Sunday, December 23, 2007
A Christmas Carl...
As we come close to Christmas I thought it would be nice to also celebrate the creation of one of Walt Disney Comics most famous creations...
A half a century old, the grumpy duck is! Fifty years ago. All the way back in 1947 Carl Barks wrote and drew a story called "Christmas on Bear Mountain" in Donald Duck comics. Dell Comics actually published it in "Donald Duck #178". It marked the first appearance of Scrooge McDuck of the Scottish clan of McDucks. He didn't have all the familiar personality quirks that we would come to love, but the core idea was there.
The story follows Donald, broke and unable to buy any gifts for his family. He gets a surprise invitation to his Uncle Scrooge's mansion way up on Bear Mountain. Scrooge has sent for his nephew so that he can test his character. He plans on scaring Donald by dressing up as a bear. But nothing in life happens as planned and a baby bear wanders into the living room while they're out and falls asleep beside the warm hearth of the fire place. Hilarity ensues and through a series of unintended consequences Scrooge believes that Donald has past his test and comes the next day to have Christmas with them.
Carl Barks never intended on using the character for other than that one issue, but he soon realized the fun he could have with ole' Scrooge McDuck and the rest is history.
Scrooge is my favorite Walt Disney comic book character. I remember as a child having my Pappaw take us out to a late dinner at a diner in my small, home town. When we would get up to pay the bill at the front counter there was a comic book rack across from the register. You know the kind, whole batches of comics placed in clear bags with three per bag. He'd always have me pick out a collection and I always picked a few Uncle Scrooge comics. I'd tear open the plastic wrapper as he drove us home and scan through them giggling. It's some fond memories I have of my Pappaw and that McDuck...
If you get a chance to find a copy of Donald Duck # 178, don't hesitate. It's a great story with wonderfully rendered Barks artwork. If you've ever read any of Don Rosa's work you'll notice he pays tribute to Barks tales, particularly "Bear Mountain" in his enormously entertaining stories.
So as you gather round to celebrate the holidays this week, remember that another thing we have to be thankful for is that rich, old Scrooge McDuck and the three cubic acres of wealth in his Money Bin. He looks pretty good for fifty, doesn't he?