Tuesday, July 25, 2023

"The Gem Jam"

 "The Gem Jam," eh?  As soon as I saw that title, my Fallberg detector started going like crazy.  What, you've never heard of a Fallberg detector?  Every home should have one.  At any rate, in spite of being better known for writing those abominable Paul Murry mouse stories, he also did a lot of ducks--some of them not too bad.  Still, don't expect too much from this one; I'm pretty confident that this is going to be the shortest entry in this series, just because this story really isn't interesting in any way.  Well, it happens; what can you do?

But MY POINT WAS, two-word alliterative titles were extremely Fallberg's jam.  His...gem jam.  Oh, stop it.

One clear problem with this story compared to all the other in this series: NO DANG BEACH PARTY!  There's not a single moment of utopian summer bliss here!  It opens on frustration and closes on...well, you'll see, but not what I'm looking for.  You have failed me, Fallberg.

Also, gotta say, this isn't Strobl's best work.  Look how weird that head-on nephew looks in the bottom right.  Anyway, another bottle with, well, not quite a message, but the same general idea.  Surprised there aren't more of these.

Louie does have a point there.  Another point: why would this smuggler do something so wildly inefficient?  I think smuggling's one of those unexamined concepts in these stories.  I mean...are we supposed to assume they're doing this to evade customs?  Or is there an unstated prohibition on bringing emeralds into the States?  The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

I know I know; we're not meant to think about it at all.  It's really just a magical concept that's meant to justify the story and not be thought about beyond that.  So here we are.  But it bugs the hell out of me; I can't deny it.

Well, here's this.  "A truckload of alfalfa," a detail that will never be referenced again and has no relevance to anything.  A precursor to Van Horn's lolrandom wackiness ("my collection of Bulgarian bus transfers," "a nine-volume history of prune whip" and the like)?  Sure; let's say that.

Oh no; we've also got THESE guys.  More of Fallberg's fingerprints.  His name is "Hulk?"  Has that always been the case?  He's in a bunch of Murry stories, isn't he?  But if that was his name there, it sure doesn't sound familiar, though you'd think Fallberg would know.  At any rate, I refuse to check, only partially because Inducks is currently down.

Surprisingly law-abiding of them to not just TAKE the dang horse.

One of the unbreakable ones from my new bottle works.  Obviously.  Don't think I'm losing sight of the fact that this story relies on extremely improbably happenstance, 'cause I'm not.

Anyway, if this emerald IS smuggled, Scrooge does not appear to have a problem with profiting from these goings on.  That stuff with HDL sobbing about being taken advantage of is kind of unusual, isn't it?  In the hands of someone doing this more intentionally, that could lead to some interesting commentary.

Just because it comes from your factory doesn't mean you own it in perpetuity, you buffoon.  I would argue that this is, in fact, NOT fair enough.  Anyway, note that coconut thing.  Without it, the story is completely nonsensical, as opposed to only partially.

I'm moving through this story pretty quickly because there's a lot here that just isn't interesting enough to talk about.  But this is sorta spooky/fun, even if it doesn't last.

Yup.  Momentarily had some real tension here, but it dissipates very quickly.

Yeah, great.  Only there's STILL no indication of how this "business" works or where these emeralds are coming from or why they need to be smuggled.  I mean, it would be one thing if they were trying to bring opium or something into the country, but this...wugh.

"The greatest li'l ol' smugglin' gimmick in the world!"  Do you think Fallberg even KNOWS what sort of accent he's going for here?  I have my doubts.

Oh no sharks.  In fairness, Pete and Pete jr. do seem edifyingly murderous here, not that this'll ever amount to anything.

And if there's one thing you've gotta love, it's Scrooge and Donald literally at loggerheads like that, though it'd be better if the story itself had been more interesting.  Neither of them has a good point, exactly, but Scrooge's is especially lame.

Well...at any rate, now you saw THIS.  Don't say I never gave you anything.

Please note, again, that this business about hypnotizing sharks just comes and then goes forever.  Clearly you can just throw crud like this into your story...but should you?

If you were hoping for some sort of climactic sequence...well, you were pretty naive.  But I can't blame you for expecting at least a LITTLE more than this.  I hope for Fallberg's sake that the editor's cut a BUNCH of panels between these two, because otherwise, this is the most half-assed thing ever.  I mean, it is regardless, but is if Fallberg's fault?  We may never know.  Or, to be fair, care.

What happened to the emerald?  We have completely lost track of it, it appears.  Plotting isn't this story's strong suit.  In fairness, though, I don't know that anything is.

Anyway, here's the ending.  As I said: there is no goddamn beach party delightfulness ANYWHERE in the whole dang story.  Bow your head in shame, Carl.

I mean...there are the usual games/comics panels, but they relate even less to the story itself than all the others do.  This one especially is not great.

This one's better, but again, it seems to be connected to a different, better story.  "The Gem Jam" is actually kind of a worst-case scenario: not good in any sense, but also not really bad enough to let be skewer it in an entertaining way.  Just kinda...there.  But cover it we must, and we have!

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Anonymous Achille Talon said...

I think smuggling's one of those unexamined concepts in these stories. I mean...are we supposed to assume they're doing this to evade customs? Or is there an unstated prohibition on bringing emeralds into the States?

Perhaps the most logical guess is that those are *stolen* gems, and they need to be smuggled into the country to be successfully fenced?

July 25, 2023 at 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

You repeated the same two panels at one point, rather than showing us the one with “the greatest little ol’ smuggling” etc.

July 25, 2023 at 9:01 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

Fixed. As for the emeralds, I guess they COULD be stolen, but that suggests a whole 'nother dimension to the story that's going unmentioned. I'm not convinced it doesn't raise more questions than it answers.

July 25, 2023 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Debbie Anne said...

Have you ever covered a Carl Fallberg/Paul Murry Mickey story? They’re certainly not great, but it would give you a way to show exactly what you don’t like about them, and one that’s awful enough would probably be entertaining to “skewer”. Kind of like the MST3K of Disney Comics.

July 29, 2023 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. said...

You're in luck!

July 29, 2023 at 5:38 PM  

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