Monday, March 26, 2018

"Hoosat from Another Planet"

It's been HOW long since I've written here?!?  My goodness!  Would you believe I was kidnapped by somewhat incoherently-drawn space people? And as evidence, I present: this, a late Gottfredson/Walsh effort, for your consideration. Consider it! I order you!

Okay, so the opening of the story is sort of convoluted, so just suffice it to say: having used the black pearls that he had found in the previous story to pay his outstanding taxes, Mickey is broke again, but everyone thinks he's rich so they're bugging him for money and so to get away with them he agrees to go off uranium prospecting with Goofy. And how I see that this is the second story I've written about in a row involving uranium prospecting (EDIT: uh, almost in a row). Always with the uranium! You people are weird.

As you should not be surprised to learn, being that this is Walsh, the whole uranium thing drops out of sight pretty quickly, so let's fast-forward to HERE, where things start to actually happen. Here's Ohm-Eye! He really invigorates the story, especially in the early going. A bit Eega-Beeva-esque for sure.

Rich philosophical implications here. Exactly the kind of thing they explored with Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, although Walsh does not dig as deeply into it as you might wish. Well, it's Walsh. What do you expect? You should be grateful that you're getting anything at all.

AWWWW. Sure, it's hokey as heck, but it's sweet anyway.

Anyway, they get captured and taken to...this guy. Who is odd as heck, not so much for anything he does--there's no particular story reason why he couldn't just be Some Guy--as for his metal shell. My first thought was "atomic bomb," which you gotta figure was also on Walsh's mind on some level. Well, maybe you don't. You can do what you want! But I do. I also briefly thought "is it just gonna be Pete inside that thing?" but no. To the story's benefit, I think. More weird, out-there stuff, is what we need.

Saved! In kind of a lame way, but eh. This trope is familiar through maybe-apocryphal (I have not done my research) stories about Pocahontas. This is Hoosat, for the record, but she's only referred to by name off-handedly by Mickey and Goofy. They must have learned her name off-page.

Just look at this. It's not like Walsh really goes much of anywhere with the character, but this is creepy as anything. He isn't there, in a physical sense. It's just--maybe this is a stretch, but--free-floating atomic anxiety. Brrr.

Of course, on that note, there's also this macguffin, bleerium. It's extremely obvious that you're not a scientist, Mickey. No need to be explicit about it.

I mean, HERE'S a thing. Note that Bomb King (as I'm calling him 'cause why not) used Hoosat's exact same rationale for why it doesn't matter when Mickey tried to get clemency for Ohm-Eye. The characterizations for these guys are not necessarily super-coherent, as I suppose happens when you're making up a story on the fly. That "what difference does it make?" is kind of a leitmotif throughout the story, but I think it would be a bit of a stretch to say that there's a coherent philosophy at play here.

I really want to draw attention to that last panel, as it works quite well. The electrical man looks sort of shell-shocked at hearing that he has no emotions, no feelings, but at the same time...that's kind of just the way they look. So there's uncomfortable ambiguity.

But, of course, we're encouraged to see Ohm-Eye as having feelings, and as such, by extension, the others too. If you really wanted to press the point you could argue, oh, he only has feelings because he was changed by his contact with Mickey and Goofy, but I'm not really buying that. Point being: I haven't actually read the last Gottfredson book yet, but barring something truly extraordinary, this is surely the biggest body count in any Walsh story. Man, I tell you: when I first read "The World of Tomorrow," I assumed it was just an aberration. Truly, I hadn't seen nothin' yet. And the cold-booded, mechanized killing here is surely more disturbing than any I'd seen previously.

Look, they go to space, okay? It's not bad art, but really, I'm just sticking this in here so there's less of a jarring transition between them being on Earth and not.

Actually, one other thing--I can't believe I forgot to point this out: note that the planet "Unlaxx" (why the scare quotes?) is three hundred thousand miles away...or slightly greater than the distance between Earth and the Moon, and orders of magnitude less than the distance between Earth and Mars or Venus.  Science!  I know they didn't have wikipedia at the time, but you'd think it wouldn't have been THAT difficult to find a reasonable-sounding distance.

"Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!" Though, really, the space people do kind of have a point.

I, like Mickey, am Not A Scientist, but I still can't help feeling that maybe perhaps just abruptly shoving a material with the power to destroy the universe that you haven't studied at all into a vacuum isn't the absolute best idea. But who can say? I could be wrong!

Oh, yeah. One of those "space areas." Sounds legit to me. I have to admit, though, that is a pretty cool visual.

Take a look at these dudes. They're instrumental to saving our heroes, but they never speak, and they're never characterized in any way other than finding everything goddamn hilarious. I suppose it's a blueprint of the ideal Walsh reader: you have no idea what's going on, but you laugh like a maniac anyway. I only sometimes fall into that category, however.

Drama! Not covering yourself with glory there, are you, Goofy? Just another example of Walsh mischaracterizing characters for a laugh(?). Or, I mean, here, just to continue the "he's not a really person" theme, but to what end? Really.

Boom. Couple more notches on the barrel of Walsh's gun. What's shocking to me about this is how off-handedly, casually brutal it is. Leaving aside the question of whether Hoosat and Bomb King deserved to die--they're vaguely drawn enough that it's hard to really compare them to other villains--the way they do is just...jeez. If you're gonna kill off characters, you really, really need to give it more weight than Walsh likes to do--though, oddly enough, doing that would probably be deemed inappropriate for a Disney comic; dwelling on death in a morbid fashion. Anyway.

But OH! Walsh makin' fun of the Cold War Paranoia! Go Bill! Even if this part seems superfluous and tacked-on!

But back to things I don't like: I am positively insulted by how abruptly he writes out Ohm-Eye. I suppose this is basically the same as the way he killed off his antagonists: he didn't want them for story purposes anymore, so bye. Still, it kind of sucks. I think if Eega Beeva's okay, you don't have to worry about people laughing at you, dude. It's such a featherweight rationale.

Actually, it's too bad no one's ever seen fit to bring back Ohm-Eye. I suppose you could say that what with Eega and Atomo Bleep Bleep, another weird space-person is superfluous (okay, Atomo's technically not a space-person, whatever), but Ohm-Eye is substantially more different from Eega than Atomo is. I think it would present a lot of good story and character possibilities. Actually, I think that in general about a lot of Gottfredson--and especially Gottfredson/Walsh--characters. They could really liven things up.

Anyway, that's about it for this story. You can see Walsh's strengths and weaknesses here: he's good at making individual interesting moments; not so much at constructing coherent stories around them.

One last question: where do the names of these stories come from? I could believe that some of them were internal King Features things, but this one seems pretty obviously to be a take-off on Brother from Another Planet, so I dunno. Are they all just like untitled Barks ten-pagers? Or is it a mix. When were the names chosen, and by whom? I know at least some of them existed in Gladstone I days, but how about for stories like this, that they never even came close to printing? It is a mystery!

Anyway, sorry about the long silence. NOT THAT I OWE YOU ANYTHING! But even if I have been busy, I like keeping this blog active. Hopefully it'll be so in the future.

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Blogger Debbie Anne said...

While I haven't gotten to this story yet, the surprising thing about many of the Bill Walsh stories is that they manage to be both very creative and really unfocused as well. They do read like he's just writing them a week at a time versus planning out a whole story and building on the framework of his idea to get to specific plot points. Romano Scarpa's work did this as well. Reading Bill Walsh's work makes some of the more whimsically ploted Scarpa tales make more sense, at least in terms of the writing style. Some of Scarpa's stories read like you could chop them up into segments and they'd work like a Bill Walsh daily strip.

March 26, 2018 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger gl said...

Good to have you back, GeoX! Alas, I'm afraid I cannot believe your alien-abduction tale, as you seem to have updated "inchoatia" in the interim...

