Monday, February 11, 2019

"Donald's Pet Service"

So, no joke: I actually was planning on writing this entry--I had the panels to use all chosen and everything--when friend-of-the-blog Debbie Anne posted a panel from it on facebook, and said that she didn't remember the story itself. So, that gave me an incentive to get it done.

The story here is pretty standard stuff: Donald starts this new enterprise that provides opportunities for misadventures to occur. And then...they do. But it's Barks, so you can be pretty sure it'll be worth reading anyway.

As we like to do, let's take a survey of the art in Donald's house. First, that odd thing in the upper right of the first panel, that looks like it might be some kind of photo negative. Are those minarets? Is this a cityscape from some Islamic country? Or are they just smokestacks? Interesting choice in any event. And then let's not overlook the other picture, with its unsettling cluster of duck heads that may or may not be silently passing judgment on the characters. Sometimes I feel like the Duck house would be a creepy place to live.

Finally, note that this originally appeared in WDC 200. Barks celebrated the occasion by doing...the usual thing. And why not? I don't know what that 575 next to the 200 in the bottom of the last panel signifies.

We begin, as well we should, with the most "normal" item on the list, A Large Dog. THIRTY POUNDS OF DOG FOOD. For that, I'm expecting some sort of Clifford-esque monstrosity.

Yup, it's a pretty big dog. BUUUUT...for comparison purposes, my parents have two dogs. They're nothing like the one here, but they're large-ish beasts. Maybe half the size of this unnamed (unless "Puppy" is meant to be its name) animal. And they each get three cups of dog food a day (plus miscellaneous biscuits). Whereas, if the internet can be trusted, thirty pounds would be about sixty cups. You thought you'd get away with this flagrant error, Barks?!? Not while I'm on the case!

Anyway, the main thing Louie suffers here (yes, it's Louie; as you know, the hat colors had not been standardized at this time) is a log falling on him. He really shouldn't complain. It seems like pretty minor stuff in the long or short or medium run.

Next one is these Hummingbirds of Doom. I've long had this idea for a horror movie where woodpeckers develop a taste for HUMAN BRAINS and start pecking on people's heads instead of wood. So, you know. Okay, it's silly, but I feel this is sillier still; hummingbirds are such fragile little creatures that this idea comes off as even goofier. Sad to say, I think the real-world result of this ZOW behavior would be...all of them collapsing, dead. Not a very edifying conclusion for the episode, admittedly.

And for this one, of course, there's no danger at all, just annoyance. But man, what annoyance. Because, I mean, if there are flies there are flies, but often there simply AREN'T, and then what do you do? Maybe these people maintain a fly-heavy environment, but in that case you'd expect him to be able to find more.

"Who, I suspect, is a horse." There's that odd Barks diction popping up again. This is one thing about Barks that no one would imitate, but you see it all the time. Is it part of his inimitable charm, or is he great in spite of it? Difficult to say.

...but I do have to say, that bottom right panel is one of Donald's most dickish moments. The kid just saved you shitloads of work; you could at least display a little gratitude? Maybe?

"Who, no doubt, is a cat." There it is again! The sort of thing you'd see more often in writing than you would in speech. Is there some cultural reason that I don't get why you'd automatically assume that "Annie" would be a cat's name?

You know...when I was in Borneo (god, this makes me sound so much more cosmopolitan than I actually am), we went on a night hike in the jungle, and we came across some fire ants doing their thing--marching en masse across the path--and the guide hurried us by, because it would've been possibly dangerous and certainly unpleasant to get up close and personal with them. But Barks seems to have this idea that all kinds of ants will fuck your shit up--see the earlier story now known as "Donald Duck Rants About Ants." They're not that dangerous, dude! Or dangerous at all.

...and, I mean, if the only problem is that they tickle... really, now. What would it be like to have an anteater as a pet? Well, it's probably not a good idea, as these things so rarely are. This gal's kinda cute, though, I suppose.

Now we get to the somewhat terrifying part. That is some ominous foreshadowing right there.

