Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Kitty-Go-Round"

This entry's going to be a short one, but hopefully rewarding, too. I just received a handful of back issues of Gladstone's Donald Duck Adventures (not to be confused with Disney's Donald Duck Adventures or Gemstone's Donald Duck Adventures--great job with the nomenclature, gentlemen!), and was perusing DDA37 when I came across something in the two-page filler story in the back (written and drawn by two individuals named Gary Gabner and Craig Deeley, about whom Inducks knows nothing) that made me take note. It's a completely ordinary, predictable story in which Donald sees a rat in Scrooge's office. Donald tries to impress upon Scrooge the seriousness of this situation--he might eat your money!--but Scrooge is blasé. HOW CAN THIS BE?!? you ask, baffled. WELL THAT'S GOING TO BE THE PUNCHLINE, ISN'T IT? Yes, BUT:


Okay, it's not an awful gag as far as these things go, though the art lets it down a bit. But that's neither here nor there. What's here and/or there is you asking, baffled: since when does Scrooge have a cat named Clementine? And the answer is, since what, for its sheer unexpected charm, surely must be my favorite Barks one-pager, from 1959, which Inducks refers to as "Kitty-Go-Round:"



I love the fact that someone decided to follow up on this obscure comic (these one-pagers generally aren't treated as canon--though as I recall, Rosa's "Incredible Shrinking Tightwad" DOES include visual references to Barks' three coffee gags*). Most of all, though, I love the comic itself. People have tried, with limited success, to glean random scraps of information about Scrooge's life from Barks' one-pagers; I feel that, while you can do this to a limited extent, most of them don't really have that much to do with the Scrooge in Barks' longer stories. They often just take the idea of the character's enjoying making money/not spending money and put him in unlikely situations (ie, taking ballet or skydiving lessons) that allow him to demonstrate these character traits.

But then you come to something like THIS, which is great. The idea of Scrooge taking in this (presumably) stray cat and, when all else fails, feeling responsibility for her kittens, just adds some great nuance to him. As I noted last time, it's not too easy to strike what I feel is the proper tone in characterizing Scrooge: yeah, he's a mean ol' sumbitch, and you don't want to downplay that TOO much, but you also have to occasionally acknowledge that he has redeeming qualities; otherwise, why would we want to spend time with him? This one-pager does a good job of that. I'd love to see more of Clementine.
--
*For non-initiates, the "coffee gags" are three one-pagers in which Scrooge uses chicanery to get free coffee at a diner. And yes, I'm aware that someone wrote a "sequel" to them--I didn't actually read it, though; I skimmed through it and was so annoyed that Scrooge came out entirely the victor that I never bothered going back. But the point is, I know it exists!

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23 Comments:

Blogger Christopher said...

Has Scrooge also taught Clementine and her kids to suppress their killer instincts and capture the rats alive? It looks like the cats are trained to catch the rats without injury and put them in a cage, presumably to be released into the wild later. Does the "no killing in a Disney comic" rule apply to cats and rodents? Did Mickey Mouse insist that no rodents be harmed in the making of these comic strips? Does Mickey consider a cat killing a mouse a hate crime?

July 28, 2010 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Go on, GeoX, read the sequel! It's Kari Korhonen writing/drawing with Joe Torcivia dialoguing at his best (okay, I'm biased—as the editor who asked him to do it!).

Scrooge winning can't be ALL bad.

In other news, Mickey insisted no rodents be harmed after he re-read "10 Little Mickey Kids" (shudder—LOL!)

July 28, 2010 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

I'm sure it's a well-done story for what it is, but my Marxist principles rebel at the idea of a story in which a hard-working proletarian and this is played for laughs. I'm only half-joking. I mean, if it's just for the odd cup of coffee, it's not a big deal, but when you go beyond that...

I realize I'm overanalyzing the shit out this, but it goes back to the idea that Scrooge can only be a sympathetic character as long as long as there's a level of insulation between him and the real world. So in "Christmas for Shacktown," in which you have a sudden unexpected glimpse of a reality where there are kids living in grinding poverty and dying of preventable diseases, Scrooge, wallowing in his bin of cash and begrudging his charity-mined relatives even the smallest donation, just looks like a horrible monster. But of course, that story is in part a critique of that kind of mindset. Whereas here, an admittedly less extreme but still troubling situation is treated as though it were entirely unproblematic. Maybe this goes back again to differences of nationality.

And yes I am WELL AWARE that the above makes it look as though I spend WAY too much time obsessing about trivial issues and politicizing things that don't need to be politicized, but hey--if I didn't do that, this blog wouldn't exist.

July 28, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

...as for the topic at hand, yeah, it does seem like a pretty bizarre circumlocution that Scrooge has evidently trained the cats to use cages. There's a Barks ten-pager--can't remember the name/designation at this time--in which there's a mouse on the loose and Scrooge DOES freak out. In that one, Donald purchases a cat to try to get it, and there's no implication that said cat would do anything but eat it, were it not so fat and out-of-shape.

I find "10 Little Mickey Kids" morbidly delightful! Though, of course, I may be biased.

July 28, 2010 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

You're thinking of "Too Safe Safe": http://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=W+WDC+171-03

And I agree with you on "10 Little Mickey Kids." So does Donald Duck.

