Monday, November 30, 2020

Separated at Mirth: Duck! Duck! Duck! Goose!

I'll assume most readers of this humble Blog to be familiar with Carl Barks' ultimate classic Donald Duck story "Lost in the Andes" (1949).  If not, read more about it HERE! 

In it, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, per the strange laws of a lost land, are forced to find a way to blow SQUARE BUBBLE GUM BUBBLES in a public ceremony, or face a lifetime of imprisonment!  

They do find a way to perform this seemingly impossible feat... with a little judicious duplicity.  

But, a mere FOUR YEARS LATER, in MIGHTY MOUSE # 47 (St. John, Cover Date: December 1953),...

...We find Gandy Goose doing the very same thing effortlessly!

Just look at this!  You GO, Gandy!

So, did the creators of the Gandy Goose story have the climax of Unca Carl's classic in mind, when they... um, "goosed" this story into print?  Or was it just another of those coincidences? 

You decide as we leave Huey DUCK, Dewey DUCK, Louie DUCK... and Gandy GOOSE "Separated at Mirth"!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy (Scaled-Down) Thanksgiving 2020!

Apropos of this unusual year, it is only fitting that I should have (what else?) an unusual Thanksgiving!  

I had a much easier time finding MY scaled-down Thanksgiving dinner than did often clueless but (pun intended) "doggedly" determined Huckleberry Hound.  

I just walked over to the refrigerator and found this...

As a certain "other dog" animated by Chuck Jones would say...


Yeah, it's 2020... so no gravy!  But I must say that "Wal-Mart Great Value Smoked Turkey Breast" is probably the best example of turkey cold-cuts I've ever eaten... even better than that directly from the deli counter!  Yes, really!  

...So, that's *something*, at least... 

Thanksgiving 2020 was scaled down in other ways as well...

Tying-in with this post's beginning, all I watched this year was the Huckleberry Hound cartoon "Grim Pilgrim" (1959) - thanks to a recently (and joyously) received... er, "private label" DVD set containing all the Huck Hound cartoons that Warner Home Entertainment never officially released - save two.   

The story of Pilgrim Huck's Thanksgiving Day turkey hunt is a suitably good and funny one... 

...And has the distinction of being the ONLY Huckleberry Hound cartoon to be written by the great Michael Maltese - who quickly found himself hard at work writing every single cartoon (three per show) for the three seasons of "The Quick Draw McGraw Show!"

So, at least I get to associate the greatest cartoon writer of all time (he and Warren Foster were "1 and 1a" - as they say, hey-hey-hey) with Thanksgiving... and that's *another something*!

But, if you really want a *something* to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2020, go to our great friend Sergio Goncalves' Blog for even more "Thanksgiving with Michael Maltese" - RIGHT HERE!

Go on... I guarantee it'll make your Thanksgiving 2020 more fun... and decidedly less... "grim"!  

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Gazoo, Who?

You'd think that a smart guy like The Great Gazoo would be able to tell himself apart from an oaf like "dum-dum" Fred Flintstone, but check out this sequence from THE GREAT GAZOO # 5 (Charlton Comics, Cover Date: August, 1974)...

Assuming that Gazoo's outsized helmet contains an equally outsized brain, it adds that it stores a LOT of information... and as Gazoo (and all of us) "get older" some of that information can, on occasion... shall we say... "get confused".  

But, to "get confused" to the extent of getting his identity, Fred's identity... and that of his home planet ("Zetox", not "Ziltox" - as it was continually referred-to in these comics) so horribly wrong... 

...It really takes some "help" from the one-and-only Charlton Comics!  

But, ya gotta love artist Tony DiPreta's "retro-looking Fred" (especially as seen in the second panel), which he often tended to draw!  

By the mid-1970s, Fred invariably looked like "Corporate-Cocoa-Pebbles-Happy-Fred", rather than his original 1960 "Ed Benedict design", a blander, more "mascot-ish" look that continues to the present day.  And DiPreta was a rare artist who bucked that trend.  Good for him!  

Cover of THE GREAT GAZOO # 5, (with "retro-looking Fred") from the one and only Charlton Comics.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Crazy Coupon - Cut!

This is my copy of THE FLASH # 252 (DC Comics, Cover Date: August, 1977).

While this IS a scan of my actual copy, it was not an "Original Purchase Comic" (...I'll claim coining the acronym "OPC" for a comic you, yourself, purchased NEW at a newsstand or comic book shop, right now!  Royalties for usage are payable to me, effective immediately!)

