Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"Daringly Different"

This one is for Elaine, who has helped me a lot these days, and who has always been a tireless advocate of this story. I'm not one hundred percent sure, but I think she was instrumental in getting it reprinted in WDS 668, way back in 2006. I hadn't read it as a child, so that was a nice revelation. Not that the story really needs an advocate--it's effortlessly likable and charming, and the Barks art means that it's not likely to be overlooked. Also, it makes a good contrast with that last story--would you believe that these two are by the same writer? Seriously, Gregory, what happened to you?

We start with this image of stultifying fifties conformity--everyone living in little boxes made of ticky-tacky, as the narration box somewhat didactically informs us. I never would've pictured these characters living in a subdivision, per se, and I certainly wouldn't've have pictured Donald living two houses down from Daisy, but it's still an interesting perspective. Do you think the name "Gussie Fussy" comes from Gregory, or was that Barks' embellishment? Both seem plausible. She's never referred to by name in the dialogue.

Did I mention that this story is also violent? Because it is. Here's Daisy the semiotic terrorist, waging war on everyone's comfortable, prefabricated schemata of a middle-class, capitalist world. That's right, motherfuckers: you think everyone should have a maple tree in their yard? Tough shit: she's going to have a cactus, and you can't stop her! She's obliterating your narrow notions of what a subdivision should be! It makes no sense, and that's the point: it makes no sense, and there is nothing you can do about it. Daisy may have been influenced here by dadaism.

Yes! And her house is going to be pink! You mean a tasteful, muted salmon color? Heck no! Violently, garishly, Barbie-doll pink! Like nothing else you'll see! Probably for good reason, but the not-fitting-in is the whole point. We are exposing the gray monotony of the world for what it is.

(What difference do you suppose she distinguishes between "rose" and "pink," anyway?)

You might ask yourself: why does she feel the need to chop down her mailbox? Couldn't she just...uproot it? She's going to have to remove the "root" anyway, so what's the point of this? Well, obviously, the violence is the point. You can't just make a polite request to stand out; you've got to force the issue. WOK!

You have to ask here, though: don't "we" all drive "small cars" because they're more affordable and fuel-efficient? Obviously, Daisy's whole thing here is basically reactive, but this seems to be taking that to an extreme.

Which do you think is faster, ZOW or ZOOM?

I think it would've been better for her just to get a wildly-impractical, crazily-designed car. The problem (from her perspective) with this flying scooterbug is that it's cool. People weren't not driving them on account of wanting to fit in; they weren't driving them because they didn't know they existed.

ADVANCED COMFORT!  I'm not sure why we're bringing up "comfort;" that doesn't seem to be the point for anything else here.  Ol' Gussie Fussy doesn't say anything here; do you think her being present is Barks' embellishment? Seems like a good choice, if so. Daisy can have other friends.

Now, you might say to me: you're talking about Daisy's behavior here as if it's some sort of social protest, but that's not true, as evidenced by the fact that she also messes up her house from the inside, where no one will see it. It's just a personal desire to be different. To which I in turn would say: I don't quite agree with you there. The personal is very much the political here. She may not be thinking about it in these terms, but her aggressive desire to be different is unavoidable an implicit criticism of "normal" society. And besides, she really is: the initial narration box frames the whole thing explicitly as her pushing back against "our civilization." So.

...I do feel as though she's kind of cutting off her beak to spite her face here, because while I think we can all agree that comic books are better than television, and maybe we can agree that, if you want to be "different," bolting them to the ceiling is preferable to just having a loose stack of them, surely she's going to have to change the ceiling on a daily basis. Even for someone with a desire to be different as burning as hers, that sounds like an awful lot of work.

Is that supposed to be a real taxidermied moose? Daisy doesn't seem like the hunting type. I do like how turning it upside-down is apparently sufficient for being-different purposes.

One thing you have to give Gregory credit for is that he adroitly avoids the sexism you would see in these things--and holy shit are some of these old Daisy Duck's Diary stories sexist as hell. This is the only part where I think "hmm, I don't know," because this doorbell perfume thing--which Donald accurately describes as "gassing"--seems like not only an almost unfathomably terrible idea, but one that you definitely wouldn't see from a male character. I dunno. It's not a big deal.

Mmm. The beginning of the end. This is a mistake on Daisy's part: if she truly wants to maintain her outsider status here for as long as possible, she should be hostile and alienating to these guys. She's just speeding up a process that, admittedly, was probably always inevitable.

I don't know what to think about the fact that the Hooray Homes Magazine...van? bus? is apparently called the "Invasion Craft." That raises some real questions about this organization.

