Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On Sale August 16, 2017: UNCLE SCROOGE # 29 from IDW.

Which came first, the CHICKEN or the EGG?  

...Now, I'm not eggs-actly promising that, if you rush down to your local comic shop and pick a copy of UNCLE SCROOGE # 29 (Legacy Numbering # 433) from IDW, that you'll learn the answer...

...But, I'm also not eggs-actly saying that you won't!  It's more like you may be PLAYING "Chicken" with the...


What the Funky-Chicken is THAT?  

Could it be...

Let's dolly-in a little closer...

...little more...

WHOA! That's it!

I don't believe it!  

It's... it's... it's MY NAME... and i-it's ON THE COVER, too!  

After FOUR straight issues, to which I've contributed WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 736 ("Goofy's Online Adventures"), UNCLE SCROOGE # 25 ("Science on the Move"),  THIS ONE and THIS ONE... without such a credit...

...My name is finally beaming-back at wide-eyed comics-rack-browsers all across America!  ...Li'l ol' me?  Aw, shucks! 

I suppose I should be thankful that the names "Rota" and "Gray" are only FOUR characters each, allowing for my unexpected inclusion!  

And, I'm there with the great Tony Strobl...

 ...Who, despite working for DECADES on so many comics that were very special to me when growing up...

...Has, quite unjustly, had fewer published credits than even me!  WOW! It's an honor for me to share billing with Mr. Strobl, whom I actually met once - seriously!  

After all that, I can't wait to OPEN this book and take a look inside...

AUUGGH!  Oh, well... I guess it was too much to hope for a LEAD story too, even though my last one appeared in August of 2016!  ...Just remember, baby steps will get you there, too!  Baby steps!  Yesss, baby steps...  

After all, I have not one but TWO backup stories in the issue (backups just like every other issue I've been in since last August), and I get to work with great original writers from TWO eras - Vic Lockman and Lars Jensen!  Can't grouse about THAT!  

If I must be "King of the Backups"... well then, at least I "rule" SOMETHING.  

Hopefully, everyone reading this will appreciate the humor with which this segment was intended... as we creative types tend to have an inner-sensitive-side that occasionally needs exercise.  


In the issue, you'll find "The Great Cackle Caper", originally from the Italian publication TOPOLINO # 234 (1976) and appearing for the first time in the USA.  No writing credit is listed for this story (...and that may be a good thing), with art by the great Marco Rota, and translation and dialogue by our own great Jonathan Gray.  

If I may be permitted a brief digression concerning our opening narrative caption... 

Just curious, if the characters pictured here were female - say they were Daisy, April, May, and June - how different would the "cackling hens" comment be viewed?  

Of course, I know that the intent of "cackling hens" was to tie into the story to come but, these days, you never know just what someone in the editorial chain may find objectionable.  ...END OF DIGRESSION. 

To our story, Scrooge decides to start up an "organic" farm, whatever that entails...

...With Donald to do the work for him, not unlike countless stories we've seen before.  

There's the standard intrigue with a "golden egg"...

...And, oh yes...  The obligatory Beagle Boys plot...

 But, ultimately, this is just one big "clucker-clunker" patchwork of things we've often seen done before - and better!   

Oh, Marco Rota gives us some great art, and Jonathan Gray does wonders to try and up this tale beyond its "by-the-numbers" status, with things like "Four pestiferous warts off the port bow!"...

...And "Colonel Kentucky", a double reference to both the individual behind the KFC Empire and Don Rosa's seminal creation "Captain Kentucky" - who was, himself, a surrogate for the adventurous Scrooge McDuck!  

One more Still-Quicker Digression: 

Shouldn't Scrooge's chickens go "Buck-Buck!", rather than "Bok-Bok!" #OpportunitiesLost  End of Still-Quicker Digression. 

Ah, but lest we feel this issue... um, "laid an egg" (Anything but!), we advance to the second half of the book, consisting of one classic-curio, and one modern-mini-amuser!  

