Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Will somebody kindly tell me...

...just what the friggin' frig the deal is with this?

I mean, do I need to elaborate on that? Probably not, but I will anyway: the comic is known as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. By leaving off "Walt," this new version looks bizarrely decapitates the title for no reason that I can see (somehow, I think of those old photos from Stalinist Russia from which liquidated party officials would be edited out as convenient). And compounding the bizarreness is that it remains "Comics and stories. "Stories" is the anachronistic part of the title. It hasn't published text stories in forever. There have been incarnations of the title which lopped off "and stories;" I don't love that, but it makes sense and I can't get too het up about it. But this--let's not mince words--fucking bullshit of getting rid of Walt (I mean, the renumbering sucks too, but at least you can sort of explain, if not justify, that)? The only possible explanation I can think of is that someone at Disney decided that they want to deemphasize the man himself and only have "Disney" used as a corporate signifier. That possibility does NOT speak well of anyone, but, well...what am I supposed to think? But whatever the reason, it sucks. A lot (I want to love you, Disney, I really do, but you sure don't make it easy). WDC is a beloved, venerable institution and does not deserve to be fucked with in such a manner. And really, whatever wildly misguided notions anyone may have about branding, from a marketing perspective, this is just nonsense: new readers are not going to care one way or the other about this, and stalwarts like us are just pissed off. What brain trust is responsible for this?

I think IDW may be having some kind of psychotic break. There's this, and then there's the extremely ominous talk of "fresh and modern" translations, or whatever the fuck? I mean, if you want to switch up translation philosophies for some sort of articulated reason, that would be, well, at least theoretically justified, but does anyone think this is going to be anything other than an exercise in blandness, probably precipitated by some clueless bureaucrat's resentment over liberties and perceived liberties taken with the Most Holy Text? Especially given that they're kicking off with the mediocrity that is "Uncle Scrooge's Millions," I think the question comes very close to answering itself.

But hey, by all means, don't listen to me; I'm just an intense, long-time fan. I'm sure you can make up for alienating people like me by attracting random dilettantes. Really. This is an extremely coherent, well-thought-out idea. Don't worry about a thing. Knock yourselves out. should probably at least know this much: if your comics go in the bad direction that it looks like they're going to go, I'm going to stop buying them. No, you don't care about that per se, but look: this blog may not be particularly popular as blogs go, but as English-language Disney-comics blogs go, it's pretty comfortably in the number-one spot. That sounds like bragging, and sure sure it's a bit like winning the "tallest dwarf" contest, but it is what it is. If I write about a story (assuming it has an even slightly distinctive title), my blog entry will appear among the top google hits on the first page.  Point being: do you want me to give you unrelentingly negative publicity? 'Cause if you earn it I will, and it seems like that might not be the all-time super-greatest thing for you, given how marginal this field is. Think about it,'s all I'm saying.


Blogger Debbie Anne said...

I have picked up both of the “Fresh and Modern” era issues, but haven’t read them yet. I do think they should return “Walt Disney’s” to the classic titles though for the sake of tradition, but I can maybe understand it as a corporate decision to make all of IDW’s Disney titles seem like one line versus three (classic, modern and Star IDW’s Star Wars books say “Disney Star Wars”? That would be weird...).

September 26, 2018 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

I highly support everything you've said — of course, how could I not?… You know, I hadn't considered what a relative "big deal" your blog might be from Disney's point of view. True, that. I wonder if the Wiki will reach a similar status in time… possibly. Of course, it's by nature much less opinionated, but there's a thing to be said for detached contempt.

Is it me, or are the Fresh And New issues using a new lettering font? Which is… not obnoxious, except in its jarringness, but, in my opinion, somewhat inferior to what the Team Gerstein issues had been using.

So… the Fresh And New dialogue. …hm. Well, it does seem like it's written with children in mind. Hence the blandness. No references, no added wordplay, just… plain dialogue. In fact, I do believe there are a few cases where there was wordplay in the Italian and it's now been erased.

Comparing My First Millons #1 to All of Scrooge McDuck's Millions #1 as previously published by ComiXology, I can at least testify that Erin Brady, whoever she is (she's the translator for both Fresh And New issues) improved on the ComiXology version, though that one actually has better lettering. Brady may be bland, but ComiXology was painful. Count yer blessings, folks.

The first issue of Disney Comics & Stories on the other hand suffers from the fact that I haven't something worse to compare it to. Most of it is okayish, but there are occasional very clunky dialogue ("I thought I'd show you my important trophy!"… "What a… happy surprise"). Either Erin Brady has nothing to be proud of as far as mastery of the English language is concerned, or (I suspect this might be the case) she's actually an Italian using a pseudonym.

Doing moderate amounts of digging up indicate that the new editor, Chris Cerasi, is somewhat-well-known as a DC and Star Wars afficionado who has edited comics for the latter, and is also known for creating superhero film credits, of all things. I think we can all agree this résumé is neither expected, nor paticularly impressive.

Concerning Erin Brady, any hope of locating her is buried by… that other Erin Brady… …unless of course, it is the same Erin Brady, which, you know, not to be disrespectful to professional models but that might explain some things.

A saving grace is, of course, the second story, which was written in English to begin with by the reliable Byron Erickson. If Fresh And New IDW remains willing to use such stories, maybe not all issues will leave such a bad taste in one's mouth. We'll see.

