Monday, August 23, 2010

Comic Book Letter of Comment: UNCLE SCROOGE # 379 “The Phantom of Notre Duck” (Reprint).

Okay, readers… How many of you would mind if I posted a SPOLIER to a 44 year old Uncle Scrooge story?
Those who do can come back for my next “Looong DVD Review”. The rest of you can read my Letter of Comment that was written in response to 2008’s UNCLE SCROOGE # 379 (and also references other issues of the time) and never saw print because Gemstone evaporated.

As many of you know, I was quite the regular in Gemstone’s letter pages, with often tongue-in-cheek observations, but this one probably never got past their e-mail inbox. …And, never throwing anything away, it’s now fodder for my Blog!

So, here’s a hint of “The Gemstone That Never Was”…
The Cathedral of Notre Duck! Pride of Duckburg! Steeped in legends older than history!” -- a real estate ret-conning caption from Carl Barks’ gothic golly-wower, “The Phantom of Notre Duck”, reprinted in UNCLE SCROOGE # 379.

You’ve gotta love those fantasy cities and towns that instantly evolve to meet the plot requirements of their ongoing sagas. After four seasons, Bedrock suddenly grows a huge haunted stone mansion, on the “non-Rubble side” of the Flintstone residence to house “The Gruesomes” for the two episodes in which they are featured. And after six seasons, Springfield does likewise with a large, opulent, and heretofore unseen gated home for former president George H.W. Bush, directly across the street from The Simpsons.

And, after over twenty years of back issues, Duckburg sprouts a brand spanking new, yet suitably ancient, creepy cathedral to house (…of all things!) a Scrooge look-alike character who delights in playing phantom. Though props are due our “guest star”, a talented pen-and-ink-processed actor, who clearly and without credit played the “Scrooge Clone” in issue # 368 as well as the “Scrooge [Brother] from Another Earth” in issue # 370 and is most likely as much a living tribute to Scrooge McDuck as Vicki Lawrence is to Carol Burnett.

No doubt he’s also served as Scrooge’s stunt double in selected “dangerous situations”. After all, if YOU were a multi-bajillion fantasticatillionaire, would YOU jump out of a plane into the valley of Tra La La? Howlin’ crashwagons, no!

Seriously, though, Carl Barks should be given his due here for developing a full-blown, near book-length adventure out of his cover idea for UNCLE SCROOGE # 13, where HD&L build a coin castle from Scrooge’s stash… and especially for wringing so many gags from the melody of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” in the silent medium of comic books.

Joe Torcivia


Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

The story's kind of shambolic, but it vaguely reminds me of "The Old Castle's Secret," in a pleasant sort of way.

The idea of an enormous gothic cathedral in Duckburg may be pushing it a bit, but possibly not quite so much as "the dreaded castle of the Ancient Mad Duke of Duckburg" in "House of Haunts." Mad nobility? In Calisota? Wah?

Joe Torcivia said...


Great point about “The Old Castle’s Secret”. Never considered that! At this point, perhaps Barks was returning (both himself AND Scrooge) to his roots.

As far as "the dreaded castle of the Ancient Mad Duke of Duckburg" in "House of Haunts.", any old Madman with Money can build a monument to himself (…heck, even comic book publishers do that!), and call himself whatever he wants. Duke, Duck, Dick… it’s all the same to me!

The key is that the “Mad Duke’s” monument was way out in the boonies of Duckburg – consider the circuitous route that “Glowing Scrooge” took to reach it – while the Cathedral seems to be almost as central to Duckburg as the Money Bin.

And that’s why the Bedrock and Springfield comparisons. All three had uncharacteristically large structures “pop-up” for the sake of a particular story – when it seemed unlikely (if not downright impossible) that they were ever there before!

And, that’s also why I love sixties Barks! He became less tied to the epic adventure and was more open to satire and an “anything goes as long as I can make it work” type of attitude.

…Kinda like “The Sixties” themselves!