Our "classic-curio" is a 10 page Gyro Gearloose and Beagle Boys tale by the "classically-curious" writer and artist team of Vic Lockman and Tony Strobl... with additional dialogue by yours truly.  

And, in total-tribute to its alliteration-obsessed-author Vic Lockman (...Say, this sentence is ALSO a tribute, isn't it?), I  re-titled the tale "The Terrible Thinking Cap Tussle", over its original and blander "Brainstorm Battle".  

...I'd like to think that Mr. Lockman, if he's reading this somewhere out there, would enjoy that!  

This story looks and reads smack out of the 1967-1968 period of Gold Key Comics, when Lockman and Strobl, working together, were at their most prolific - taking up some of the slack for the great Carl Barks, who had just retired!  

Just compare this with an authentic Lockman and Strobl story of the period published in Gold Key's UNCLE SCROOGE # 72 (Cover Date: December, 1967)...

Why, everybody's favorite Archival Editor, David Gerstein, and our letterers Nicole and Travis Seitler (...and what a great job THEY do every issue!) even get that classic mid-sixties Gold Key Title Lettering Font exactly right!  Imagine my joy upon seeing such an effort!  

...And, here's just one more comparison of Gyro and a Beagle, for good measure.  

 For those who may not know, this story was created as part of the "Walt Disney Studio Program", and not intended for domestic publication - but for overseas consumption.  However, it was created concurrently by Vic Lockman and Tony Strobl with the product seen in then-contemporary American Gold Key Comics.  Thus the similarities.  
Where I come in is that not all of the original dialogue reads like Vic Lockman's writing at his loopy, alliterative best.  The necessity being to "simplify" it for the various foreign translators to work with.  Got me so far?  
Vic Lockman at work!
So, where the dialogue was... I dunno.... "Too Bland for Land"(? Yeah, I'm stretching here!), I "Lockman-ized" it to read in true "Vic-style"!  Where it DID sound like Lockman, of course, I left it as is - creating this unprecedented "hybrid" of an author I read for years as a kid, and my adult pro/fannish self.  

Every panel on Page One was reworked by me to sound more authentically like Vic Lockman.  For those of you familiar with Lockman's "unique dialogue style", please read each one, and let me know how I did.  

Apologies if I've spent an uber-amount of time on this story (...without even getting into the plot about Gyro's stolen "Thinking Cap" and its origins), but getting to work with Tony Strobl ( artist I've always admired - and a true gentleman in real life) and Vic Lockman (especially "writing with him" in this odd collaborative way - separated by five decades) is VERY SPECIAL to me, and I hope that shows!  

As a perfect final touch, the Gold Key "The End" Logo is attached to the final panel of this story - just as it would have been back in the sixties!  


Our final story, and aforementioned 6 page "modern-mini-amuser", is "Waste Makes Haste", featuring Scrooge and his pain-in-the-assets-pal Jubal Pomp - written by Lars Jensen (one of the very best Disney comics writers working today), with art by Daniel Perez - and (again) dialogue by yours truly.  

Jubal bursts in with yet another surefire can't-miss scheme!  And, if you don't believe me, just read Scrooge's line below! 

"Paper Eating Mini-Mites"?   
Oh, this CANNOT end well! 

What a WONDERFUL sequence this is! (Click to Enlarge!)
Anyone notice what I did there?  

And, say... Is this the first ever toilet to be seen in one of these comics?  
Who'da ever thunk that Uncle Scrooge would have something in common with "Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho" (1960), said to be the first Hollywood film to show such a convenience - and to have it flush!   

But, in our "Duckworld", did HE make the film?

...Or, did HE make it?  

UPDATE: August 18, 2017:  In the Comments Section, our friend Achille Talon notes a prior appearance by Alfred Hitchcock in IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE # 4 (Legacy Numbering # 408), while I assumed that it was instead Sydney Greenstreet.  Please see our respective comments for more details.  

