Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 1964 and 2014!

This simple but elegant cover by Tony Strobl fronts a particularly beloved comic book that I was reading fifty years ago at this time!  

This was the second issue of DONALD DUCK that I would receive by mail subscription.  And what a thrill it was to receive it in mid-to-late November, 1964.  

Never mind the fact that it was "mechanically folded in half" (and, thus, permanently creased down its middle to this day), with a brown paper sleeve around its middle, and the comic sticking out of both ends simply begging to be damaged by the United States Postal Service.  

None of that mattered because we cared not about "condition" in 1964, we just READ 'em and ENJOYED 'em!  And, besides, that brown paper sleeve had MY name and address on it, making the comic just that much more "special" to my single-digit year-old eyes!  

It's still special to me today, and I think I'll take THAT VERY SAME COPY out and read it again, and get that same feeling a (Gulp!) half-century later!  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you from Joe, Esther, and a fifty-year old issue of DONALD DUCK, at TIAH Blog!  


Adel Khan said...

It is a “strobl” through memory lane. As a Christmas treat, I will share a preview of a blog post here. That comic book brings back a heap of memories, of my late friend Ian.

One weekend, my friend Ian came over to finish our homework. When we were almost done, we decided to draw pictures of Donald. I had checked out “Donald Duck: 50 Years of Happy Frustration” from the library again, we looked at the page that showed a collage of comic book covers.

Among them the covers of US48, US60, US76, were reprinted. We drew pictures of Daisy Duck and Uncle Scrooge based on the cover of “Donald Duck” #95. On the way to “Pizza Hut”, he asked my dad, if he read Scrooge comics during his childhood.

When I went to school on Monday, Ian presented me with an item wrapped with blue tissue paper. He told me not to unwrap it until I am at home, because he wanted to keep it a surprise. Throughout the day I was very curious about what the item was. Once I came back from school, I eagerly removed the tissue paper to open Ian’s sketch of Uncle Scrooge. Underneath the drawing was issue #319 of “Uncle Scrooge”. Oh boy was I ever excited to read it! I could tell how he based, it on Strobl’s version, as Scrooge’s whiskers were tight. It is amazing how he memories can be unleashed when holding or glancing at a comic book cover.

As Snagglepuss, would say, "Merry Christmas! Season's Greetings! Happy Chanukah even!"

It has been a pleasure commenting on your blog post, through the year, if it was on, “Disney comics” or “Hanna Barbera”. Whenever you are free, I look forward to the reply, I sent about the “Hanna-Barbera” stories.

Joe Torcivia said...

Adel, it has been a greater pleasure RECEIVING your comments, and sharing them with the readership at large!

That is a WONDERFUL story about your friend, Ian. So perfect for the season, too! And, how sorry I am that you have lost a friend like that! It particularly resonates with me because, as I’m sure I’ve stated at some previous time, I had no childhood friends that were “fellow-fans” of all the great comics and things that were going on during my corresponding years in the ‘60s. My experiences were enjoyed (…and, ENJOYED they were, to be sure) in complete and total isolation. It was not until I was over 25 did I actually begin to meet others who shared this passion. So, I am particularly happy for your having had such truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

And, UNCLE SCROOGE # 319? That was the first Gemstone issue in 2003, following a way-too-long layoff after Gladstone Series II. If this was the way you first learned that Gemstone had resumed publishing the classic Disney comic book titles, what a wonderful way to have that happen!

In responding to this comment, you caused me to turn away from the keyboard and take my copy of “Donald Duck: 50 Years of Happy Frustration” from my den bookshelves! What a magnificent book that was! Especially so for 1984, when we were in the final death rattle of the Whitman comics, and the many publishers who would follow over the subsequent THIRTY (!) years were a complete unknown that would lie ahead – with IDW now on deck in 2015!

What attracted me to that book back then, were the MANY references to and illustrations from the comics… perhaps (though I’m loathe to admit it) disproportionately so, given the depths of irrelevancy they had descended to by 1984.

And, to bring this comment full-circle, the cover illustration from DONALD DUCK # 99 (which adorns this post) is among the copious comic art specimens included in “Donald Duck: 50 Years of Happy Frustration” (page 70). Imagine Tony Strobl receiving that sort of well-deserved treatment today.

Finally… Yes, Adel “It is amazing how the memories can be unleashed when holding or glancing at a comic book cover.”

Those are some perfectly true words, my friend! Happy Holidays to you and everyone who takes the time to stop by this place, where comic book covers – and the books themselves, other books, TV shows, movies, etc. unleash memories and great new experiences for us all!

Elaine said...

