enemy of art and creativity, without ifs and buts". The day censorship will end will never be too soon.

@Pan Miluś
The funny thing is, there's a common joke in popular culture that the law in Duckburg and Mouseton is very happy-go-lucky, since the Beagle Boys, Pete and the Phantom Blot are usually arrested in one issue and are out of jail in the next one.

"Or maybe this entire thing was atempt by Scarpa to make an ingenius commentary the system for which he hoped to go down in history as "Kafka meets Orwell" of his time?": well, keep in mind that it was Martina who wrote this story, Scarpa ony did the art. But at any rate it's possible that these kind of stories have indeed a social commentary against the death penalty which is usually associated with America: in Europe we are strongly against it, especially here in Italy which was the country of Cesare Beccaria.

June 8, 2017 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I just realized that in some way it could been easy for a writer to make a social commentary in these stories seeing how Mickey Mouse IS conisder one of symbols of American culture. Not entire story but some quick satirical undetones...

Same here in Poland on Capital punishment. Which is quite interesting seeing how people here are very conservative on most issues ("What is this Church-state separation you speak of?"), yet this is one issue were strictly liberal about in all cases.

June 8, 2017 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I have a question some of the more knowledgeable Scarpa fans that visit these here parts might be able to answer.

I've often heard that Scarpa considered his Mickey stories to pick up where the Gottfredson serials left off. Did Scarpa mean that figuratively as in he was continuing Gottfredson's work or did he mean it literally as in there's a "Scarpa" continuity that starts immediately after the last Gottfredson serial. If Scarpa viewed his work within such a continuity does he count stories like this one where he is only the artist?

June 8, 2017 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I don't have any specific evidence and thus can only give my semi-informed opinion, but I really, really doubt that Scarpa thought about continuity that way; I don't think that's a concept that had any currency pre-Rosa. I would bet a reasonable sum of money that he just meant he was trying to follow in Gottfredson's footsteps.

June 9, 2017 at 5:54 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

I'd say he kinda did think with a continuity, in a loose way. (Hence the return of past villains alluding to their previous defeats.)

June 9, 2017 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

"I've often heard that Scarpa considered his Mickey stories to pick up where the Gottfredson serials left off"

Maybe the reference you heard is to the Scarpa story "The Mystery of Tapiocus VI" (1956), which was created after Gottfredson stopped doing Mickey serials. The story is purposely paced to make it seem it's a strip story remounted into a comic book format (even though it isn't), an effect enhanced by the continuous presence of Walt Disney's signature and by a few signs being in English (as if a translator forgot to translate them).

To my knowledge, Scarpa didn't use a continuity like Gottfredson did (i.e., the beginning of a story being often related to the end of the previous one), except for the Atomo Bleep-Bleep cycle. The only reference to a past story that comes to my mind (exluding special cases like when a one-shot villain returns and we are reminded of what they did in their previous story) is "The Chirikawa Necklace" (1960) referring to "The Mystery of Tapiocus VI": O'Hara says Pete is in jail, and Mickey reminds him of the time his lookalike was jailed in his place.

This is all I can say from my memory. For more examples, I'll leave it to people who know Scarpa better than me.

June 9, 2017 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I recall an article in Scarpa's "Hall of fame" that mention that "un-like his Duck stories all of his Mouse stories where conected" ~ something among these lines.

June 9, 2017 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

When Deb says the following…

“ I think that one thing that everyone is forgetting about the US localization (rather than a direct translation) of this and any other story printed here is that quite often changes to dialogue are not the decision of the editors or translator, but mandated by Disney itself. A large company like Disney has an image to uphold, and sometimes material written in another country and decades before the modern day has material that Disney's PR people get nervous about. (And for clarification, I don't work for Disney, nor do I speak for anyone else who does, these are all "best guesses" as to how large corporations work.)”

…She is absolutely correct! It’s an unfortunate truth that we have had to deal with, from the early days of Gladstone to present-day IDW. What may have been okay for one time period (or even one country) is often not deemed so for another. And those often-arbitrary standards, which I might add is the copyright holder’s *absolute right* to invoke, are forever in a constant state of change. Check out Looney Tunes or old MGM cartoons as they were broadcast 50 years, ago, 30 years ago, and (if you even see them AT ALL in America) today! …Unlike the “old days” at my Blog, I’m no longer interested in patiently debating this topic with those who may continue to see it differently. So, feel free to offer your views in this thread – as it is YOUR *absolute right* to do – but please accept this as the truth – because it is.

