Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On Sale Today: WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 718


WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 718 (April, 2011): To the Moon by Noon(10 pgs.) teams Mickey Mouse with Ludwig Von Drake. This “lost” (…in space?) effort dates from the year 1963 and, for reasons that will become clear upon reading, is SET in that year.

Art is by the great Mickey Mouse comic book artist Paul Murry! With dialogue by yours truly. Needless to say, I am quite honored to have had the opportunity to “collaborate” with one of my most favorite Disney comic book artists – though separated by nearly five decades! 




This is my first turn at writing dialogue for both Mickey and Ludwig. I’m quite familiar with Murry’s Mickey, but Ludwig Von Drake was more of a challenge. I feel that Ludwig wasn’t always handled properly in comics past. Perhaps the “newness” of the character, when many of his early-to-mid 1960s stories were created, resulted in his being characterized sometimes less than authentically. Often, Gyro Gearloose could have been substituted for Von Drake in those stories, with little noticeable difference.


One notable exception to this was “The Planet X Mystery”, written by Bob Ogle and drawn by Tony Strobl, in 1965’s DONALD DUCK # 102. Indeed, this story had poor Donald literally overwhelmed by BOTH Ludwig AND Gyro! If ever a comic book story “got” the difference between the two, this was it!


Drawing on this story, and the brilliant voice characterization Paul Frees employed for “The Professor”, I made my best effort to write Ludwig in character. Bombastic, egocentric, absent minded, often trailing off into digressions, etc. Hopefully, you will let me know if I succeeded.


Look for a very obscure Carl Barks reference (Perhaps even two!) somewhere in the body of the story, as well as a mention of the year I received my very first issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES -- a comic I still possess to this day, though sans cover, and with red crayon smeared all over Page One. …Forgive me, I was four!


The incomparable David Gerstein adds to the “period feel” of the piece by employing the font for the story’s title that WOULD have been used by Gold Key Comics back in ’63 – and closing the tale with Gold Key’s little “The End” logo! Oh, how we wish we could have found a “Paul Murry lettering” font for the balloons.



Finally, if you read the story a second time, you might experience an additional “Oh, yeah!” moment! If you do, let us know by posting a comment! Let’s see who’s first to notice! Enjoy!


11 comments:

Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

This is neat. Sounds like a lot of care went into it, making me even more story for the apparent demise of classics at Boom. I won't have the chance to read the story for a week or so, most likely (I order directly from Boom, and delivery is not generally super-speedy), but I'll certainly say my piece when it arrives.

Joe Torcivia said...

Thanks, Geo!

I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts! They’re always interesting!

Joe.

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

"Scientists are a superstitious, cowardly lot"...

Depends on what branch, I'd say! We "gee whiz" mathematical and statistical deal in the hard-earned coin of objective truth!

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Perhaps so, Chris…

But remember, it’s LUDWIG saying this and, over the course of the 10 pages, he says more than a few outrageous things!

Hope you enjoyed the story… and the Murry art!

Joe.

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

Ludwig? I didn't know HE was in the story?! (Absent-mindedness; catch it!)

BTW, loved the reference to "The 24-Carat Moon." An entirely fitting tribute!

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

You can never have too many references to Carl Barks’ “The 24-Carat Moon”, I always say!

Another story, I might add – like “To the Moon by Noon”, that has been forever rendered a “period piece” by the march of sixties rocket science!

That’s one Barks reference down, and one to go!

Re: the absent-mindedness… I don’t think anyone will be confusing this version of Ludwig with Gyro!

As you can see, I loved writing him!

Joe.

Ryan Wynns said...

Joe,

Made my weekly trip to the comics shop this past Friday night (besides the several new comics in my "pull", stocked up on "long boxes" and protective plastic sleeves...have tons of comics piled up in need of "proper" storage, and am moving to a new apartment during the coming month, so it's high time I take care of all of them!)...when I got home, I blew right through WDC&S #718 at a dizzying rate (in fact, the handful of DC books I'd purchased along with it have still not been opened...I remain completely behind on that stuff, to the point where I should just take them all off my pull list, but I really want to get around to it all...)

Anyway, read WDC&S #718 straight through, resisting the urget to jump right to "To the Moon by Noon"...

Awesome job, Joe! Considering it was a modest, silly little story (mind you, I have no objections to seeing "lost" Paul Murry art), you worked wonders with it... I know that your biggest concern was Von Drake...and rest assured, as you've written him, he shines -- as they say, you "nailed it"! I could easily hear Paul Frees' voicing his lines... (Von Drake Wonderful World of Disney "wraparounds that I saw syndicated reruns of during my childhood are still considerably vivid in my memory...) Fleshing out Von Drake's characterization with involved, exceedingly clever dialogue, accounting for numerous external references along the way...and yet never having these "additional layers" contradict the story's flow -- every line seeming to fit naturally "in place" with the action and facial expressions engraved in every panel(!!!) -- is no easy feat!