On memories unleashed by comic book covers.... This Christmas I bought myself some new, miniature decorations. I have a small sleigh with a few mini toys in it, which sits in the centerpiece of my Christmas table along with my mother's Santa & Mrs. Santa salt & pepper shakers. This fall I found on Etsy a couple of people who make miniature comic books and Golden Books for dollhouses etc. I was able to get a set of Christmas Disney comics and a set of Christmas Little Golden Books including "Mickey Mouse Flies the Christmas Mail" and "Donald Duck's Christmas Tree" (the original cover). The Christmas comics include a Christmas Parade 1 (Dell), which we didn't have in my childhood, but the cover of which I know from Gladstone's CP 1, and (getting to the point here!) a Christmas Parade 7 (Dell), which we did have in my childhood. Though I knew the various characters portrayed in the house would never be in the same house, I still loved the house where you could see inside the various rooms. I don't have that comic anymore, but I was surprised at the flood of memories that came with seeing that cover! Nice to have mini-Disney Christmas comics/books to make my Santa's sleigh complete. Toys alone do not a true Christmas haul make!

Adel Khan said...

I am glad you appreciate the comment Joe! I thought it would be a topper to the season.

I really enjoy Strobl's covers for "Donald Duck", "Looney Tunes", and "The Jetsons".

Thanks for the condolences for my friend. "Donald Duck","The Three Stooges", and "The Simpsons" were our mutual interests. Although I delved into the finer detail about the interests, in contrast to Ian.

I was a loner for my time in Elementary, Junior High, and High School. I vividly recall in Junior High, on Friday's when I arrived from school. Immediately I would watch cartoons in the basement or read comic books. The other classmates would spend time of class, but not me.

It was not until I started commenting on blogs and groups on Facebook. Where I discovered people who shared similiar enthusiasm in animation and comics, that I possessed.

Joe Torcivia said...


The notion of miniature Little Golden Books and Dell Comics is utterly fascinating to me!

It’s something I could possibly see, if Western Publishing were still a functioning entity. But that this should occur to someone to merchandise… NOW, in 2014? Amazing!

I’d imagine this would be a Disney licensee, recreating these products of Western Publishing in miniature as, to the best of my knowledge, there is no longer a Western Publishing “as-such”. Otherwise, there might also be Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Flintstones miniatures, plucked from Western’s merchandising archives, as well.

…Say, wouldn’t a mini reproduction of Gold Key’s FLINTSTONES # 31, the adaptation of “Christmas Flintstone" that you and I are so fond of, be a wonderful addition to such a collection?

And, continuing the run of “perfectly true words” in this thread: “Toys alone do not a true Christmas haul make!” …Absolutely!

Oh, and to illustrate the “I knew the various characters portrayed in the house would never be in the same house” of Elaine’s comment, HERE is a link to that wonderful cover image.

Joe Torcivia said...


When you say “It was not until I started commenting on blogs and groups on Facebook. Where I discovered people who shared similar enthusiasm in animation and comics, that I possessed.”, you reveal a very “similar, but different” parallel to my own experiences.

In my day, it was the discovery of FANZINES, and contacting the individuals who published them – and other persons who contributed to (or otherwise participated in) their assembly and production – that yielded my own “first contacts” with like-minded folks that extends to this day, culminating with the creation of this Blog in 2008.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to share those thoughts right here, so please keep right on doing it!

scarecrow33 said...

Tony Strobl's work (of course, I didn't know his name back in those days, nor did I quite realize he was also the Jetsons artist and the artist on a number of my other special favorites--I just knew I liked the artwork) always seemed to be on-model, no matter which character he was drawing. His 50's style seems a little more distinctive, in relation to the Disney characters--he elongated Goofy a bit and generally added a stripe to the upper sleeve of his sweater. But in any era, Strobl's work has a "definitive" look about it. Everyone else, including Barks, occasionally went a little off-model on the ducks. Tony seems to have determinedly adhered to a "house" look for the characters he drew.

That issue of Donald Duck was a prized possession when I was young--one of a number of "inherited" comics I received at a young age (I was just a shade too young to have purchased it myself when it came out). I love the "album" format with the opening panel of each story beginning with a "remember when" discussion among Donald and his nephews. It makes them seem like real people--in our family, we often would leaf through an old album and reminisce, just as DD and his family members did. A "framing story" would have been nice, showing Donald getting out the album at the beginning and putting it away at the end, but it's probably unnecessary. The stories themselves were utterly delightful. I equally enjoyed the Goofy Christmas story that is inserted into the middle of the issue. Seeing all of the various Disney characters celebrating Christmas also gave Christmas a special feel.

Elaine's miniatures sound intriguing. I agree that Flintstones #31 would be a great addition. As for the various characters depicted in the house on the cover of Christmas Parade--maybe they WOULD all be together in a house just temporarily to celebrate Christmas together!

Joe Torcivia said...