Incidentally, have you noticed that the Fresh And New issues are foregoing credit of the artists (let alone the translators, or translator, as the case may be) at the top of the cover? Maybe that's what makes the DC&S cover feel so empty, combined with the lack of "Walt".

Alright, so as promised, let's begin the chanting, everyone.


September 26, 2018 at 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Can't say anything about the content of the Fresh & Modern issues until I've read them, which won't be till Friday. Just on the title, though: If they want to attract newbies, "Disney Comics and Stories" is way too bland and generic. The only reason to continue with some version of the original title is tradition, and the change they made undermines that reason. In addition, as you say, the "and Stories" has been a phrase without a referent for decades now. If they wanted to be able to pretend that they were continuing the very long run of WDC, then they should have kept Walt. If not, it would have made more sense for them to title the series "Donald and Mickey" or the like.

Those who've already got their copies: is the "legacy numbering" of WDC continued somewhere inside? *Are* they claiming to be continuing the very long run of WDC?

September 26, 2018 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

The legacy numbering is included in the indicia on the inside front cover. It isn’t in Uncle Scrooge: My First Millions because that is a four-issue mini-series (although it runs longer than four chapters in Italy). Uncle Scrooge will continue with issue #41 in January once Millions wraps up. From what I’ve read so far (the first issue of MFM), the new editorial staff is off to an uninspiring start. The script is oversimplified and bland. Places where you could put in interesting place names pop up and are duly ignored for obvious names like “Scrooge’s Mine” or “Pickaxes and More”. (How could you miss “Pickaxes ‘R’ Us”?) We also get puzzling “jokes” like “He arranges all the pickaxes with their handles up!” as a reason the store proprietor’s nephew is weird, or nuggets of “wisdom” like “Acceptance is for the accepting!” and “If you want to be lucky, avoid bad luck!” Maybe these lines made sense in Italian, but in English they just fall flat. We also get a line about Scrooge’s “Super Pickax” that just breaks after he swings it too hard. Maybe a joke about it being “his trusty old pickax!” would have made more sense there. I really want to like this series, being a big Uncle Scrooge fan, but so far it’s off to a bad start. Not only that, but even with a good translation, it would still be competing against Rosa’s Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, and falling flat. It could still be fun even though it’s hardly the event they wanted it to be if you punched it up like the previous group of scripters would have.

September 27, 2018 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Concerning the legacy numbering: huh. I hadn't noticed. Guess I will count it as one apiece with WDC&S on the Wiki then.

September 27, 2018 at 5:19 AM  
Blogger Sabrina (M) said...

I suspect that they thought that a five-word title is too long, so they cut off the first two. Granted, it would've been better to cut off the LAST two, but whatever.

September 28, 2018 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Spectrus said...

In the German version, the nephew is weird because he polishes every pickaxe.

But let me reiterate what I already said on FeatherySociety: The series really picks up after the first episode. Scrooge's 2nd million is a million times better than the 1st.

October 3, 2018 at 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question is not “how good will the remainder of the story be?”, but how well – or how flat – will it read in its new English translation?

October 3, 2018 at 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Spectrus said...

As for fresh and modern...

I think there might be a parallel here to what was recently announced for the Italian Topolino - texts that are easier to read and can also be understood by somewhat impaired kids. It hasn't affected existing comics yet, but those that are currently being produced will probably be simplified (barrier-free) to a degree.

And simply guessing from what I've seen in panels posted on various blogs like these, that's exactly what IDW's translations aren't.

Now I don't think that automatically means scripts should be as dumbed down as possible. But when they introduce various continuity errors (Zapotek speaking Spanish etc.) or too many anachronisms that take all realism out of the story (like Debbie's suggestion "Pickaxes 'R' Us", unless TRU actually dates back to the times of the Klondike gold rush!), I am a bit alarmed. And from my own personal preference, I prefer dialogue to be somewhat real-sounding. If you're under fire or in a tunnel that's about to collapse, you don't produce monstrous monologues with alluring allegories, alerting allusions and all kinds of alliterations. This comes from a German publication, by the way - lest I should be accused of criticising only the US scripters of recent times.

And I know some of the German fans who bought some of IDW's releases are of the same opinion, i.e. that the old British comics were much closer to capturing the spirit of the original texts, or at least of the German versions. Quite possibly, IDW is concerned with this, but it does seem like they have veered too much into the other extreme. IMO, when working with the scripts of really good authors (and Fausto Vitaliano is indubitably one) should definitely try to keep the amount of wordplay/humour equal to the original.

October 24, 2018 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Hmm. I seem to have accidentally deleted an anonymous commenter's comment, which said:

i think i get idw's logic here. i think their counting on new dt having brought these characters into the young uns zeitgeist, and leading them to look for more content with them.

what i don't get though is the assumption that children are just irreversibly baffled by any kind of complicated wordplay, and that american kids are somehow less literate than there Italian counterparts?

Sorry, anonymous person!

January 15, 2019 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

GeoX. I think you should see this. She-Who-Must-Now-Not-Be-Named-Lest-She-Sue-Us-Out-Of-Existence continues to endear herself to no one…

January 16, 2019 at 1:39 PM  

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