When Geo says that I am a “big fan” of 1964’s “The Return of The Phantom Blot”, he ain’t just a woofin’! It was the single story that made me a regular reader of Disney comic books to the present day – as THIS POST from my Blog will tell you!

What you may not know is that my near-lifelong affection for the Blot is what directly led to “The Blot’s Double Mystery”… AND Romano Scarpa… AND Eega Beeva first appearing in the United States!

Way back in the eighties-era of Gladstone Series One, I was in regular contact with the editors as a known member of the “fan community”. In those early days, I would suggest certain European stories that I was able to locate in occasionally-seen foreign editions – and they would often be run. “The Robot Raiders of Magica De Spell”, in the first issue of Gladstone’s UNCLE SCROOGE, was one – simply because, enduring year after horrid year of Bob Gregory and Kay Wright in Gold Key and Whitman comics, I loved the loved the Branca art.

To make a long story short, I saw “The Blot’s Double Mystery” in a German digest… and HAD to see this in American English! Gladstone was supportive of my suggestion, but informed me that FIRST they had to run the Gottfredson and Walsh origin of Eega Beeva to set this story up. I was delighted at THAT news too since, as I discussed in Fantagraphics “Mickey Mouse Floyd Gottfredson Library” Volume 9, Eega had missed his turn to shine in the Dell comics of the 1950s and was still virtually unknown in the USA. From this perspective, it’s hard to believe that my simple request put all this in motion!

Flash forward to today and I have the honor and privilege of working with The Phantom Blot, Eega Beeva… AND the great Romano Scarpa! Sometimes, this can really be a wonderful world.

June 9, 2017 at 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

@Pan Miluś
Can you find that article? And what is this Scarpa's "Hall of fame" that you mentioned? Are you referring to the 2014 Italian project that reprinted all of his stories, or is it something in another language?

@Joe Torcivia
The copyright holders may have the legal right to do certain things, but this doesn't mean they also have the moral right. After all, there was a time were people could invoke the *absolute right* to own a slave. And I think it is a duty of every citizen to fight against censorship, since things rarely change by themself.

June 10, 2017 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Christopher said...


Hi! Sorry about the delayed response. (SPOILERS) At the end of of the story, Goofy thinks to himself, (not the exact wording, but close enough) "I don't get it... if Mickey didn't do it and Chief O'Hara didn't do it... Gawrsh! The only one left is me!" It's like he has no knowledge that the Blot and Eega Beeva are around.

@ (((Rootless Cosmopolitan GeoX)))

My theory about Duckburg having a hopelessly corrupt government was confirmed by a story in the Carl Barks Library's book "Trick or Treat." In one of the stories, a corrupt Owl Judge has a huge sign over his bench, saying "You haven't got a chance! The city's broke and the judge wants a raise!" Bottom line, the judge wasn't even trying to hide the fact that he doles out hefty fines to pretty much everybody who comes into court because he uses the money to pad his own pockets, and because the city gets a cut they look the other way and even tacitly approve.

June 10, 2017 at 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

Goofy's closing lines in the original version translate to "I'm understanding less and less. Who is the culprit? Mickey? O'Hara? Or... or... ulp! The culprit is me!!!"

The implication is that he didn't understand the situation, not that he doesn't believe in the existence of the Blot and of Eega Beeva.

June 11, 2017 at 5:19 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

@Drakebourgh :

This is Scarpa's Hall of fame :

It was series of books, each spotlighting difrent artists (aside from stories it's includes his biography and commentary on diffrent strories/things he contribiutet) Sadly only four came out in Poland, but in Scandynavian editions it was like 30 books. The current Fantagraphic Don Rosa books are basicaly extended editions of his Hall of fame collections.

