Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another Toast to 2014?

Doctor Zachary Smith is either fashionably late in toasting the new year of 2014, or he's just a tad confused -- having been "lost in space" (no capital letters) since 1997. 

Either way, I think we can forgive him and hope that by now, after what would soon be about 17 years "out there", he's managed to find the way back to his cherished Earth -- and that his homecoming didn't turn out like THIS!   

I've got it! 

The (Ahem!) "good" doctor's just toasting the first day of 2014 in which the New York area (and presumably the Northeast as a whole) was spared either snow or below-freezing temperatures! 

I'll drink to that one too, "Zack!"

Now, in this scene resembling Friday, January 03, 2014, can anyone explain to my satisfaction how the shovel got to be where it is?

...Anyone, at all?  Huh?


ramapith said...

The previous night:

Daisy: >Hmm!< Big snowstorm coming tonight, should stop at ten in the morning... then, lunch with Donald at noon! I wonder if he'd be a dear and shovel my walk first—if I plan in advance and put the shovel here!

(Two hours later)

Shovel: >Brr!< Here comes the snow, and I'm stuck in it, leaning against this wall until Donald gets here tomorrow! I wish Gyro gave me legs—or any other remotely humanlike features—at the same time he gave me sentient thought!

Joe Torcivia said...

Naturally, David, you know that if Gyro could give “Posty” the Mobile Mailbox the gift of legs, that he could do the same for Daisy’s shovel. After all, he did it for HER MAILBOX too!

Indeed, you may have figured it out!

Oh, no… wait! Gyro first appeared in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 140 – and this was the cover of WDC&S # 138!

Alas, the mystery continues…

Chris Barat said...


The shovel was stashed there some time ago in case of shovel emergencies.

(This is a MLP reference, BTW. Sorry...)


Elaine said...

I had essentially the same thought that David had: that Daisy set it out there ahead of time. If she didn't hear a weather forecast predicting a big snow, she could have set it out after the storm started, since later snow would have covered her tracks.

But this actually brings to mind a question concerning the history of technology which has been raised in my mind by certain Disney comics. In some older comics, people seem to shovel snow with shovels designed to dig dirt. This cover, however, depicts a shovel which appears designed for snow. When did snow shovels first appear? And was it common for people who couldn't afford a special shovel for snow to use a regular old shovel? I suppose it was, at least, more common than it is today for a run-of-the-mill householder to own a regular old shovel.

top_cat_james said...

"Wonder what Magica's doing tonight?"

"Oh well...back to dHarmony."

"@#*%! There goes my 'Christmas in Shack-Up Town'!"

Joe Torcivia said...

Answering everyone in order:

Chris: Your handing me a comment that references PONIES and a SHOVEL just might make you the greatest straight man in the history of… like, EVER!

Elaine: If Daisy set the shovel out there at any point (pre - or during - the storm), a good portion – if not most – of it would be just as covered by the ensuing snow as anything left behind by Chris’ ponies. Given the height of the wall, as well as the comparative height to Donald’s body, it looks as if the shovel has RISEN as the snowfall mounted. And, aren’t we glad this can’t happen, especially if Chris’ ponies WERE there!

Beyond that, you bring up a very interesting point about the evolution of the household shovel. In support of your comments, I’ll offer that, in the trunk of my car in the present day, I keep an old-style shovel – with a metal grip, attached to a sturdy wooden handle, ending in a relatively narrow but sharp iron blade – that dates back at least to the early seventies, if not the sixties!

It’s lasted this long, and will likely outlast me, because they built ‘em well back then. And today, it’s the perfect thing for digging the car out of any surrounding build-up of snow and ice – hence, its residency in the trunk during the winter months.

But, the real point (…and aren’t we all glad I’ve finally gotten around to it) is that it was, as you say, a household shovel designed to dig dirt and WAS occasionally used for that purpose. But it was also the very same shovel that *I* used as a kid, when shoveling snow with my father! And, at that time, it was not all that unusual to do so – and I sure recall it taking longer to accomplish, and it being rougher on my (luckily, much younger) back.

Today, for snow shoveling, I use a longer-handled shovel with a wide, hard-plastic blade, for higher volume snow removal, or for merely pushing it aside as if using a broom… and will eventually, get one of those back-friendly, bent-handle shovels, next time a purchase is warranted. And, if this were a more contemporary comic book cover, that would undoubtedly be the type of shovel pictured – because that’s what show shovels have evolved into (…unless Don Rosa drew it up as some “unspecified 1950s winter scene”) !

…Though I still use my classic shovel for the breaking of thick driveway and sidewalk ice and, as if it were a trusty, old-school prop in a Carl Barks story, it never lets me down!

TCJ: Not unlike Gyro, in my response to David above, Magica would still be about 10 years away – and would not have even heard of Donald at this point, even if she were in an uncharacteristic, prank-playing mood.

Though, you get TONS of extra points for “dHarmony” (with the “d” standing for “demonic”?) – and especially “Christmas in Shack-Up Town” !

