Tag Archives: donald duck

My comics prayers have been answered

Last July I had written about my love of Disney comics and how I hoped Walt Disney Comics and Stories would be resurrected from comic limbo.

Apparently, the fine folks at IDW Publishing listened to me (I know, I’m sure they didn’t, but still).

From IDW's website
From IDW’s website

Check out July. Yup. It’s WALT DISNEY COMICS AND STORIES. WITH THE ORIGINAL NUMBERING.

I am over the moon and Duckburg over this news. This means Disney comics will be out on shelves in America once more. And we’ll get to see some stories that were only available overseas. My wallet, of course, will be giving me the evil eye even more, but that’s OK. I’ll probably get Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and WDC&S , although my wallet is probably saying, “Well, if you’re buying three, you might as well get the fourth one, ya maroon!”

But wait, you might say. IDW? Why isn’t Marvel putting these comics out since Disney owns them? To be honest, I really don’t know. Disney has all sorts of licenses floating out there. Fantagraphics has been reprinting the Mickey Mouse newspaper strips, as well as (my personal favorite) the Carl Barks and Don Rosa Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge stories. Maybe Marvel’s plate is a bit full to add even more issues. Who knows.

I do have complete confidence in IDW treating this material right; I’ve been enjoying what they’re doing with the Transformers franchise, and my two girls are especially fond of the My Little Pony line (they like flipping through the digital versions, and they’ve got dog-eared copies of those mini-comics).

So now we wait until April for Uncle Scrooge, May for Donald Duck, and July for Walt Disney Comics and Stories. Good thing I’m patient. Mostly.

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Oh, what a merry Christmas Day

Christmas time is here, but I’m not here to talk about Snoopy. I’m here to talk about another anthropomorphic animal.

Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge in Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

Not sure if it was 1984 or 1985, but NBC was playing a one-hour special with the main attraction Mickey’s Christmas Carol. But before we got to the feature, we had to watch three holiday-themed cartoons:

Pluto’s Christmas Tree…

The Art of Skiing (or Sheeiing)…

and Donald’s Snow Fight…

And then, with that famous Mickey face now wearing a top hat and scarf, the main feature could begin. (Yes, I should probably post the video of the cartoon, but I’m sure you can find it out there on your own. I’m building suspense. OK, I’m a scrooge. Bah! Humbug!)

For my 8-year-old self, this was probably my first exposure to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’m sure I thought this was the coolest since all the characters were now your favorite Disney characters. And Donald was nephew to Uncle Scrooge! Now that’s typecasting. Nevertheless, in 30 minutes, the Disney gang got to the heart of the story of Scrooge’s redemption.

To make sure our family could watch this again (and again), we taped it off the air using one of those new-fangled VCRs. I had become quite the remote control operator by this point, thanks to me taping episodes of the Transformers without the commercials. I am especially proud of the fact I paused and unpaused at one point (when Scrooge closes the curtains of his bed) so perfectly, you could barely tell there was a break.

At the time, I didn’t know that this was the first Mickey Mouse short since “The Little Things” in 1953(!), or that this was Wayne Allwine’s first appearance voicing Mickey. Sadly, it would be the last work of Clarence Nash playing Donald. And if you read the credits, you might spot a now-familiar name in the list of animators: John Lasseter, now the chief creative officer of the animation studios. Who knew that kid would go places?

All these years later, I finally procured a DVD of Mickey’s Christmas Carol, so now I can pass on the tradition of watching this with my children. And yes, I still choke up in spots. No, that’s not a tear going down my cheek right now. As an added bonus, the disc includes one of the three cartoons (the Pluto one). I do have the Donald toon on another disc, so now I just have to get the Goofy cartoon, and I can sorta kinda recreate the TV special.

Merry Christmas, one and all, and God bless us, everyone!

12/14/14: EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to the magic of Twitter user Dan Cunningham, I stumbled across this series of blog posts about the making of Mickey’s Christmas Carol by Mike Peraza, who actually worked on the film! Very enlightening stuff there.