Honestly, having looked it up, I feel it could be interpreted as either one.  You decide...

A great observation by Achille! The illustration has been added below, along with an image of Greenstreet to be compared with that of Hitchcock above.  

As we don't do spoilers, we come to the end of the review - leaving the mites to run amok, and to our standard disclaimer.  

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own.

Then, let's all join up in the Comments Section to "eggs-amine alliteration, and mull-over Mites"!  ...See you there!  


Elaine said...

On toilets in Disney comics: there was actually a short thread on this on Feathery. Two stories listed, both by Rosa: "The Beagle Boys vs. the Money Bin" has the contemporary toilet, and "A Letter from Home" shows a medieval latrine in Castle McDuck. Though, truth be told, in "BBs vs. Bin" you don't actually see the whole toilet. One of the Beagles falls into it (below the panel), and is thereafter seen with the toilet seat stuck around his neck. This is the sequence, though, which establishes that Scrooge's bathroom reading consists of DuckTales comics. This is in line with Rosa's theory that in-universe, DuckTales is a TV show & comic which spins fiction very loosely based on the true adventures of Scrooge & Co.

One commenter said he was quite sure that toilets have been shown in Italian Disney comics, but he gave no examples.

Joe Torcivia said...


Ah, yes… I *do* remember the toilet SEAT form Rosa! But, is this still perhaps the first full image – and in profile, yet?

Achille Talon said...

On the subject of the Duckworld's Psycho — let's not forget that Alfred Hitchcock was seen dining in a restaurant in The Grand Canyon Conquest! (Uncle Scrooge #408). So I think it's safe to say that while the Alternate Duckworld of DuckTales 2017 (or New DuckTales, as you may call it) had one Mallard Hitchcock to provide it with its fix of shower-murder, the regular duckverse probably stuck with trusty ol'Alfred (and not even a dognose one at that!).

Joe Torcivia said...


You certainly have a point about “… Alfred Hitchcock dining in a restaurant in The Grand Canyon Conquest! (Uncle Scrooge #408).”, but it left me wondering why *I* did not recall this as well.

Given how closely I observe (and often outright study) the IDW Disney comics, and being such a huge Hitchcock fan, it was very curious that I did not remember this particular detail.

So, I dug out my copy of UNCLE SCROOGE IDW # 4 (Legacy Numbering # 408) to see why. Among the many caricatured classic Hollywood celebrities that may be spotted in this beautifully drawn comic are Clark Gable, Groucho Marx, Sir Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy… and a rotund bald individual consuming an outsized sundae!

Now, given that the celebrities named tended to be largely associated with the 1930s, and ‘40s, and Alfred Hitchcock continued to direct motion pictures well into the 1970s, I simply assumed the sundae scarfing soul to be… Sydney Greenstreet!

Sydney Greenstreet was known as “The Fat Man”, and was certainly (pardon the expression) “prominent” in Hollywood during the 1940s, as you can see at both the link above… and HERE

But, of course, Alfred Hitchcock, though he remained active well beyond the period of the other stars pictured, was also a very famous filmmaker DURING that period. So, I think we both make very valid points, and everyone is left to decide for themselves.

Hitchcock or Greenstreet – it could be EITHER! Come, cast your vote!

I will post the both the comic illustration and an image of Sydney Greenstreet to go with the illustration of Alfred Hitchcock that was already in the post for everyone to see – and I thank Achille for this observation! Truly, it could be EITHER!

Achille Talon said...

Hmmm… mysterious indeed! I had not made the Greenstreet connection, but it does make a great deal of sense.Note that INDUCKS favors the Hitchcock hypothesis, for what little it's worth.

Joe Torcivia said...


I think that both theories work, and only Miquel Pujol would know for sure.

