Thursday, December 3, 2020

"The Dedicated Decorator"

Yeah. So just as Uncle Scrooge had the Gyro Gearloose shorts to subvert shipping regulations, so too did Donald Duck have these Goofy four-pagers. I think we can safely say that Donald Duck got the short end of the stick, in this regard as in so many others. These things are really brutally uninteresting, not that that comes as any great surprise. But it's particularly notable that one is included even here, in this alleged Duck Album. Most of the Duck Albums that Western put out were, at least, sufficiently committed to the concept that they featured only duck stories. But here, the Goofy short is shoved in without the slightest effort made to fit it into the album format. This combined with the fact that, unlike others in the series, there's no opening or framing sequence--Donald and HDL are just looking at pictures and that's all there is to it--and you can tell that nobody's heart was really in this.

(Okay okay, I know the real reason this is here: it's because, in spite of saying "Christmas Album" on the cover, this is technically just another issue of Donald Duck, whereas the "real" Duck Albums were part of the Four Color Comics series and therefore--apparently--not subject to the same restrictions.  Still!)

Let's be honest: there's really not that much to say about this. But let us push on nonetheless, in our doomed quest for this entry to mean something. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Well...okay. This is Lockman, according to inducks. Back by unpopular demand! Although fair's fair, that little poem there DOES actually scan which puts it pretty far up on most of this stuff.

There's not much that seems distinctively Lockmanian here, but that "dark'n'dreary disgrace" might give him away (well, I guess the title too, but that seems generic enough that anyone could have written it). Here's the real question: is this whole story going to consist of Goofy's extremely bland, slapsticky efforts to get lights onto his roof? To ask the question is to answer it.

 Like this. This is what it's like. "But I'll land safely on my car seat" seems not so much goofy as incomprehensibly insane. And why does he abruptly start speaking in a different font in the bottom left there? This was always going to be pretty banal, but it's the sort of thing that could at least be sort of fun if presented with sufficient visual energy, like "Scrooge's Last Adventure." Unfortunately, Strobl, bless him, wasn't quite up to the task of breathing life into this.

Anyway, this is so dull that I can't help thinking that giving you a blow-by-blow would be actively immoral. So let's just skip to the exciting climax, shall we?

Hmm. Yes. Clem the Housecleaner. Is he notorious? Comrade, he's the notoriousest! I suppose you do have to admire the chutzpah: he's already made a huge haul, but is he just making off with it, like a normal human? Nope, he's going for some more, practicality be damned! Or at least, I assume that's what he's doing. It's possible that he actually alternates between burglary and actual, legitimate housecleaning. That, at any rate, would explain why he's bothering to call at Goofy's decrepit shack. Think about the ratio of criminals with rewards on their heads in Disney comics vs the real world. I think you may be surprised by the results!

Is that doing it up right? There was really no better way to do that thing you are doing? I feel like at the very least you must've had to sign a waiver so you can't sue when your pants inevitably rip. WHATEVER! I'm done thinking about it!

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Blogger Achille Talon said...

Well, looks like I shall take on the responsibility of being positive about these bits of vintage fluff, as a Christmas present to ol'Joe! So, while not necessarily refuting your criticisms, which are as insightful funny as ever — here is a list of things I like about this thing:

• the rendition of night-time Christmas lights in the opening splash panel. The pure-black sky with the single crescent moon, and no stars, is really quite effective.

• the phrae “dark'n' dreary disgrace”

• Goofy's endless cheerfulness, which, while perhaps less potent than Donald's anger-prone nature, is a nice change of pace from it once in a while.

• the wobbly letteringof that “WhOoOPs! Overshot muh mark!”, which, to me, seems clearly to suggest a "Goofy yell" sort of warbliness to his voice as he is propelled… sorry, “SWOOPed!", through the sky.

• “There's a price on his head.” “Er… All I can see is a lump.”

December 3, 2020 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Loke said...

To be fair, I think Goofy's "safe" way of hanging lights not being particularly safe (or practical) is the joke.

December 4, 2020 at 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the "real" Duck Albums were part of the Four Color Comics series and therefore--apparently--not subject to the same restrictions. "

Yes. You couldn't subscribe to Four Color Comics since they were all a bunch of unrelated oneshots, so there were no subscribers you needed to sneakily bypass postage regulations in order to ship to.

December 5, 2020 at 1:10 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Just doing a little spring cleaning, as it were. I hope nobody will feel discouraged re commenting, but I'm trying to get a fresh start here.

December 5, 2020 at 10:11 PM  
Anonymous DJ said...

"Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's up thuh ladder I go" is also an unmistakable Lockman-ism. I have to say that this story is nothing special, but strikes me a good little piece of in-character Christmas hijinks for Goofy; the "safe" way at the end is the type of gag you might have seen in a Goofy-centric Mickey Sunday page. I think Lockman was pretty good at writing Goofy; Lockman's fondness for eccentric wordplay and the childish traits he tends to give his characters works a lot better with the Goof than it does with some of the other Disney characters Lockman handled. It also makes Goofy seem more in line with his original oddball personality from the comic strips than he does in the Murry/Fallberg serials, where he's pretty much a generic slow-thinking bland comedy relief.

December 19, 2020 at 3:04 PM  
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