Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Turkey with all the Schemings"

You know, I think this is the FOURTH time that I've thought I'd covered every Barks Christmas story only to realize, whoa, missed one (UPDATE: fifth, actually.  MY GOODNESS!).  I hadn't read this one in a long time, my memory of it was a little hazy, and I think I just assumed without really thinking about it that that "turkey" in the title meant it was probably a Thanksgiving story.  There's certainly precedent.  More fool me!  Well here we are.  And how about that unofficial title, anyway?  Nobody's finest moment, I'd say.  Getting to "schemings" from "trimmings" is a reeeeeeal stretch.  Gladstone went another direction for their reprint:

That seems better, I'd say.  More distinctive and less strained.

Anyway, I probably missed it--and none of you pointed it out to me--because it's not really an essential Christmas thing.  For most of its running time, it's not Christmasy at all.  Still, the first few pages are pretty good in that regard, as Barks adroitly captures Donald's holiday stress.  It's my favorite part of the story, really; a lot of fun to look at.

Gotta love him just upending HDL's bed like that.  Was that the most practical way to wake them up?  No time to think!  Gotta ACT!  Well, okay, you can't help but think a LITTLE wonder, would they really still be abed, even if this be an early dinner?  Hmm.

I also like him getting tangled up.  This panel could be anything, really, but Barks as usual went the extra mile.

Finished.  And now, everything will be great.  What could go wrong?

I feel bad for him.  I want him to succeed.  He is not having a good Christmas.  

A plan that can never fail!  Echoes of "Shacktown," though in a somewhat--somewhat!--less selfless way.  It's tough, because he's kinda giving up any moral high ground here.  I want him to do well, and I don't have any problem with Scrooge being cheated as such, but still.  You're not setting yourself up for success here.

Not that this isn't something we see all the time, but it's still always interesting to note how essentially childish Scrooge's conception of money is.  Clinking!  Coins!  Bring him in!  Practically speaking, he really should be A LOT less obsessed with small change.  But that would be less fun., like, is Donald enjoying this?  Even if it "works," it seems like it'd be incredibly stressful.  Also, does that bottom left panel suggest that he's planning on just revealing his identity after the bill's paid?  That doesn't seem like a good idea.

WHOA.  There's a continuity blip for you.  This story was written years before Glomgold was introduced, of course.  But damn.  You'd think that someone else would've done something with this Duke of Baloni, as a fun bit of Barksiana, but as far as I know, that has never happened.  Too bad: it seems like having one of the richest-duck competitors be a European noble could make for some interesting story possibilities.

This is pretty funny.  They just can't help but engaging in this meaningless oneupmanship.

Actually, this entire thing where they try to get out of paying may have little to do with any holiday, but it's quite well-done.  I enjoy it.

Also, how 'bout that waiter?  He does not mess around.  I think he deserves a raise.

"Can't you see we're talking business?" gets another laugh outta me, I'll tell you that.  The question is: how did Scrooge possibly manage to tie Donald's foot to the chair in such a way that he's unable to untie it?  Okay, maybe after that "CRASH!" he wakes up and Donald's chance is lost, but I have to think that Don would've noticed if it were tied that securely.  Who knows?!?

Same waiter as the night before?  Shouldn't it be someone else's shift?  Also, are waiters generally authorized to sell their restaurants?  I don't know how business works.

But yeah.  Poor Donald.  Does he really deserve this much comeuppance?  I mean, obviously this wasn't meant as a Christmas story per se; it was just published around that time and makes incidental use of the holiday, so there's no point in complaining.  But I like complaining!  Humbug!



Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Ok, gang. No Spoilers for our pall GeoX here but all I will say is that the third episode of 2nd season of DUCK TALES is titled "The Ballad of Duke of Baloni" and boy did they did an interesting twist on that Barksian continuity oddity... ;)

December 26, 2020 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Mesterius said...