The reason it was not an "OPC" is that I (unwisely) did not buy as many comics during the mid-late 1970s as I should have - and spent the mid-1980s thru mid-1990s (and again in the last 2-3 years) rectifying that unfortunate error.

Another reason you can clearly tell that this copy of THE FLASH # 252 was not an "OPC" of mine is (...alas) THIS!

Yes, somebody actually ordered CRAZY CRABS... and defaced a comic book to do it!

(I scanned this page with a white backing board behind it to better show the contrast of the cut!)

Really?  You chose THIS...

...Over a having complete, mint copy of THIS?

Fortunately for me, the BACK of the page with the cut coupon was a DC HOUSE AD, so no story and art content was affected by this oddest of excisions.  And having complete story and art content is all that really matters to me - so to each their own!

In the Bronze Age, DC was often good about putting ads (especially those with coupons to be cut) on the back of other ads, and not story content.  And so it was here!

UNLIKE GOLD KEY... where somebody did the same for Sea Monkeys!

Yes, really! ...Sea Monkeys!

In the end, I still have this copy of THE FLASH # 252!  ...Obviously, or I wouldn't be writing about it here!

...I wonder how long the cutter's Crazy Crabs lasted?

At least they look cute in the illustration, not unlike the Sea Monkeys!  I wonder what they REALLY looked like?   


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Okay, Halloween's Over! (Because I Say It Is!)

 All together now... Halloween 2020 isn't over until I say it is!  

...But, now I'm "saying it is"!  We've had two-weeks-and-a-day of great Halloween (...and election day) fun, but all good things (...and, election-wise, some bad things) must come to end - and could we end it better than with FLUFFY AND MERVIN?!  

...I think not!  

FLUFFY AND MERVIN appear through the courtesy of our great friend (...and their creator) Debbie Anne Perry! 

And, since they can't be beat, we end Halloween on a very happy and satisfying note... "Simon Says"... 

..."Rebo Says"...     

...And *I* finally say!  Go forth into November and the holiday season, knowing there will be more TIAH Blog fun coming your way - very soon!  

...Oh, and "Averi Says", too!  ...And SHE MEANS IT!  

Monday, November 9, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Still "Bothered" After All These Years!

The 2020 election may be over - or may not be, depending on who you believe - but ya know what's NOT OVER?  

HALLOWEEN 2020 - because (...all together now) Halloween 2020 isn't over until I say it is!  

And we've still got some scary stuff to cover!  For all the recent posts concerning BORIS KARLOFF TALES OF MYSTERY...

...Perhaps the SCARIEST thing to come out of our beloved Gold Key Comics was THIS... and, thanks to our great friend Achille Talon, it now has its own Wiki entry, on his "Scrooge McDuck Wiki" - which you can access HERE!  

Excluding some of the original (non-European) Boom! Studios material and (at least "translation and dialogue-wise") post 2018 IDW comics, this is The Single Worst Example of a Disney Comic Book Story in terms of the "Triple Crown" of story, art, and lettering!  ...In my NOT-so-humble opinion, that is! 

I felt that way upon first reading it in the Summer of 1969, and I still feel so today!  

In 2011, I left a long comment on GeoX's "Duck Comics Revue" Blog detailing why.  It's about time I ported those thoughts over to my own Blog, and here they are (slightly modified for their "new context" here): 


Taking half a second to analyze WHY I have held this one in such infamy for so long, you have to consider the STEEP AND SUDDEN DECLINE the DONALD DUCK title had undergone to get to this point. 

Three years or so prior, it was drawn exclusively by Tony Strobl, its stories were a mix of contributions by Vic Lockman (when he was quite good - think "Og's Iron Bed" 1966), Carl Fallberg, Bob Gregory, Bob Ogle, and probably others.  

Donald Duck #109 (1966)

 Beginning with the first issue released in 1967 (#112 below), the title adopted a rigid format of a 14-page lead adventure story, the annoyingly juvenile (even for a KIDS' comic) "Gold Key Comics Club" for the four-pages of the centerfold, a four-page GOOFY guest story, the text story page (required by postal regulations), a seven-page Donald back-up (...of which "Bird-Bothered Hero" was one), and the two final pages were also devoted to the 
"Gold Key Comics Club".   And, no... my view of the "Gold Key Comics Club" is not that of a jaded "adult fanboy". I despised that unwelcome intrusion into my favorite line of comics, supplanting SIX PAGES of comics material in every issue, from the day I first saw it as a young reader.  

