Saturday, November 20, 2021

"The Hard Loser"

Beware of this story!  Do not be tricked by its wiles!  You will THINK this is a normal ol' Barks ten-pager, but it has a Dark Secret: it was ACTUALLY published in that same dang "Mummy's Ring" one-shot, NOT in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories!  I cannot tolerate such deceitful behavior!

...or can I?  Well, let's find out.  I really like both the idea and the visual of Donald playing a carnival game, as if that's just a normal thing that people do on a regular basis.  Look his into it he is!

This might be pushing a point, but you could probably argue that this is Barks's most social story yet, bringing in a whole community, as represented by the race, to this as-yet-unnamed city.

Grandpa's!  GRANDPA'S!  Here's a kettle o 'worms for you.  Are we to assume (okay, obviously we're not "to assume" anything, but we are anyway, out of sheer obstinacy) that this is Grandma's husband, allegedly known as "Humperdink Duck?"  How long ago (in relation to Barks' timeless present) did he die, anyway?  Well...okay, if you just assume it's that guy, this is much less interesting.  I could ask questions about why he's never mentioned again, never seen, etc., but that would just be playing dumb.  Would it really be that interesting?  If you enjoy questions like that, it shouldn't be too hard to formulate them in your head, I'd think.  Anyway, it's too bad we don't get to see "Grandpa."  That'd REALLY mess things up for anyone interested in continuity!

This might likewise be pushing a point, but Donald waking up all freaked out like that could perhaps be a precursor to the famous sequence in "Luck of the North" where he starts to feel more and more guilty about tricking Gladstone.

Don't you love that portrayal of the nephews?  Just preemptively admitting, yeah, we don't trust you.  The early relationship between Donald and HDL is certainly more rough-and-tumble than it would become.  They read as older in later stories, don't they?  Not that that's bad necessarily, but why?  It sort of makes me think--although they're nothing alike, really--of how Segar's hackish successors changed Swee'Pea into a big talker with little to distinguish him from the adults.  BLAH!

Ha ha!  That's a memorable kind of horse, I would say.

"To beat the other fellow."  I do enjoy Donald perking up: "Oh boy!  Dirty tricks!"

Why did I cut this image?  Tell me.  Probably just for an example of the hoary ol' "rotate the signpost" cliche.  Probably a cliche even then, but I don't know.  How do we find out where it originated?

This one I'm sure I only included for the funny horse pictures.  Very Gottfredson-esque in the top left there.

HOLY CRUD.  "We won't ever mention you in our prayers again."  Now, you can definitely find Western pictures of HDL kneeling to pray beside their bed, in that cartoon shorthand for affected piousness.  Possibly even Barks himself drew some.  And yet, that is a far cry from specifically mentioning "prayers."  Prayers!  This really does make you realize how relentlessly secular Disney comics are, because the idea of the ducks with religions, I don't know (which is good--a lot of your globe-trotting stories in particular would get reeeeeaally uncomfortable if you thought they might be accompanied by any degree of religious motivation).  

So what do you think the ducks are, religion-wise?  I mean, if you take this story at face value?  You'd probably assume some flavor of Christian, just because that's how most American identify.  And certainly, the preponderance of Christmas stories (even if it's a deracinated sort of Christmas) would suggest as much.  But I don't know!  Let's have some fun!  The only reason Christmas stories were considered acceptable is that they were very intensely non-religious!  Sure, at the time these stories were written, no doubt everyone was just thinking about a Christian default, but YOU don't know!  It looks like <i>everyone</i> is celebrating Christmas, and do you think Duckburg is one hundred percent Christian?  Seems improbable!  What if the Duck family were all Muslims, but you never knew because any evidence of such is all just off-stage?  Wouldn't that be a thing?

Also, note Donald's response there, which would seem to be pretty blasphemous if we're taking any of this at all seriously: you don't need God's grace because it's only useful in practical terms and since you've got this thing in the bag, it's all good?  I would avoid thunderclouds for the foreseeable future, were I he!

Mmm-hmm!  Say, I don't mean to be a downer or anything, but aren't there other competitors in this race?  Using cranes to hoist horses onto haystacks may be fun for kids of all ages, but aren't you missing the larger context here?

...oh.  They've been "eliminated."  Somehow.  Very convenient.  Well, never mind then; carry on.

