Friday, May 14, 2021

Fantagraphics Disney Masters Volume 16: Luciano Bottaro - Joyously Jumpin' with Jupiter!

Lotsa jumpin' for joy goin' on 'round here today, an' here's why...

Yes, I finally got my copy today and all I can do is envy those of you who have had the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful book even sooner!  

In fact, I did something I have never done with any previous volume of Fantagraphics Disney Masters... I read it through COMPLETELY IN ONE SITTING!  ...Yes, really!  Me? Mister Horrifically Busy!  ...So, maybe I skipped a little housecleaning... and a meal... maybe a doctor's appointment... what of it?  

And, believe me, this volume has had some VERY strong competition... 

But, other than THE PHANTOM BLOT (...aaaand one future volume still in the works), there is none I anticipated more eagerly than this sequel to the previous volume dedicated to Italian Disney Master Luciano Bottaro (1931-2006)!

  Why?  Just one word... REBO! 

REBO: the ruler, the warlord, the imperious, impatient, and impetuous, and most importantly... the S.L.U.G. of  the planet Saturn!  (S.L.U.G. = Supreme Leader and Unquestioned General)  ...An acronym I created for the character with sheer delight!  

With his two obsequious generals in tow, this volume finds Rebo taking the battles (perhaps not nearly as hard-fought as he would have wanted) away from Saturn and his "target" Jupiter, and bringing them to Earth.  

We lead off with "Fear the Wrath of Rebo"... a title I admittedly cobbled together from two other genre favorites - "Fear the Walking Dead" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn".  

Having miraculously cheated death (as all the best villains tend to do), Rebo and his generals stow away on a Jovian SNARK ("Space Navigational Ark" seen above) bound for Earth and "The Great Hero of Jupiter"... Donald Duck (...?)

Rebo vows revenge on Donald for the humiliating defeats of the earlier Disney Masters volume, and the fun takes-over with the "pink and rubbery havoc" Rebo wreaks upon Duckburg, Rebo taking-over all the television sets in the city to deliver an ultimatum as if he were The Joker, and Daisy's uproariously indignant reaction to the S.L.U.G. of  Saturn by thinking it's all part of one of Donald's strange lodge initiations. 

A VERY worthy sequel by Mr. Bottaro, especially at it comes decades after the original "Uncle Scrooge's Money Rocket"!  

 Things To Look For:  

You'll find everything you've come to expect in my translation and dialogue efforts: puns and wordplay, "Bertram", "Goat-Ham City", Super Goof ( a TV cartoon "Super Goof the Animated Series", anyone?) references.  Dog-face surrogates for Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, and not just one but two Lost in Space references - one obvious, and one very oblique (A "Tip of the TIAH Topper" to anyone who... "unearths" that second one!) 

Beyond that, Rebo is more over-the-top than ever, and his two generals all the more obsequious... though one of them is just a liiiittle more "obsequious-er" than the other!

Oh, yes... there's also a reference to the Carl Barks "Donald ducking-out on Daisy's spring cleaning" story from WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #213 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: June, 1958) - where, as noted in our last post, Donald beats a rug! 
...And hey... this book was released in spring! 

We continue IMMEDIATELY where we left off (...literally, the same scene that closes the first story opens the next) with the book-titular "Jumpin Jupiter!", translation and dialogue by "Jonathan H. Gray with David Gerstein".  

Now, I don't know "who-did-what", but these stories are so nicely cross-edited - carrying over some of my characterizations and bits into this story, just as I followed Jon's lead in the "Ice Sword" stories... 

...that I figure at least some of this continuity-carryover might be attributed to David.  He is the best possible editor for this stuff (You'll see other reasons why, later in this post!), because NO ONE goes that extra mile quite like he does!  

Anyway, Rebo meets, and joins forces with Dr. Zantaf, another Luciano Bottaro creation whom you might remember from DONALD DUCK #9 (IDW, Cover Date: January, 2016).

They meet!

But, these things never end well. 

So, how did they go from "comrades-in-arms" to "arm-powered-combat"?  You'll just have to read (and enjoy) the story!  After all, this is a Blog, not a library!  

As if to cleanse the palate after all that Rebo-ranting and Zantaf... er, Zantaf... um, "whatever-he-does", we have a hilarious Bottaro Goofy story co-starring Witch Hazel...

...She of the epic confrontation with Donald Duck that spanned both animation and comic books!  

