Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"Northeaster on Cape Quack"

I hope y'all are ready to feel like a buncha chumps (how's that as the opening to a Christmas posting?), because here's a Barks Christmas story that I totally forgot about and that NO ONE mentioned to me. Well, Elaine did this year. But otherwise, it would've gone under the radar again; I had totally forgotten about it, like you people did. But in spite of that, it's actually a really good one! Well deserving to be recognized! So here we are!

I like the way that lighthouse is illuminated in such a way as to suggest a Christmas candle. Well, it does to me, anyway. Whether that was in any way intentional is unclear.

This story was published in 1962, and it's interesting seeing Barks rehearse once again this issue that preoccupied him so: things are different than they used to be. Are his stories losing relevance? Is he losing relevance? What room is there for an ol' scribbler in this ambiguously brave new world?

You have to wonder, though: did "some people" actually say this, or is it just that Barks felt self-conscious about a perceived cultural change and assumed that it's what they were thinking? Well, at any rate, their heads are full of rocks, if they are saying that. Let it be noted!

In addition to "some people," there are sinister dudes like THIS guy, Not-Argus Not-McSwine! I'm not sure what the relationship is between people who just sort of passively imagine that lighthouses are outdated and people who actively want them destroyed for capitalist reasons, but there you have it.

I've said it before re "Santa's Stormy Visit," but I'll say it again: I've always thought it would be hella cool to be a lighthouse keeper. I am a little disappointed that this guy doesn't actually live in the lighthouse; that he has a separate cottage, but not that disappointed. It's still a sweet situation he's got himself.

One thing that I find a bit distracting is the way this story keeps saying "northeaster." I'm pretty sure they're generally called "nor'easters." That certainly sounds more natural to me, anyway.

This story really does have pretty good build-up/atmosphere. I'm a little sorry it's only a ten-pager; I feel like it could have been expanded to a full-length adventure to great dramatic effect.

Interesting to note the possible contradictions/complications here: earlier, the ducks were all upset at this idea that new-fangled technological marvels are pushing out the old reliables, but it turns out that the lighthouse itself is pretty high-tech. Maybe it's possible to synthesize past and present in a harmonious way?

Seriously, how cool is it that the museum has an on-site museum? Pretty cool, I'd say! I want to work there.

But alas, then this creep comes and starts smashing shit up. Sometimes, the old ways of screwing over people standing in your way really ARE the best!

Well, but he's not much of an adversary, in the end; he gets beaten like this, and that's the last we see of him, trapped in this antique herring barrel. If that's from the museum, it's probably not a good idea to use it like that. Being that old, it's already got to be pretty fragile, and it seems like it'll almost certainly be damaged.

Up to now, you may well have been thinking: how is this a Christmas story? You berated us for not reminding you of it, but was there any reason we should've been expected to? This is very suspicious! Well, more fool you, I'll say, although granted, I think it would have been a good idea for the time of year to at least to be mentioned in the opening panel, or for a little Christmas dialogue to be included. Barks does just sort of spring it on you all of a sudden, it has to be admitted.

The real question is: what the hell is a "Christmas basket?" Like an Easter basket? That's not a real thing! Is that a real thing? I mean, I know you have the sort of seasonal gift baskets that you get from places like Harry & David with fruits and cheeses and processed meats and whatnot, but is that what's being referred to? Surely that's not something that children would be overly concerned with. Well, maybe this is just one of those weird Duckburg traditions.

Okay, THIS is the last appearance of pig-face dude. We must keep these things straight! I like it when Donald is smart and resourceful like this.

It's a sort of interesting thing: so we want to preserve the lighthouse because even though it's kind of old, it's still of use and has value. But actually, the lighthouse itself turns out to be kinda modern, and our problem is solved by resorting to even older technology, which doesn't relate to how the lighthouse itself normally functions. I'm not sure if there's a coherent statement being made here, but it's interesting to think about.

