Thursday, January 20, 2022

"Adventure at Bomb Bird Island"

 Every so often, I say to myself, "hey, self, how about 1959's 'Bomb Bird Island?'  That's a story you fondly remember from your childhood.  You should write an entry about 'Bomb Bird Island!'"  And then I reread it and realize, man, I have basically NOTHING to say about this.  It's not that it's bad--it's certainly in the top half of non-Barks Western stories (and when I have I ever been circumspect about covering bad stories anyway?).  It's just that...somehow it never seems to have much about it to comment on.  But now, I have decided, it's "Bomb Bird Island" come hell or high water, dammit!  Let's do this!  It is how we will ring in the new year!

We start...here.  And the first thing you notice--or the first thing I always did--was the butler using Louie's full name.  Wait, aren't they pronounced the same either way?  Unless he's putting a particularly strong French spin on the pronunciation which Louie disapproves of.  Hard to say (yeah yeah, obviously he's meant to be pronouncing it "Lewis"--but it's sort of hard to imagine this hoity-toity butler using anything other than the French pronunciation).

Anyway, that's what most stands out--or at least, it did.  These days, the animal heads stand out more to me.  Bloody hell, people.  I know conservationism wasn't really a thing back in the day, but it is not a pretty sight.  There's a remake of this story called "Adventure at Buzz Bird Island," which I've never read, it hasn't been super-widely published, but if the image on the inducks page is to be believed, the animal heads are gone, which is good, though the art kinda looks worse otherwise.

Hey, how 'bout those birds?  I...don't want to tell you how to do your job, but I think those are generally posed on the ground or on branches.  Having them hanging from the ceiling like some kind of mobile strikes me as extremely goofy.

I don't know, though; I guess these things didn't really bother me back in the day.  I had my dad read The Swiss Family Robinson to me a number of times, and those people murdered the shit out of every wild animal they met.  It's kind of alarming.

Anyway, here's the bomb bird.  Isn't it cool-looking?  Well, maybe it looks a bit doofy, but I like it anyway, dammit.  I find the over-labeling in the book funny.  "Egg."  "Nest."  Yeah, thanks for that.  Real Ben Garrison stuff.

I have to say--I have questions here.  Mainly: who IS this guy, even?  Yes, okay, he's "the man who collects rare birds and animals for the Duckburg museum."  But he's clearly also a rich guy.  So is that how he got rich?  Collecting rare birds and animals?  It seems like that would just have to be a side-gig, something to do in his spare time; he must be independently wealthy--or so I'd have thought, but it turns out that he's planning on turning a profit of only five hundred dollars from this.  If that little money is significant to him, he can't be all that loaded, can he?  But he DOES own this mansion...hmm.  I'm almost beginning to suspect that this wasn't thought through very carefully.

...so he can't go to the island with him because of this sudden allergy out of nowhere.  Is this just so Strobl wouldn't need to draw him so much?  Really, you don't need an excuse for that; just have him say "you go to the island; I'll stay here."  No one would think twice.  But instead, we have this pointlessly distracting extraneous detail.  Great...?

Walkie talkies!  I remember those seemed so cool when I was small.  I mean, not in this story specifically; just in general.  Kids these days with their smartphones; they don't know the simple pleasures of bulky devices allowing for crackly communications over short distances.  I ask you!  Though I'm not sure how well the writer really understood them, since they appear to be conceptualized more like plain ol' phones.  "Here's hoping when we call for help, we don't get the wrong number!"  A) Our writer SUPER does not understand how walkie talkies work; but B) I can't help but love the half-assed dopiness of that line.  And why "THE wrong number?"  Are there only two numbers to choose from?


I don't know about "in a school," but it IS important to emphasize that the VAST MAJORITY of sharks are completely harmless to humans.  The Seaman's Manual is almost certainly correct.  But why do I have to look in the Seaman's Manual?  You just told me the fact that I'm going to find there!  Ya goof! 