"Goofy and the Washed-Up Witch", with translation and dialogue by Thad Komorowski (and a better dialogue creator for Witch Hazel... and Magica DeSpell... and Gladstone Gander and other "characters of a certain type and attitude", you'll never find in this modern era).

In short, Hazel goes to extraordinary and absurd lengths to convince a dead-skeptical Goofy that witches exist - and that she is one!  

But, Goofy maddingly counters with the same solid and implacable denial that he once applied to the existence of Eega Beeva  - leading one to believe that Bottaro was directly influenced by Bill Walsh and Floyd Gottfredson's "The Man of Tomorrow" (1947).  

Another one of "those editing things" that I so love is the use of the "Paul Murry Goofy Logo"... 

...And the title, "Goofy and the Washed-Up Witch" done up in a "Paul Murry Lettering Font"!  

We end on another wonderfully weird sci-fi effort by Bottaro... alas, one published posthumously in 2007, after his death in 2006!  ...A story given one delightful surprise of an American English title, for a story about Scrooge and Gyro exploring the Black Holes of the universe - "Voyage to the Bottom of the Hole"!   

And, despite the English language reference to one Irwin Allen '60s sci-fi series in its new title, Luciano Bottaro visually recalls another Allen series with his unique artistic stylings... The Time Tunnel!  

I'm not so sure I can even recap this one, so best we let Luciano Bottaro, aided and English-abetted by David Gerstein (translation and dialogue), tell you himself!  ...And tell it he (and David) will in grand style! 

One more HUGE thing on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Hole"... not only was it named after my all time favorite TV series, but check out the title font...


DAVID, YOU ARE THE BEST!!!  What a surprise!  ...You had me at the "Paul Murry Goofy Logo and title font", but THIS?  WOW!  

It's enough to make a guy forget about REBO! 

 Just don't tell him, okay?  

The book is rounded-out by a biography of Luciano Bottaro, by Armando Botto.  

After all that, I can say no more beyond... GET THIS BOOK!  

Oh, wait... "REBO SAYS... GET THIS BOOK!"

Um... Better?  


ramapith said...

Keeping that font secret on the last story—until you discovered it yourself!—was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do!

Also, Witch Hazel trying to convince Goofy she's a witch is an ongoing theme in several dozen Italian stories—of which this was only the first. And yes, it was absolutely inspired by Goofy's "dawgged resistant" mode, visible not only in "The Man of Tomorrow," but in pre-Walsh stories too, among them "In Search of Jungle Treasure" and quite a few Sunday pages. When Goofy determinedly believes things aren't as they are, give up now!

ramapith said...

Oops, and—the heavy continuity between the two Rebo stories wasn't my doing. It was absolutely in Bottaro's original, ported faithfully over by Jon.

My only contribution, besides editing, was translating four scattered pages for use in a Fanta catalog long before release, at a moment when Jon wasn't free. He translated and localized all the rest.

Achille Talon said...

Heh! Didn't I tell you? Among other easter-eggs, I also like how Goofy and the Washed-Up Witch's title references the 1957 The Washed-Up Witch (printed in Mickey Mouse in Fantasyland and Walt Disney Comics Digest #7), drawn by Paul Murry — where Witch Grimhilde of Snow White lore grew fed up with how ineffective she was as an antagonist to the Dwarfs, made a desperate attempt to become Scrooge's nemesis instead (with him not taking her at all seriously), and ended up… being hired by Scrooge as his new secretary! (What had happened to ol'Quackfaster, one wonders?) It's a delightfully absurdist little tale, and the title allusion, assuming it isn't a coincidence, cunningly highlights how much the atypical portrayal of Grimhilde in the Western story anticipated the later characterisation of Witch Hazel…

Elaine said...

This volume and "Money Rocket" are my favorite Disney Masters volumes, for story alone. Rebo the S.L.U.G. is indeed great fun. I enjoyed the "Rebo says" byplay...was that your contribution? The team-up with Zantaf was fun, too. Kudos to David, as always, definitely for the title fonts!, and also for all those other contributions which we don't see because good editing is mostly invisible to the reader.

Nice connection between Goofy's refusal to believe in witches and his refusal to acknowledge the existence of Eega Beeva. On the Feathery forum, people explained that Goofy's refusal to believe in Hazel's witchitude became a repeated joke in many stories that followed, as Hazel keeps trying to convince him!

Joe Torcivia said...