July 28, 2010 at 7:47 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Craig Deeley, by the way (note spelling—the printed comic is in error), is an artist whom I connected with Gladstone in the mid-1990s. The original goal was for him to draw a long story I was writing at the time, though that didn't pan out.

July 28, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Ah yes; that's it. Thanks for the clarifications. Name corrected.

July 28, 2010 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

...the above comment should read something like "a hard-working proletarian is screwed over by a fantastically rich plutocrat and this is played for laughs." That's probably pretty obvious.

July 28, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

Geo,

Wouldn't the Beagle Boys qualify as "hard-working proletarians," in their own obsessed way? Maybe Scrooge should let them win once in a while (even on a small scale, e.g. "The Doom Diamond," where they wind up getting that steady trickle of coins).

I always thought the Clementine gag was cute because it was so different from the standard Scrooge gag. A gentler sort of gag, too, without the standard gloating Scrooge or "shocked onlooker" in the final panel.

Chris

July 28, 2010 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Hey, I like the Beagle Boys just fine, but I think that by constantly plotting against Scrooge, they're making themselves fair game. Their plotting is, I think, safely in the realm of the purely cartoonish (though I DO like the end of "The Doom Diamond," and I would certainly be interested in reading any story that attempts to add extra nuance of clarification to the Beagles themselves).

July 28, 2010 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

Aw, Geo… Why don’t you just pick up a copy of UNCLE SCROOGE # 380 and enjoy “A Game of One-Cupmanship”.

As David says, it’s Kari Korhonen at his best… and I kinda “helped out” a little with the American script and title. And David helped lots with that editing-stuff he does.

It’s structured almost as a series of “blackout gags” – like a Road Runner cartoon, or more likely to emulate the string of “coffee gags” that Barks did so well in the ‘50s.

David even scattered the ORIGINAL GAGS throughout the book to lead up to this story. Just one example of the many wonderful things he routinely did at Gemstone.

Yes, one may not like the core idea (of both this story AND Barks’ original gags) of a rich fat-cat getting it over on a poor schlump, but it’s so over-the-top-funny in the WAYS it happens, to make it worthwhile.

And, perhaps, more importantly, it reinforces the life-lesson that “Life Really Is Unfair” and that those who have, keep finding ways to get more – be they Duck fantasticatillionaires, oil company executives, Hollywood studios, or comic book publishers and distributors.

Say, here’s a challenge. Since you admit to never reading it, read the story and review it on your Blog. Separate the execution of the tale as a Duck story from the “political message” – and discuss BOTH in their proper measure.

Kari should be commended for even TRYING a follow-up to this renowned series of Carl barks gags, and I added stuff that only increased the fun. And, if you really don’t like it, there’s always Don Rosa’s reprinted “Island at the Edge of Time” to lead off the book.

So, how ‘bout it?

July 29, 2010 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Chris Barat said...

I'd like to see a review of "One-Cupmanship" on here as well!

Chris

July 29, 2010 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Ack! Peer pressure!

I'll take it under advisement, though as you can see, I'm beginning from kind of a jaundiced position, and the result will probably involve more left-wing dogma than usual.

July 29, 2010 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 29, 2010 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

(Previous post removed due to a [Blush!] spelling error.)

Peer pressure frorm fellow Bloggers? That’s one type I never felt in school!

As I said, simply separate the execution of the tale as a Duck story from the “political message” – and discuss BOTH in their proper measure.

That way the “left-wing dogma” can have its place, and you won’t insult me because I suspect you’ll somehow manage to enjoy the dialogue and the additional jokes and references even if you feel differently about the story’s plotline.

July 29, 2010 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger ramapith said...

Re: left-wing dogma—GeoX, I'll very likely agree with you. (Chris, on the other hand, won't. And I'm not 100% sure where Joe will land. Ain't blogging wonderful?)

July 30, 2010 at 2:03 AM  
Blogger Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Indeed. It's inspiring that in these politically divisive times, we can all come together over our shared love of Disney comics. Then, once we're done with that, we can resume hurling molotov cocktails at one another.

July 30, 2010 at 2:48 AM  
Blogger Joe Torcivia said...

If Joe were a betting man, he’d wager that he would land somewhere about “Center to Center-Left”, which is where he’s spent most of his life. He also thinks “A Game of One-Cupmanship” was a great story both before and after he got his paws on it. He wishes there were more stories like it, and wonders why he’s inexplicably lapsed into third-person-mode. Help him! Help him escape from this contrived writers’ device! He’d be very grateful. Yes, he would!

July 30, 2010 at 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice find on the Clementine reference, GeoX; quick question, though: what is this "10 little mickey kids" that some of you are referencing?
My google skills are failing me :(

July 31, 2010 at 12:22 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

It's this vintage 1930s British Disney story. Forced to explain why sometimes we saw crowds of "Mickey's orphans," and other times just Morty and Ferdie, Wilfred Haughton decided to write and draw... er, an explanation...

July 31, 2010 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger Lars Jensen said...

Ramapith, I seriously doubt Haughton cared about explanations. He probably just wanted to do a Mickey version of Ten Little Injuns.

July 31, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger ramapith said...

(Oh, I know. I thought my mock-hesitant tone would be enough to show that I was kinda joking around.)

July 31, 2010 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much appreciated, ramapith
It was a bit morbid indeed, but in line with some of the disney newspaper humor of the times (the mickey suicide shorts/donald drowning goofy and the like)

July 31, 2010 at 10:25 PM  

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