Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"Good Deeds"

 JEEZ, at this rate, we will never get anywhere with this retrospective!  Can't go more than a month without posting.  It ain't right.  Well, it's because I have a teaching fellowship this summer, and I'm spending a lot of time on class preparation and absurd, unnecessary things like that.  But!  Duckdom will never die!  Although this story sort of almost has, I feel like (nice segue!): for extremely mysterious reasons, it has been reprinted notably less often than others of the time period.  It's never been reprinted in the US in a standard comic book, in fact; just in the two CBLs.  And now, we shall look at it.

The opening is pretty funny, with Donald explicitly being a jerk just to be a jerk.  He is nothing if not focused.  Also: first Jones appearance!  Kind of.

His string of invective is also fun; more evidence that Barks was a cut above.  But here is my serious question: was "why don't you fade?" a widespread idiom at the time?  Google is giving me no knowledge, because there's some metal song with the line "why don't you fade away?" that gets all the hits.

As in our previous entry, we see that sort of grandiose Donald pose that Early Barks liked to do. 

...and here is Jones, albeit obscured by a newspaper smacking him in the face, which somehow seems like an appropriate introduction--although this is clearly not the familiar character design.  That would come with his next appearance, but meanwhile, inducks identifies this guy as "Neighbor Jones from WDC 34."  Is there a shadow-world inhabited by these characters who are clearly precursors to more famous versions of themselves, but whom inducks insists on classifying as something different?

Donald, you FOOL!  Although this does raise the question of exactly why these pies are apparently stored in such flimsy boxes.  Really, this is just asking for trouble.

SIXTY HOURS!  I mean okay, granted, it doesn't specify that he'd actually spent all that time in the air, but it sure seems like the implication.  Sixty hours!  What are you doing?  A google search reveals that a flight around the world via commercial aircraft would put you in the air for about fifty-one, so what was THIS guy doing that was so important?  I ask you!

(Also, this ISN'T a commercial aircraft; one of those wouldn't hold enough fuel to be in the air that long, and this little prop plane DEFINITELY wouldn't.  Harumph, said the camel.

Not much of sense of time in this story, is the point I'm making.  So: they're clearly meant to have flown to Africa.  Assume that there wasn't an established sense of place this early, so maybe they lived on the East Coast.  STILL, a flight that far would take like twelve hours.  Hope they thought to bring along some snacks.  Maybe watched one of those weird Chinese in-flight movies that seem to only ever be shown on airplanes.

...huh.  Yes.  Indeed.  Well, conceivably, there may be reasons for this story's low profile.  But hey, I like that cute piglet running across their path!

That "native" dialogue...yeesh.  It seems like a mixture of a stereotyped southern accent and the Little-Hiawatha-style Native American stuff.  Not a great look for anyone.

One thing I will say for this story is that you can kind of see an in utero version of later Barksian globetrotting adventures.  It's certainly the first real travel in Barks.  Compare, perhaps, with "The Secret of Hondorica."  This seems sort of like a less sophisticated version of that.

Haven't talked much about this whole "good deeds" thing because it's fairly predictable and mostly not that interesting--but check this out.  "You GOTTA keep doin' good deeds!  It's your only hope!"  Where did this religious faith in the power of the Good Deed come from, anyway?  Of course, in the end, the relentless deed-doing DOES work out for Donald.  Seems like a more straightforward moral lesson than one would typically find in later Barks.

"Jazzbo" sounds like a racial slur; it isn't, really, but the failure to differentiate between these "savages" and African Americans who may be jazz musicians or enthusiasts is obviously problematic in itself.

Yup.  So we can make a pretty easy comparison to "Land of the Totem Poles," in which the Indians go crazy for makeup:

Granted, neither of these stories is entirely non-cringe-inducing to a contemporary sensibility, but you can definitely trace an artistic evolution.

So, like, how many consecutive days did he just sleep through?  Again with the sense of time or lack thereof.

Whoo hoo!  He was GOING to beat the hell out of Donald, but then realized that he shouldn't, 'cause it's Tuesday.  Hey!  It's Tuesday NOW, as I write this!  Coincidence?!?  You...must be the judge.

Also, I just want to note that I like the flowers behind the initial "H" in the narrative box.