Funny thing, for anyone who has seen the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Slick Hare” (1947), there is a scene where Bugs, in a Hollywood Café of the time, runs directly into a “fat man” – an actual caricature of Sydney Greenstreet (…it even says so in the “Trivia” section of the link above) – BUT, when I first saw that cartoon as a kid, I’d never heard of Sydney Greenstreet.

…I figured it was Orson Welles!

Debbie Anne said...

Admittedly, this issue has a fantastic cover for a routine lead story. I enjoyed it, but it doesn't stand out. All three stories are mostly just amusing versus fantastic (which is not a bad thing...not every issue can be the best issue ever). The Gyro stands out the most, but that one doesn't feature Scrooge, so it couldn't be the cover feature. In a way, this issue makes me think of a Gold Key or Whitman comic (in a good way).
I like how just plain silly the Gyro story gets, with Gyro's levitating pants, the Beagle Boys stealing Gyro's thinking cap, shrinking themselves and their loot, Gyro traveling to "Little Thinkle Star" to find more "Hmm-ing Birds", and the thinking cap duel at the end. Toto, we're not in a Barks story anymore!
Jubal Pomp is one of those characters that is hard to put a voice to him in my head, although it would seem that in your head, he sounds like W.C. Fields, as soon as he called Ms. Quackfaster "My little Chickadee!"

Joe Torcivia said...


IDW has given us SOOO MANY great issues in the last 2 ¼ years that even an “okay issue” seems out of place! For this reason, I hope any future “okay issues” CONTINUE to “seem out of place”!

“Just plain silly” is what Vic Lockman was all about by 1967-1968, and that’s why “The Terrible Thinking Cap Tussle” feels right out of that era – in both Lockman's writing and Tony Strobl's art. That's why I posted the opening of an actual such story from the period for comparison. And, if you’re a fan of that stuff, as I am, that’s an even bigger plus!

As for “Gyro traveling to ‘Little Thinkle Star’ to find more ‘Hmm-ing Birds’”... Because the birds’ “ Hmm-ing sound” seems to put Gyro into some sort of elevated state of consciousness (as he admits on Page 6, Panel 6), I elected to call the birds’ home planet “Alpha-Zen-Tauri”, but the decision was made to stick with “Little Thinkle Star” - which I find cute, but not nearly as good. You all decide…

To me, Jubal Pomp physically RESEMBLES W.C. Fields, and is a schemer and a rascal, therefore he must SOUND like W.C. Fields. I’ve given him other Fields-isms such as “Mother of Pearl”, etc.

The voice I actually “hear” as Pomp is the “W.C. Fieldmouse” voice, of the Fields-based character in the two Warner Little Blabbermouse cartoons!

Debbie Anne said...

"Little Thinkle Star" sounds more Vic Lockman-ish to my ear.

Joe Torcivia said...

Yeah, it does! Which is why I quickly relented. I'm not about to dispute Lockman "on Lockman"!

Just thought I’d put it out there as the type of info you’ll get here, and nowhere else!

Achille Talon said...

I now decree that the Little Thinkle Star and Alpha-Zen-Tauri form one of those neat binary star systems (like so:, collectively known as Beta Didun-Nauzatt. See? Now everyone gets a happy ending.

Joe Torcivia said...

Gotta love that, Achille... Gotta love that!

Oh, and HERE'S the link!

Elaine said...

I agree with Deb, that the Gyro story is the one that stands out among these three. Fun to see where that Thinking Cap comes from, and I like the Blessed Event that enables Gyro to win the battle of the brainwaves. I enjoyed all the alliteration, but my favorite line was "just as Gyro is about to go home empty-hatted..." I also enjoyed Strobl's art here--loved the first panel on p. 6, where the mini-Beagles in silhouette run past the bird.

As for the lead story: Rota in the 1970's had not yet become ROTA. The art is good, but I don't love it the way I love the distinctive style of his later art. And I'm actually mystified by the ending of the story. "Something like butter"? Huh? How does one disguise currency and coins as something like butter? Is there some reference I'm not getting that would explain this? And how did Scrooge get the idea for this from something Donald said? (If this is too spoilery, Joe, just delete the sentences that follow "his later art.")

