Friday, July 7, 2023

"Sea Breeze Sailors"

 Here's a "fun" fact: this story has been reprinted twice in the US, more than any of the others we're covering.  Is that justified?  We will see, possibly.

Before we start, take a look at this frontispiece: 

Maybe the fact that these things excite me is a sign I've been doing this too long, but I can't help it; I find this super-interesting.  "A hilarious adventure with Donald and the nephews aboard Uncle Scrooge's yacht."  Now, I'm positive there must be other examples, but this is the first instance I've seen--or at least that I remember--of a Western comic book providing any kind of actual editorial comment regarding the stories.  Is this significant?  Is the story a hilarious adventure with Donald and the nephews aboard Uncle Scrooge's yacht?  Well, somebody's certainly SAYING  it is!  They couldn't print it if it weren't true.  So, you know.

Heh, heh!  Somehow, that feels like the absolute ideal opening panel of one of these stories.  We've got your only man Dick Moores back on art duty, for what that's worth.  One thing I will give him some degree of credit for: that "boom!" out in the ocean refers to a plot device that won't appear until a ways in.  It shows an unusual degree of care that Moores bothered to foreshadow it like this.  Also, it strongly suggests that he might have written this story himself, since then he'd be more aware of the overall plot and maybe have been more likely to do what he did (well, that was my speculation, but inducks sez Del Connell, for what it's worth).  

Awfully damn smug, is what I call them.  And jeez, you went THAT quickly from being poor to being bitterly resentful of the idea of not living in luxury?  You guys would be absolutely USELESS in a class war.  Actually, here's a fun game you can play at home: whenever you read a duck story, ask yourself, based on his depiction in this story, how likely from one to ten do I think Donald would be to join a revolutionary left-wing paramilitary group?  I don't know how you win or what the winner gets.

I just want you to picture all three of them saying that whole long thing in perfect unison.  Whatever; it's a small sin.  Still, it makes me laugh.

This isn't dishonest, is it?  Well, regardless of questions of honesty, the first question to Donald about his brilliant plan is, how essential is it that you sell?  Because if it's not that important, then fine, I guess.  But if it IS, that "we'll stick the sign up and sell his house and's that simple!" is doing an absolutely tremendous amount of work there.  That easy, is it?  And on an unrelated note, would you like to sign up for my multilevel marketing plan?

Good news, everyone.  The housing shortage has been eliminated.  Nationwide, you mean?  Or just in Calisota?  Either way, that is pretty big news to just clumsily shove into the story for minor exposition purposes.  And remember: eliminating homelessness is explicitly counter to the desires of the ruling class.  Comrade Dick Moores told me so.

Typical stuff, but it's still kind of funny how nonsensical Scrooge's sense of money is.  He must sell fast!  It's an emergency!  Better cut off this tiny fraction of the price (.005%, some fast math reveals) that could never have any effect on its sale!  The fact that he had the phone disconnected just goes to reinforce this impression that he has the mind of a child.

Yes.  Okay.  Very sitcommy.  Even when he's not being overtly egregious about it, Scrooge's general dimwittedness here is something to see.

Hokay.  Let's just put the whole thing out there.  First, I should note that that image of Scrooge in the upper left there is cheating; he was trying to spy his nephews, yes, but there was no indication that he was scowling like that.  You might say, oh, that's just a projection of the ducks' guilty minds, to which I would respond, DAMN I wish I could believe the writer (CONNELL!!) could be up to something that sophisticated, but I've never seen him before, so it seems dubious.  Not that authorial intent is the be all end all, but you know.

In any case, now the main plan.  I know that extravagantly elaborate plots to avoid Scrooge when he's mad are standard-issue in Disney comics of all nations, but still, even by the standards of the genre, this one seems a bit much: sail this unsupplied ship thousands of miles, spend three months...beachcombing, and then...home again; bob's yer uncle.  This is what I call a nutty idea.

I don't know that I'd characterize this story as "hilarious," but there is at least something modestly amusing about watching Scrooge cheerfully undermine himself like this.  Fair enough.

Okay, now it's Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold.  Why wouldn't it be?  Overall, it's fair to say that this story has a lumpen quality to it.  Everybody meaning everybody is sometimes guilty of sticking in extraneous plot threads just to fill up space, but it's these early Western guys who really exploit the practice.  I've talked plenty in the past about insane, terrible plotting in vintage Italian comics, but I feel like the mediocre Italian writers did a better job than their mediocre American counterparts.  They were just maybe more extravagant about it, so it tends to stand out more.

See?  Did we want this to suddenly reconfigure itself into a treasure hunt?  Can't say I did.  Note that this guy is not actually a Yellow Beak sort of parrot, in that he doesn't seem to actually understand English.  But anyway, good news: it's off the coast of Central America!  We'll find it for sure!

Is "blockhead" a pirate word?  I don't know.  But I DID learn one thing: I'd never heard "cleave 'im to the brisket" before, but apparently it's an actual pirate phrase for murdering someone by, it I understand aright (definitions on the internet aren't really clear), stabbing them vertically from top to bottom.  That's pretty fun, though I think Donald is a bit naive if he thinks that unlike pirates, regular sailors maintain decorum at all times.

"Like little lambs."  Bet ya didn't think Scrooge was going to turn into a Christ figure, DID ya?

But I also want to give a bit of a tip of the cap here to Moores for a fairly aesthetically pleasing night here.  Well done, Moores.

