Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Nightmare on Webfoot Walk"

Well, hello, boils and ghouls. What frightful little creatures of the night you are. I'd better give you a treat, then, hadn't I? Old Man GeoX has something very special for you tonight. Something...spine-chilling. OoOoOoOo!!!

Yes, it's time for this blog to RISE FROM ITS GRAVE. I feel sort of guilty that I've been neglecting it so long, but...well, it happens, I guess. For various reasons. No need to go into them here! Suffice it to say, I've tried to make up for it with something special: a new translation. Click the link above! For the first time, instead of a series of loose image files, I've made the whole thing into one PDF, which seems much more sophisticated. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. Anyway, that's what it is! It's a story by Marco Rota. Actually, I probably would've done this years ago, but I was thinking IDW might do an official version. But! Now that IDW has decided that insipid mediocrity is the correct business strategy going forward, I see no reason to hold back. I feel like there aren't enough really spooky Disney stories, at least in English, so I'm glad to add another one.

The original title is just "Nightmare on Duck Street," which...come on. Don't be silly. Or, perhaps more accurately, be more silly. Notice the billboard in the background featuring Goofy for no reason. That's fun.

I may be the only one to find this amusing, but I, GeoX, am paying tribute here to Barks' occasional tendency to have characters to refer to themselves by their full names for no reason.

Anyway, what we have is: Donald falls asleep in Gyro's lab, and when he wakes up, things are straaaaange! Truth be told, the story isn't really structured like much of anything: a series of vignettes like this, and that's about it. But there's some surreal, occasionally unnerving stuff here, and that is enough for me.

Believe it or not, I did not make up this silly joke about taking public transportation. It's taken directly from the French text. Hurray!

Donald gets dragon'd. Yup...I don't have much to say about this; it's just nice'n' festive.

Urgh. Unfortunately, we inevitably come to this part. Sad to say, for all of Rota's many virtues, he's also an old-school sexist. If you wanted, you could see this particular instance of that as being related to the character rather than the author: Donald's dreaming (um, spoiler), so he's created this straw-Daisy in his head. I think Rota is betrayed in that regard by his previous work, however.

My creative flourishes in this story are really pretty limited and restrained; I didn't change much. But I did make up a lot of shit for Daisy's dialogue here. In the original, it's a pretty tedious thing where she tells him to do these chores and he claims not to understand so she just keeps repeating them. Blah. At least now it's sexist in a slightly less boring way, I hope!

Really like this bit with Grandma and Gus. One of the spookiest things is having your expectations turned upside down. You can trust Grandma AHH NO SHE'S HURLING PIES AT YOU FOR NO REASON! I can understand why someone wouldn't like this story; why they wouldn't want to see the regular order overturned. But I think it works pretty well.

I like these giant and small and regular Beagles. When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead. Good fun.

And the idea that they've taken over the city--one kind of wishes more was done with that; there's some potent horror potential in there.

As there is in the idea of Scrooge going nuts and blowing up his fortune.

Freakin' hell, man. And don't forget giant-living-coins Scrooge. Looks like a super-hero/villain origin story. As I say: there are a lot of great moments here, there really are.

And of course let's not forget THE ULTIMATE SHOCKER. This is just awesome. Exactly what the doctor ordered. The MAD doctor!

I'm sorry to say, however, that the ending is a huge anti-climax. You might expect things to go back to normal, but you'd hope for some kind of stinger, which you don't get. Compare this to Rota's "Halloween Huckster" and the difference is apparent. To be fair, this wasn't actually written to be a Halloween story; setting it in October was my own addition. To be EQUALLY fair, I don't think that really matters. The story is what it is, and it lives or dies based on how well it is. OH WELL.

Anyway. Apparently Donald's not being a dick now, so that's an improvement...? And that is ALL.

Well...almost. I've taken the unprecedented liberty here of creating an alternate ending more in keeping, I hope, with the season:

Which do you prefer? Well, no matter; I've included them both in the translation, so you can delete whichever one you hate more.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, ALL! I realized in the course of doing this that these translations are easier than I thought they'd be, so maybe we'll see more in the near future. WHOOOooooOOOOooooOOOO!



Blogger Achille Talon said...

Lovely surprise, this! I know and love-hate this story already. Evil Helper is one of these things that sticks in the mind of a child…

And I love your alternate ending, by the way! Solid translation all-around.

