Saturday, August 1, 2015

On Sale July 29, 2015: DONALD DUCK # 3 from IDW.

Parachute in if you must, but get to your local comic book shop and pick up a copy of DONALD DUCK # 3 (Legacy Numbering # 370) from IDW! 

In it, you’ll find "The Siege of Nothing Atoll", an original 1976 story from the Italian publication TOPOLINO # 1050 written by Giorgio Pezzin, with some truly amazing art by the great Giorgio Cavazzano, with translation and dialogue by our pal (and Fethry's) Thad Komorowski!

A quick digression before we begin our journey to "Nothing Atoll"...

With its July 2015 releases, IDW has begun listing both year and publication of origin.  See above.  I think that's very useful, and welcome its addition.  Now, we know that "The Siege of Nothing Atoll" was first published in 1976, in the venerable publication TOPOLINO - just as we also know that last week's MICKEY MOUSE "The Sound-Blot Plot" came to us in 2009 in Issue # 2784 of that same publication.  

However, there are some, out in the vast wilds of the Internet, who (mistakenly, yet perhaps understandably) regard IDW's Disney line a "reprint" series.  Technically, that's true... but it's really NOT!  

These stories, particularly with their unique Americanized scripts, have never existed in this form before - and have never been previously printed in the United States in ANY FORM.  

So, to avoid the inaccurate impression of these comics as a "reprint line", perhaps the tag-line of "NEW TO THE USA!" could be appended to each such credit for a story that is not culled from a previous American printing.  

Oh, and just one more "quick digression", because I can't resist it... 

Wouldn't it be great if the cast of Seinfeld (the show about "Nothing"could all be posed reading a copy of "The Siege of Nothing Atoll"? 

...Okay, end of digressions - and sorry!  

Just look at this MAGNIFICENT opening splash page by Giorgio Cavazzano! 

Especially the amazing detail of the airplane on a runway during a thunderstorm!  

Simultaneously abstract, yet incredibly realistic, it doesn't even LOOK at if it would be part of a Disney Duck story!  More like an adventure strip or comic.  I would sooner guess this to be a splash from a Batman comic (perhaps from the Neal Adams '70s era?) than a Donald Duck!  

This is hardly an anomaly, folks!  There are other such images, particularly of airplanes (perhaps an interest of Cavazzano?) that we will picture - while trying not to spoil anything major about this story.  

And Giorgio Cavazzano did work like this in 1976?!  Take a look at what OUR American DONALD DUCK comic books looked like in 1976...  

From DONALD DUCK # 175 (Cover Date: September, 1976) 

And here we go plane-for-planejust for the sake of comparison! 

Do these specimens even BELONG ON THE SAME PLANET?!  I know they're from DIFFERENT CONTINENTS, but REALLY!  I'll never understand how Western Publishing, the home of artists like Carl Barks, Harvey Eisenberg, Bill Wright, Dick Moores, Phil DeLara, Tony Strobl, and Paul Murry could ever have allowed itself to sink so low. GROWL!  GNASH! 

Okay, I'm over it... Oh, wait... No I'm not!  

How did we ever endure stuff like THIS in OUR Donald Duck comics...
The infamous "Bird-Bothered Hero" from DD # 127!

...While Giorgio Cavazzano was capable of giving HIS readers something as great as THIS!  

(Puff! Pant!) Okay, now I'm really over it!  Thanks for your indulgence.  Back to the story... 

Uncle Scrooge's gold bullion transport planes are vanishing over a mysterious island called "Nothing Atoll".

Aw, c'mon, Scrooge... you could lose a thousand planes, and still afford it!  Man, those rich guys... 

Still in all, we feel sorry for him, especially when Cavazzano sets it up like this... 

...And Thad brings it home with a song lyric as Scrooge's lament!  

Any New York area kid of my generation will recognize this as a reference to the song "Put on a Happy Face", often used by TV kiddie-show host Chuck McCann (a quarter century before he was the voice of Duckworth, Burger, and Bouncer Beagle on DUCKTALES) on his then-popular show on WPIX-11!  

...And still greater kudos to Thad for using this, because he wasn't one of those kids!  ...Maybe he was just saying "Bye, Bye" to our "birdies" (and Scrooge's "pigeons") Donald and Fethry!