Any how in essay on "The Lentils from Babylon" Lenardo Gori says (regarding the ending when we don't see how Scrooge got his money back) : "Unlike Mickeys adventures, which are concted to make full story of this character, Scarpas duck stories are not conected. In next story Scarpa in any way dosen't refrence how the feather billionare got his fortune back" (my translation)

June 11, 2017 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

O wow! There where like 50 books in Norwegian edition the last one was on "Manuel Gonzales"

June 11, 2017 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

...why did I wrote "like" agian? I ment there where 50 books... drat...

June 11, 2017 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

After all, there was a time were people could invoke the *absolute right* to own a slave. And I think it is a duty of every citizen to fight against censorship, since things rarely change by themself.

I'm not in favor of censorship, obviously, but this seems...a little out of proportion. :p

June 11, 2017 at 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

@Pan Miluś
Thanks for the link, and for the translation of the relevant bit. I don't know what to say: I listed all instances I could think of regarding the internal continuity, if there are more, I'll leave the job of listing them to someone who knows Scarpa better than me.

Well, let's say I would have written it a little differently had it been a different hour and had I had the time to write a longer message (well, except that it was partially an excuse to put things bluntly and see the reactions just for the fun of it). Certainly I am not comparing comic book censorship to slavery (it was an example, not a comparison), but I strongly believe in the fact that things rarely change by themselves. And when I mentioned "fight" I didn't just refer to activism, since there are just many ways someone can express the fact that he doesn't like something.

June 11, 2017 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


I’m very glad to see you back away from your unfortunate comparison of modifying a Disney comic book story to holding slaves.

Yet, I’m sorry that, in this statement (“…well, except that it was partially an excuse to put things bluntly and see the reactions just for the fun of it”), you appear to have made the conscious decision to troll us with outrageous remarks. I sure hope I am mistaken about this, as I’ve always thought more highly of you than that.

Opposing what you believe to be censorship, as you’ve often done in the past, is admirable. But eliciting reactions to outrageous remarks “…just for the fun of it” is something else entirely. I respectfully hope you have come to realize the difference.

Having made my points earlier, I did not intend to reenter this discussion – and will very likely not reenter it going forward – but I will add this. Now that my own Blog has “returned from the dead”, I will no longer entertain debates over Disney Censorship vs. Disney Editorial Prerogative. I believe that we have said all there is to say on the topic in the recent past – and am far more interested in discussing any and all individual comic book stories (and specific versions thereof) on their own merits.

Posts on both IDW’s DONALD DUCK # 20 and 21 are up, among a number of other things. To anyone who’s interested, I hope to see you there.

June 11, 2017 at 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

To be fair, I never said or implied that modifying a Disney comic book story was something even remotely comparable to holding slaves. What I said was an example, not a comparison, and my point was that things rarely change by themselves: they usually change when a significant amount of people start changing their mindsets, which in turn causes changes in the zeitgeist.

Was it an extreme example? Yes it was, but that's because it was an attempt to a reductio ad absurdum regarding the idea that something legal is also necessarily moral (not that you ever expressed this idea, but part of your message could be read by someone as advocating this idea). I am an amateur scholar of logic, and I have learned that in certain cases, a point is more easily proven if illustrated with an example (not a comparison) which is very extreme: in this case, I needed an extreme example of something that was once legal but clearly immoral. I also like to argumentate this way because I often read such extreme examples from my favourite writers and journalists. Of course, in written communication it is not always easy to distinguish between an example and a comparison (which are different things), and there's also the fact that in the States some topics seem to be much more sensitive (I have a couple examples I could report to illustrate this idea, but I think it's better if I save it from another discussion).

I didn't act as a troll: that "well, except" note that I added for honesty as an afterthought to my previous message wanted to illustrate that, after hastily writing yesterday's message (I had just returned home at about midnight, and I had few minutes to write it before turning off the pc) I did notice that the expression I used as an example could be misunderstood for a comparison... but since I didn't have time to rewrite it I just said to myself: well, let's keep it, if it's not misunderstood there won't be any problem, if it's misunderstood I'll explain it better tomorrow, let's say it will be fun to experience the suspense of waiting for the kind of answer while I load the page. I guess that to reach the effect of honesty in today's message I put too much emphasis on the "just for the fun of it" to the point where I could see why it may have been perceived as an ammission of trolling even though it wasn't. Well, everything is clearer now, I hope.

Anyway, I am really pleased to read that you think highly of me, so I really thank you for that.