That being said, while the litany of insane demands from Diasy is more fun than the original, I think that the "dream figure keeps repeating something mundane at you but it somehow does not compute" thing is a keenly-observed bit of what nightmares often feel like in real life, which you may have been a bit hasty in dissing.

…Also, you are still doing the anniversary requests, yes? Halloween specials aside. Or have you given up?

October 31, 2019 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Haven't given up on them, per se. It's just that for whatever reason, I get these psychological blocks sometimes. They'll come sooner or later, though the chances of me finishing this year look slim, and they'll probably be interspersed with other stuff.

October 31, 2019 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

And I do take the point about repetition in nightmares, though I'm a little skeptical about whether that was Rota's actual intention.

October 31, 2019 at 7:07 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

You know how the old victorian nursery rhyme goes :

Knock, Knock,
the blog-man on his way,
you better lock your door,
Step, Step,
he's clouser now,
knel down and pray some more,

Hush, Hush
the blog-man comes,
feel silence in the land,
Run, Run
the blog-mans here,
don't let him grab yoru hand!

October 31, 2019 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

I notice that a tiny Donald also appears on the page-one billboard -- which makes me think it's probably an ad for Disney comics. Apparently this is a universe where characters can read their own comics.

October 31, 2019 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Of curse Jeffyo. Haven't you seen comic book crooks? (the review is on this blog) It's a thing in this world apperently...

November 1, 2019 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Ayrton Mugnaini Jr. said...

Great blog! And I noticed Daisy Duck complaining on a panel that Donald maddens her "beyond human endurance".


Indeed, how "anthropo" can an "anthropomorphic" male or female duck get? I also saw that in another French Disney story from a Super Picsou Giant issue, where an android mutation of Donald says "we'll never be humans"...

November 1, 2019 at 9:42 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

It's the norm for Donald & Co. to refer to themselves as "human", though they also call themselves "ducks" sometimes. Don Rosa has gone on record saying that he thinks of the characters as "actually" being humans, who are just drawn as anthropomorphic animals but don't actually have beaks and feathers. Alternatively, it would appear that "human" is, in the Duckverse, a catch-all terms for the sentient species who make up civilized society, whether they're Homo sapiens or not.

November 1, 2019 at 11:21 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I was actually conscious of this issue when I wrote the line, but I was thinking basically along the lines that Achille Talon lays out.

November 1, 2019 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Richie said...

Indeed I thought the public transportation bit to be your own brainchild! I'm more confident Don's willingness to sacrifice Mickey holds that distinction though, and major props if so, loved that! Goes without saying your ending is a marked improvement over the original too. Surprised the Beagle Cop didn't ask Don if the -giant- cat got his tongue, though!

In a story featuring pterodactyls snatching up houses and a demented Giant Helper, with the implicit approval of a passive Gyro in its shoulders, it's giant-living-coins Scrooge that makes the most impact for me. It's a concept that could indeed afford (heh) being its own villain origin story, and if there was a line of What If? Disney comics a la Marvel, I'd pay good cash to see it come to fruition. Imagine the juicy narrative layers to a Scrooge made from his own fortune!...

Also, dunno how often Rota's Donald tales exclude HDL, but I felt their absence here, especially when Don goes take refuge at Scrooge's. Suppose that since Donald's relationship with the triplets is already, as stated in this blog before, frequently extremely contentious, yet also the closest of all in the comics, to make their behavior truly nightmarish might have required to cross lines more uncomfortable than entertaining to see unfold.

Enough of my rambling. This was a wonderful trio of treats: the translation, the commentary, and the annual reaffirmation that the blog won't let Halloween go entry-free! Good to have you back.

November 1, 2019 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Thanks! Good as always to have you comment.

Re that mouse thing, in the French text he just says "I'm not a mouse! I'm a duck!" That certainly can't help but *suggest* Mickey, but it's not really clear how intentional it is. Obviously, I made it more explicit.

November 1, 2019 at 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Loke said...

The handling of Daisy may be sexist, but I like the way she appears in silhouette in that first panel -- ominous!

November 1, 2019 at 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Great to have you back for Halloween, GeoX! Missed you!

I read this one in French, and while I did find some of the nightmare images striking (Evil Helper and Scrooge McCoin), I was completely let down by the ending. Ever since childhood I have hated "it was all a dream!" endings. I fiercely resisted the dream reading of the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, preferring to believe that Oz was real and Dorothy really went there, even though the grownups in their typical grownup way didn't take her witness seriously. The "IWAAD" ending in stories made me feel disrespected as a reader; the author fooled me and then pulled the rug out from under me. Later on, I felt it was a lazy way for a writer to play with alternate realities s/he didn't want to have to explain or justify.