Donald Duck #112 (1967)
Then again, that issue DID introduce Moby Duck, a fairly entertaining character (when handled correctly), who was viable for years, so it was still pretty good despite the unpleasant changes in format.  Here's the GCD Link, which I had a hand in writing.  

The period of 1967-1968 consisted pretty much of issue like these - Lockman and Strobl working in the abovementioned format, changed up by an occasional gem like Barks' "Pawns of the Loup Garou" (DONALD DUCK # 117), originally drawn by Strobl from Barks' pencil layouts. While overall not as good as the pre-1967 issues, they were still fine, with some true standouts. 

Donald Duck # 117 (Purchased Thanksgiving Weekend, 1967)

The first issue released in 1969 (#124) changed everything!  Same format, but the two Donald stories were drawn by Kay Wright, who would alternate on-and-off with Strobl into the early 1970s.  

Donald Duck #124 (1969)

The Kay Wright stories in that issue were reasonably entertaining (especially the seven-page backup - a story in the Barks "Brittle Mastery" mode), somewhat mitigating the jarring change in art, and the Goofy filler was uncharacteristically drawn by classic Mickey Mouse and Goofy artist Paul Murry. giving the issue some needed familiarity. 

An example of Kay Wright's from Donald Duck #128 (1969, above), to contrast with Tony Strobl's from Donald Duck #109 (1966, below).  

As with 1967-1968, the "first-half" 1969 issues were still "okay to pretty good", and we had the Carl Barks written (with his layouts, and again drawn by Tony Strobl) "Officer for a Day" with a fully penciled and inked Barks cover in #126. 

Donald Duck #126 (1969)  

Then comes #127 with a "generously-granted-kinda-okay" Lockman/Strobl 14-page lead, that telegraphed its ending miles in advance...

...but still eked its way into the plus column with an unusual appearance by Goofy in a Donald Duck adventure lead.  
Donald Duck # 127 (1969)

Closing that book was "Bird-Bothered Hero", a story that might have had a shot at being at least "good" if the stars and planets properly aligned, and the creative gods were feeling charitable, but failed in every conceivable way.  After all, Donald swallowing a sort of "super bird-whistle", could open the door to a virtual universe of comedic potential... but noooo!  As for awful art and uncomfortably large lettering, we'll let these illustrations speak for themselves...

To be fair regarding the lettering, it was one of the earliest lettering jobs by Bill Spicer, who would definitely improve as he went on!  Still, it's just "too big" and not attractive!  

For a look at how these stories were lettered at their best, check the work of a sadly uncredited letterer by the name of Rome Siemon (below), and compare it with the oversized ugliness above. 

From Donald Duck #111. This is the "Sample Illustration" I used for Rome Siemon's entry at GCD!

The way I have always described this good letterer's work was to say that he was the one who lettered Paul Murry's stories, when Murry didn't do it himself.  

Below: Rome Siemon's lettering ("Blackbeard") and Paul Murry's.  

And the STORY!  Aw, c'mon!  Of ALL the humorous possibilities to be had by swallowing a souped-up bird-whistle... THIS is where they went?  Falling from the sky onto the deck of a spy boat in the midst of some unconvincing fog?  

In his Blog entry, GeoX pondered what William Van Horn might do with such a wacky situation. We'll never know, because he wouldn't burst on to the Duck-scene for almost another 20 years.  But, considering it in a more '60s media context, I wondered how the great Michael Maltese would have handled this in an "Augie Doggie" cartoon - with poor ol' Doggie Daddy swallowing the whistle.  

But, nope... falling from the sky onto the deck of a spy boat!  Yeah, THAT was the way to go!  

Yes, I'm repeating the above panel sequence for the THIRD TIME in this post because the spy boat emerging from the fog as Donald huffs-and-puffs, calling down what should have been a Hitchcockian flock of seagulls to crash the boat, SHOULD have been a memorable one!  

Instead we got THIS... 

...The SINGLE WORST sequence of panel art in a Disney comic book up to that point - and well beyond!  

Yeah, now it's FOUR TIMES!  I've been known to "beat a dead horse" or two (metaphorically, of course) when the situation demands it!  

So, combine bad story, bad art, bad lettering... and an incomprehensible decline in quality from the previous year, and you have my recipe for "The Worst Disney Comic Ever"!  

I daresay something even scarier than even Boris Karloff could come up with...

...because (...all together now) Halloween 2020 isn't over until I say it is!  
Right, Unca Boris?  
How 'bout you, Unca Donald?