Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Christmas Parade"

You know, I just realized that I'm writing more Christmas entries here (thirteen, not counting the intro post) than I have other entries period for the whole rest of the year (eleven, not counting a hit-and-run anti-IDW post). I should up my output, probably--though I suppose, all things considered, an average of one a month isn't that bad.

But never mind that, because now, Duck Comics Revue is proud to bring you: a basically pretty okay story! Turns out Western's non-Barkses were capable of producing these on occasion! Yes, I know, that Barks story kind of wrecked the curve, but pretend that never happened and appreciate it for what it is! It's called, kind of, "Christmas Parade," apparently, but I don't think that really applies to the story in any particular way. It's more a thing they would sometimes do when the title of the Giant would double as the title for the first story, even when it's not all that apropos (there are zero parades here, Christmas or otherwise). We'll see that done again next time. This was published in 1962, in the first Gold Key issue of CP; it's also the last original marquee story that the series would feature. After this it would be Barks covers along with a few lesser reprints--including, in the last issue, in 1971, "The Big Switcheroo." Dammit, Western, it really wasn't enough to drive one generation of comic-loving kids the brink of madness? Impossible to imagine why it was the last issue. Anyway.

We start like this, and it's fairly silly, but still kind of amusingly Christmas-y. The Christmas tumult, that is. Along with the plot, Strobl's art is really pretty okay. Dig those square text bubbles that Western was trying out at the time, for reasons that are not entirely clear.

Yeah, so that was just his silly way of trying to find a gift for Scrooge. But, it's hopeless. Better to just sort of spy on him.

The idea that Scrooge would have these crazily eccentric demands, like Van Halen wanting only Brown M&Ms, is so crazily out-of-character, especially at this late date when it had been pretty firmly established, is definitely notable. A lot of writers just didn't make even the most token effort in that direction. They'd do "rich guy" the way they wanted to do "rich guy," dammit! Which, I suppose, is okay if it results in a truly compelling, original version of the character, but mostly it just comes off as artless cluelessness, as here.

Anyway, they get this idea from this statue. La.

Von Drake cameo, which is always fun. This having been published shortly after the character's introduction. Shouldn't "duck psychologist" just be "psychologist" in this world? Isn't the whole point that they're all ducks in appearance only? Does this mean that he won't treat dogfaces? What's happening here?!?

You might be wondering who wrote this, as inducks declines to speculate. There's no absolutely dispositive evidence, but based on "why ducks act quacky...I mean whacky," along with the way the eventual moral is somewhat didactically spelt out (as well as--sorry Vic--the sexist bullshit), I think we can say that Lockman is the most probably candidate. In which case, hey, this is certainly one of the best Lockman stories I've read, so cheers to that!

"Don't you dare give me Ludwig for a Christmas present!" is funny. Scrooge sure would like to find contentment. This seems to suggest inner depths in a way that, naturally, is not explored.

Psychology or mind control? Are we getting into conspiracy-theory territory here, or what?

Let's give Italian Stereotype a sack o' cash? What could go wrong?

Well, you can perhaps figure out where this is going. I like the way Ludwig just washes his hands of the whole thing. CYA.

Yeah, so now...this part. This stands out rather obviously as the one really notably, obviously bad part of this story.

Oh dear.

I want to know what the fuck the deal is with these "town wolves." Is there some stereotype of louche characters like this hijacking women's cars? I am unaware of it. But really, this sudden, violent spasm of sexism really mars the story. It can't help but be one of the things about it that stands out the most in your memory.

So yeah, this, which again fails to make the desired impression.

I really, really like the idea of him firing them from being his relatives. That's good, and worth a few points for sure.

And now, we move on to the heartwarming portion of this story. And, you know, credit where due, it is indeed at least moderately heartwarming.

Here is the lesson for you, if you missed it.  They were just waiting in the wings with that spiel all prepared, weren't they?  Now, there's definitely something to this. Anyone who's seen The Wire undoubtedly remembers the part in season four where the underprivileged kids win the debate contest and get taken to a super-high-end restaurant as a reward, only to be thoroughly alienated and freaked out by the whole thing until they make their chaperone take them to McDonald's instead. I definitely think of that, especially as regards the organ grinder. It's certainly a real phenomenon. That said, there's also the seed of a kind of malignant "it's only natural and right that the commoners know their place" message here. I'm not saying it spoils the story; it doesn't. But it remains in the back of my mind. It also doesn't help that Daisy's "inappropriate gift" is only "inappropriate" due to the writer being a sexist ass. There's nothing inherent in the fancy car that she would object to.

Notably absent: a more appropriate present for Grandma. One strongly suspects that presumed-Lockman just couldn't think of anything, but, as fun as this is--and it is reasonably fun--that stands out as quite the lacuna. Couldn't she just have been given a less ostentatious new farm tool or something?

The story definitely sticks the ending, though; that's nice. One can't help thinking though (okay, one easily can, but I've trained my brain not to be able to not): how does this work? How massive does that spool of tinsel have to be to be that visible on a mountain? And one's mind boggles thinking about the star. It's gonna be hell to clean up come the new year; I hope Scrooge's spirit of generosity persists 'til then. BUT. One shouldn't think of that. One should just be thankful for a Christmas story that--to repeat myself--is NOT TOO BAD. Thanks, Vic.



Anonymous Elaine said...

My favorite parts of this story: the visual of the Merry Drake statue--I'm quite willing for that to be permanently ensconced in my mental Duckburg--and Ludwig's line as he walks out the door, which has made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. "I've set things up for disaster, so my work is done here." The story has its moments, bad and good, but I'd vote for Fallberg's "Trick-Type Trip" as the best non-Barks in this bunch! Clearly superior to this one in my book.

December 23, 2018 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Shouldn't "duck psychologist" just be "psychologist" in this world? Isn't the whole point that they're all ducks in appearance only? Does this mean that he won't treat dogfaces? What's happening here?!?

Possibly it's to be taken as Ludwig himself being a duck as well as a psychiatrist, as opposed to a psychiatrist who treats ducks. Who knows why Ludwig felt compelled to mention it on his sign if that's the case, though.

Alternatively, it's not absurd to think that while broadly identical, different anthropomorphic species, having evolved differently and being in possession of slightly different brains, might have different psychoses. Maybe blinkus-of-the-thinkus is a typically Duck thing, for example, reliant on features of their brain chemistry which simply don't exist in, say, dognoses.

December 24, 2018 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I also read "Duck Psychologist" more as "I'm a duck that's psychologist"...

Which is also a bit confusing. That's like writing "A black Doctor" or "A Hindu Doctor" at your office. Not sure about the time piriod this was made in but today you would mostly get a WTF reactions from people.

What WTF for me is that Daisy is so casualy dating Gladstone... Do Donald even reacts to this? One would suspect a panel where he goes "The hell she is" or at lest "Ho-ho-ho they broke up" at the end.

Also - Soda Fountain???

December 24, 2018 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Xander Ares said...

I love this story, Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2018 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger gl said...

Merry Christmas, GeoX!

December 24, 2018 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...


December 24, 2018 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Merry Christmas to all! I think the "psychologist who's a duck" vs. "psychologist who treats ducks" question is pretty unambiguously answered by "I'm an expert on why ducks act . . . whacky [sic]"

December 24, 2018 at 10:08 PM  

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