Anyway, CHRISTMAS IS SAVED! I'm...not sure that "dit" is part of Morse Code, but whatevs!

Sweet ending. The Old Ways canonized by the tree lights! And we get to see these legendary Christmas baskets! I'd sure love to see what's in them, though.

Well, anyway. There you go. I THINK I've done every Barks Christmas story now, but god knows there may be SOME damn thing or other I'm missing. Anyway, Merry Christmas or War on Christmas or whatever holiday you prefer to celebrate. Let's hope that 2020 brings good things.



Blogger Achille Talon said...

Apparent typo: Seriously, how cool is it that the museum has an on-sight museum? Pretty cool, I'd say! I want to work there.

But yeah, it had totally slipped my mind that this was a Christmas story, too. Even after it was brought back to my mind not too long ago via Under Siege explicitly referencing it (Vito Stabile is, as the saying goes, a cool dude), it didn't click with me that it was a Christmas tale at all. Bah! and merry humbug!

December 25, 2019 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Geox I'm not going to lie... I WASN'T going to wish you a Merry Christmas this year! In fact I was going deliberately refuse to do it!

In fact I was going to spread rumors that you are some raging mad person raised by a pack of wild forest women so your local Disney Comics supplier would get spooked by the horrific tales of you and refuse to get near you so you would never get any Duck comics ever agian!

In fact I was going to hire goons with ugly mugs to stalk you on the street to give you scary glancess!

IN FACT I was going to brake into your home and replace ornaments on your Christmas tree with nothing but sadness and empty promises so each time you would look at your Christmas tree and say to yourself "This is my Christmas" you would get very, very sad!

And (In fact) I was going write you a long rant that you are a *BAD MAN* and deserve any missfortune that will happen to you, despite me knowing in my heart that isn't true...

...HOWEVER - The magic of your Christmsas review had moved me so much with it's Noël spirit, it made me decide to change my wicked ways and turn me into a warm, kindly man I am today! So insted of doing all these horrible things to you (Geox) I want to

WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS! Let your new Duck comics be plentyfull, your street scary goons free, your Christmas ornament feel you with nothing but joy and fulfillment and I hope you always remember you are a wonderfull guy who deserve all that's best!


December 25, 2019 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

The Cape Quack light looks a lot like the 1822 Marblehead light on Lake Erie. Knowing how much inspiration Barks gott from National Geographic, It'd be interesting to find out if MY ran a story on Great Lakes lighthouses in the early 60s.

December 25, 2019 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

I typed NG. Not MY.

December 25, 2019 at 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I like lighthouses, and for some reason they seem to go well with Christmas. Maybe it's a winter solstice thing--light in the darkness. As far as Duck stories go, I have found a few Christmas lighthouse stories in addition to the two (two!) Barksian stories. Well, one is a Sinterklaas story, and one is a New Year's story, but they're festive December stories, at any rate. And the one where Gyro makes it to the storm-stranded lighthouse keepers in his submarine is clearly a Christmas story!

I have assumed that the Christmas baskets are a communal gesture of charity to the poorer residents of Duckburg, containing food and some presents such as outerwear and a few toys. If you google "Christmas basket charity" you will find some contemporary examples of this. Why such baskets would be coming in on a ship is not clear...I suppose in order to make more of Duckburg's Christmas cheer dependent on Donald's heroism. One would expect such baskets to be made up in town.

Though I, a New Englander, would certainly say "nor'easter," "northeaster" is equally legit. The Wikipedia page on "nor'easter" has a long discussion of the origin of the contraction. A furious battle rages among linguists over whether "nor'easter" was a valid New England usage. The Wikipedia entry ends up on the side that it was.

I note that the fact that there is a Northeaster on the Duckburg coast is another piece of evidence of the peripatetic nature of Unca Carl's Duckburg, which people like me who want to locate Duckburg on the West Coast of the USA need to ignore. Northeasters are storms in the western North Atlantic, affecting the northern East Coast of North America.

December 25, 2019 at 5:51 PM  

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