Yay! This image is cool, yet kind of alarming. I like. But--I mean, I don't want to get too graphic here, but it's hard not to--if they're being fed whole friggin' goats, isn't the pool going to quickly become a horrific mess of blood and bone fragments? Well, I guess maybe not if they're prepared properly. But I still can't help but think that it would need VERY regular cleaning.

For no particular reason, here we have two nephews being clumsy. It does kind of crack me up.

Well, in fairness, now that you know what you're up against, it shouldn't be as bad. You can prepare for at least some of the stuff, and as long as you're careful, most of the animals shouldn't be a problem. But granted, Donald is surely the Most Dangerous Game here. Gripe! Gripe! Gripe! indeed.



Blogger Psychopathicus said...

If what an old issue of ZooBooks once told me is correct, hummingbirds are actually pretty aggressive little creatures who will occasionally gang up on larger birds if they find their presence offensive. We tend to think of them as harmless because of their size and diet, but honestly, I don't find the whole feeder situation here to be all that far-fetched. Comedically exaggerated and unlikely, to be sure, but I could see it happening in some form.

February 11, 2019 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

I must agree with Psycopathicus. What sort of odd double-standard is it that we acknowledge that a swarm of hornets can be a menace, yet hummingbirds, who are noticeably larger, should get a free pass? Granted, hummingbirds are cute, but so are honeybees until they start stinging.

Various thoughts:

"Who, no doubt, is a cat." There it is again! The sort of thing you'd see more often in writing than you would in speech.

You're probably right (I mean, I could say things like that orally, but I'm a dreadfully theatrical person). But Donald isn't speaking: those are his thoughts. And even though they're written like lines, people don't normally think as a coherent internal monologue; rendering characters' thoughts into words is always artificial and doesn't actually reflect what they're thinking word for word. So while you're at it you might as well do it with some flair.

(god, this makes me sound so much more cosmopolitan than I actually am)

Well if you're worried about appearing too cosmopolitan, perhaps you oughtn't have your username be “Rootless Cosmopolitan GeoX”, if I may. Heheh.

-if they're being fed whole friggin' goats, isn't the pool going to quickly become a horrific mess of blood and bone fragments?

Not if those are cartoon fish who swallow the goats whole, as I'd assume they would be. They sure don't look like real sharks and lampreys to me. Do real sharks even have tongues to lick their chops with?…

February 12, 2019 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Matilda said...

On the prevalence of flies: an old house like that depicted might well have been devoid of window screens in the 1950's, by which time they had become common in newer houses.

Also, in gender solidarity I feel the need to point out that INDUCKS attributes the story idea to Carl's daughter Peggy.

The anteater link doesn't work for me....

February 12, 2019 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

As a European, I still can't get over the fact that you Americans have screens on your windows as a matter of course. It's one of those weird cultural differences where you don't even consider there might be a difference until someday in your late teens or twenties you learn about it by chance and boggle.

February 12, 2019 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

Seeing this helped jog my memory on this story. I remember the parts with the hummingbirds and the nephew playing fetch with the dog upon seeing them again. By this time, Barks' ten-pagers had begun to get pretty formulaic, so something like this one could fall through the cracks because it doesn't stand out as much as his late 40's-early 50's stories. Thank you for running this. I don't think this one is in one of the currently available Fantagraphics Carl Barks books, or if it is, I have fallen behind on reading them (and Don Rosa's library) between the last few Floyd Gottfredson books and the Disney Masters volumes.

February 14, 2019 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

Oops! I just checked my shelves, and this story is in Fantagraphics’ “Donald Duck: The Lost Peg-Leg Mine”! Guess what I’ll be reading tonight?

February 14, 2019 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Speaking of Fantagrphics, I would love to hear GeoX take on "The The Ghost Sheriff of Last Gasp"... I find the entire premise of this one very disturbing and almost non-Barksian in how much Suspension of disbelief it expects from the reader... despite a great, great setup.

February 15, 2019 at 4:29 AM  
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