Yup. This was extremely predictable. It's the age-old problem: you can only be shocking for so long before you just end up being co-opted. Baudrillard wrote about this in terms of protests: initially, the protest attacks the system, or tries to, from the outside, and that's very exciting and revolutionary, but soon enough, protests get assimilated into the system itself, so they're just another part of it, much less threatening and much less effective. Alas, yard cacti are the new normal, and there's nothing Daisy can do about it. Is Donald really erecting his cactus with his bare hands?

...actually, the cactus forest looks kinda cool. And they may be conforming to some extent, but they still have different kinds of cacti. That's good, isn't it? Is she really momentarily just planning on...moving away, deserting her home?

...I feel like that's got to be some sort of zoning violation (and anyway, can't the other suburbanites just use their flying scooterbugs to get a look over the wall)? It's one way to do things, but I fear that Daisy is likely to quickly become dissatisfied (yeah, I split that infinitive; what are you gonna do about it?) with the situation: if nobody else knows what you're doing, the satisfaction that comes from being different seems likely to wear off in a hurry. Under the circumstances, you'll probably realize that, with nobody able to actually see these comic books bolted to the ceiling, they're more trouble than they're worth.

I feel like this story should be the start of a series, where Daisy uses different, increasingly drastic strategies to be different and to tear away at the fabric of society. "Daisy the anarchist" would certainly be an interesting direction to take the character! Still, if it's all we have, it's pretty darn pleasant. Bob Gregory definitely brought some light into the world.

This story is actually four and a half pages, an unusual but not unheard-of situation. So, to provide value (?) for money (?), let's look at what was published on the other half page. In the inital, 1960 DDD publication and also in the 1966 WDC reprint, we get this:

Perfidious parrot! Yeah...bit of the ol' sexism here. Did Daisy really buy a bird just so it would give her non-stop compliments? Anyway, why can't they both be pretty? MY GOODNESS. This story is bad and I regret bringing it up. But what's done is done! One interesting thing, maybe is that this looks rather different in the initial WDC reprint:

Of course, this doesn't just apply to this one thing; it's also how "Daringly Different" and the whole rest of the book are drawn: a much darker, murkier look. A bad choice, to my tastes, and probably to most people's.

Gemstone chose not to reprint this, and probably for good reason. Instead, we get some Scamp daily strips:

I spent way too long trying to figure out how these were supposed to form a coherent narrative before realizing it was just two unrelated comics. The second one at least has a joke, feeble as it is, but the first one just seems to be: Scamp smashes into the window? LOL? I mean, okay, in fairness, I guess him being injured is a little funny, but I somehow feel like there was meant to be more to the joke--and yet, there isn't. Not very impressive work on anybody's part.

Anyway, that's all for today! More later.

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Blogger Pan Miluś said...

"What difference do you suppose she distinguishes between "rose" and "pink," anyway?"

Ah, but aren't roses red? (so sweet and scarlet and free?)

I'm kind of shock I didn't know this story exist... it appears to gave Daisy more interesting character then usual (which is very little)

The idea of Daisy just living two houses from Donald is odd. I can imagine some younger readers asuming it's canon now and imaginge it this way ever since.

From a long time I wanted ask ol'Geox to review some Scamp stories so this is a nice start :)

April 7, 2020 at 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

YAY! Ya know, life just blips along in a fairly distressing time, yes, there's forsythia, but the world is, you know, and then, ta-da! GeoX has blogged on Daringly Different! I have found my Easter basket early, and it has a miniature Flying Scooterbug in it!

OK, down to business. Daisy's just great, here. This is the story that made Daisy an attractive character to me in my childhood. In addition to her resistance to 1950's conformity and her lack of constraint by feminine stereotypes (pinkness aside), she's also extremely creative. She wants to be herself, to do things her own way, and that way is all-around brand-new. And only the flying scooterbug is Gyro's invention; the rest, including the silent doorbell, she apparently comes up with on her own. The fact that she's expressing her own personality in her interior design and doesn't care whether others find it as comfortable as she does...that could be obnoxious, but here it just is amusing, and it makes it clear that she's not "just a girlfriend." She also on her own comes up with the solution at the story's end.

The fact that everyone wants to copy her style once she's been written up may be predictable, but it wasn't to me as a wee tad. So I didn't think, "Oh, Daisy, don't do it!" when she said yes to the invasion craft (Barks's joke?). I then found the ending quite satisfying, and believed that everyone else would move on to new fads (or back to the boring status quo ante) and Daisy would end up with what she wanted, a house expressing her own personality and creativity which is unique to herself!

The one thing that bothered child-me a bit was the issue you raise about the comics on the ceiling. I "got" the joke about comics being a superior form of entertainment over TV, but did think that you'd get bored with the same ones. I figure, the ceiling could work as entertaining art for guests, but the house owner would need piles of regular comics in addition.