Not surprisingly, Scarecrow, your assessment of Tony Strobl might as well be my own, almost word for word. I can recall describing his artwork as “clean, crisp, and on-model”. Though, I’d also throw in some high praise for his version of Bugs Bunny as well! …Oh, and he was one of the kindest gentlemen you’d ever want to meet – certainly to this wide-eyed young fan.

Once again, it’s amazing the number of good memories a comic like this can bring to mind! If you grew up in that particular time, it’s almost universal.

Also, if you hung around me day-to-day, you’d hear me regularly lament the loss (or at least obsolescence or marginalization) of actual photographs – the kind you kept in shoeboxes or put in albums, and did not view on your phone.

Western Publishing had a winning formula when they did those “Album” comics for the various licensed characters they published, because there WAS something special about looking through a photo album. It was an experience that everyone of the period could relate to, and would invariably do so with warm feelings. And when, as with DONALD DUCK # 99, they combined it with Christmas, it became unbeatable!

I don’t know what criteria caused certain stories to merit the “photo album” framing device, and others not, (save utter randomness, which may actually be the case) but whenever they did it, it worked every time. And, it’s something the modern comics would not do today. More’s the pity.

You observe: “As for the various characters depicted in the house on the cover of Christmas Parade--maybe they WOULD all be together in a house just temporarily to celebrate Christmas together!”

Sure, why not! It could be a sort of “Christmas on Dell Giant Mountain”. Of course, in Carl Barks’ “Christmas on BEAR Mountain”, bears disrupted the yuletide celebration. In our theoretical “Christmas on DELL GIANT Mountain”, should our characters brace for an invasion of GIANTS, or LAPTOP COMPUTERS?

Elaine said...

Would they be together in one house for Christmas? Maybe, though any story that mixes Ducks and Mouses is outside my personal canon. But to the child-me, the issue was that Scrooge seems to be sleeping in his own bed (Donald wouldn't have a bed like that ready for Scrooge's visits!), and I was quite sure that Scrooge wouldn't have all those guests in *his* house! Maybe the DuckTales Scrooge would let Morty and Ferdie have a sleepover with Huey, Dewey and Louie...but the Scrooge I knew in the 1960's would not have five kids sleeping in his guest room (if he even had one!). So it was Scrooge's bed in the picture that made the child-me decide that this was a composite picture from the artist's imagination.

I like your Dell Giant Mountain joke, though, Joe!

Joe Torcivia said...


I figure the house was one of Scrooge’s many properties, and that’s why he has a bed of his own that could not be of the type that Donald, Mickey, Minnie, or Daisy could have had for him if he were visiting one of their houses.

I also expect that Scrooge will have one or more tasks for his guests to perform, to earn their Christmas getaway. A problem with one of his Northwoods businesses, or maybe some clues to a lost treasure beneath the drifting snow. The boys will think it’s a fun adventure, Mickey and the gals will take it in stride, and Donald will incessantly grumble about his skinflint uncle. So, hopefully, they’ll all get a healthy sleep first. A cover like that offers many possibilities to spur the imagination, and that’s a large part of what’s so great about it.

Just curious, does the miniature capture the detail of that illustration? If so, it must be grand!

Thanks, on the “Dell Giant Mountain” joke… I’m warming-up for IDW 2015! I promise to do better in print. 

Debbie Anne said...

I would imagine you could start with a similar beginning to Bear Mountain, with Uncle Scrooge lamenting sitting alone in his big empty house, waiting for Christmas to pass, and remembering the time he invited Donald and the boys over to his cabin in the woods for Christmas, and how he enjoyed their company. He then could decide to send out invites to Donald and his nephews, Daisy, Mickey, Minnie and Morty and Ferdie to spend Christmas at his new home, but only if they would help him find a treasure hidden on the grounds. He would then proceed to give them clues, until eventually the group would find...their Christmas presents from Scrooge! (For being the best family and friends anyone could ask for.) All would stare in disbelief for not just the unusual sentiment from the old duck, but just to be getting a present from "that old skinflint" (as described by Donald) who would of course swear them to secrecy, as "I have a reputation to uphold! If word got out that Scrooge McDuck GAVE someone a Christmas present...for free, I'd be overrun by panhandlers and chiselers!"

Joe Torcivia said...

That’s a great story scenario, Debbie!

One of the best things about Scrooge McDuck is that he CAN be kind and sentimental, as long as he does not overtly show it, perhaps for fear of being perceived as in any way “soft”.

In a way, it’s reminiscent of the lead story in the very issue of DONALD DUCK that illustrates this post. I vividly recall that, because it was one of the very first (perhaps THE first) story I read that informed me that there was “more” to Scrooge than his self-made facade of a tough, penny-pinching miser. That may be why it stands out for me to this day, long after later discovering such classics as “Back to the Klondike”.