|hyaroo (hyaroo) wrote in scans_daily,|
@ 2009-05-18 13:51:00
|Entry tags:||char: scrooge mcduck, creator: don rosa, publisher: disney|
Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck (Part 1/2)
Because Disney comics need more love.
I live in Norway, and the biggest comic star on the Norwegian market is Donald Duck -- yep, you read that right. The weekly Disney anthology comic book, Donald Duck & Co. (which features lots of Disney characters but consistantly has the Duck as the flagship char, since in Scandinavia he is much more popular than Mickey Mouse), sells roughly one million copies every week, not to mention all the related specials and collections of classic stories...
Everybody has read at least one Disney comic in their lives, and this is so ingrained in the Norwegian soul that if you say "comic book" to your average Norwegian, said average Norwegian will instantly think "Disney," most likely "Donald Duck."
By contrast, in Disney's country of origin, U.S.A., the majority of people don't even seem aware of the huge amount of Disney comics out there. Sure, a fair few of these comics are absolute crap -- but a lot of them are really good too.
And here is one of the really good ones.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE McDUCK
If you only know Scrooge McDuck from his animated incarnation in Duck Tales, it might interest you to know that the character originally debuted in 1947, in a comic book story written and drawn by the late great Carl Barks (creator of Duckburg and most of its citizens, including Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose, Magica deSpell, the Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold...). The story was called Christmas on Bear Mountain, and Scrooge was basically just presented as Donald's rich and stingy old uncle, making his debut with a memorable monologue:
It didn't take long before Scrooge became a recourring character in Barks's stories. Scrooge was rich (and an incredible cheapskate too) and had lived a long and eventful life, so Barks could often use him for convenient exposition in his books; if there was something that needed explaining, Scrooge could explain it and allude to some event in his youth and how he learned this or that while he travelled around the world and made his fortune. Sometimes, Scrooge's past would even provide decent plots; he'd meet someone from his past that had a grudge against him, or something he did in his youth could come back to haunt him, or whatever; and there was the plot for the next story right there.
Now, fast forward several decades, to the early 1990s, when a comic artist and Barks fanatic by the name of Keno Don Rosa was approached by the publisher Gladstone with a suggestion to do what he so much wanted to do, but nobody had ever attempted before: write and draw a biography on his favorite character, Scrooge McDuck.
It took several years and twelve chapters (of varying lengths), but the result was the 212-paage story that will probably forevermore be viewed as Rosa's masterpiece, his magnus opum, if you will: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
But, enough of the boring backstory. Time go start what this post is really all about, the scans. I'll be posting snippets and scans from all twelve chapters, with a bit of extra context and commentary, but I'll stay well inside the page limit.
This first post contains extracts/highlights from the first eight chapters of the story -- Scrooge's life before he became rich. The second post includes highlights from the last four chapters -- Scrooge's life after he became rich.
The first chapter, he first chapter, The Last of the Clan McDuck, (15 pages) opens in Scotland in 1877, where we're introduced to our main protagonist, Scrooge McDuck, who is ten years old as the story opens -- and also the last-born male of the old clan McDuck.
And indeed it is, since Scrooge's very first costumer is a man with exceptionally dirty boots, and after a tough job, a historical moment happens... Scrooge McDuck earns his first coin -- the one that'll later be known as the "lucky dime."
But wait! Hold yer horses! A dime?! Ten American cent?! Is this some kind of joke? You can't spend an American coin in Scotland!
Nope... indeed you can't. Looks like Scroogey has been had! His first job was a real toughie, and his only pay was a completely wortless coin! What'll his reaction be to this?
Well, that's nice.
Melodramatics aside, Scrooge really does get his act together and begins working hard to earn money -- but he keeps the coin as a reminder and possibly an inspiration for things to come. After three years of hard work, a confrontation with the Whiskewilles (if you want to read that, you'll need to read the comic in full, cause I'm not posting it here), and some ghostly help from the aforementioned Sir Quackly, who is haunting the McDuck castle, Scrooge (inspired by his hitherto-useless American dime) gets the idea of going off to America to seek his fortune, just like his uncle Angus has done.
And that's where we find him in the second chapter, he Master of the Missisippi (28 pages), in which the young Scrooge reaches America and meets his uncle Angus -- nicknamed "Pothole" for some inexplicable reason -- who is a riverboat captain who sails the Mississippi.
Soon, Scrooge and his uncle are caught up in a treasure hunt/riverboat race with some bad guys (a few of which are Captain Blackheart Beagle and his sons -- yep, it's the Beagle Boys), aided by a curious inventor named Ratchet Gearloose (who later becomes the grandfather of Gyro Gearloose).
Somewhere along the way, Scrooge has a revelation...
Can we say "foreshadowing?" I knew we could.
Third chapter, The Buckaroo of the Badlands (15 pages) begins in 1882 and sees Scrooge heading out west after having to give up the riverboat business (long story), and instead managing to land a job as a cowboy after having managed to impress Murdo MacKenzie, the Scottish-born cattle king (and actual, historical person) with his... uh... fancy trick riding.
(Although the cattle king did tell him to put his clothes back on afterwards.)
Other historical people we get to meet in this chapter are Frank and Jesse James -- and Theodore Roosevelt, the young version from several years before he became America's president. Who is more than happy to come with one of his famous speeches on the value of hard work and... yeah, tell you what. I'll just let him speak for himself.
...oh, and, yeah, about the "jumping a dinosaur" bit... it totally makes sense within the context. I swear. (and I know that Teddy Roosevelt in reality probably didn't have a black dog-nose, but this is a Disney comic, after all!)
The fourth chapter, Raider of the Copper Hill (15 pages) continues Scrooge's adventures in the Wild West, picking up the story after a few years, when he has to quit his job as a cowboy and becomes a prospector instead, getting intangled in the founding of the world famous (real-life) Anaconda copper mine.