And, as long as we're compiling the kudos-count, how about one more for Cavazzano for setting this opening sequence IN THE RAIN, when there was NO NEED to do that plot-wise, and just making things more difficult for himself... and more awesome for the readers!  

This could just as easily have been a dry, dark night, but Cavazzano really chose to flex his artistic muscles to make this a memorable opening!  

That said, the tale loses points for its needless infantilizing of Scrooge, as a reaction to his adversity.  Italian stories tend to do this.  ...At least they didn't "burp him", like in a Tex Avery cartoon!  

From Tex Avery's "Rock-a-Bye Bear" (1952)  

The classic Worry Room, or an upper mattress for when he "hits the ceiling" used to be sufficient to pacify or relieve Scrooge.  


Not anymore, I guess... 

Donald and Fethry are forced into service to infiltrate the island, and solve the mystery!  

And off they go, into the thick of a new adventure!   

And guess where they land?  I dunno, it sure looks like BROOKLYN AND QUEENS to me.  Check any map of New York City and Long Island, and tell me differently!  

In the panel above, there's Coney Island between 4 and 5 o'clock, and Flushing at about 10 o'clock!  Well played, Cavazanno!  

On a real map, there's Coney Island at about 6 o'clock in Yellow, and Flushing between 12 and 1 o'clock in Orange!  

Mentally tilt this map to the left (until the lower left corner point of southwest Staten Island Number Five in purple IS the bottom of the map) and Donald and Fethry's plane would be coming down somewhere below the "Number Two"!  

I'll stop the spoilers right here, except to say that Donald and Fethry attempt to invade "Nothing Atoll" in a series of cartoon-like blackout gags - and are met with appropriate action!

And, just one small peek into a great gag sequence of Thad's...

Good to the last... "PFOP!"?  

Great job by Thad on this script.  And, for "still more Thad", take THIS LINK, and read his thoughts on the IDW comics, his work, and that of his fellow translators and scriptwriters

An Al Taliaferro Donald Duck Sunday Newspaper Strip gag rounds out the issue.  It is of the typical "Donald tries to get away with something, gets caught, and takes his punishment" variety. 

So, hop a plane (just not one of Scrooge's, they're having some "technical difficulties" of late) and pick up a a copy of DONALD DUCK # 3 (Legacy Numbering # 370) from IDW!  It's guaranteed to be better than the in-flight movie... Though you can always read it while gulping down those little bags of peanuts for best effect.  

As always, once you’ve read the issue, please come back and join the discussion in our Comments Section! 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

I’ll meet you back here for another lively comment thread!

...Assuming we land on schedule!  

Then we can all "chute" the breeze about another great issue from IDW!       

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On Sale July 22, 2015: MICKEY MOUSE # 2 from IDW.

How about this great cover by Dave Alvarez!  I've always admired his work on LOONEY TUNES for DC Comics, and I'm very happy to have a shared-work in common with him.  

This one evokes a favorite cartoon of mine, Porky Pig and Sylvester in "Jumpin' Jupiter" (1955), but I digress. 

July, 2015, has proved to be "The Month of the Mouse", as we've seen the first two issues of IDW's MICKEY MOUSE title ship over the a period of 22 days!  

And a fine pair of issues they've been!  You can read about MICKEY MOUSE # 1 HERE - but Mickey isn't about to stay lost in the jungle, as this second issue returns him home to Mouseton and another grand adventure.  

In it, you’ll find "The Sound-Blot Plot", an original 2009 story written by Bruno Enna, with lively art by the great Giorgio Cavazzano, translation by David Gerstein, and dialogue by yours truly! 

The Phantom Blot, by way of a Detective Casey mishap, gives our hero super-sensitive hearing... UNCOMFORTABLE, often PAINFUL super-sensitive hearing!  

Mickey suffers, turns his pain to advantage... and suffers some more in a final showdown with the Blot.  For how this all plays-out, read a copy of MICKEY MOUSE # 2 (Legacy Numbering # 311) to find out.  I've spoiled enough already!  

