Sunday, December 6, 2020

Christmas Album One-Pagers

 And now, as is the custom of the country, we shall look at the one-pagers in this volume.  Usually with these seasonal things, you can see Western sort of rummaging around in their junk drawer to find whatever extra stuff to fill in the blanks.  This can go either way, interest-wise. We shall see!

First, let me just note the cover.  It IS a nice cover.  I hope nobody would suggest I'm not a fan of Tony Strobl (he said, a trifle defensively), as it would mean that they are, to say the least, very unfamiliar with this blog.  I believe I'm on the record as saying he should get his own Disney Masters book (seriously, flippin' Paul Murry gets multiple volumes, but none for Strobl? Where's the justice? Come on, Dave, make this happen, dammit!).  It does have to be said, however, that HDL slobbering all over that candy cane is...a little gross.  Maybe my perceptions are exaggerated by COVID, but that's so unsanitary I can't EVEN.  I might even go so far as to say that I LITERALLY can't even.

Got a coupla Taliaferro Sunday pages.  I always enjoyed the Taliaferro strips that they reprinted in WDC, even though looking back I really don't think they were, by and large, anything all that special.  But here is...THIS one!  This was originally published in November, FYI, which seems relevant since they keep talking about time.  So not THAT long from "now."  I do have to note that Bob Karp's dialogue is a bit odd: why last January?  Surely just January.  Also: "let's see if it suits Unca Donald."  Hmm.

This will probably make you think of Barks' "New Toys," although the context is completely different.  To me, here's the most interesting thing here: clearly, it was Huey who smashed the bike.  The others were not really involved.  With most groups of kids, there would be a lot of bickering about who was to blame; certainly, his brothers wouldn't be willing to take any.  But here, there seems to be no question in their minds that the guilt is collective.  It's a good illustration of how artists conceptualized the three of them as basically being a single character.

I must politely question how anthropologically informed "time goes slowly for young eskimos on long dark nights" is.  But that is neither here nor there.

This second one is less interesting to me, which is why I'm not breaking it up.  Yes.  Okay.  Skiing contest.  It's the sort of thing that could easily be expanded into a full-fledged story, but, welp--it is what it is.  It's kind of weird that you don't see any other contestants in this race.  It IS closer to Christmas than the other one, having been published on December 22 (my dad's birthday!), but it's less Christmas-y than the other, which wasn't itself very.

Okay, LOOK, people: I have read, in their entirety, Tristram Shandy, Moby-Dick, In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses, The Magic Mountain, The Recognitions, Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest, and so on--but "A Jolly Good Fellow" is TOO MUCH for me.  Sorry.  If you're a more assiduous reader than I am and you want to read it and discuss it in the comments, have at it, but I am afraid it has defeated me.  Sorry to abdicate my responsibilities, but that's just the way it's gotta be.

Ah, the classic "nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas" Christmas Special one-pager!  I know it well!  I had the vague impression that I'd seen this one before, but no, this seems to be its only US printing (is there another gag panel about "jam sessions?").  It's been published in a fair few different languages; I wonder how they dealt with the "jam session" pun.  

In fact, when does "jam session" originate? I wondered.  The 1920s, probably, says wikipedia.  And by 1965, mainstreamed enough that it could be used in a popular comic book.  Go figure.


I like the first panel.  It feels Christmasy; kind of cheerful.

Less so these two, which seem kind of mean, and also super-impractical.  I sure hope you're not going very far; otherwise Donald won't be able to keep up and SPLAT.  Did they not have those Christmas tree bailing machines that they use nowadays?  Or are those less universal than I think?  Not that it would've necessarily solved the problem, but it couldn't have hurt.

This is what you want for Christmas, right?  You got yer waves(?) got yer bazookaman...really, who could ask for anything more?  It's interesting that the set includes WAC (Women's Army Corps) figures.  Gender equality! Sort of!  Also, while I was looking that up, I learned that "WAVES" must mean this.  More female figures!  This has been surprisingly educational.

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Blogger Adamant said...

" If you're a more assiduous reader than I am and you want to read it and discuss it in the comments, have at it".

Challenge accepted:
In "A Jolly Good Fellow", Zeke gets invited to a songfest with free food, but since he doesn't like song, he plans on sneaking in after the songfest has started and helping himself to the food instead of attending properly. Once the songfest has started, a blizzard starts blowing and the attendeess start worrying they might struggle to get home since the songfest is held in a building at the bottom of the hill they all live on top of. But when Zeke gets ready to sneak down and steal food, he slips and falls down the hill, turning into a snowball and clearing all the snow as he rolls, plowing a nice path for the others. So when they find the nowball with Zeke in it, they sing "For he's a jolly good fellow" for him, and he likes it because THIS song is in his honor.

As far as these text stories go, I've read worse. I mean, it's not GOOD in any sense, but there's at least a plot of sorts here, and this COULD have been used as the basis for a middle-of-the-tree Zeke comic.