Valiant efforts by everyone, but the mystery remains…

Elaine said...

Thank you for the personal confirmation of the regular-shovel-used-on-snow phenomenon. Now I will know when I see that done in comics or cartoons that a child of the time would not have found that as odd as I do. So, when you were a child, were snow shovels thought by your father to be too expensive to be worth it? I was born in 1956, and we certainly had a snow shovel. (I have tried to look up the history of the snow shovel on the web, but all I've found is general histories of snow removal, which do not date the evolution of the snow shovel itself.)

I had thought of the issue you bring up, that Daisy's shovel should be half buried itself. But then, of course, the visual joke wouldn't work. Don't we have to make some allowance for artistic/comedic license?

If not: Daisy wore snowshoes and put the shovel out in front shortly before the snow stopped falling. So there.

Joe Torcivia said...


Of course the “History of the Snow Shovel” that I provide here is merely MY PERSONAL “History of the Snow Shovel” , and is not necessarily indicative of anyone’s experiences other than my own. I was born only one year before you (…child of the sixties and Silver Age, remember?), so it may be more a difference between families than any historical trend.

My recollection is that families in the sixties and fifties – and this would be correspondingly-true for those of the forties and thirties – simply did more with less. A shovel dug dirt AND dug snow! And yes, we did dig dirt for gardening (…and whatever else one needed to dig dirt for, that I’ve never done in my years as a homeowner) and remove snow with that same shovel. Now, you’d have one for each, not to mention a snow blower – and a guy who comes to plant your bushes, so you don’t HAVE to dig dirt.

Conversely, when I began driving, we had snow tires AND regular tires – so, maybe it’s all part of one great big cosmic balancing act! I’d rather change SHOVELS than TIRES any day!

Needless to say, such extensive discourse on the venerable utilitarian shovel (“snow variety” or otherwise) is just another example of the stuff you’ll find here – and nowhere else on the Internet! :-)

Shifting gears, perhaps the unthinkable answer to the “Riddle of Daisy’s Snow Shovel” is that Barks may have been uncharacteristically messing with us the way Warner Bros. cartoons or Seth MacFarlane would for the sake of a gag.

Naaah! I’m not quite ready to accept THAT yet!

Elaine said...

Right, I figured you were about as old as I am, so my comment about my family's snow shovel was meant to indicate that I know that snow shovels did exist in our common childhood years. (Though perhaps then made of aluminum, rather than hard plastic? My brothers would know.) Hence, the question of whether using a regular shovel for snow was just a matter of economizing in your household--as you say, doing more with less. But in any case, your witness to this as a fairly common practice is useful info on the cultural backdrop to the comics & cartoons. It's just always seemed weird to me, since I grew up using a snow shovel (and don't remember seeing other people use dirt-intended shovels on snow). Rather like seeing someone use a kitchen spatula as a putty knife. Yeah, it will work, sort of....but it's not really optimally designed for the purpose.

The shape of the shovel in The Issue At Hand does show that snow shovels existed when that cover was drawn, even if many families didn't think it necessary to get one. Probably since it was often the kids who had to struggle to move the snow inefficiently, not the dads. And as I said earlier, back in the day it was more common than it is now for the average household to own a regular old shovel. Whereas now, many families will own a snow shovel but *not* a dirt-digging shovel. (In my childhood, we had both.)

I watched the cartoon "Corn Chips" this Christmastide (Donald vs. C&D over popcorn), and Donald does indeed shovel snow with a reg'lar ol' shovel in that cartoon. No wonder he's exhausted just from doing half the front walk.

Joe Torcivia said...


Yes, I’d certainly agree that what is now regarded as a conventional snow shovel exists in every “northern climes home”, and a regular old shovel very likely may not. The dual purpose shoveling-situation seems no longer applicable, because your average family member probably doesn't tromp their foot on the upper portion of an iron shovel blade to cut it into the earth anymore. …I know *I* don’t!

If I recall correctly, “Corn Chips” (like the Barks WDC&S cover) dated from the early ‘50s, so it’s not all that odd that Donald employed a regular old shovel to do battle with snow. And a “battle” it was, with one of those old things.

Also, the Barks comic cover, which was dated as early 1952 – and was surely drawn by Unca Carl in 1951, or maybe even late 1950 – shows a shovel that is partway evolved between an old-school shovel like the one I described and a more conventional snow shovel of later years. Its blade may be wider than my old thing, but not nearly as wide (or grooved, or scored) as a modern-day specimen.

So, this cover illo is probably the next link in the chain of “snow-shovel progression” after that depicted in “Corn Chips” . And Donald Duck is our guide for it all!

top_cat_james said...

Hey, Joe and Elaine- The Great Snow Shovel Comics Placement Timeline Debate continues with this example from early 1951 of a strip that featured them throughout its run-

Of course, being a native Minnesotan, Sparky Schulz would be an expert in snow removal devices, and their pictorial depiction thereof.

Joe Torcivia said...