Mickey and the gang, via Mike Peraza's website
Mickey and the gang, via Mike Peraza’s website

 

Mad about Donald Duck

One of the greatest cartoon characters from the Walt Disney oeuvre will celebrate its 80th birthday on June 9.

I’m talking, of course, of Donald Duck.

donald duck

I blame my parents for this. They were big Disney fans before I entered the picture. They were part of the massive band that performed during the opening ceremonies of Walt Disney World in Orlando in 1971.

Back in the early 1980s, either my parents or grandparents had bought a three-pack of Whitman Dynabrite Disney comic books — one featured Daisy Duck, another featured Uncle Scrooge, and the other featured Donald Duck. I don’t recall how it happened, but my brother got the Uncle Scrooge book, my sister got the Daisy book, and I got the Donald book.

The cover of the book, which had the title in big fun-looking letters, “Donald Duck: The Golden Helmet,” showed Donald hoisting a golden helmet and a map with his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie looking on.

The first story in the issue was “The Golden Helmet,” a 32-page adventure story where Donald and the nephews set sail to find the aforementioned helmet before Azure Blue (what a name for a villain!) could retrieve it and claim America as his own and make everyone his slaves. Up next was a shorter tale guest-starring Uncle Scrooge where they went looking for a gold mine. Then, the issue closed with a short tale of how Donald took a job as a dog catcher.

I read that comic endlessly. I even drew a crude rendition of Donald on the inside front cover. Like most things from my childhood, it was either packed away or thrown out. I moved on.

When the Disney Channel was in its infancy, we loved watching the classic Disney shorts, especially Donald’s misadventures. You can bet when my siblings and I came home from school that we didn’t miss another exciting episode of DuckTales (OK, so Donald only appeared a few times, but it was still good). When our family did go to Disney World, many of the souvenirs I picked up had a ducky flavor, including a hat in the shape of Donald’s head and a porcelain figure of Donald in a pirate outfit. When I went to Star Wars Celebration V, I picked up an action figure of Donald Duck as a Dark Trooper.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned the identity of the artist and writer of those comics: Carl Barks. Soon I became obsessed interested in learning about the history behind the Good Duck Artist. Sadly, finding reprints of his work was next to impossible, unless you lived in Europe.

A few years back, I went looking around on eBay for a copy of that Donald Duck comic, and as luck would have it, I found it. As a Father’s Day gift, I got me a near-mint copy of the comic. As soon as I opened to the first page, I was immediately taken back to my younger days. I found myself reading the story slowly, savoring each panel’s artwork and dialogue. Yes, these stories were still amazing.

In a strange twist of fate, I was helping my parents clean out boxes in my grandparents’ garage where some of my childhood stuff had been stored. I opened a few of the boxes with my name on them, and there it was.

The Golden Helmet comic. It was in one piece.

The original Donald Duck Dynabrite comic
The original Donald Duck Dynabrite comic

Imagine my delight when I learned Fantagraphics was going to publish Barks’ Donald Duck catalog in hardcover. I immediately thought, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.” So far, I’ve got three volumes — Lost in the AndesA Christmas for Shacktown, and The Old Castle’s Secret. Apart from a few questionable caricatures from the era, these stories still hold up. My goal is to get every single volume in the collection. I think I can do it. Might take a while, but it’s doable.

In A Christmas for Shacktown, you probably can’t guess which story appears. Yup. “The Golden Helmet.”

Comparison of the Dynabrite comic (complete with my crude Donald drawing) and the Fantagraphics book
Comparison of the Dynabrite comic (complete with my crude Donald drawing) and the Fantagraphics book

To make matters worse, er, better, Fantagraphics will be publishing all of the Duck stories created by Don Rosa. I pretty much missed all of these comic books when they were first released, so being able to get my mitts on these will be another dream come true. (My wallet is screaming at me now)

Happy birthday, Donald! Try not to lose your temper too much.