Von Drake was suitably "absent-minded" and "eccentric"...heck, just plain weird (in a delightful way!) might be more apt than "eccentric"! There were at least three instances where, had I been sipping a soda, coffee, perhaps a glass of water, etc. while reading, I may well have "spit up my drink"!

Those isntances would be:

1. Von Drake's conclusion that, if "Darbie and Ben dolls" are to-scale with his miniature rocket, then the appropriate thing to man the actual rocket with would be...."life-size Darbie dolls!"

2. The "Von Drake doesn't realized that he's trying to read something that's been turned upside down" gag culminating in the line about his "stirrups"! (Was it just me, or did that have some, er, "kinky" undertones?!)

And, most shockingly...

3. "My Intercontinental Ultrapod 2 (..don't ask about the first one!)"

What you did with that panel (page 2, tier 2, panel 1) of Von Drake exclaiming something in a moment of revelatory joy as the model rocket "plunks" into the side of his globe couldn't have been more perfect! Referencing Frankenstein played up that Von Drake's more of a self-aggrandizing screwball mad scientist than Gyro, the modest, introverted, either-to-content-to-live-in-or-oblivious-to-his-own-squalor tinkerer -- the distinction you've expressed that you felt was important to make resoundingly clear. And, in the same breath, your words in that one panel also captured Von Drake's erratic scatter-brainedness, by having him quickly realize he'd uttered the "wrong line"

The running gag of the Professor asking variations of, "Oh, when did you show up?" was great, too! (Tell us all if that was in the original or not!)

David's reacreation of "the font [used] for the story’s title that WOULD have been used by Gold Key Comics back in ’63" was sealed the deal -- was like we were reading a '60's Murry Mickey story from the back pages of WDC&S...from an alternate universe!

Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

Ryan:

My sincerest thanks for the complements!

There are SPOILERS in these comments! Please be warned!

Ludwig Von Drake was great fun to write, once I decided on how to make it work. As you might guess, the story was pretty straightforward (as you’d expect a mid-sixties story from Western Publishing or Disney to be), without much of the humor you saw in the finished product.

I wanted to make Ludwig bombastic, egotistical, absent-minded in the extreme, and acting is if he exists on some other dimensional plane. I'd want lower font "trailing digressions" to match what Paul Frees did. I wanted this to be the TRUE Von Drake, and not a sub for Gyro. The Von Drake that WAS on TV in 1963, if not exactly in the comics!

Yes, all the stuff you mention was mine... and I conceived the "continually noticing Mickey for the first time" bit to emphasize that he was quite absent-minded. My favorite of this running gag was:

"Mickey? Here? Aboard the ICU2? What LUCK to have you STOW AWAY, and photograph my first steps!" That made even me laugh out loud! And Mickey can do naught but sigh!

In fact, the final balloon was more of a "Ha-Ha!" type of fadeout, and I concluded with this running gag – because I think it's funnier to have Mickey end with (another) sigh of resignation, than with a "Ha-Ha!"

Ludwig holding the letter upside down was in the original, but I pushed it further by having him conclude that he must hang from the ceiling to read it -- and, of course the stirrups! Likewise, the gag about the scientist building the "better mousetrap" was in the original -- but I made sure he said "No offense, Mr. Mouse!" And that sums up what I try to do every time. Take what I get and push it further -- as The Simpsons, or Family Guy... or even Freakazoid! would do!

My original notes had "action figures" instead of "Darbie and Ben dolls"... but we didn't use the term "action figures" in 1963! So, I came up with a parody of what was a hot toy THEN... and now! And, when I DID use a more modern term like "laptop computer", I put it in a 1963 context for humorous effect.

Ya can’t get “insider stuff” like this anywhere else on the Internet!

Joe.

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

Speaking of fun references, I loved the Medfield College mention. Guess this was the "Earth D" version of the human college at which Prof. Brainard taught. (And since this story originated in '63, that would be a quasi-contemporary reference, too!)

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

Giving proper credit where it’s due, “Medfield College” goes to David and Chris Meyer.

My first impulse was to tribute Ludwig’s voice actor and call it “Paulfrees University” (…justifying my later appropriation of the ancient gag “Good Old P.U.”), but it’s easy to see that they had the better idea!

And, hey… Take a bow of your own for “Earth D”! I LIKE it! Captain Carrot was on “Earth C”, so this is just one over from that!

Look closer at THIS Medfield’s faculty and you might notice that Professor Brainerd Brainmore was a colleague of Von Drake’s before inventing that infernal teaching machine in Carl Barks’ “The Swamp of No Return” (1965)!

Given the 1963 timeframe, he may have even been working on it DURING “To the Moon by Noon”, and that’s why he missed the reunion!

Joe.

ramapith said...

Wak! I lettered that whole fershlugginer story without remembering—ever—who Professor Brainmore was. What a non-brain-nerd.