Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: Disney Masters Mickey Mouse "The Delta Dimension" Romano Scarpa

In a word... yes!  

In two words... Yes! Yes!

In three words... YES!  YES!  YES!  

Do I make myself clear?  

Fantagraphics kicks-off its new Disney Masters line of hardcover collections with a true winner!

But, what is "Disney Masters"?  Allow me to quote from the back cover of the book...

"Fantagraphics' unprecedented new series, Disney Masters, brings you the work of the best Disney cartoonists from around the world - many in English for the first time."

Previously, Fantagraphics has brought us "Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson", a heretofore "impossible dream" collecting all the years of Mickey Mouse newspaper strip continuities by the great Floyd Gottfredson - from 1930-1955!

This incredible effort was followed-up by similar collections of the comic book work of Carl Barks...

...And Don Rosa!

Not to mention E.C. Segar's POPEYE!

That is A LOT OF GREAT STUFF, folks! 

With the "Big Disney Three" of Gottfredson, Barks, and Rosa either under their belt, or otherwise ongoing, it is only natural that this extraordinary publisher turn its attentions to those other talents that have made the Disney comic the stuff of legends...

And, who better to feature in the inaugural effort than "The Maestro" himself - Romano Scarpa!  

In the pantheon of Disney comic creators, Italy's Romano Scarpa would rank third overall, directly behind the aforementioned Gottfredson and Barks - and his work was unquestionably influenced by both!

Indeed, while most creators would seem to have had a preference for "The Mickey Mouse Group of Characters" (as did Gottfredson, Paul Murry, Casty, etc.), or "The Donald Duck Group of Characters" (as did Barks, Rosa, William Van Horn, etc.) Romano Scarpa was an extraordinary creative force with both!

Mickey Mouse by Scarpa.

Donald Duck by Scarpa. 

Uncle Scrooge by Scarpa.

While I love 'em all, I feel Scarpa's best work was on Mickey Mouse... and three of Scarpa's very best Mickey Mouse adventures, from what the book notes as his "Golden Age" of 1953-1963, are found in this volume!  

True to the words of the back cover, two of these stories have never before been printed in American English... but, in order to include them, Fantagraphics MUST include our first tale - which HAS been printed in the USA... but only in DIGEST FORM, so it's still a great delight to read it in full size!

Without further ado, we open with "Mickey Mouse in the Delta Dimension" - Story and pencils by Romano Scarpa. Inks by Rodolfo Cimino.  72 Pages. Translation and dialogue by David Gerstein.  Reprinted from Italy's TOPOLINO # 206-207 (1959).

Freakish weather phenomena, like cotton candy snow and a precipitation of glowing lights, lead Mickey and the Mouseton Police to a mysterious blackmailer, who threatens that the next storm will be one of acid!  

The trail leads to a strange place called "The Delta Dimension" and to Mickey's old pal Dr. Einmug, from this ultra-classic Gottfredson tale - and his newest "discovery", the sentient atom-child known as "Atomo Bleep-Bleep"! 

The incredible places to which this tale takes us is proof-positive of the extraordinary imagination of Romano Scarpa.  Sorry... No Spoilers!  ...Awright... mebbe just this li'l one, eh?  

As a sequel to this unforgettable adventure, Scarpa gives us "Mickey Mouse and the Bleep-Bleep 15" - Story and pencils by Romano Scarpa. Inks by Rodolfo Cimino.  63 Pages. Translation and dialogue by Jonathan H. Gray.  Reprinted from Italy's TOPOLINO # 257-258 (1960).

Time has passed and the incredible little genius atom-boy "Atomo Bleep-Bleep" has not only adapted to life outside the Delta Dimension, but is visiting Mickey, and has become a playmate to Mick's nephew Morty.  
Like his mentor, Dr. Einmug, Atomo speaks with a German accent!

An accidental sneeze releases the force of Atomo's "Mesons" (a liquid force that he expels from his mouth - seen here from a different story)...

...And turns a toy rocket into a device that can travel at light-speed and "...steal the gravity and momentum away from any object it touches" - suspending said object (or person) in mid-air, mid-run, or mid-anything!  

Hey, I TOLD YA Scarpa had a great imagination!  

Needless to say, this device gets into the wrong hands, as so many super-scientific marvels are wont to do, and adventure ensues!    Again... No Spoilers!  Except the one I just showed ya below! 

By this time, you may be thinking that Atomo Bleep-Bleep is Romano Scarpa's own version of  "Eega Beeva", Floyd Gottfredson and Bill Walsh's eccentric source of miracles from the year 2447... and you'd be RIGHT!  

In our final story, lest you begin suffering from "Bleep-Bleep Fatigue", Atomo abruptly goes home to the Delta Dimension - not unlike the way Eega abruptly returned to 2477 in the original Gottfredson strip...

...Leaving Mickey to get on with our final adventure: "Mickey Mouse and the Fabulous City of Shan-Grilla" - Story and pencils by Romano Scarpa. Inks by Rodolfo Cimino.  65 Pages. Translation and dialogue by Dwight Decker.  Reprinted from Italy's TOPOLINO # 288-289 (1961).

Mickey's "Bleep-Bleep-less" adventure takes him on a treacherous journey to the supposedly-fictional-but-actually-real lost city of "Shan-Grilla"...
  ...Where he finds an "Old Friend" as the "New Guy in Charge"! 
  No more spoilers... except maybe this! 

So, join Mickey, Minnie, and Peg Leg Pete...

...And Atomo Bleep-Bleep and Dr. Einmug...