Re: The VOYAGE font: Your knowing that I choose never to advance-look at any part of any book that our team worked on (except for my own stuff – because I want to take the same delight in it as a fan would) must have made keeping that secret all the more sweet for you – as its discovery did for me!

So, when Goofy reads THIS COMIC, he falls decidedly on the “NOT” side! …Ain’t no “OR” about it!

Well, then… VERY nice coordination on Jon’s part! Just as we did in the first Bottaro volume, and just as we did in the two “Ice Sword” volumes! Let people say what they may, this is why I think WE are the best talents to guide the American versions of these great Italian stories… because we CARE over and above the normal “acceptable” standards… whatever they might be at any given moment! All FOUR of us, each with our own individual strengths, creating a “greater whole”! And a book like this, with all the “little things” I cite in this post, makes it obvious!

And, on that very subject, I neglected to give Jon the credit he so deserves for his magnificent acronym… S.L.U.G.B.U.S.T.E.R. And no, folks… I ain’t givin’ ya the translation for it here! Read the book, and enjoy!

Joe Torcivia said...


And shame on yours truly for not remembering the Murry “Washed-Up Witch” story, which I originally read in my brand-spanking-new copy of WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST # 7, fresh off a Flushing, NY newsstand, at the end of 1968 (…that I STILL HAVE today, the digest, not the newsstand) – and making *some* tangential connection, witch-wise! …THAT’S WHY WE NEED YOU GUYS ‘N’ GALS AROUND HERE – to keep me on my toes! …Also, not unlike the Mouseketeers… “because we like you!”

However, I *did* recall another somewhat related story, which you’ll see in my reply to Elaine below…

Joe Torcivia said...


I’d say both Bottaro volumes are at the very top of my Disney Masters list, with just a small number of others sharing in that rarified ranking. (…You can probably guess which ones!)

With the possible exception of Pete, Rebo is very likely my most favorite individual character to write! In that first story, I did my best to tap into what Bottaro was doing with his bombastic Saturnian warlord, resulting in the over-the-top S.L.U.G. characterization of the first story. Jon nicely carried that over there, just as he did in this second volume.

For this volume, I simply did what any ongoing TV series would do with a popular character… doubled-down on what the audience liked in the first place! And so, yes… All of that “Rebo Says!”, “Rebo-Approved”, “o maker of ‘it-so’” stuff was my way of making Rebo still more bombastic and over the top than before!

David will never have kudos enough, in my book!

Finally, as with Eega Beeva, Goofy finally did learn his lesson regarding witches. As the Bottaro story was from 1960, we need just time-jump to the end of 1964 and WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 292 (Cover Date: January, 1965) and its “The Witch and Beelzebub the Broom” story – and check out the final panel of the first page!

ramapith said...

"The Witch and Beelzebub the Broom"; ah, the supreme oddity (and perhaps, at first, awkward relettered-ness?) of calling your heroine simply THE WITCH!

Western Publishing evidently gave such preference to Little Lulu's Witch Hazel that soon no other franchise in their domain was allowed to have one; Bugs Bunny's Witch Hazel was reincarnated as Ol' Creaky (or sometimes "Swampy") the Swamp Witch, and the Disney Witch Hazel—on a good day–became "Wanda Witch," a name she retained in Brazil (!), and on a bad day, was reduced (by magic?) to simply THE WITCH, which looked as ridiculous as a character logo as it does here.

I can't stress enough how nice it felt to reprint one of those solo stories at IDW and reletter the title logo as the true WITCH HAZEL!

Joe Torcivia said...

I’m glad you righted that “in-print injustice” too, David!

Honestly, it NEVER occurred to me that Little Lulu's Witch Hazel might have been the reason for all those Western witchy waverings, but it makes perfect sense – all the more so once Western acquired the Little Lulu property to be one of its own. …YEAH!

Also while, in the late ‘40s - early ‘50s, the name “Witch Hazel” *might* have been an independently-irresistible pun for Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese, John Stanley (for Lulu), and the various Disney story guys finally leading to Carl Barks, it’s now a rather ordinary and unspectacular name spread among three disparate characters – with the Jones/Maltese version being far and away the best known today.

As best I know, “The Swamp Witch” was an unrelated character created by Don R. Christensen for recurring use in his Western Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig stories, and was not derivative of the Jones/Maltese Witch Hazel… unless you count ALL witches (and their routine M.O.) as being derivative.

Either way, your info is welcome and valued (When is it NOT?) toward helping us figure out… “which witch is which”!