By the way, censorship isn't always the worse change to a comic: for example, in "The Blot's Double Mistery" the "anonymous tip" part is not a censorship, and yet is worse than any censorship to the story.

But to some lighter and simpler topic: are you saying your blog has been updated with more comic reviews? That's great! I am going to check it right now.

June 11, 2017 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Everything is indeed clearer now, Drakeborough. Glad we had this exchange.

And, yes… DONALD DUCK # 20 and 21 (the latter to be released in the coming week – so get some sneak-peeks now) are discussed / reviewed in my usual fashion. Look forward to seeing you there.

June 11, 2017 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

It always a magical time here at DUCK COMICS REVUE comment section ^_^

June 11, 2017 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...


Thanks for telling me the close translation. I'm drawing from memory after reading the story about twenty-five years ago, so I freely admit I could have misremembered something.

June 12, 2017 at 4:46 AM  
Blogger Mesterius said...

Regarding Scarpa's "Hall of Fame", which Pan Miluś mentions: since Scarpa is one of the more popular European Disney comic creators, he got more than one Hall of Fame book in countries where the book series lasted for a while. In Norway there were THREE Scarpa volumes, and the second of these printed "The Blot's Double Mystery" for the first time in our country; uncensored, with crisp reproduction and color and in its original 3-tier page format. Check out that cover!

June 12, 2017 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Huwey said...

Regarding the continuity of Scarpa's Mickey stories, there is a certain continuity in Atomo Bleep Bleep stories, but it's not propper. Sometimes Mickey is mentioning other adventures, but they're usually not based upon each other.

June 19, 2017 at 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

"there is a certain continuity in Atomo Bleep Bleep stories": indeed, that's what I remembered. In fact, ten days ago I wrote "To my knowledge, Scarpa didn't use a continuity like Gottfredson did (i.e., the beginning of a story being often related to the end of the previous one), except for the Atomo Bleep-Bleep cycle".

June 19, 2017 at 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Huwey said...

Oh, I did not read that, because it was a little confusing, as I could not get to the ground of the discussion.
Huwey (who is at school, thus not signed in)(and yes with "w", not "Huey". It was a spelling mistake, but I use it as a name since)

June 20, 2017 at 3:36 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Can't wait for Geox's next review. May I sugest "The Golden Fleece"?

July 4, 2017 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Mmm...I'll take it under advisement, but as far as the next one is concerned, I think it's safe to say it's going to be something that nobody would guess. :p

July 4, 2017 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

"Scrooges Ultimate Adventure"?

July 4, 2017 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Uhuh. You got me wondering now. When do you reckon you'll be in measure to post said new review?

July 5, 2017 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Drakeborough said...

Since we discussed about changes in the translation, I wonder: does Goofy believe that Mickey is guilty in the American edition of this story?

July 6, 2017 at 6:09 AM  
Blogger birkoo said...

eh, its kinds hard to see where the at times really impressive genius phantom blot came from when this was the kind of stories that followed up on his first appearance.

personally, i a find the meglomania persona much more effective a villain, but i also agree that stories with him wanting revenge on people he doesnt like, tend to be his better ones.

just two examples of his stories from the 80/90's:
there is a story where he fucks over a museum/exhibit of "the greatest villians in history" or the like. why? cause they didnt include him in the list. gotta love that kind of selfaware evil genius.

there is also a story where he kidnaps mickey on the guys birthday, and really fucks with him mentally by such lovely features as rigged trains and trying to toss him down a hundred feet chasm and so on. why? cause he's mickey, the blot really doesnt like him, so Fuck that guy. also, in this story, he just completely gets away with no losses at all.

thats not really that uncommon for the blot, but this kind of getting away cleanly with no losses which can work both to a characters great advantage or great problem.

thankfully, he doesnt really have this happen all the time, but it happens enough to sell him as one of mickeys arch-enemies.

generally, how effective the blot is, depends very much on how well the author can balance his status as a really smart super genius criminal thief thats sometimes planning world domination, with his more mundane aspects, such as often being motivated by often very petty revenge.

overall, though, ill say i like the Blot a lot. when he's good, he's Great. but when he's bad... well you stuff like this, where he doesnt really come of as an amazing villain.

July 6, 2017 at 4:15 PM  

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