I'm sort of bemused by "contributing to the school library so they can read that they're harmless, too."  That looks like it's supposed to be some sort of sick burn, the nephew's snappy comeback to the idea that the sharks are harmless.  If that's not what it is, then it just seems nonsensical.  And yet...it doesn't in any way disprove the idea.  And now if you need any more tips from the Manual, well tough shit.

Boooomb birds!  Everybody needs good bomb birds!  Bomb birds...have feeeeelings tooooo!  Okay.  Pretty darn goofy, but still, I would one hundred percent pay money for a plush one.  And everyone reading this would too.  Don't deny it!

This is another thing I liked about the story, but MY GOODNESS, "gee! This is easy!"  Correction: that is the opposite of easy!  It is extremely difficult and insanely dangerous!  Ya nut!

I don't know.  I don't think I have anything to say about this image.  But it's an adventure on bomb bird island, dernit!  We must appreciate, or at least acknowledge, the adventure!  I demand it!

"Good-by [sic] old world" is interesting.  You'd think, hey, don't you mean "goodbye cruel world?"  And maybe it is just a mistake.  But in perhaps excessive fairness, it should also be noted that there is apparently a hymn called "Goodbye Old World of Sin and Care," which was published in 1949, so the timing checks out.  Is that what the writer was thinking of?  I have no idea, but to me, it's kind of funnier: "goodbye cruel world" is such a cliche that it doesn't really invoke much of anything.  The other one seems much more melodramatic.  Anyway.

This is silly and probably lethal, but within the context of the story it kinda works.  He can't just jump off the mountain; he wouldn't have enough momentum to reach the ocean, and he'd just break himself on the rocks.  But this way?  Well...okay.  Sure.  I mean, I'm not sure if I'm meant to feel a way about this, but it's fine.

Hmm.  Yes, okay.  Is this a zoo or a museum?  Is this bird going to be stuffed, possibly when it gets bigger?  Not clear.

Well, here's my question: is this written by Vic Lockman?  It doesn't feel overly Lockmanesque--and inducks just gives it a "?"--and yet, I am reminded by a story that, per inducks, is (in spite of also not feeling overly etc), and that's 1960's "Stone Money Mystery."  Why am I reminded of that?  Because they both have endings that bug me in basically the same way.  As you may remember, in that story Scrooge goes to Yap Island to get one of these giant stone coins for his collection.  But then he learns that it's not just stone: in the past they used giant gold coins, so instead, he gets one of those.  And I'm left thinking, dammit, you need both of them--the non-precious stone and the gold--or your collection, which is the thing you were concerned about, is still incomplete!  You fool!  And I feel the same way about this: sure, this dumb seagull may be rarer, but you still need a bomb bird!  The one doesn't supplant the other!  And in this case it's particularly noticeable on account of how generic-looking the gull is.  It doesn't look like a particularly exciting species to have found.

But anyway, that's neither here or there.  As it turns out, I could find some things to say about this story with sufficient determination.  You gotta do what?  I gotta believe!

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12 Comments:

Blogger Austin Kelly said...

Wow, this story's mildly awesome! Speaking as someone who grew up reading the usually-much-worse Strobl stories in the Warner Bros. Dell books, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool this one ended up being.

Have you ever read one of ? and Strobl's coolest collaborations, "The Charge At Dawn"? It's a bit earlier than this one but also has some super cool Strobl Beagle Boys and a greatly heroic and brave Donald (Scrooge is unusually cowardly here, which is cool because it allows Donald to shine, a la Return to Xanadu). I would love to see you review/read that one should the time ever come about.

January 20, 2022 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Bah! Everyone who watch the new Duck Tales show knows Louie's full name is Llewellyn.

I usualy imagine butlers with very british accent.