March 27, 2018 at 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

In the first panel in which the Yakkers appear, that must be a depiction of the "hot foot" prank (it has its very own Wikipedia page!), wherein someone sets the victim's shoelaces or shoe on fire with a match or lighter. Hence, what we are seeing is the miracle of something burning where there is no oxygen! Someone here is definitely Not a Scientist.

March 27, 2018 at 11:42 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

That was unexpected for a review, and I echo the sentiment of being glad that you're back with us, GeoX.

About what's been said concerning Walsh's pace-less, "make-it-up-as-I-go-along" writing, yeah, I figure he just wrote week to week with a vague idea where to go, because his scripts for the Disney live-action movies (we owe the man The Absent-Minded Professor, among others, as I recall), while still very weird, are much more reasonably structured.

What's Bomb King's real name, anyway? I forget.

March 30, 2018 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

He doesn't have a name; that's why I gave him one.

March 30, 2018 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Jannes said...

I agree with Debbie Anne about the Walsh/Scarpa-connection, when I started reading the later Gottfredson adventures for the first time in the Fanta-library they felt oddly familiar- because I grew up on that crazy Italian stuff! I feel like the old Italian writers were heavier influenced by Gottfredson & his writers than by Barks (Am I stating the obvious here? I still think it's interesting), which makes sense only historically, since the Gottfredson stuff was really popular in early Topolino-days (don't know when they started printing Barks) and Scarpa explicitly tried to mime the strips after they ran out of Mickey adventures. From a craft-standpoint, it makes no sense modeling the structure of comic book stories after strips. Using the Barks-model would make much more sense, since he was all about structure. Anyway, I think the results were often quite interesting, although today I prefer the (early) Scarpa-Mickey, the Duck-stuff could get really weird and not always in a good way... The first few Scarpa-Mickeys are classics at least in my book and I'm soooo excited to get them in a nice package by Fanta! I have them all in the German digests but they look like crap in those.

April 1, 2018 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger TheKKM said...

Someone ask David Lynch if this is where he got the idea on how to do Twin Peaks The Return without David Bowie, because I'm looking at Bomb King there and just keep thinking of Phillip Jeffries.

April 13, 2018 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous D. Ruopp said...


In Italy they published Carl Barks in real time, a few months after the US publications. Not in 42-45 of course, because of the war (which means that for the very first years of the after-war there was a great amount of Barks stories to publish!). All the writers of the first Italian generation (Martina, Chendi, Scarpa and others...) were aware of the existence of the "one good duck artist" besides the "one good Mickey artist". A few artists, like Bottaro and Carpi, later declared to suffer the fact that at the beginning (late 40's begin of the 50's) the editor-in-chief forced them to draw Donald in the strips-stye (Taliaferro) rather than in Barks style. Most writers of duck of stories of the fifties and sixtes, at least those who became famous enough to get some interviews (Chendi, Scarpa, Cimino) declared to be more or less influenced by Barks, but honestly none of them really was. There were centuries of history of Italian storytelling for children, Italian popular storytelling, Italian theatrical (and in those days also cinematic) comedy, not no tell that comics also had a certain development in Europe at that moment: those authors came from that culture, overwhelming Barks's influence.
The exception was Scarpa, who was strictly influenced by Hollywood movies (Disney and Hitchcock in particular) and American Disney comics. BUT, just like Rosa's work is completely based on the Disney comics he loved as a child (Barks), so Scarpa's only real strong influence was Mickey Mouse's strips and sundays which he read obsessively since his childhood. For Scarpa, Carl Barks was probably some kind of genial anonymous senior colleague from the States. In the 70's a delegation of Italian workers of Topolino, including Marco Rota and Romano Scarpa, visited the Studios. They were invited to meet Barks. But then Scarpa asked to be introduced to Gottfredson, and he was moved and a bit disappointed when discovering that his idol was treated as a second-degree employed in a little drawing desk in a little corner.

April 25, 2018 at 6:07 AM  

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