I assume the moose head is upside-down the better to read the comics on the ceiling. One of my favorite Barksian purely visual jokes!

Yes, I was instrumental in getting this reprinted by Gemstone; my second letter requesting the reprint was printed in WDCS 608, and the response ended, "It's a 4 1/2-page story by Barks and it hasn't been reprinted in a comic book in recent history so, sure! Look for it in an upcoming issue." In WDCS 668, where it was reprinted, the inside front cover said of Daringly Different: "long since requested by fan Penny Kenny. It would be nice if all readers' wishes were this easy to fulfill!" But they had mixed up the names of two of us fans, and in the SCOOPS newsletter they got it right: "Next up is Daisy Duck in 'Daringly Different,' a Carl Barks classic requested by longtime Gemstone reader Elaine R______." :-)

April 7, 2020 at 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of comic strips and cartoons about dogs are generally just about dogs being dogs and don't really have "gags" as much as "mildly amusing situations dog owners will be familiar with". You see this a lot in Pluto shorts too.

April 7, 2020 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger tymime said...

Pretty sure the joke in the first Scamp strip is that he couldn't tell the glass was there because it's see-through. A gag done better elsewhere I think.

April 8, 2020 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Works better with a Mime cose you don't see it comming...


...but I maybe biased here

April 8, 2020 at 10:58 AM  
Anonymous TTL TTLR said...

Well, at least now you should celebrate Carl Barks's birthday along with this blog's anniversary.

April 9, 2020 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


I’m glad to see your previous comments on Bob Gregory’s WRITING (…as opposed to his ART, which is – if not outright BAD, at least seriously stultifying) are balanced-out here! Gregory was a much better writer than he was ever really given credit for – and I think his overall reputation was seriously diminished upon regularly picking up a pencil!

This was a marvelous tale of “1950s conformity”, in the same deliberately pointed way that Vic Lockman’s lead story in THE JETSONS # 2 (Gold Key, 1963) was for “1960s consumerism”. Scroll down in that link and you will find a description of that story. Odd that one would choose to tell a cautionary tale of the 1960s using The Jetsons – but it really worked.

Like Elaine, I first read “Daringly Different” as a young reader, and I also regarded it as one of the very best stories Daisy Duck was ever in. Still do!

Most striking for me was the “wall-to-wall comic book ceiling”, a concept that could only have floated in those wonderful old “Pre-Price-Guide-Days”, when EVERYONE read for pleasure, and didn’t purchase for (often imagined, but oft-unrealized) profit.

Also, like Elaine… I got the dig at TV, with comic books supposedly being superior. But I was accustomed to those gags from theatrical cartoons, and even early Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons – where a TV western director would say to his actors and crew… “Let’s try to make it adequate… After all, it’s just for TV!” (or something similar).

But the same part of me that would never cut a coupon, or anything from an activity page, out of a comic (except on this one infamous occasion) bristled at Daisy’s desecration of this most admired medium.

And, assuming 32 interior pages, she would have to buy 16 (or more) copies of the SAME comic, just to read it in her non-conformist way! And, in those days, where could you even GO to find 16-plus copies of the same comic. At most, your average newsstand had about 5. So that’s 3 or more stops multiplied by TEN (or TWELVE in the days of the reprint Elaine and I read) cents per copy, and the impracticality outweighs the individuality. …Or so it did, even to little me!

But, there’s no denying this as a landmark story in the canon of Daisy Duck… Long may she “Diary”… or “Blog”… or “post to Facebeak”, or whatever! …As long as it and she remain forever “Daringly Different”

April 19, 2020 at 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, GeoX, long-time reader, first-time commenter! Great blog, I love your reviews! BTW, the reason I'm making this comment is to make a request: do you think you could review "Isle of Golden Geese," with Little Bo---er, Fanny "Creepy Eyes" Featherbrain? I'd love to see your take on that one.

April 20, 2020 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Might do, might do. Got nothing but time lately. Thanks for the kind words.

April 21, 2020 at 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome! You're so welcome.

April 26, 2020 at 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like if this story came out today, it would just be called Daisy the Hipster.

May 1, 2020 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Re: the unbelievably simple "gag" of Scamp running into the plate-glass door—at the time that John Clark and I scheduled it (2006), we ran it mostly out of amused disbelief that it even existed.

Much later, I discovered that it had some historical significance for Manuel Gonzales, inker on the SCAMP strip at the time. While usually "just" an inker on SCAMP for pencil artist Bob Grant, Gonzy now and then submitted gag ideas as well, with his family joining in. Gonzy's young son Dan submitted the glass-door "gag" just for fun—it seemed too simplistic and silly to be accepted. And yet somehow it was, obliging Grant and Gonzy to draw it. You can't say they didn't give it their all.

May 9, 2020 at 2:33 AM  

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