Perhaps this story would work better if insted of the Mr. Horrace Pippin it was Scrooge himself who needs some rare bird for his Zoo (Unicorns just don't bring the crowds as they use to)

January 20, 2022 at 5:22 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

This is one of the two Tony Strobl issues of Donald Duck that I remember the most from my childhood. We had tons of these old Whitman comics from those three-packs. Bomb Bird Island and “The Weighted Crate Mystery” are two of the earliest comics I remember, along with a few stories that I later found out were by Carl Barks, “In Ancient Persia”, “The Christmas Cha-Cha”, “Knights of the Flying Sleds”, the skywriting story and “The Pixilated Parrot”.

January 20, 2022 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Yes, I totally want a plush bomb bird. As long as it has actual working suction cup feet which can hold it perpendicular to the wall for extended periods of time.

I note that there's a line separating the main part of the bomb bird's head from the head's pointy tip--do you all think it would look worse or better if the pointy tip were colored differently? How would you have colored the bomb birds?

It bothered me that the hatching bird was identified as a "web-footed barking sea gull"--why say web-footed? Aren't all sea gulls web-footed? But then I thought, well, maybe he's just distinguishing it from the suction-footed bomb bird.

Beak-wise, it looks more like a baby pelican...but not otherwise! Go to Google images and type in "newborn baby pelican," but only if you're prepared to see some seriously ugly babies, resembling a plucked chicken in the roasting pan but with the head of a skinned pterodactyl.

January 20, 2022 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Debbie Anne: "The Weighted Crate Mystery" is by Carl Fallberg--I believe almost all the non-Barks Donald Duck stories I remember from my childhood are by Fallberg: "Loch Eerie Monster," "Rattled Railroader" (DD 58), "The Lighthouse at Wreckers' Reef," "The Fantastic Flying Goat." Then there are two Daisy's Diary stories drawn by Barks but written by Bob Gregory. Oh, and the floogle bird story by ? in DD 34. Anyway, Fallberg clearly wins in my memory banks.

January 21, 2022 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger Lugija said...

The ending baffles me a bit, as it uses the classic switcheroo where the ducks do not get the thing they spent the whole story trying to get, and instead luckily get something more valuable that was previously unnamed, but in this case there is no competitor who would get the first prize (usually Gladstone). Now it's just "you get no money, yoink, oh fine, you get money anyway" problem which is completely separated from the rest of the story and resolved in three panels.

The general case of the ending switcheroo is an interesting trope that I haven't seen analysed much (not that I have specifically looked for them).

I enjoy the absurdity of "only one person in the world is allergic to that plant, and it happens to be me".

January 21, 2022 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

By a strange coincidence, the Bomb Birds debuted in exactly the same month (March 1959) as "L'île au Boumptéryx", which is about another expedition to another island, to find a bird that lays explosive eggs!

The story was written by André Franquin and you can find it here: http://bluesonline.weebly.com/boumpteryx.html

January 21, 2022 at 7:13 AM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

https://inducks.org/story.php?c=W+DD+++64-02 Inducks has no credited writer for this story. Interestingly, this one was remade for the Disney Studios overseas comics program: https://inducks.org/story.php?c=S+76037

January 21, 2022 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Yup, I know this "Bomb Bird" story has no credited writer. I spoke of Fallberg only because you mentioned "The Weighted Crate Mystery" as the other of two non-Barks stories you remember from early on.

That's interesting, that this one was remade!

January 21, 2022 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger GeoX, who is here to stay, like it or not. said...

It probably IS Fallberg, though. The stone money story, also. I think Inducks is extremely wrong to have credited it to Lockman. Not his style.

January 21, 2022 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Achille Talon said...

Sometimes the Brazilians remade random stories for entirely mystifying reasons. Tis a phenomenon I'll never understand.

This story is indeed fun, and I second Thomas's mention of the coincidentally-similar Boumptéryx of Franco-Belgian comics! It's what I immediately thought of as well, even though the birds aren't that similar.

I quite like the barking seagull, myself. Sure, the design is a bit straightforward, but the tiny bird chick yapping and ruffing like an angry poodle is a very cute image.

January 22, 2022 at 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bomb Birds looks like precursors to the Angry Birds. Disney should make their own game based on them.

February 5, 2022 at 10:07 AM  

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