Again like Deb, I like the Freccero cover quite a bit, though! Nicely drawn *and* very nicely colored.

Joe Torcivia said...


Thank you for your kind words on the Lockman / Strobl Gyro story. In my opinion, it was far and away the highlight of the book – and not because I was part of it. I just love that era. It’s my Disney comics “roots”, you might say.

And, as long as we are speaking plainly and honestly, I, too, was “mystified by the ending of the Rota story”… especially those LAST THREE OR FOUR PANELS.

In fact, I chose not to address this in the main post, for fear of butting-up against my own policy of no overt negativity… but, we’ve spilled the milk and melted the mysterious “butter”, so let’s go!

As if the story wasn’t already waaaay too “by-the-numbers”, I thought that was a horrible way to end it! Looking at Rota’s art for those last panels it has ALL THE POTENTIAL for a very funny exchange of dialogue between Donald and the boys. One that might have even SAVED this tragically ordinary story! But, none of that great potential is demonstrated in the version as printed.

The focal point would be the “next-to-last” panel. Both the boys and Donald could have truly said ANYTHING, ranging from “classic-matter-of-fact” to “outrageous-and-off-the-wall”, but instead we got… nothing. Or, at least “nothing” that I (and, presumably, you as well) were able to understand, and/or find any humor in.

What I’d like to know is, was that what ROTA actually said in his original script (or some reasonable approximation thereof), or did “our version” simply come up uncharacteristically short in the inspiration department?

As I am discussing the work of a colleague and friend who does the same work that I do (…and who always does a great job at that work), you can see why I might have been reluctant to bring it up. And, if this is what Rota intended, it is understandable that this is what we got – especially in consideration of the “greater adherence to the originals” that is the currently prevailing situation.

But, I also find myself flashing back to (fittingly for this post) the very same era that produced the Gyro story – and that, when Vic Lockman was merely part of the mix of the various writers at Western Publishing, he was a fairly decent writer. But, when he became responsible for an overly-large percentage of the writing, that writing was diminished, and the stories seemed far less varied in their overall style and point-of-view.

I’m going to assume that’s not the case, and blame Rota for falling-flat on his own ending.

I write this with no negative intent, but am just attempting consider any and all sides of an ending that clearly did not work for me, as part of an overall story that failed to impress as well. Indeed, the better way to look at it is that IDW has given us SOOO MANY GREAT ISSUES OF DISNEY COMIC BOOKS, we really notice it when something falls short.

Zantaf said...

Hi! This is my first comment here, although I must admit that I've been following your blog for a really long time. Regarding the odd "Something like butter" line in Rota's story, I was a little puzzled too, so I checked an old Greek print of the story that I have from 1985. The dialogue on the last page is pretty much the same except that instead of "butter" it says "hot dog buns". Back then the Greek translators were usually extremely faithful to the original. But when it came to S-coded stories, texts were most often translated from Italian (and thus were slightly altered) and not directly from the original "simplified" English. Unlike "The Terrible Thinking Cap Tussle" which has been printed twice in Australia so far (presumably in it's "simplified" English form), Rota's story has never been printed in English before. I'm curious if the original English text survived and was used as a source.
Regardless, I agree that after so many great stories presented to us by IDW, it is hard not to notice when we get one that's not great but just fine. But it seems that even the somewhat weaker run-of-the-mill ones are a cause for discussion!
I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I really enjoy yours and the rest of the IDW team's localisations. I especially loved your subtle Star Trek references in "Plan Dine from Outer Space!" as I am a big Star Trek fan too. And Jonathan Gray's Monkey Island references in "Shiver Me Timbers" made me very happy!

Joe Torcivia said...


Gee, for an evil mad scientist, you sure sound like a nice guy! And helpful, too… “Hot Dog Buns”, eh?