All of which is to say, I *greatly* prefer your ending to the story! If we're going to have a horror story, let the horror linger at the end, even if the hero thinks it has dissolved in the daylight!

This does happen, as you say, in Halloween Huckster, as it also does in one of Rosa's greatest stories, The Nightmare Ship. In those stories, it's true, the scary images are not so emotionally disturbing as those in this "Nightmare", because they do not involve twisting known and trusted characters into threatening shapes. I suppose Disney couldn't ever let such images stand unchallenged at a story's end.

November 1, 2019 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous BrianL said...

Wow, there's some disturbing imagery on display here.

Some nitpicking though: those frankly pretty badly drawn (bag-of-sand/ sack-walking bodies for a creature that likely was svelte, streamlined and tiny-bodied) prehistoric visitors are not 'pterodactyls'- no matter what pop culture keeps saying - they're Pteranodon/pteranodons or even if you want to be more generic, pterosaurs. Pterodactylus was a pterosaur too but a very different beast from THE iconic pterosaur on display here. Not making that mistake would make the translation just that tiny bit better still.

November 2, 2019 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Mmm...I definitely sympathize with the prehistoric-creature nerdery, and do a bit of myself (there was this recurring semi-joke in my last MA program where I would scrawl pictures of dimetrodons and other students would refer to them as dinosaurs and I would pretend to be outraged), but I'm fairly sure Donald would make no such distinction, especially given the stress. I was conscious when I wrote it that at one point he inconsistently refers to them as "pteranodons," but I figured that was something someone would do.

November 2, 2019 at 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Edit my own typo: I of course meant to write "one of ROTA's greatest stories, The Nightmare Ship."

November 3, 2019 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

As for the ducks as humans and Don Rosa's insistence that they are humans...I made the mistake of referring to them as talking ducks in a Don Rosa fan page on Facebook, and Rosa himself felt the need to tell me that they're not ducks. Which lead smart-alecky me to draw this (but not post it on his page):

November 4, 2019 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

To be fair if Scrooge know that if a duck swim in a pond old people will throw her bread he would start doing daily swiming long time ago just to save the money on food... ;)

November 4, 2019 at 5:37 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

While I prefer when Disney comics treat them as mostly human (unlike something like Bojackhorsman where the talking animals still have some animal behaviors) I do like the idea that little ducks are born from eggs or that they have feathers and some elements like that.

November 4, 2019 at 5:40 AM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

The most overtly ducklike I remember a character acting was in "Isle of Golden Geese," where Scrooge sat on a nestful of goose eggs, trying to hatch them. At that point, though he may still have identified human, anatomically he was all duck. Can anyone think of other such instances?

November 12, 2019 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 14, 2019 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

"Can anyone think of other such instances?"

"The Masters of Melody", where HDL argue that they are not made to play violin but to swim ("look to our fingers, look to our feet")

November 14, 2019 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Nerdytimes said...

In the Finnish version of the story, Daisy's demands are pretty funny. They start off as relatively sane, but then she starts mixing up words so that they soon turn into something completely deranged, like:
Donald: S-so you've been waiting for me?
Daisy: You dare to ask! You were supposed to fix up the roof, paint the living room, go to store, shear the lawn, cook potato gruel, wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean the windows, repair the socks...
Donald: Pardon me?
Daisy: Precisely! You were supposed to paint the lawn, wash the roof, repair the dishes... No, I mean...
Donald: Err... I don't follow. Please explain once more.
Daisy: Mrrh! Donald Duck, you're driving me insane! You have to cook the lawn, repair the windows, launder the potato gruel...
Donald: Launder the gruel and cook the lawn? That's it, Donald out.
Daisy: Get back, you lazy worm! You must fix up the store, wash the living room...
Donald: A few nuts seem to be missing from Daisy's skull, too.
(Now that I think about it, the idiom "the skull is missing nuts/the bolts in the skull are loose" probably doesn't exist in English. It implies that the person we're speaking of isn't quite right in the head. I used some artistic license with the other idioms in the dialogue, but translated that last one literally, as I found it pretty funny.)

May 15, 2020 at 5:05 PM  

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