Ha-ha-ha.  I have certain doubts about this, however.  How is this supposed to work?  If you really to make sure that the racers have no idea what's going on, you could only tell the audience at the last minute, to avoid leaks.  But that's clearly not the case here, as you have this dude who clearly knows what's going on dropping hints:

So...what?  WHAT?  Also, the race can only happen once, since otherwise the jig would be completely up.  I mean, it's a fun idea, but it needs more thought put into it.  Maybe there could be a different win condition in every race.  That could be interesting.

This ending works pretty well; it's funny that we don't see the havoc Donald wreaks.  It does seem unfair that HDL have to sell their trophy, though.  And why are they so cheerful about it?  Hmph.

Anyway, comix!  We all love 'em.  Please enjoy responsibly.



Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

I'm surprised you left "loco weeds" without comment!

November 20, 2021 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Adamant said...

The rule about "the last horse winning" seems rather at odds with the rule about any dirty trick being allowed, since "eliminated" riders aren't going to count. It was just pure chance Donald's attempt at eliminating the nephews didn't work out, had he say, placed Hamilton on the roof of a barn instead of a haystack, he'd have won simply by being the only non-eliminated rider.

I don't think Barks thought the logic here entirely through.

November 20, 2021 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

I mean, there where at least two Al Taliaferro strips depicting Donald in church :

And this one by Frank Grundeen

...note in all cases writen by Bob Karp.

That last one is particualr odd. Donald sends the boys to church as he stay home... Now, usualy a church has multiply masses a day, so Donald could gone at diffrent time... but I don't know, the way it's presented it's looks like he is raising kids religious while he himself is agnostic. Perhaps Della death-bed wish to raise the boys christian?

It also interesting that all of these jokes revolve around collection plate. Guess it's the one aspect of church you can make fun of and get away with it.

This Donald stirp involves a priest :

Interestingly enough I seen some brasilian Jose Carioca stories involving religion... Obviously, some depicited the Jesus statue in Rio De Janerio (which is now only second biggest! Poland rules!) but I seen at least one story where Jose and his girfiend where helping a priest with some charity event and another one where Jose gets dress as a priest for a costume party. I recall some fans posted that some Jose stories has pictures of Virgin Mary visisble on the wall. Also there was a brasilain Dickie Duck story where she helped raised money for the church get new belltower or something.

My guess is that depicting religion in that part of the world is much more acceptable (seeing how Brasil is 90% Christian) It's interesting that even Disney was ok with Catholic refrences in "Coco" (Nuns, crosses on the wall, characters making the cross symbol) since it's take place in Mexico where is large part of culture.

It should be noted that as far Italian stories go Gladstone Gander (of all people) maybe the only openly religious character in Duckburg universe, as he prety much worships the Greek godess Themis in those stories (!) He literaly been seen praying to her on many ocasions, calling her in need or shown vaing some idol or picture depicting her in her house (not to mention all his obsession with lucky charms) And there are some stories where the godess appearing in person... and even if she is not directly refrence as a godess she appears as personification of luck... which agian he worship.
So yeah, Gladstone Gander - man of faith... mind you a Neo-pegan faith, but faith never the less.

I once had a idea for a parody duck-story where VonDrake and some other Duckburgians realise that Gladstone discovered the ONE TRUE RELIGION! Think about it - Gladstone belive in his luck... and it works for him BIG TIME! Like there is something clearly supernatural going on with frequency of how it works. So pretty much group of Duckburgians come to Gladstone beging him to show them the way, wanting to be his fallowers, hoping his life style will "bless them with luck" and they form a cult around him, where they trying to learn "the ways of Gladstone" and they write down "The Book of Gladstone" which they go door to door reading to people (which is nothing more but writen down Gladstone bragings about all the stuff he won) The story was going to take some wacky turns with Gladstone having his own cult of worshipers (part of the joke was he dosen't care and is bored by the entrie thing, while they are super invested in this). Also the story was going to state that all the characters in Duckbrug as Christians going to church.... Exept for Scrooge who clames he is a buddist.

(And no, it wasn't going to be offencive story - I'm Christian myself for Pete's sake - no worries)

November 21, 2021 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

I'm likewise surprised that I didn't mention locoweed--I definitely noted it when I was reading and even looked it up to try to get to the bottom of whether it really makes animals hella stoned. The answer seems to be, kind of, but definitely in a less fun way than comics would have us believe.

