Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comic Book Letter of Comment: Scroogian Symmetry!

…Or, How “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” Before June – Became Something to Remember in November.

…Or, aren’t you glad this isn’t just another embedded video?

Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge opus “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”(Originally appearing in UNCLE SCROOGE # 24, 1958) has long been a favorite comic book story of mine, ever since I first read it “postage-stamp panel-sized” in WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST # 6 (1968).

Below: Cover of UNCLE SCROOGE ADVENTURES # 13 (1989) featuring a reprint of “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” – New cover art by Don Rosa.

Such a favorite is this tale that, on May 05, 2008, when I was invited to participate in the DVD documentary feature “Donald Goes to Press” for the Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) DVD set, I mentioned it prominently.

To digress, I DO hope you’ve managed to get a copy of what we now call “CHRON-DON # 4”, as there were only 39, 500 copies run and, despite being released about 15 days ago, it’s already becoming somewhat difficult to find. (More on that HERE and HERE and you can read more about “Donald Goes to PressHERE).

Two days after my tribute to this Carl Barks classic was committed to video, Gemstone releases UNCLE SCROOGE # 375, on May 07, leading off with a reprint of … “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”.

Fast forward to November 11, 2008: Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) is released on November 11, and the world (…okay, make that fewer than 39, 500 folks, considering the likely speculative hoarding of the set) gets to hear me wax nostalgically over the greatness that is “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”.

Then, a mere eight days later on November 19, Gemstone releases UNCLE SCROOGE # 382 containing my Letter of Comment on the appearance of the story in May’s issue # 375… in which I say many of the same things I say in the DVD documentary. Here’s the LOC:

“I’m afraid to open my mouth! My brains might fall out!” – Scrooge McDuck, America’s first “Cash-tronaut”, from Carl Barks’ “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” in UNCLE SCROOGE # 375.

I’ve been waiting for you to reprint this outstanding tale, just so I could pull this favorite quote to open a letter of comment! …And it’s a good thing he DIDN’T open his mouth, as those aforementioned brains would just bump-up against the inside of his space helmet – and what an image that would have made!

Clearly a product of 1950s Sputnik Fever, “The Twenty-Four-Carat Moon” saw Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews in their own “space-race”, with rival tycoons and the Terrible Beagle Boys taking the place of rival superpowers, to claim a golden planetoid hidden behind the (as of then unseen) dark side of the Moon.

Alas, the “dark side” aspect of the story will forever doom it to be a period piece when seen from a late 20th or early 21st Century perspective. But, the comic-book gods smiled upon this opus when I first saw it in its initial American reprinting as the featured attraction of WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST # 6 – released in late 1968, not long before Apollo VIII became the first manned craft to circle the Moon! That gave our dauntless Ducks one final chance to be the first and only beings to see what lurked behind our Moon, and made this Barks epic just that much more special to me at the time!

(End of Letter of Comment)

…And, to the Harvey Comics fans out there, YES, that “Cash-tronaut” line was a tribute to those dreadful Richie Rich “verbal gag” covers (…or would they be “gag reflex covers”?) of the 1970s.

So, Carl Barks’ “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” becomes prominent for me over two days in May and again over eight days in November. In May, I discuss it for video, re-read it and write a Letter of Comment in two days. Half a year later, in November, I watch the DVD discussion and read the published comments in eight days. “Scroogian Symmetry”, I call it! (…I mean, if you HAD to call it something, what else COULD you call it?)

I don’t know what all this rambling means, but it must mean something… beyond the notion that, by now, you may be wishing I just embedded a video of another old Hanna-Barbera cartoon instead!
...Fear not, I’ll get back to that soon enough!

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