Saturday, December 21, 2019

"The Hunt for White December"

And now, A VERY UNCLE SCROOGE 348 CHRISTMAS (and I realize now that I kinda forgot I was calling it that for the last three entries) sputters to an unceremonious halt, though there might be another gift in the bottom of Santa's sack for Christmas day. This 1982 story (originally titled "White Christmas Worries" but redubbed "The Hunt for White December" for its US release, which, well, is definitely a movie reference) gets covered last, naturally, because it's the marquee story, on account of being longer than the others and, well, more like how you'd expect an issue of U$ to start. Whether it deserves that to be determined. Tee. Bee. Dee.

So here's the sitch. I find this idea pretty odd, here and wherever it appears. Even back when we were getting more snow than we are now (but not for climate-change reasons I swear LOOK A FOREIGNER), snow on Christmas was a desirable but far from guaranteed phenomenon, and if it didn't happen, well, no biggie. But here we have these weird people treating it like it's some sort of disaster or indeed unusual in any way.

So...does this seem like a normal Scrooge thing to you? Getting all worked up over the weather? I'd have to say no. In fact, I'd have to say it's extremely bizarre (but more on this momentarily).

"Argus McSwine." Where does that name come from? If you had the vague idea that it was some Barks story, like I did before I looked into it in more depth, you are mistaken. "McSwine" does appear in "The Milkman," but "Argus" is nowhere to be seen. According to this, it's just something that was decided by fiat in 1990, and now inducks insists that all of Barks' pig-face villains are the same character. I think this is an extremely dumb idea, first because they self-evidently aren't, and second because choosing a new, goofy name every time is fun. I suppose some later writers may have made an effort to imagine this particular incarnation of the pig-face villain as one particular person, though. Not that interesting to me, but fine, I guess.

I do find "I meant what I said, Argus McSwine!" kind of awkward here. Obviously it's just using the full name for the reader's benefit, but is there any reason the reader needs to know his full name? Lots of Barks stories didn't bother with such niceties for these villains.

But anyway, as for the weirdly out-of-character weather wager...apparently Scrooge knew all along it was going to snow, so he got all belligerent about it knowing McSwine could be goaded into making a huge bet that it wouldn't and then he could take his money? Um. Even if this plan didn't seem so far-fetched, the idea that Scrooge would be unscrupulous in this way simply does not track. I mean, sure sure, you have the Barks one-pagers where he tricks the guy into giving him free or cheap coffee, but I don't think you can extrapolate from those to longer stories, and WHATEVER, MAN, this is just silly as all anything.

Oh no, VILLAIN TEAM-UP. Of sorts. I've noted in the past that I don't normally find such things super-compelling, but, well...I don't know how to end this sentence. "Email" seems dubious in a story from '82, but whatevz.

Here we go. I'll admit, it seems like a pretty solid plan. Hya!

Those are some zombie-looking nephews there. This "let's look for books about snow!" thing seems questionable at best. Also, if we're stipulating that they have email, they must have the internet, and they'd probably just look there instead. See what happens when you try to modernize? Inconsistencies can creep in.

Right, so I have to admit, I've never really warmed to Daniel Branca's art (Vicar yes, Branca no). Still, he has his moments. I think his Magica is good in general, and I really enjoy Librarian Magica.

Yeah, yeah...we might as well admit it, this whole thing is on the silly side; maybe Disney comics are fundamentally silly on some level, but characters should stay in character, even if there's some wiggle room as to what that means. Or so I believe.

Well, though it remains silly, I'll admit I'm amused by this explanation, and particularly by the phrase "heartfelt yawp."

Yes, okay, so this goes exactly as you'd think. But come on, really, EVERYONE knows it's nine ladies dancing. EVERYONE, I say! I'd be more forgiving if you messed up the pipers piping and drummers drumming, but this is unforgivable. UNFORGIVABLE!!!11

There we go. We're all happy except OMG, why is Scrooge sad? Shouldn't Donald know his uncle well enough by now to understand why he's not jumping for joy? Again, I'm not sure about the characterizations in this story.

Um...#toptenanimebetrayals? Is that an appropriate meme? Look, ultimately, all I want is to momentarily trick people into thinking I'm one of the cool kids. Is that too much to ask?

There IS the point to be made here that it's never really that edifying when the heroes win out only due to factors completely outside their control. But I guess I like the kids playing in the snow, anyway.

Hmmm. About that. See, I kind of think you DO welch on deals. I think that's one of your main things, really. And at any rate, you WERE happy to cheat to win the contest (notwithstanding that Scrooge kind of cheated first). The morality here is pretty dubious. It's supposed to be this "oh look, he may be bad, but he has an honorable core!" Which you're supposed to just accept seemingly for no other reason than that it's a common trope, but which I don't think there's ever been any evidence of ever.

And...really. Stop pretending this character has a long and storied rivalry/love-hate relationship with Scrooge when he self-evidently does not. There has never ever been anything good about him. You could probably just about get away with this with Glomgold or Rockerduck, but this guy? Get the heck outta here, ya bum! I guess I can give it a little leeway for Christmas, but on its own, this is not convincing on any level.