Or, you can visit the link from Top_Cat_James by just clicking HERE It’s worth checking out, so please go there!

Meanwhile, I wish I could rent out MY snow shovel!

scarecrow33 said...


The more one stares at that picture, the crazier one gets trying to figure it out.

My explanation remains that the shovel had to have been placed there by an outside party who approached the scene from off-camera (a few paces back and to the side from where Donald is mired) and whose telltale tracks are not visible in the part of the view that we can see. After all, footprints in the snow are a common sight after a snowstorm, are they not? So Donald might not react to the snow tracks that we can't see that someone else left behind (I like to think it was Minnie or Clarabelle, or possibly even Mickey) when the prankster, to help Daisy to persuade Donald to shovel her walk, left it leaning against the brick wall. Of course, to achieve such a feat without leaving any tracks that are immediately visible in the scene that we see, elastic arms on the order of Mr. Fantastic might be necessary, but there is also to be considered the elasticity of Mickey's limbs in the early animated films, so maybe it's not as far-fetched an idea as it sounds.

But here's another conundrum...if the shovel had been there even for a few minutes, wouldn't it be likely to sink deeper than it presently sits? Of course, that depends on the texture and density of the snow, but still the shovel is sitting pretty high, however it got there, especially if it has been sitting there for an hour or so, unless the snow has iced over and is really hard, but then shoveling it would be even more difficult. And here's an even crazier thought...wouldn't Donald's nether regions be absolutely freezing now that he has come to an apparent standstill while wading in waist-deep snow? It is not evident whether or not he is wearing boots, which might protect his webbed feet from the cold, but all the same it looks as though we may safely guess that his bottom is uncovered as usual, or we would likely see some sign of pants or boots. Of course, if Donald's lower body could survive what nearly happened to it in the last half of "The Old Army Game", it must by now be pretty impervious to just about anything.

I repeat...look at the picture long enough and it gets crazier.

Joe Torcivia said...

“Duck bottoms” (if you’ll permit me to use that phrase), as established by Carl Barks and others, would seem to be (at least relatively) impervious to cold, Scarecrow. Probably something to do with all that “down” and stuff!

I suppose, if ducks can alight upon a cold pond, a foot of snow (which translates to about one third of Donald and Scrooge’s Barks-established height in “For Old Dime’s Sake”, from UNCLE SCROOGE # 43) should present little discomfort. An ancestral trait that our walking, talking ducks have fortunately not completely evolved beyond!

Many of your shovel speculations echo mine, but you may have come as close as anyone to solving the mystery… Perhaps Donald has just WALKED-OVER the footprints of whomever left the shovel in its somewhat unlikely place, and then turned around and left the scene!

It could have even been deposited there AFTER the snow had stopped, accounting for the lack of a snow coating - and its high positioning.

Now, the question remains… Who could have been considerate enough of Daisy to DEPOSIT the shovel in a position to help her – but vanish, leaving Donald to do all the hard work? Ah, yes… GLADSTONE! Or, maybe JONES, just to be a stinker?

I think we may have worked it all out!

scarecrow33 said...

Gladstone is a felicitous choice...Neighbor Jones less so, mainly because Jones seems to me less a character and more an anti-Donald machine. But Gladstone--the chief rival for Daisy's affections--very possibly.

I also would suggest HDL, perhaps even at Daisy's instigation (for the bribe of a dime apiece, maybe?). It's just the sort of prank they would pull--annoying yet harmless.

The problem with Gladstone as the culprit is that--once Donald has shoveled all that snow, he will end up being CLOSE to a grateful Daisy, definitely within kissing range--and Gladstone, much as he despises hard work, might not be willing to allow his rival that temporary victory.

So I guess I vote for HDL, as the prank seems well within their scope of mischief...and it DOES bring Donald closer to that kiss which will surely be his reward for his labors, so it would end well for Donald, anyhow, unless at the end of it he is too pooped to collect.

OK, so those are my speculations for what they're worth regarding the COVER. Now let's remember what's INSIDE this issue...I just last night happened to locate my copy, and in re-perusing it I am reminded that it has a DD story containing one of the best Uncle Scrooge episodes ever, along with a fun Li'l Bad Wolf story, a Grandma Duck story that's pretty good, a tantalizing single episode of a Mickey multi-parter, plus several choice DD and MM comic strips. Even the text feature is pretty decent--a two-page seasonally-themed story featuring the antics of Morty and Ferdie. Overall, a remarkably delightful read--cover to cover!

Joe Torcivia said...

And, don’t you wish we had comics like that today?!

Gladstone could have done it, secure in the knowledge that his luck would visit disaster upon Don before the kiss was consummated! And, no doubt, he’d be just passing along at the precise moment to benefit from Donald’s misfortune.

Though I really like the idea of HD&L being behind it! Shoulda thought of it myself! Donald would have obliterated their tiny tracks completely unnoticed – his mind, of course, on the kiss and some additional hot cocoa reward, which he may (or may not) get. And, hey… it’s not as if they haven’t played many such pranks on WDC&S covers!