This is one of my all-time favorite Barks ten-pagers -- it's fantastic from beginning to end. That double-page spread with Donald and Scrooge trying every method in the book to avoid having to pay the restaurant bill is hilarious (and impeccably timed too). And there are so many funny bits throughout the entire story: Scrooge immediately becoming exstatic with joy and hospitality at the clinking of coins; Donald chewing his fake mustache by mistake and almost getting discovered, but then saved because he accidentally looks like the Duke of Baloni... Just wonderful. :)

December 26, 2020 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Although DuckTa:es 2017 did indeed take their own stab at alluding to the Duke of Baloni, I want to claim credit here (such as it is) for having revived the Duke first. I was really into this guy as a kid, as the first obscure point of continuity I discovered that no one had yet "settled", and I created several fanfics and fancomics with him, where I characterised him as not unlike the Maharajah of Howduyustan without the specific jewels gimmick — i.e., obsessed with showing off how wealthy he is, not with the number of his current wealth.

Which characterisation, of course, was meant to also handily explain how Glomgold hadpassed him by in time for The Second-Richest Duck: by then, the Duke had spent enough of his fortune away that he was more like the tenth-richest or suchlike.

(I returned to the character for my fancomic homage to Joe's TIAH blog a couple of years ago, as well — where I concocted a slightly different account of how he lost his "second-richest" title, and also gave him a full name, “Torcivio Castellan de Baloni”.)

My weird fascination of the character, of course, also stems from the fact that this was one of the earliest Duck stories I read, and I always quite liked it. As you do a great job of highlighting in this review, Barks's art is particularly dynamic here.

December 26, 2020 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

This is a great story with terrific art. I have a friend who's a lifelong Disney comics fan who names this among his favorite Christmas stories. I don't like it AS a Christmas story, though. Not just because it doesn't have the Spirit of Christmas, but because the Christmas set-up of it doesn't make much sense. There are many holes, beyond why the boys are in bed shortly before dinnertime. Is this really Christmas Day? That's what the narrative box tells us. But then, how can the presents be delivered, when delivery services did not function on Christmas Day? And when are those presents going to be opened? After dinner on Christmas Day? That seems unlikely. (Even though "dinner" could be the big meal eaten in the middle of the day.) And why on earth are the Junior Woodchucks being lured away from their families for Christmas dinner? That seemed inexplicable to kid-me. And if Donald is eating dinner alone with the kids at JW dinner, why would he have wanted or needed a turkey? Yes, something nicer than beans for his lonely Christmas feast, but not a whole turkey. And if it's Christmas Day, I can understand Scrooge being at work, of course, but why is the restaurant open? Famously, back in the day, the only establishments open for business on Christmas Day were Chinese restaurants and movie theaters, hence the Christmas Day traditions of New York Jews. The whole Christmas set-up is sort of a wreck. The story would sit much better with me if the set-up had involved Donald having had a huge list of stuff he had to accomplish in order to, say, get HDL off to JW summer camp...on his birthday.

As soon as we get past the set-up, though, the story is pure comic genius. I particularly love the stand-off in the restaurant, the times when Donald and Scrooge are thinking the exact same thing. And as has been said, the art is dynamic and expressive and very, very funny.

December 26, 2020 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Lugija said...

I actually happened to read this one just a few days ago and thought to myself "Wait, I don't remember reading about this one on Duck Comics Revue, even though I just reread all the old Christmas blog posts there", and Google told me that I was correct. Nice coincidence that you had that same revelation at the same time.

This is a funny story, but what I love the most is that Donald has budgeted his Christmas spendings so that he has absolutely no money left afterwards, and still includes a donation for the poor. For an annual turkey-dinner in Shacktown?

December 29, 2020 at 3:34 AM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

Christmas day deliveries were apparently very much a thing in the early 40s/50s. Barks depicted them not only here but also in "You Can't Guess" (four cars and 15 building sets) and in "The Golden Christmas Tree" (multiple thousands of gold trees). As an observant product of his times as well as an avid researcher, I don't believe he would have consistently stuck in a detail that just couldn't have been.

December 29, 2020 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Ayrton Mugnaini Jr. said...

Inspired nonsense and timing in humour don't come any better than this! One of my favourite Disney stories ever since I first read it in the early 1970s. I knew it in its Brazilian translation, and Donald pretends to be a Portuguese magnate.

July 9, 2021 at 9:43 PM  

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