...Oh, and did we mention Peg Leg Pete?  
...For the adventures of a lifetime, courtesy of the genius of Maestro Romano Scarpa... Fantagraphics' Disney Masters Mickey Mouse "The Delta Dimension" Romano Scarpa!
As the back cover says: 
"It's Mickey Mouse at his crime-fighting and swashbuckling best!"

...And ain't that the ever-lovin' truth! 
While all roads may have led to Romano Scarpa in this perfect "first-of-series", Fantagraphics has some real treats up their "Disney Masters" sleeve!  If you can believe it, the NEXT VOLUME even TOPS THIS ONE!   
If you thought Romano Scarpa was something, wait until you get a dose of Luciano Bottaro!  

Contained herein is some of the WILDEST STUFF you've ever seen in a Disney comic!  And, if you've read as many of 'em as I have, you know that's quite a statement coming from me!  

I translated and dialogued the titular lead story, so I KNOW what's coming - and IT IS INCREDIBLE!  

The second and third stories in this volume are translated and dialogued by Jonathan Gray and Thad Komorowski.  So, if you like what we do at IDW, you'll love it here - combined, as it is, with the incredible creative energy of Luciano Bottaro!  

And, if you don't know the name of Luciano Bottaro BEFORE reading this book, you'll NEVER FORGET IT afterward!   
Indeed, following Bottaro, you'll need a full volume of "The Relative Sanity of Paul Murry's Mickey Mouse Serials of the 1950s", just to restore your equilibrium!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Separated at Mirth: Egg-Ball in the Side Pocket!

Everybody "into the pool" for today's installment of Separated at Mirth, as we take our "cue" from LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES # 136 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: February, 1953) and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 339 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: December, 1968).

Things to note: 

The cover of LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES # 136 was drawn by Ralph Heimdahl, who had a long association with the character of Bugs Bunny, while the cover of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 339 was drawn by Tony Strobl who had a similarly long association with the character of Donald Duck, but who also had a notable run with Bugs Bunny - as seen below!

The positions of the victims of the pool-shooting practical joke are REVERSED, with Elmer Fudd on the RIGHT of the cover image and Donald Duck on the LEFT.  

A corresponding reversal applies to the perpetrators and, in the case of WDC&S # 339, any additional puzzled onlookers.  

While there is NO DOUBT that Bugs has ensured that "the yolk's on Elmer", there might be a few shades of gray (...or red, green, and blue) in the case of Donald's nephews...

Huey (in RED) is clearly transfixed on the shattered shell of the egg ( new meaning to the pool term "break"?).  ...Oh, and let's not even consider what a broken egg, with its spilled, oozing whites and yolks might mean to a DUCK... existentially, that is! 

Louie (in GREEN) would appear to be ashamed or remorseful over any role he may, or may not, have played in the proceedings - and is looking to GOOFY (of all folks) for guidance.  I'd say "looking to GOOFY to take his CUE", but I already did that joke to open the post!  

Dewey (in BLUE) is clearly the most guilty of the three, or certainly the least remorseful, as he is trying with all his might to suppress his laughter.  In contrast, Bugs, being more of a master at deviltry, simply sports a sly smile.  

Goofy, as one would expect, is uncertain of what's just happened!  ...He's like that a lot!  

Donald seems to be experiencing an instant of uncertainty as well, as his mouth doesn't even open part way, much less react with his more typical emotions.  


Unless Donald's sleeve is completely blocking it from view, this pool table does not have a corner pocket!  ...What's an Eight-Ball to do without a corner pocket?  Just bounce or carom until inertia intervenes, I guess...  

I haven't played pool in decades, but I'm quite sure that the "11 ball" would be a "stripe" and not a "solid"!  Much less not be blue.  

And, finally, a possibly gruesome note... Unless Goofy is wearing LIGHT BLUE SLACKS that are exactly the same color as the BACKGROUND OF THE COVER... he has NO LOWER HALF!  

Look between Louie (in GREEN) and Dewey (in BLUE) for proof of this horrific halving! 

Goofy may not be wondering about the egg after all, but how he manages to "leglessly levitate" his way through the proceedings!  

And so, as we leave our various characters to sort out who's going clean the mess on their pool tables, we also leave LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES # 136 (1953) and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 339 (1968) now and forever... Separated at Mirth!  

BUT WAIT...  Before closing the "Egg-on-the-Pool-Table" affair, one late entrant into this Mirth-Separation has revealed itself... The cover of Charlton's THE FLINTSTONES # 16 (Cover Date: August, 1972).

Fred occupies the same space and position as does Donald.  And so, 2 out of 3 times, the gag "moves" from left to right!  

Barney seems to find this gag funnier than Bugs, HD&L, and Goofy... not to mention us!  

Neither the pool table, pool cues, or pool balls look in any way "prehistoric"... and isn't that the WHOLE POINT of The Flintstones?  

The pool table could have looked a tad more ragged.  The balls should not be as nicely rounded.  And, the pool cues could look more like "wooden sticks", with some slightly jagged surfaces to them.  

And, as usual, even when a gag was "okay", Charlton and artist Ray Dirgo somehow managed to "get it wrong"!  

Recall what I said above, about what a "broken egg" might mean to a duck?  Well, the placement of a "very disapproving and angry bird", where such a thing does not really NEED to be, emphasizes that unintentionally unsavory aspect of the gag to a greater degree than was ever necessary!  

Oh, Charlton... In SO MANY WAYS, they just "DIDN'T GET IT", and they never would!  

"(The) Egghead and I" would like to know what you all think!   

Oh, and couldn't you just see The Joker playing this gag on Egghead, in the Rec-Room at Arkham Asylum!