Comic Book Review: DAFFY DUCK # 36 (February, 1964).
As we used to say in the old APA and Fanzine days…
THE ISSUE AT HAND IS: DAFFY DUCK # 36. (Cover Date: February, 1964)
Published by Gold Key Comics.
Summary: Daffy Duck, Michael Maltese, Phil DeLara, and an All Star Cast!
Though actually released in November, 1963, DAFFY DUCK # 36 is still considered to be at the very start of the amazing “Prime Period” for Gold Key Comics, which ran from 1964 thru 1966. More about that – and Gold Key Comics as a whole – can be found in THIS POST.
The DAFFY DUCK comic book series, from both Dell Comics as well as Gold Key, was most often written by the great Warner Bros. (and later Hanna-Barbera) cartoon writer Michael Maltese and drawn by Warner Bros. animator Phil DeLara.
The comic book Daffy Duck came along a bit too late to reflect the truly “daffy” (lower case “d”) duck of the early Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons, yet never adopted the transition to the “egotistical greedy coward” of the later Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng years. Nor was he the fast-talking huckster of Robert McKimson’s shorts.
|I may be a "fast-talking huckster", but I'm a GREEEEDY "fast-talking huckster"!|
Instead, the comics Daffy remained squarely within the middle ground between zany and villainous, serving more as a pesky moocher and irritant, or all-purpose quarry, than anything else.
|Not too HOT, not too COLD... but JUUUST RIGHT! Woo-Woo!|
The formula was successful, insofar as he (and we readers) enjoyed many mooching misadventures with Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam and, for a while, was pursued by an unnamed fox (reflecting the Arthur Davis directed cartoon “What Makes Daffy Duck”, 1948) and later by the Tasmanian Devil.
|Say... What DOES make Daffy "duck"?|
|...Perhaps, Arthur Davis knows!|
|...Me not know!|
Unlike most Dell and Gold Key comics, DAFFY DUCK did not begin with a long “adventure lead” story, as did similar comics like THIS ISSUE of PORKY PIG, and also THIS ONE. Shorter gag stories made up the book for the entirety of the Dell and Gold Key runs.
|If you're lookin' for SHORT GAGS, you GOT 'EM, Fat-stuff!|
And, one thing I failed to mention in my lengthy Gold Key Comics post was that the DAFFY DUCK title – and ONLY the DAFFY DUCK title – exhibited a particular stylistic quirk: Gaggy titles (presumably courtesy of writer Maltese) in large lettering, that would take up THREE FOURTHS of the left side of the opening splash panel of each story!
No other Gold Key title did this, making DAFFY DUCK a most distinctive title, among an entire line of high-quality titles! This practice began with the first Gold Key issue of the DAFFY DUCK title (# 31, 1962) and ran thru # 40 (released in December, 1964).
|DAFFY DUCK # 31|
|DAFFY DUCK # 40|
After that, DAFFY DUCK ran mostly Dell reprints until issue # 72, cover dated November, 1971, when new stories would resume (more or less) until the end of the Gold Key / Whitman Comics period in 1984.
|Dell DAFFY (no "DUCK"?) # 14|
|Gold Key Reprint: DAFFY DUCK # 41.|
|New stories resume in DAFFY DUCK # 72...|
|...Until "The Bitter End" DAFFY DUCK # 145.|
DAFFY DUCK # 34, cover dated September, 1963, highlighted this unusual graphic design aspect like no other issue. It pictured Daffy posting billboards that were, in actuality, the splash pages of each Daffy Duck story in the issue! Meta times five, I’d say!
Click to enlarge for greater detail!
|DAFFY DUCK # 34.|
But, there’s one additional facet to DAFFY DUCK # 36 in particular that makes it perhaps my most favorite issue of the run. It’s that each of the five comic stories contained herein features one or more GUEST STARS from other Warner Bros. cartoons.
In the order presented, we have Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, the Tasmanian Devil (not yet popularly known as “Taz”), Yosemite Sam, and Foghorn Leghorn! Tweety and Sylvester starred in a four-page “guest” story of their own, making this comic a singular Warner Bros. Bonanza!
|More like THIS!|
I’ll never know if this star-studded line-up was assembled by editorial design or if the stories just happened to fall that way by chance, but such was not the norm for the DAFFY DUCK title.