Welp, this is what Gemstone put together for a Barksless issue of one of their flagship publications. Not that great, is it? They could definitely have done better. Except for that Van Horn joint, none of the stories are really bad, but nothing too spectacular here. CHRISTMAS IS RUINED! Well, not quite. We'll definitely have something better for the day itself.

Labels: ,


Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I for one enjoy Branca.

I'm also not a fan of "Let's say all Barks Pig vilains are the same guys"... especialy when you have to cheery pick which aren't - like Soapy Slick. And one may make a case "Well that dude has cleary a diffrent back-ground and conection to Scrooge then these other guys" but if you analise 90% of Barks Pig villain have diffrnt backgrounds - the Bark pig villain from "Lost valley" and "Milkman" may look more or less the same but who they are coudn't be more diffrent other then they are badguys. Hell, I like the idea of multiply evil Pigs just roaming around Duckburg as long once a while we get a positive Pig representation like in Rosa's Cresus stories or Hubert HD&L friend who appear THREE TIMES yet never grown to be a regular for some reason aside for cameos. Bust be an rare example of reacurring Barks character who didn't cath on.

From what I recall when read the stories I never got the McSwine last minute turn on Magica as some honorable thing and more as revange "Well, you faield me so here's some salt in yor wond"

Yes, I think Glomgold or Rockerduck (hell, Mark Beaks if it was made in 2019) would work better here on almost every level. Scrooge trying to screw over Glomgold would match Barks early stories of them being moral equals (which I know Geox enjoy), Glomgold KNOWING Magica and trying to team-up with here made more snense then some random villain knowing who she is and knowing eachother well enough to make this alliance, Glomgold being part of billonare club and their tendency to throw absurd bets and even that ending would work better especialy if they where gonig for "We are long time ennemies but there is some type of wird friendship there"... at least with Glomgold or Rockerduck it would be more minigfull.

If fact If I was going to bet - PERHAPS IT WAS GLOMOGLD in the orginal script but they changes for REASONS.... Possibly thinking theres is to many duck characters and they wanted to mix it up for visual appeal and in Glomgold's case maybe they asume this would be WAY TO OFF CHARACTER if Glomgold would made something nice for Scrooge...

If this was the case PERHAPS if they didn't made these changes Geox would have a marry Christmas but now he is doomed with a terrible fate :(

December 21, 2019 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

I'm strongly on the "all the Pig-Faced Villains in Barks are one conman who keeps making up new aliases becayse he's always wanted for his fraud in the previous story" team, but agree that consequently, having him using his real(?) name in all modern stories is ruining the joke. The French translations make it even dumber by always using our equivalent of "Argus McSwine" to translate all his aliases in the old Barks stories, no matter what, completely erasing the joke altogether.

December 21, 2019 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Even Soapy Slick and Horseshoes Hogg?

December 21, 2019 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

No, no, I just mean all the guys with the thin black mustache and the angry haircut.

December 21, 2019 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Of the three Magica Christmas stories in Uncle $crooge 336, 348 and 360, this has by far the highest INDUCKS rating: 1654, at the moment. It's only number 2 in my book; my fave is Hedman/Vicar's Christmas Magic with the charmed sprigs of mistletoe. I do re-read this story, though, and that's due almost entirely to David Gerstein's dialoguing. The spells: the one you cite where Magica transforms herself, rhyming Dewey Decimal with infinitesimal, and the one she uses to freeze the boys: "Hocus pocus, Marley's ghost! Turn you three as stiff as posts!" I like the references to various Christmas texts: Marley's ghost, and the misquoted 12 Days of Christmas, and "On, dashboard! On, tailpipe! On bumper and brakelight!" and "it's beginning to look a lot like a reversal of fortune." And the seasonal metaphors: "as empty as Santa's sleigh a day after Christmas" and "one elf short of a toy factory." I love it when Magica talks about her intent to "snaffle" Scrooge's first dime. Such a satisfying word! Finally, I really love "Frankly, McDuck, I don't give a dime." It's neat how "McDuck" echoes "my dear" in its initial consonants and stress. I'd argue that this story needs no other justification than that it provides the perfect set-up for that line.

December 21, 2019 at 6:48 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Yeah, I probably gave the script short shrift. I do have to ask, though: how does the word "infinitesimal" possibly make any sense in that context?

December 22, 2019 at 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Oh, I just figured it meant a superficial and temporary change. Even her appearance isn't changed all that much: she's still a Duckwoman with impressive eye-ridges and slanty eyelids. The disguise is hair, clothes and glasses; she probably only really needed the spell for the hair!

December 24, 2019 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Miguel Madeira said...

In Portuguese/Brazilian stories, the "pig villains" are all "Porcolino Leitão" ("Porco" - pig; "Leitão" - piglet) since at least the 1980s (and probably since the begining), with the exeption of "Soapy Slick" (who was only "Porcolino")

December 26, 2019 at 9:01 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home