"These FEET of mine have been called shovels on occasion."  Um.  Wut.  And why does this so delight the nephew?  These occasional moments of bafflement are really one of the best thing about these stories.

Anyway, it turns out boar island has boars.  Fair enough.  Stop idly bumbling your way through life, Donald.  It's maddening to look at.

Okay.  The internet is oddly cagey on this question, but I'm sure boars can bite as well as gore you.  Yeah?  And in any case, do we really think being rammed into (and subsequently trampled, you've gotta think) by a large, angry animal is fine just because it can't also stab us?  Donald's smugness in that last panel is really a bit much.  It's not fair to be so damn self-impressed just because your world operates according to weird, opaque principles.

Just want to note the reference.  Was this song for some reason well-known in other people's childhoods, or is it something unusual to me?  I mean, there's no particular reason anyone should know it.  It's not particularly memorable or...good.  But either way, there it is.

The idea that a rich guy would be able to summon the armed forces at a whim is terrifying yet plausible.  But really, I just want to note the phone disconnection.  I wish the story did more with this, because it really does get funnier every time it comes up.

Fortunately!  Why are you cool with this car phone if not with a regular landline?  Are we supposed to think it's cheaper?  The opposite seems almost certain.

Car phones are an interesting thing.  At one time, they were used as shorthand for luxury, but it just turned out to be an evolutionary cul de sac.  They could have developed further and become ever-more sophisticated, but at a certain point we realized, hey, this idea that phones have to somehow be tied down to something is limiting our thinking.  It makes way more sense to just have one you can take with you.  Where are the carphones of yesteryear?  They are vanished like the snow.

Man, there's not even any actual treasure, for whatever meager pleasure that would've given us.  Probably it would've been more than the ducks' kabuki-like crying there, but I don't know, maybe not.  That gets at least a few points for dopiness.

JEEZ, don't you guys have a Cold War to attend to?  Is this a good use of resources?

Jokes about Scrooge being a lousy tipper are the regular thing, but somehow, they don't get much more lazy than this.  You expect some kind of small reveal or twist, and it turns out that he's the kid a small tip.  I ask you!  In all honesty, can you truly tell me that this is worthy of a roflcopter?  Because I do not find that to be the case.

This whole song and dance.  If you've read one or more stories of this type, you'll be able to guess very exactly what's coming up next.  If not, it seems unlikely you'd be on this blog.  Still, I like the implications of "you go first, Unca Donald--you're bigger."  So Scrooge is just going to try to beat the hell out of whomever he sees first?  Come to think of it, that's interesting: stories ending with Scrooge chasing Donald with a cane are normal, and there are ones that end with Donald chasing HDL (like that Barks New Years resolutions story).  But Scrooge attacking the nephews?  I don't think that ever happens.  Does it?

Be that as it may.  You knew this was coming, didn't you?  You knew that it would turn out that Scrooge got news that made him not want to sell, and you almost certainly even guessed that it involved striking oil (spoiler, I guess, but not really).  That's JUST HOW IT GOES.  Somehow I find myself slightly irritated at the story for dragging its super-obvious reveal out like this.  I mean, okay, maybe it's all that it CAN do, but I still feel a little patronized.

Yes, okay.  Behold the denouement in all its glory.  But I read something like this and wonder, what sort of moral universe is this?  What message is it trying to impart?  Is this just Dante-type comedy, in the sense that in spite of shit being fucked, we get the happy ending that we don't deserve?  'Cause what it SEEMS more like is the ducks idiotically dicking around and then getting bailed out by the random happenstance of an arbitrary universe.  Or...are those actually the same thing?  Deep, man.

Um, yes, so on that note, happy Christmas in July!  Heh, heh!

Oh, right.  The "frame narrative," if we want to honor it with that name.   Do I need to cover them?  They're basically the same every issue.

I also appreciate them every time, though!  And I like that they found a treasure chest filled with the latest Dell Comics.  That's fun.

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Anonymous Achille Talon said...

And I appreciate your *reviews* every time! Both this one and the previous one were hilarious.

In substantial comments, I'll go to back for the lousy-tipper gag. Maybe the art doesn't sell it quite as well as it could, but the joke is surely about Scrooge's insensitivity in flaunting all this other cash he has to hand right in front of the kid, without it even *occurring* to him that it's a dick move. (Which is of course a mortifyingly realistic situation, but here exaggerated for comic effect from a few glimpses of bills in a wallet to bills erupting from every nook and cranny of his outfit.)

July 7, 2023 at 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

Also, note two more "booms" in the water: in the "little lambs" nocturnal panel, and in the panel just before Scrooge goes inside for the phone. The oil discovery is well and truly foreshadowed!

For what it's worth, I also knew the song "Oh, Where, oh, Where Has My Little Dog Gone" in my childhood. Not sure why or how I knew it. It's possible that people in my family sang it when they were searching for something: "Oh, where, oh, where have my sunglasses gone...."

July 7, 2023 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Another funnyass review - I hope this beachin party will lass for forver!

As for the little dog song despite being from Poland I was also familiar with it but mainly do to watching american cartoons where it was used here and there, including "Looney Tunes" and ofcourse "Underdog" show where it was song from time to time by Polly.

July 8, 2023 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Written Dreams said...

I remember reading this one in a comic, though it lacked the extra frame narrative.

July 10, 2023 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Pan Miluś said...

Perhaps lack of this extra frame narrative is what helped him be reprinted?

July 11, 2023 at 2:07 PM  

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