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...
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.
ON WITH THE SHOW...
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 (...an 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!