November 21, 2021 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Written Dreams said...

The whole plot for a screwball race - complete with the rule about the last racer winning and the bit about the spectators having fun watching the racers' antics - was later reused for a motorcar derby, this time between Donald and Uncle Scrooge. In that version, both Donald and Scrooge fail to win the race and get into a fight with the announcer. Likewise, they get hauled before a judge, but the judge lets them off easy in exchange for them giving him a ride in their car.

November 21, 2021 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

On the religious the Karp/Grundeen strip, Donald is sending the kids off to church while he stays home--not that uncommon a practice among Protestant parents back in the day, when many parents felt comfortable sending their kids off to walk somewhere in town on their own. Parents who did this would not have been very invested in church for their own sake, but would have felt that having their kids go to Sunday School and church was part of bringing them up right. Not to mention, a way to get free babysitting while one lounges around at home on Sunday morning. This is a Protestant church: that would be the mainstream default in that era in the USA, and you can tell by the way they collect the offering, and the fact that the children have been going to Sunday School rather than (possibly at the same time as) the church service. (This is to be their first Sunday attending church with the adults.) There would not likely have been more than one or at the most two Sunday services at most Protestant churches.

There's a Christmas story where the art depicts a nativity set on the windowsill or shelf in Grandma Duck's house. I think I have a copy of that one; if I can find it easily I'll post the title here.

I'm not surprised that there's a lot more assumed Christian stuff in Brazilian comics, both because Christianity saturates the culture and because the Corporate Mouse probably didn't oversee the Brazilian output so closely.

Do not forget the Cathedral of Notre Duck! Even if the art within the cathedral depicts only a very vaguely religion-adjacent folktale. Still, child-me liked to think that the name of the cathedral indicated that God was believed to have become incarnate in the history of the Duckburg world in Duck form.

November 21, 2021 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Thanks for information Elaine. I'm just more used to the concept to going to church as a family event.

November 21, 2021 at 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Oh, certainly, that's the expectation, and that's my experience. But it was not unheard of for some parents to send their kids off to church without them.

November 21, 2021 at 8:05 PM  
Anonymous scarecrow33 said...

There is a Disneyland TV show from the late 50's, a compilation of short cartoons strung together with new animation to make a complete, if not all that consistent, storyline. This one is "Donald's Weekend" in which Huey, Dewey, and Louie spend the weekend with their "Unca Donald". The show covers Saturday with "Donald's Off Day" followed by "Donald's Golf Game" and Donald goes on a Saturday night date with Daisy in "Donald's Crime". Then Sunday morning is covered with new footage, showing Donald and the nephews coming out of church! He takes them to a carnival in the afternoon, and then it goes into one of the older cartoons again. But it's an interesting nod to what was evidently considered conventional for families on a Sunday, to depict the ducks attending church as part of their normal routine.

November 24, 2021 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Jeffyo said...

Donald wears his night shirt over his sailor suit?????

November 25, 2021 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Ayrton Mugnaini Jr. said...

Elaine said

"I'm not surprised that there's a lot more assumed Christian stuff in Brazilian comics, both because Christianity saturates the culture and because the Corporate Mouse probably didn't oversee the Brazilian output so closely."

Indeed, in the 1950s and 1960s many Brazilian Disney comics, translations of foreign stories or not, include intejections of religious, specifically Christian, nature (like "os anjos digam amém", "may the angels say 'amen'", and "Nossa!", short for "Nossa Senhora", Our Lady", equivalent to "Gee" for "Jesus"); most such sayings were substituted for more secular ones in reissues.

And in many Brazilian stories Uncle Scrooge says "Ai, meu São Cipriano!", "oh, my Saint Cyprian!"; I still don't know why Saint Cyprian was chosen as so worthy of devotion to Scrooge.

November 26, 2021 at 6:37 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Very odd indeed. Even if the writers wanted to make Scrooge a Catholic it still pretty random for a chathprase.

At least if he was calling for St. Matthew he would be calling the patron saint of accountants, tax collectors and bankers, or Saint Homobonus patron saint of buisness people. That would felt tad more in character.

November 26, 2021 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

FYI, if anyone thinks there won't be some Christmas material here...they are misshapen. This last week has just been pretty busy.

December 6, 2021 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Finger cross on the animated christmas specials this year ^_^

December 6, 2021 at 12:18 PM  

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