So, that next-to-last panel would have Huey say: “Don’t tell us he turned it into eggs!”

Donald’s reply: “No… instead it’s… uh, something like hot dog rolls? He hid it in a cabin near the harbor… but he didn’t tell me where”!

I can’t honestly say that makes any more sense than “butter”… unless maybe he put ALL those coins in “coin rolls”, and slipped them into the largest supply of hot dog buns we’ve ever seen. Pity those poor hot-dog-eating contestants, if this were the 4th of July on Coney Island! Talk about a "rich diet"! Eeesh!

My problem with this, whether it lies with Marco Rota (who is NOT credited as the original writer, please note) or IDW, is that (once again) ANYTHING could have been said here. Consider all of the wacky places that Carl Barks had Scrooge hide his money – and all the places other writers did after that! And, when you have THAT wide-open a canvas, you really ought to utilize it better than “butter”… or “hot dog rolls”! At the very least, create an actual gag to complement the great art, and not just an odd reference that leaves readers wondering.

I believe that the Rota story was translated from the Italian, and not a simplified English version. So, someone, somewhere let down on that ending! …I know! Let’s blame the Beagle Boys! They’re always an easy target. Yeah, that’s it!

Thank you very much for those kind words on behalf of Jonathan and myself. “Plan Dine from Outer Space” and “Night of the Living Text” are my two most favorite stories that I have ever worked on.

Their common denominator, of course, is Casty – one of the very finest talents working with these comics today. I truly loved these two stories so much that I have lobbied for other Casty stories – particularly those squarely within the sci-fi genre – with the fond hope of being able to say I’ve worked on the American versions of a “Casty Sci-Fi Trilogy” (or more). I also would very much enjoy a Casty Phantom Blot story, as we’ve seen some of them at IDW lately. …Or, dare I hope a Casty Sci-Fi story, featuring The Phantom Blot. …I can DREAM, can’t I?

And please do not let your “first comment” be your last! C’mon back now… as long as you check any evil weaponry at the door, you’ll always be welcome here!

Elaine said...

This is actually pretty funny, that we now have another version of the conclusion from another translation which makes just as little sense! How do you disguise money as hot dog buns? And why would they be stored by the harbor, any more than butter would be? And how did anything Donald say inspire Scrooge to come up with this brilliant idea?

Really, if you had asked me to come up with possibilities for what the text might have been in another translation (and/or the original), I could have suggested alternatives indefinitely and not have come up with "instead of butter it says hot dog buns." Just writing that down now makes me laugh. I think we should adopt this as the new theory to explain any odd, apparently nonsensical element in a story. "Oh, but originally it was hot dog buns!"

Joe Torcivia said...


You write: “ Really, if you had asked me to come up with possibilities for what the text might have been in another translation (and/or the original), I could have suggested alternatives indefinitely and not have come up with ‘instead of butter it says hot dog buns’.”

I sure believe that. …And just imagine how many *I* would have come up with. It would seem that everyone involved with this story, from Italian inception, to European alternatives, to domestic dialoguing somehow let this one get away from them. And, to have that happen at the ENDING is the worst possible place for it to occur.

Very often, when a situation like that arises, I will offer several alternatives for a line, and let the powers that be decide which one is best. For instance, for the many rock-and-roll song lyric parodies that appeared in “Plan Dine from Outer Space”, I submitted about three times as many. Doubtless I might have done something similar here… and that list (even if it were merely a list of two) would not have included “Butter” and “Hot Dog Buns”.

“I think we should adopt this as the new theory to explain any odd, apparently nonsensical element in a story. ‘Oh, but originally it was hot dog buns!’"

Recommendation approved! So, the infamous “Bird-Bothered Hero” might have been EVEN WORSE at some point in its development, as Donald accidently swallowed some “Hot Dog Buns” instead of the super-bird-whistle… and, if not for some last-minute editing, we might have all be wondering why BIRDS were flocking to Donald for having swallowed “Hot Dog Buns” .