I wouldn’t have even brought this up, if not for the unusual coincidence of ideas, images, or key scenes from Disney Comics (fittingly one from Floyd Gottfredson and one from Carl Barks) turning up on two radically different prime time television series, no more than three days apart. One on Thursday, April 22 – the other on Sunday, April 25.
I’m certain many of you recall the Phantom Blot’s death trap for Mickey Mouse, where a gun is aimed directly at Mickey – controlled by strings and a mechanism that will fire the gun if Mick moves a muscle. This, of course, is from Floyd Gottfredson’s 1939 newspaper comic strip epic that was titled “Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot” for its appearance in Dell comic books.
This past Thursday, on ABC’s FLASH FORWARD, FBI Agent Demitri Noh was in exactly the same fix as Mickey – staring at a complexly wired trigger mechanism set to kill Agent Noh, with the gun of Noh’s partner Agent Mark Benford! This masterpiece of the macabre was the demented product of the insane genius Dyson Frost, whose skills in the art of death-trapping clearly put the Blot’s to shame.
As great a character as Demitri is, he’s (pardon) “Noh” Mickey Mouse (Sorry!), and required the literally last minute heroics of Benford to survive the day on which the series’ “gimmick” (the titular “Flash Forwards”) indicated that Noh would be killed.
As has sometimes been the case with the Phantom Blot (and much more so with The Joker), Frost appears to have been killed for his transgressions – but I don’t believe that for a moment.
Oh, and I suppose there’s something fittingly cyclical about a Disney television series (billed each episode as “An ABC Studios Production”) showing some influence from an old Disney comic.
Sunday night on FOX, THE SIMPSONS commemorated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with an episode where Homer converts his home to wind power – in the expected way and with the expected results.
…And he leads the usual cast of Springfieldians in the effort to assist Lisa in helping an incapacitated, beached whale (magnificently rendered by the Simpsons artists and animators – and all the more so when seen in HD!) return to the sea.
Less well-known than the Phantom Blot story, but something of an “End-of-Silver-Age-Classic” in its own right, is the Carl Barks-written (but not drawn) Junior Woodchucks tale “Whale of an Adventure” from 1970’s HUEY, DEWEY AND LOUIE JUNIOR WOODCHUCKS # 7. Released in July, 1970.
In it, the ‘Chucks, Chickadees, and Duckburg’s faithful battle Scrooge McDuck (with visions of whale oil and other byproducts in his avaricious eyes) over the whale and the freedom most of the characters feel it deserves.
Oddly, this SIMPSONS episode goes against type, by NOT casting Mister Burns in the “Scrooge Role” – and by making Homer unusually well intentioned all around.
Nevertheless, especially on the heels of the Phantom Blot parallel, thoughts of the Junior Woodchucks tale were inevitable.
Though I presently watch more prime time network TV than I have in many years (see THIS POST), my viewing is still on the relatively meager side by the standards of the “Average American”– but I was presently surprised to see (whether intentional or not – presumably not) these Disney comic concepts and images reflected back at me in prime time High Definition!