He's given a few helpful hints on prospecting by a rich man called Howard Rockerduck (the father of Scrooge's present-day rival, John D. Rockerduck -- who was, though created by Carl Barks, used only once in a Barks story, but went on to star status and major antagonist in European-made Duck comics).
It gets to be quite a battle in the end.
The fourth chapter is interesting in several ways; partly because it brings about a marked change in the young Scrooge -- a change that starts out slow, but becomes more and more evident in later chapters: he begins losing his faith in humanity. Until now, he's been a fairly idealistic young duck -- there has been jokes about the classic McDuck stinginess and greed before, but Scrooge's desire for riches has been more rooted in a wish to restore his family to its former greatness than anything else.
Above everything, he's been convinced that people, on the whole, are good -- yeah, the lesson with his first-earned "worthless" dime has told him that there are many crooks in the world, and he's always since been on the look-out for, and ready to take up the battle against, less-than-honest people... but in general, people are decent, friendly sorts. Now, however, he discovers that even people he's considered as friends can be just as greedy, nasty and dishonest as the crooks. In the small community of prospectors, everyone has looked out for each other and gotten along fabulously, always ready for a friendly chat or a helping hand. As soon as Scrooge looks like he's going to strike it rich, though, everyone turns on him and think only of grabbing as much as they can for themselves.
It'll take some time yet, but from hereon Scrooge is going to become increasingly nasty and edgy, and his idealism will be shoved away by his increasing greed and hunger for profit.
In the end, he ends up with only just enough money to return to Glasgow and help the family out with a big family crisis.
So that's where we find him in the fifth chapter, The New Laird of Castle McDuck (15 pages), once again battling the Whiskervilles -- this time over the ownership of the Castle McDuck.
We get a lot of foreshadowing here, especially since we for the first time get a real feel of the temper of Scrooge's youngest sister, Hortense, whom we've only seen as a baby in previous chapters but now is starting to grow up...
Yep. There is no longer any doubt that we're looking at the girl who will eventually grow up to be Donald's mother.
This, possibly more than anything else, was seen as a huge sensation in Europe when the comic was launched. It made the front pages, it was a top news story: Donald Duck's parents finally revealed! In fact, the names of Don's parents were thought up by Carl Barks himself, but he never used them in any stories, and they've been obscure -- at least until The Life and Time of Scrooge McDuck was published.
After having saved his family castle, Scrooge once again sets out to make his fortune -- prospecting seems to be something he has a talent for, so he returns to that; this time travelling to Africa, since it's 1887, and gold has been discovered on Witwaterstrand ridge. This is where we find him in chapter six, Terror of the Transvaal, (12 pages) trying to strike it rich in the African wilderness.
Remember what I said earlier about Scrooge beginning to lose his faith in humanity? Well, said faith takes another blow here, and hardens him even further: He saves the life of a stranger, and the stranger repays him by stealing all his food and gear and leaving him to die in the African wilderness.
From here on, the kid gloves are off. Now, Scrooge knows for certain what he had only begun to suspect back in chapter four: He's going to become a great man, and great men do not only lead lonely lives, but they make enemies wherever they go. It's a very bleak and pessimistic life philosophy, but it's one that'll be the main drive behind everything Scrooge does from now on.
(Let me hear again how Disney is only for babies?)
The guy who has cheated Scrooge, though Scrooge never finds out his name here, turns out to be yet another figure we'll see more of in years to come, namely his perhaps biggest rival: Flintheart Glomgold. DuckTales viewers as well as Duck comic readers will no doubt know of Flintheart, the second-richest duck in the world and one of Scrooge's bitterest enemies -- just as tough and hard-working as Scrooge himself, but far less honest and decent.
Let's just say that their final confrontation in this chapter does not end well for Flintheart. Being rolled in tar and feathers is the least of his concerns.
Unfortunately, Africa turns out to not be the ideal place for a prospector like Scrooge, so in chapter seven, The Dreamtime Duck of the Never-Never (15 pages) we find him in Australia. This chapter might just be the most mystical of all the chapters, centering as it does around an old Australian shaman that Scrooge meets, who's on some sort of pilgrimage journey to several ancient caves in the Australian outback, to view the several-thousand-year-old cave paintings and learn the story they tell.
The story turns out to be about a creature called "The Great Platypus," who turns out to have a lot of things in common with Scrooge himself.
And here we come to chapter eight, King of the Klondike(24 pages) which is in many ways the big climax of the story. After a life filled with hardship and failures, Scrooge has been shaped into one of the toughest, hardest, nastiest and most dangerous globetrotters in the world -- and this is where it all pays off. Because now, after sixteen years of world-travelling, he's joined the big gold rush of 1897.
He's at the peak of his physical and mental shape -- and remember, this is the guy who two chapters earlier managed to cower a hole herd of wild animals with his fury and strength. Klondike proves to be a worthy opponent, as he struggles against both the wilderness and the lawlessness of civilization and comes out on top: He's truly the king of the Klondike here... even though the Klondike might not agree.
And here comes one of the biggest highlights of the entire story. This scene was posted to the old scans_daily, but it deserves to be re-posted here as well, because... well, just see for yourself.
(Note the cameo appearance of Glittering Goldie, Scrooge's one-true-love-that-never-was.)
But even that scene isn't the true climax of this story... no, this is:
Scrooge has finally made it. He's rich -- and while this is his greatest moment of triumph, it's also his biggest failure. From now on, there is no turning back, and life will be an eternal chase after profit and more profit, a chase that'll eventually make him the richest duck in the world but cost him... almost everything else.
There'll be more on that in the second post, more scans, and more of my inane commentary.