Elmer (especially) and Sam were fixtures of the title since the 1950s, and the Tasmanian Devil staked-out a regular corner of the book, once his popularly took off as a result of his appearances on the ABC prime-time BUGS BUNNY SHOW (1960-1962).
|On with the show, This is it!|
…And Taz did appear in one classic-era cartoon with Daffy: “Ducking the Devil” (1957, directed by Robert McKimson) setting the precedent for his string of early-to-mid-sixties appearances in DAFFY DUCK.
|I'm "ducking - OUT!"|
But, despite being one of the best comedy duos in perhaps the history of animation (…and, if not all-time, CERTAINLY during the 1950s), Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck rarely, if ever, appeared together in the Dell and Gold Key comic books.
And, anything made after the classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies notwithstanding, Daffy and Foghorn Leghorn shared the screen only once in “The High and the Flighty”(1955, also directed by Robert McKimson).
|There's that "fast-talking huckster" again! "Pipe Full of Fun Kit # 7" is on special today!|
But, the gang’s all here and ready for action in DAFFY DUCK # 36!
As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break things into CONS and PROS -- and some other aspects.
Can’t think of a single one! It’s from Gold Key’s Prime Period, after all! ...Be proud, Daffy! be proud!
Michael Maltese and Phil DeLara: You can’t have a more authentic “Warner Bros. Pedigree” than that, save editorial input by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, or Robert McKimson!
|Not even if Leon Schlesinger was publisher!|
32 Pages, All Comics: No interior advertising! You couldn’t ask more for your TWELVE CENTS! The interior and back covers had ads, but why quibble over that. Pay special attention to the inside front cover ad, illustrated later in this post.
The Unusual Array of Guest Stars: Almost all the Big WB names you could ask for!
|This 2003 vintage comic was great...|
Ironically, given their incessant pair-ups to come at the end of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Meoldies era, Speedy Gonzales is absent from the book.
|So, tell me again why someone thought it was a good idea for you two to team up?|
So are the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, but they visited Daffy’s book very often during the seventies. Even Merlin the Magic Mouse had his comic book debut in the DAFFY DUCK title, starting in 1968.
|DAFFY DUCK # 73 (Meep-Meep!)|
|Just what Daffy needs after Speedy - more mice!|
If memory serves, Pepe LePew may have had only one “guest story” in DAFFY DUCK over the years. I suppose it’s a good thing that Elmer Fudd never shot Daffy’s beak off, while some incredible confluence of events resulted in a WHITE STRIPE being painted down Daffy’s back, setting up the typical “Pepe pursuit”!
|Um, don't look now, but that MIGHT be Daffy!|
Seriously, and on the other hand, for all the times they paired-up on screen, Porky Pig rarely found himself in the DAFFY DUCK title. Yet, he was a fixture in BUGS BUNNY and, of course, his own title. Go fig…
|"I'm a f-f-fixture here!"|
The Unusual Graphic Style of This Title: As someone who loved creating my own titles for the Disney comic book stories I scripted (“Now Museum, Now You Don’t”, “Uncle Scrooge Meets the Synthezoid from the Deepest Void”, etc.), I really enjoyed what this book tended to do with story titles.
Not only was each one a gag of its own, but highlighted as NO other comic book ever did! I’d sure like to see a title of MINE, such as “A Game of One-Cupmanship”, given such a treatment!
Imagine it BIG and down the side!
And, the ultimate “PRO” for any comic book…
The Stories: All are Daffy Duck by Michael Maltese and Phil DeLara, unless otherwise specified.
Click on any of the comic page scans to enlarge.
“The Day Daffy and Bugs Bugged Elmer” (8 pg.): Daffy and Bugs hold a “mooching contest” to see who can best “get the best” of Elmer Fudd. Daffy falls behind early, filching some food, as Bugs makes off with the entire fridge! The Duck cons Elmer out of his car, only to find that his Rabbit rival has already conned him out of his garage, etc. The contest proceeds apace, until someone takes that proverbial “one-step-too-far”, resulting in disaster for all involved!
Oddly, Maltese appears to have written a similar contest tale for Yogi Bear and Snagglepuss (the latter being a character he wrote exclusively in animation) in Gold Key’s YOGI BEAR # 18. The ending was different and both were great takes on all the characters involved.
