Wednesday, January 12, 2022

R.I.P. Dana Gabbard

My longtime and very dear friend, Dana Gabbard, passed away yesterday at the age of 59.  

Dana (right) and Joe at the 1995 Comic-Con International San Diego.

Dana was both a special friend… and an influence on my life in almost too many ways to quantify. 

He was the publisher of a fanzine called “The Duckburg Times”,  an historically important publication to American Disney comic book fandom - back when information on such things was largely unknown, difficult to come by, and said fandom was in its relative infancy. 

Whether they know it or not, any and every member of this fandom today owes Dana Gabbard a debt for his pioneering efforts… and for the many persons he influenced, that made myriad contributions to that fandom for years to come!

I am, without question, one of those persons influenced - and inspired - by Dana Gabbard.  

It was Dana who, ages ago, asked me to contribute written articles to “The Duckburg Times”... and I expressed doubts about being able to do so!  But, Dana prevailed, and look at all that has since flowed from that (life-changing) invitation - different fanzine writings, over 300 letters in comic book letter columns, professional writing of various text articles on Disney comics, “translation and dialogue” for those same comics for several different publishers… and even this Blog!  

Beyond being an immeasurable influence on so many aspects of my life, Dana was a great friend!  We, and some other close friends, had great fun every year at the San Diego Comic-Con (1988-2003 - with me missing only three within that span).  As I lived in New York and Dana lived in California, it was my annual opportunity to visit with him. 

Dana found a good pancake place, with outdoor dining to enjoy the pleasant San Diego mornings, where we regularly “broke-fast”.  I do not recall the actual name of that establishment but - because he discovered it, and in the tradition of the “International House of Pancakes” chain (IHOP) - one year, I christened it “D-HOP” for Dana, and that became its “official name” among us forever after. 

Evenings, after the con was closed, we often convened at a pizza place called “Little Joe’s” in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.  They served their pizzas “California Style” - not like the REAL PIZZA we have in New York!  It was Dana who convinced me to try the radically unheard-of "pizza with pineapple toppings"!  And, while this proud New Yorker still refused to accept this aberration as “pizza”, I enjoyed it very much - and ordered it year after each succeeding year. 

That was one (of so many) of my fun interactions with Dana… the “New York vs. California Thing” For instance, over the six days I’d spend in San Diego (four days of Comic-Con and two days for travel to-and-from), I’d never reset my watch.  When Dana asked me why, I replied “So that I’ll always know what time it REALLY IS!”, leading to a long series of “time-difference jokes”. 

For a while, I'd call him each year as the ball dropped in Times Square, and say something like "Happy New Year - from  THE REAL 1995!" 

Dana laughed, and I was totally dismayed, when a San Diego police officer stopped me... for jaywalking!  I was SO surprised that I told the officer that "We do it in New York all the time!" I guess I was both sufficiently sincere and taken-aback that I was let off with a warning!  Dana had that one on me for a long time to come! 

As was often the case in the primitive early-1980s, my friendship with Dana played out over correspondence (ya know, like "letters"), because even phone calls between New York and California (...or, as Dana would put it "California and New York") were prohibitively expensive.  But, when I was hospitalized in 1984 for what is an easy in-and-out procedure today ( I said, "primitive"), Dana bore the "impossible-to-conceive-today" expense of calling me once I'd returned home  for a recuperative period!  ...And it was a long call! His actions delighted me no end that day!

I could go on and on, but I hope I've given you the smallest feel for the fun we had, and why Dana Gabbard was such a special friend!

My last "interaction" with Dana (...if you could call it that) was his sending me a Christmas card, in which he wrote: "Call sometime!"

I explained in an e-mail to him that we sent out no Christmas cards this year because of the construction chaos, and that also impacted my ability to make all but brief phone calls - and promised him that we would have a lengthy conversation as soon as the construction yielded to a more "normal life". 

That e-mail went unanswered... and, unfortunately, I now believe I know why...

I know it's a poor substitute for that unmade phone call but, if Blogs can be read in Heaven, I hope this somehow reaches you, and reminds you of all the great times we've shared! 

Thank you, Dana… for all you’ve done… and continue to do!  I'll do my best to "pay it forward" at every opportunity!


Perhaps ironically, due to the very same home construction that I used to delay that "never-will-be" phone call to Dana, my scanner is disabled and I can't access any old photos - so I do not have an image of Dana to present with this post.  I will retroactively remedy that (and remove this passage), as soon as the situation allows.  ...UPDATE: I did locate one photo of Dana, which I had used in an older blog post, and put it here. As the construction (eventually) subsides - and I have access to my scanner and actual printed photos, I will add more!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

In Search of Ancient Bertrams # 2 "What’s Buzzin’, Bertram?"

One of a number of things I've become known for as a translator and dialogue writer/creator for European stories published in American Disney comic books is the use of the name "Bertram"! 
More is explained HERE! 

But where did my fondness for the name come from?  Well, it was first seen a comic from "my sainted sixties" of course - and, I'll identify it at some point - but for now "In Search of Ancient Bertrams" will spotlight various uses of "Bertram" in vintage comics that would eventually result in making the name a standard of my comics writing work!

Today's "Bertram" is courtesy of MARCH OF COMICS #81 (Western Publishing, 1952) Oswald the Rabbit!  Art by Lloyd White. 

Tired of the rabbit-routine, Oswald's adopted sons, Floyd and Lloyd, try living as birds.  Unfortunately, they still look like rabbits - and that attracts the hungry attentions of Bertram Buzzard, and his wife Beulah.  

 Look out kids, here comes "Big Bad Bertram"!

I'd venture to guess that Bertram might be a cousin (or something) to another, more famous Walter Lantz character... Woody Woodpecker's regular foe, Buzz Buzzard!  

Note the family resemblance!

Barely escaping, as all little comic book animals are wont to do (...and wouldn't we be sad if they didn't), Floyd and Lloyd do not fare well in the roles of fish or bears either! 

And, as expected, they resign themselves to being just plain rabbits, much to the relief of Poppa Oswald! 

Thanks in part to another "Ancient Bertram"... Bertram Buzzard! 

We've got a bounty of Bertrams in store for future installments of "In Search of Ancient Bertrams", so do come on back! 
...Come for the "Bertram"... Stay for the "Burgers"