Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Barks Christmas One-Pagers


Hope you're having a swell Christmas. I was readin' some Barks, as you do, and I realized that there are a handful of one-pagers that I ought to look at if I want to be excruciatingly complete in my coverage of his Christmas output, and why wouldn't I? TELL ME?!? So yeah, let's do this. There are actually more of these than I thought; I assumed that they all would've been reprinted at some point in Gemstone's Christmas Parades, but such is far from the case, so I had to do a bit of digging. I think I got them all, though!

This one appeared in Gemstone's CP4 in black and white...well, I could try to find a colored version, but hey, it's not really Christmas-themed.  It WAS published in the "Luck of the North" one-shot with a few explicit Christmas one-pagers, though, so we'll just stick it here. Note that for some of these, including "Toasty Toys" (our only titled story here!) inducks won't commit to saying Barks was the author, so take that for what it's worth. I dunno; I think it's just kind of mean. Inappropriate for Donald to burn HDL's toys; inappropriate for them to burn his stuff. We often (well, occasionally) see golf clubs used as a sort of stand-in for "Donald hobbies" even though you rarely actually see him playing golf, and he certainly doesn't have any kind of ongoing passion for it. I think this was just because, well, men play golf, supposedly. Mid-century men, anyway. They do in all the dang legacy comic strips of the "Blondie" sort. So...Donald does. Even though he really doesn't. WELL DONE, ALL.

I like this one a lot; this first appeared in the issue with "The Golden Christmas Tree," and I find it a definite step up over that. It seems psychologically accurate: you jump to conclusions and you get yourself all worked up in this kind of vicious circle of resentment and then you end up acting precipitously. But hey, it's Christmas, so you can fix your mistakes! I like Donald imagining himself as an inchworm, but I find the fact that he's ordering them "atom splitting cyclotrons" highly alarming. Do people use particle accelerators as toys? I know nothing about nuclear physics, but it strikes me Probably? Egads!

Where would we be without holiday-themed violence? I shudder to think. Hard to know what to say about this, really. So when the guy offers Donald the bat, is he just hoping for a line like Donald gives him so he'll have an excuse to retaliate; or if he didn't get one, was he just going to bash him anyway? Given that none of the damage Donald inflicts is intentional or really his fault per se, I'm not sure there's much justification.

Hey, you know what's a thing that exists? Slide projectors. It's a weird thing to say for so trivial a comic, but my brain is kind of disintegrating trying to figure out how this works. Okay, so they need a list that doesn't take up so much paper. It has to fit on a page the size of a stamp. So presumably they write really small. And then...they project it? What exactly is the point of the projection in this equation? How does it matter? Is it because the kids wrote so small that it was impossible to read otherwise? How? And in any event, isn't this list still a hell of a lot shorter than what they were originally planning? If I didn't know better, I might think that very little thought went into this comic.

Okay, I enjoy the kids' looks of excitement, and I like how they just immediately start work on disassembling the house. Little anarchists. Still, Donald's response seems entirely fair--more than fair, really; anyone else would just have confiscated the tools entirely. But that, I suppose, would not leave room for a sorta weak joke.

See? Again with the golf. You can tell Barks didn't write this by the word "feller." That just wasn't a word that Barks would use. I don't think. Still, whoever wrote this, it's not terrible. I mean, it's not great either, obviously, but it's a modestly charming slice-of-life thing. Or so I think.

Urgh. So here's the thing about the whole kissing-under-the-mistletoe business: it's a good thing for people who are sort of incipiently romantically involved or who are just kind of flirting and dancing around their mutual attraction. The mistletoe itself is just a flimsy pretext, and that's fine. What's a lot less fine is when you see it weaponized like this: you have to kiss me, whether you like it or not. That's not how it's supposed to work! It's creepily coercive! Mind you, you might think that Donald and Daisy's relationship would be such that it would just be harmless and fun--apparently not, though, per whoever wrote this. Which kinda bums me out, but in that case, I think Daisy's response is entirely appropriate.

Hmm. Yes. This comic definitely exists, I must say. Surely you can find other ornaments, or things to use as ornaments? Whatever! I find the dentures a little bit creepy, and how do you get your fake teeth knocked out anyway? How hard is he barreling through those people? I like "Yak's Thoid Avenue."

This may or may not be written by Barks, but Oh, So? is definitely the most Barksian book title around. I like watching the nephews run amuk with their presents. That's always fun. I also like how equanimous Donald is about the whole situation. He's not really mad; he's just doing what he's gotta do, as indeed are the kids. I very much like the painting of a dour-looking duck military officer. Less so the fruit, but you can't win 'em all. In general, I feel that the duck residence is decorated by a madman.

For my money, this one is the best of the bunch, whether or not it's written by Barks. Sure, the punchline isn't anything that special, omg he took all this trouble to foil them, but then he made the rookie mistake of leaving the boxes where they could see, but the ever-more-excessive efforts to hide them are a lot of fun. Bricking the toy trains in Cask-of-Amontillado-style is especially entertaining to me. I also like the kids' skating poses.  This could easily be expanded to a ten-pager, but it's also fine as it is.

Anyway! That seems to be about it. It's odd to me that--as far as I can tell--Barks did no Christmas Scrooge one-pagers, but there you have it. Enjoy the rest of your holiday(s)!



Anonymous Elaine said...

Ooh, thanks, new-to-me Barksian Christmas one-pagers! A fine present! I have definitely not seen all the Barks one-pagers.

My favorite is the one that was printed with "The Golden Christmas Tree," though I do also like Donald bricking up the toy train. You'd think HDL would start trying to conceal the fact that they'd found the presents, once they realize that Donald's only gonna return them... though I suppose it would be difficult for kids to find a place to use a toy train and keep it secret from their parent. Maybe they could take it to JW headquarters?

Both the one where Donald retreats to the yard and the one where he attaches their tools to the wall above the workbench show Donald being unusually chill in the face of HDL's irritating behavior. I guess even Donald's temper can be brought under control by the Spirit of Christmas. Unless he thinks they didn't shovel the walk!

December 25, 2019 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Fun fact about the stern military duck in the portrait: according to Johannes A. Grote's German Duck family tree, he is in fact Scrooge's great-great-grandfather (Seafoam McDuck, in Grote's conception, contrary to Rosa's, is a yet more distant ancestor). See here:

December 26, 2019 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

What a great review! LET'S SING A CHRISTMAS SONG!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

All together now!

December 27, 2019 at 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the entire mistletoe thing... that's kind of the point of the strip, isn't it? The entire strip is setting up Donald being a dick and getting what's coming to him, it's not portraying Daisy as unreasonable. Taliaferro did a bunch of similar "Donald tries to get a kiss from Daisy through some The-Rules-say-you-have-to-kiss-me-now scheme" gags, and whatever punishment he ended up with in place of a kiss was always presented as deserved - these are supposed to be traditions that are romantic to both parties, and taking advantage of them the way Donald does is clearly presented as unromantic heresy that should be punished.

December 29, 2019 at 8:17 AM  
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December 30, 2019 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger M.S. said...

Thanks for these one pager reviews! I think my favourite is the one where Don is trying to enjoy his book.

It came to my mind that you should have at least one ten page Christmas story by Barks yet to review. The one in my mind is called "Turkey with All the Schemings". Not exactly Christmassy one, but fun one at least.

January 1, 2020 at 11:05 AM  

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