(…Though Hokey Wolf was many times the moocher Snagglepuss was, and would have been a natural for such a story, I’ll assume Maltese merely felt a greater preference for Ol’ Snag.)
|Pardon me... I'm looking for the contest between the Rabbit and the Duck!|
|What's the big idea? You don't look like Elmer Fudd... Or, do you?|
|You mean a Rabbit and a Duck did it first? Guess it's back to H-B, for me! Hey-hey-hee!|
GOOD BIT: Daffy challenges Bugs to their “mooching duel” by soundly slapping Bugs across the face with a glove – with his HAND still INSIDE! “WHAP!”
BUGS: “Oww! You’re supposed to take the glove OFF when you start a duel!”
DAFFY: “Well, I can’t remember ALL the fine points! I duel so seldom these days!”
“The Duck Who Came to Dinner” (5 pg.): The Tasmanian Devil breaks zoo captivity and pursues Daffy. For me, “Taz-Boy’s” appearances were always a true highlight of the DAFFY DUCK title!
GOOD BIT: Taz grabs Daffy by one leg, as the duck takes to the air, in an attempt to escape. They rise this way a fair distance off the ground.
DAFFY: “Let go! Let go!” (pauses, until next panel) “Simon says, ‘Let go’!”
TAZ (Complies): “Grrrr! That better! Urk!” (Falls to the ground with a THUD!)
DAFFY (Amazed that worked): “I guess they play that game in Tasmania, too!”
“A Duck Out of Water Can Get Dry” (7 pg.): Unable to pay his “dock charges”, because the pirating business has been slow “…ever since they started hauling gold in TRAINS!”, Yosemite Sam is forced to move his pirate ship to Daffy’s home-swamp. Don’t expect Daffy to take this lying down… or might that be “floating-face-down”?
GOOD BIT: Daffy and Sam …er, “discuss” the matter.
DAFFY: “This is MY SWAMP, and you CAN’T DOCK HERE!”
SAM: “I’m STAYING!”
DAFFY: “You and WHO ELSE says so?”
SAM (Draws his cutlass): “Me and MY FRIEND, here!”
DAFFY (Retreating): “He’s got some PRETTY CONVINCING friends!”
Tweety and Sylvester: “A Bird Can Fly, but Can a Fly Bird?” (4 pg.): Sylvester abandons bird-chasing to become a motorcycle hobbyist! However, Tweety, feeling ignored (!), gets the notion in his “widdle head” to do some “cycle sabotage”.
“An Alarm Clock is a Rooster’s Best Friend” (6 pg.): Daffy covets Foghorn Leghorn’s “cushy” job as a barnyard rooster – and schemes to get the position for himself. This is as close as the Dell and Gold Key Comics Daffy comes to the “greedy underhanded persona” of his later animated cartoons.
|Oh, Daffy, you greedy and underhanded rascal!|
GOOD BIT: Daffy encounters some unexpected first-day difficulties on the “roostering” job.
CAPTION: “But Daffy doesn’t do so well with the hens…”
HENS (Crying): “Boo Hoo! We miss Foghorn!”
DAFFY (Awkward, yet simultaneously smarmy): “Why? I’m much nicer! Just ASK ME!”
A one page “text story” story of Little Pancho Vanilla (adding one more WB animated character – albeit an esoteric one – to the mix) and a one page Daffy and Elmer “hunting gag” round out the issue.
The Inside Front Cover Ad: Check out the “Special Gold Key Comics Christmas Offer”! Wow! Even if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I’d want most, if not all, of these! Click to Enlarge!
OVERALL: DAFFY DUCK # 36 is a special issue – even among a run of special issues!
The creators, barely removed from the legendary “Termite Terrace” animation factory, and the guest stars that sprang from said factory, come together to assemble one of the very best Warner Bros. comic books – if not of all time, certainly of the Silver Age and beyond!
When actual Warner Bros. animation talent is involved, a closer adherence to the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies we love is expected – and delivered!
|Duck Season! Rabbit Season! ...No, it's COMIC BOOK SEASON!|
You can’t go wrong with DAFFY DUCK # 36. It’s one of those rare comic books about which I can say: “If you read only ONE ISSUE of this title, THIS is the one to read!”
|I can only do my daredevil act "ONCE", by you can read this comic LOTSA times!|