Anyway, that's about that.  Not exactly an all-time classic, but interesting regardless in the context of Barks career.

Just a couple of Taliaferro strips today:

THAT IS SUCH A CRAZY WAY TO SPELL "BARBECUE!"  And the ad copy there makes it sound as if this is some kind of new invention, though the history of barbecue goes back way earlier than this.  Weird, man.

Nothing really to say about this, except that I unironically think it's funny in just the way it's trying to be.  Well done, folks.



Blogger Pan Miluś said...

If there is a shadow universe of this type of characters then Scrooge spirit lives there know simply as The Spirit of '43...

June 1, 2021 at 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I do like Donald's thought bubble at the stake: "It's my personal opinion that this is carryin' a good deed too far!" True that! A most odd suggestion for the loving nephews to make! But after screwing up all his previous attempts at good deeds, this good deed does save him...and then the karmic payback for his good deeds saves him *again* when the pilot turns to good-deed-doing.

The last Taliaferro strip is literally the first Duck newspaper strip that has ever made me laugh. It's funny without the title, but I also find the title to be the best use of a Joyce Kilmer quotation ever.

June 2, 2021 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those pie boxes look pretty standard to me. Big boxes of somewhat heavy cakes are in general not meant to be stacked.

June 2, 2021 at 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alphadictionary.com lists "fade" as 1930s slang for "leave": "I have homework to do, man. Let's fade."

The probable origin can be seen in that Google ngrams shows a marked rise in the use of "fade" in the 1920s, seemingly linked to the film industry and the concept of fading in/out.

June 3, 2021 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Cool, thanks. I'm going to make a quixotic effort to bring it back into common usage.

June 3, 2021 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

My thery f "Why don't you fade" would be that Barks had written "Why don't you die"; a particularly narrow-minded editor had a policy that the word "dying" should not appear in a Disney comic and should be replaced with a respectable euphemism; and "fade" was unthinkingly applied even though it made no sense as a euphemism for dying in this particular context.

Other stray thoughts: It is interesting, if probably meaningless, that the African ducks look pretty much like Daffy Duck. (Also, it's just weird and distracting, how their legs are made pitch-black too, whereas their beaks remain orange, and the soles of their feet are orange too.)

June 3, 2021 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...


I’ve had my own close encounters with the "why don't you fade?" slice of dialogue. Don’t know anything about its origins (period slang?), but I’ve always liked it.

…Though if it WERE “period slang”, why do I not recall hearing it in the many, many movies I’ve devoured from the period? So, it’s sort of a mystery. You’d figure just among Bogart, Cagney, and The Three Stooges, I’d have heard it more than once!

As both a tribute to early Barks, and as a huge fan of the band “Blondie”, I’ve thrown in “fade away and radiate” as part of a series of invectives in one or two stories I dialogued in recent years – only to see it editorially excised.

“Fade away and radiate” being the “Blondie version”. Is that what Google has been offering you?

But, since you can never pay too much tribute to Unca Carl and Debbie Harry, I added a modified (more to fit the balloon, than to alter the phrase) version of it to the next story you should see with my dialogue in it…

1st Voice: enough!
2nd Voice: mercy!
3rd Voice: fade forever!

Let’s see if it “makes the cut”, or is “just plain cut”!

My great friend Achille Talon beat me to the “Daffy Duck” comparison…. but YEAH! Especially in the panel where the King rises from out of the pig-slop that Donald has accidently knocked him into. I’ve felt that way since first seeing the story in the early-mid ‘80s.

As a regular movie patron, it would add that Barks had seen Daffy in the black-and-white Leon Schlesinger theatrical shorts, and drew upon that design as something decidedly unlike a typical “Disney duck”. Woo-Woo!

June 5, 2021 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger whc03grady said...

“Why don’t you ask me to grow wings?”
Donald roasting the turkey is pretty disturbing.

June 15, 2021 at 3:57 AM  
Blogger Specialist Spectrus said...

"some metal song with the line "why don't you fade away?""

Huh. The first thing I would've thought of was The Who's song "My Generation", but that's a few years later too. In that one, I've always interpreted it as a sanitized "Why don't you all f*** off".

July 2, 2021 at 4:07 PM  
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October 25, 2021 at 2:06 AM  

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