Monday, July 20, 2015

Adel Khan's Tales from the Barkside!

It's always a treat when our friend Adel Khan offers up one of his (all too infrequent) Blog posts - and this time is no exception.  

Take THIS LINK to read about Adel's early discoveries of the masterful Disney Duck works of the great Carl Barks, and more.  

I'm always interested in different folks' first (or early) encounters with comics, animation and the like that, hopefully, last a lifetime.  

You won't feel as Donald does, once you read Adel's fine work, loaded with the kind of passion and enthusiasm that I enjoy most!  


scarecrow33 said...

Yes, a fascinating blog post! Much as I love the Duck Tales TV series, I can't imagine coming to the DT versions of the stories first before reading them. Stuff like "Lake Doughbegone" and Fenton's shenanigans as he assumes the identity of Gizmoduck make for humorous TV viewing but they do take away from the quality of Barks' original storytelling. As an "adaptation" of a printed work, I can appreciate that episode and others like them, and I can also accept the need to "soften" Scrooge to make him more appealing as the hero of an ongoing series. (Vicki Lawrence's "Mama" character underwent a similar revision when she was transitioned out of sketch comedy and into the series "Mama's Family", so that stuff happens.) But I was glad when I watched those DT episodes that I already knew the original stories from whence they had come.

I first encountered Uncle Scrooge in print, and it was in the giant-sized paper covered Gold Key book dedicated to "Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge". My very first intro to Scrooge McDuck was in "Only a Poor Old Man" and the story took me several days to get through, as I was a very early reader at that time. Looking back, I realize how wonderful it was that the very first Uncle Scrooge story (OK, so it wasn't the first Uncle Scrooge story exactly--but you know what I mean) should have been my first encounter with the rich old duck. It made me a life-long fan. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the story so much if it had conjured up any previous associations with a TV episode (a moot point because Duck Tales was twenty-some years in the future at that time).

So I'm glad Adel was able to make the transition and to see past the goofiness of Duck Tales to the solid writing of Barks which was its foundation. And I also appreciate that some elements of the series were more to his liking, such as the various names and personalities for the Beagle Boys. (Barks actually did differentiate a teeny bit between some of the beagles but only in very subtle ways and only as needed by the demands of the given plot--and most of the time they were, as Adel points out, pretty much all alike.)

A friend of mine is working on a term paper that explores the ways in which our attitudes, tastes, and habits are determined by the cultural circumstances of our upbringing--and it's fascinating to me to see how different people encounter these great stories depending on in what form they are available during their formative years. Yet each person seems to arrive at pretty much the same conclusion--that Barks was a gifted storyteller with a facility for creating memorable characters and remarkable situations. These stories are truly timeless!

Joe Torcivia said...

Excellent commentary, Scarecrow! And, imagine you began on an issue I MISSED in childhood, and never found until well into adulthood. I had the BUGS BUNNY AND PORKY PIG and FLINTSTONES issues in that series, but not the DONALD DUCK AND UNCLE SCROOGE for about two decades thereafter.

But, may I point out that the Scrooge McDuck that "softened" for DUCKTALES also “softened” from the character he was in many of his earliest appearances in DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR COMICS and WDC&S. “Christmas on Bear Mountain”, “Voodoo Hoodoo”, and especially “The Magic Hourglass” immediately come to mind.

It’s part of the process in going from break-out supporting character to series star.

You can see this evolution in other characters as diverse as Yogi Bear, Lobo, and Doctor Zachary Smith.

Adel Khan said...

I don't know if my reply will be as detailed as yours, but it is a mighty fine commentary Scarecrow. As a kid I enjoyed viewing "Mama's Family" with my sister. What makes it really fascinating is how we're exposed to all of these things. I enjoyed hearing how it was the "Gold Key" giant that introduced to "Only A Poor Man". What is more touching is how you were an early reader. You echo my feelings about how great it was reading the first Uncle Scrooge story in his title.

The Donald/Scrooge adventures always hold up, which is a testament to the timelessness of Barks' tales. Whenever your friend is done with the term paper I would really like to read it, as I am fascinated by how tastes are cultivated by upbringing,
When I read "The Giant Robot Robbers" for the first time the one Beagle Boy who liked prunes seemed like a predecessor of Burger Beagle.

Even Endora in BEWITCHED in the first season is a much sinister mother-in-law in contrast to her insulting Darin. I have another entry coming next month.

Joe Torcivia said...

To Adel, Scarecrow, and everyone, for the record, because I missed that paper-covered 1965 DONALD DUCK AND UNCLE SCROOGE giant comic, and was not born for the original 1952 DELL FOUR COLOR printing, I first read “Only a Poor Old Man” in the 1974 squarebound BEST OF WALT DISNEY COMICS series (of four issues) that actually credited Carl Barks.

So, that classic-among-classic-tales came to each of us in a different way – and in a different decade – but, seemingly, in support of Scarecrow’s friend’s conclusion, each of us actually DID come to view the story in a similar fashion! Fascinating… If I may borrow from Mr. Spock.

And, as I’ve discussed elsewhere with you, Adel… As I’m (still… yes, still, and for quite some time to come) working my way very slowly through BEWITCHED, courtesy of the “Complete Series” DVD set, the series was actually “more mature”, with a somewhat “harder edge”, in its first season, vs. how I (…and, presumably, most folks) best remember it. So, yes… I’ll add Endora to that list.

I’m sure there are more – like Fred Flintstone, pre and post Pebbles. In fact Yogi and Fred seemed to follow the same evolutionary path of “softening”, even though Fred was *always* the “star” of his show, while Yogi was not. More than anything, this might be because both characters were so heavily guided by writer Warren Foster – one of the two greatest animation writers of all time, the other (of course) being Michael Maltese!