December 6, 2020 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Adamant said...

"It's been published in a fair few different languages; I wonder how they dealt with the "jam session" pun. "

The Italian "translation" has a scan on inducks, they rewrote it completely and made it about "cleaning out the pantry". Which I'm pretty durn sure Talifarro himself did a strip about too.

December 6, 2020 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Hey, everybody… All is well. Two gentlemen of good faith can work wonders when they put their minds to it. …And GeoX is indeed a gentleman of good faith! If only politics were this easy.

Really quick… At 9 years old in 1964, I knew what a “Jam Session” was, and very much got the joke. Most likely, I heard of it on TV. Also, back then, I don’t think the Western writers were at all concerned with “how a gag would translate” into other languages. That would come later, perhaps.

And, just to show how easy it is to shunt characters in and out of a gag, that “Christmas Tree / Car” bit could just as easily have Donald in the driver’s seat and the boys running along behind supporting the tree. In fact, with the boys, they could either be smiling, OR frowning, depending on the mood of the writer or artist. And, if not a 1-page gag, certainly a WDC&S cover! …The “universality” of the same gags being “fit” to different characters is the basis for my “Separated At Mirth” Blog feature.

December 6, 2020 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I like how you note HDL's solidarity in disaster. One of them can act independently of the others, but the consequences of that action are clearly understood by them to be corporate, not individual. A nice demonstration of how creators treated them as a unit.

December 6, 2020 at 10:04 PM  
Anonymous scarecrow33 said...

This comic book is one of my all-time favorites! I am so glad you are devoting some space to it! This was another of the "hand-me-downs" I got from my cousin about a year after the fact, and one of the first comics I read all by myself after I learned to read. What I liked about it mostly was that the content is nearly all themed to Christmas. Some of the one-pagers did not stick closely to this theme, but the longer stories did, so I could accept the one-pagers at face value, too.

My way of dealing with "A Jolly Good Fellow" was simple. I never had to be annoyed by it, because--I simply didn't read it! In those days I skipped the "text pages" even in my favorite comics. But I always assumed that the story was specifically a Christmas one, whereas when I finally did read it, years later, I discovered that it doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas, except that there is snow and the party might be implied to be for Christmas. What I find interesting now is that Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar were both in a Li'l Bad Wolf and Big Bad Wolf story, just as if they belonged there as regulars. Also that the illustration appears to be by Strobl, just as the cover and the majority of the interior. I didn't get the "jam session" gag as a kid, but my father explained it to me. And in the ski gag, I really like the transition between panels of Donald where he is in bed and then on the word "Go!" is on his skis the next morning. This was another one I had to go back and re-read because I didn't "get" the final gag the first time (maybe I was kind of dense as a kid, you think?). Anyhow, with the passing years this issue becomes more and more priceless to me, mainly because of such positive memories of when I was first learning to read.

Looking forward to more reviews! (And I always enjoy your take on these stories, GeoX! Just the fact that you care enough to write about them is a big plus in my book!)

December 6, 2020 at 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Yes, scarecrow33, considering the fact that even in a Christmas Parade there would be stories that had nothing to do with Christmas, it was impressive that all the stories longer than one page in this issue *were* Christmas-related.

I read this comic in my childhood, also. I don't think I knew what a musical "jam session" was then, but I did figure out the ski race punchline. I was older than you were when you first read it, though. I doubt I would have figured that out when I was first learning to read.

It's interesting to me that while I also skipped all the text pages in Disney comics, I read the text pages in Little Lulu comics, and even remember some of them! Were they just better written in Little Lulu? Did I actually try a couple of the Disney ones and give up on them because they weren't funny? Or were the Lulu ones perhaps simply in more inviting font size?

December 6, 2020 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Adamant said...

Text stories varied a lot in quality, but back in the 30s and 40s you generally got the sense that most publishers treated them as just another part of the comic book. Issues could have multiple text stories each, or ones that went over 3-4 pages. Pulp magazines were selling well back then, so the idea that kids would just skip them probably wasn't there. It was in the late 40s that they started getting treated as just pages to fill to qualify for cheaper postage and the writers were just told to churn out some quick crap, nobody would read it anyway.

You got some occaional gems though. Check out "Progress", the text story in EC's Weird Science #5, for a good example - a legit really good sci-fi short story that actually won that issue's reader poll for best story against all the comic material.

December 7, 2020 at 12:24 AM  
Anonymous SB77 said...

There was definitely a (possibly Barks) story or gag involving HD&L getting caught having a "jam session" that was reprinted in a Gladstone 1-era issue. Might have been a Taliaferro strip, come to think of it. I don't remember any other details, unfortunately, so I guess this comment might not be as edifying as I had planned, but there you go.

December 8, 2020 at 7:31 AM  

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