Some interesting, non-spoiler aspects:

Bruno Enna and Giorgio Cavazzano's Phantom Blot is an interesting version.  All the expected fiendish egotism is there, but this Blot goes the entire story UNMASKED!  

I don't know how common this might be in modern stories produced in Italy, but it did result in adding this detail to the cover... just to er, "cover" ourselves. 

Another wonderfully unusual aspect to this story is the handling of "scene changes".  This may be easier to illustrate than to describe - but there are at least four occasions where one scene transitions to the next that are beautifully carried by Cavazzano!  Perhaps Enna wrote them that way, or maybe it was Cavazzano's own initiative... we'll never know, but they must be seen to be appreciated!  

Here's the only one that does not spoil anything:  

Notice how the sound effect "transitions" Mickey from being blasted by the Blot's device, to waking with a start, in his bedroom two days later!  

This transitions Page 2 to Page 3.  Other such instances are Page 11 to Page 12 (where the scene changes on Mickey and you don't immediately realize it, because there is no caption and you "come in" on a sentence in progress) - one best left unmentioned as it would "spoil something" at the bottom of page 28, and another "sound effect transition" to take us from Page 29 to Page 30!  

Look them up and see for yourself!  Some of you artists out there like Deb or Dan - or even Jonathan Gray (if you're reading this), in particular, let me know what you think of this technique.  Speaking as a writer, I like it very much!  

As to the script, I had great fun writing Detective Casey.  I just think of Detective Harvey Bullock, particularly as he appeared on BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES - and "Presto!"  Think of the Bullock voice!  It's a natural for Casey!

This, of course, is odd because Casey PRECEDED Bullock by decades, and I will never shake the feeling that Bullock's creation in the 1980s was "inspired" by the character of Casey - especially as the classic Mickey Mouse tales by Floyd Gottfredson were seriously permeating the public consciousness at or around that time.  ...And let's not even think about who had a "Chief O'Hara" character first, Batman or Mickey Mouse! 

Another thing is that I FINALLY got to write the Phantom Blot!  

But, say you all, didn't you write the Phantom Blot in Boom!'s publication of "The Treasure of Marco Topo"?  (Mickey Mouse # 309 and WDC&S # 720)

Well, yes and no.  For some reason, the editor at Boom! chose to rewrite all of my Blot dialogue!  Nothing else!  Just the Blot!  It was neither better nor worse, as much as it just seemed to be "change for the sake of change", and editorial prerogative.  

Boom! "goes" my Blot dialogue! 
The only two Blot-words left from my original script were "horrific deathtrap"!  So, in some strange tribute to that experience, I made certain to use the phrase "horrific deathtrap" in "The Sound-Blot Plot" - not once, but twice!  

You just don't find information like that anywhere else on the Internet, folks! 

Finally, I believe that Enna and Cavazzano set up and pull off one of the VERY BEST Mickey and Phantom Blot climactic confrontations / showdowns that I've ever seen!  

It runs NINE PAGES, and ends with one of those dynamic scene changes, taking us from Page 29 to 30.  

This is one of the very few images I can show from that showdown that does not spoil anything - except the Blot being surprised! 

You might say that this scene, from Page 21-29 (of the 33-page story) was something I'd been waiting to dialogue all my life!  

I'd like to think I did Enna and Cavazzano proud.  I especially love the moment of verbal exchange when Mickey enters and catches the Blot in mid-muse!  Do let us know what you think.  

The issue is rounded-out by a British one-page Mickey gag from 1933!  Talk about rarities!  Well done, Archival Editor Gerstein!  

We end on another Mickey Mouse comic strip Sunday page, by Bill Walsh and Manuel Gonzales, featuring Ellsworth the Delightfully Sarky Talking Mynah Bird.

Is anyone else thinking "...Pen-goo-ins is prac-tic-cally chickens!" about now?  

So, un-Blot your ears... eyes, nose, and throat!  Limber up those legs - or just warm up the car, and make for the comic book shop to pick up a copy of MICKEY MOUSE # 2 (Legacy Numbering # 311) from IDW!  

As always, once you’ve read the issue, please come back and join the discussion in our Comments Section! 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

I’ll meet you back here for another lively comment thread!

...And, so will he!