UNCLE $CROOGE #292 -- "The Life and Times of $crooge McDuck --The King of the Klondike" (1896-1897)"
COVER: Gosh, this is a nice cover! I mean, I love the scene showing the moment (though it's staged differently from the story) that $crooge discovers the Goose Egg Nugget, the first moment of his life of wealth! But also Gladstone did it up special by using gold ink on the Nugget and the logo. (Gold ink, like silver ink, contains metallic elements and is quite different, and more costly, than normal ink.) They also did some computer-magic to make $crooge stand out from the hazy background. The "King of the Klondike" slash-line in the upper left slightly spoils the effect though, and it sorta surprised me -- but I suspect that was because Gladstone hoped to sell a batch of this issue to the Dawson City tourist department or something, and wanted to get the word "Klondike" or "Yukon" on the cover. And once again, the kisser on the oval-portrait $crooge looks weird, but too late to worry about that.
CHAPTER VIII: -- 24 pages:
My original title for this episode was "The Phoenix of White Agony Creek", but I later changed that to "The Argonaut of White Agony Creek" which is the title by which it went out to the European markets. But for the American printing I chose this title Gladstone used, since I also changed the title of chapter IV.
This is the climax of the series in Shakespearean terms (if I remember my college English lit course correctly). It's not the end, but the turning point in $crooge's life. He is at the peak of his powers, mentally and physically. Chapters 9-12 will represent the "falling action" in that drama nomenclature, as $crooge begins to realize that the having is perhaps not as grand an adventure as the getting of his fortune.
Barks buffs know instantly where the core of this tale originates. Glittering Goldie comes from that all-time classic "Back to the Klondike" in FOUR COLOR #456 (UNCLE $CROOGE #2). And Soapy Slick is pulled from Barks' "North of the Yukon" in UNCLE $CROOGE #59 which told of how he tried to collect on that old loan (compounded at 100% per month since 1896) until $crooge managed to produce the receipt for the loan pay-off.
The rest of the details in this story are, as I hope you have come to expect by now, taken from the actual facts of history. The setting and events are as authentic as possible. Yes, Wyatt Earp did buy and operate the "Second Class Saloon" in Nome during the Gold Rush. I also tried to tell a bit more than some readers may know (or care to know?) about Klondike gold prospecting.
On the other hand, I hope history buffs will forgive me for two intentional inaccuracies. The route to the Klondike was from the town of Skagway over the White Pass, or from the town of Dyea over the Chilkoot Pass. But who's ever heard of Dyea or the White Pass? Therefore, I mixed and matched. I had to include Skagway in this tale, as famous as it is in the Yukon legends. Yet the other intentional inaccuracy is in the disappointing truth that it's the American Skagway that was the lawless, crime-ridden murder-capital of North America, not the peaceful Canadian town of Dawson City where the Northwest Mounted Police kept strict law and order. But that's America for you.
This story shows why $crooge had never hit the jackpot until now. His exploits before this time were the dues he paid to make it this far -- his past adventures each taught him lessons about work and endurance (and people) and were all preparations for this moment, when he would finally get rich from nothing but his own hard work, perseverance and know-how. (And with no help from any so-called "lucky" Dime, thank you.) The $crooge in this tale is the $crooge at the peak of his life; this is when he entered legend!
However, that very intent on my part seemed to lead to some problems with a few readers in Europe when this tale was first printed there in mid 1993. As you can imagine, European comic book fans look rather askance at Americans and their mindless devotion to super-heroes of the most vicious ilk as the single suitable subject for comic books. Actually, as a comics fan of the old school, I look more askance-er than anyone along those lines, yet the European fans, knowing I was a philistine American, thought that the riverboat -destruction sequence was my attempt to make $crooge into an American grim-vigilante-super-hero! That sequence was not meant to show what is actually happening, but is intended to show how legendary a character $crooge McDuck became at the height of his grit and glory. This was how the facts became exaggerated as the tale was retold over the decades. Perhaps those European readers didn't jump to such an unfair conclusion since I never really know how accurately my dialogue or captions are being translated in the various foreign editions. Or maybe I just made a bad move? Oh, well... it's done now and has to stand as it is.
But having said all that about the story, the truth is that this was the other instance in the series when my editor Byron rejected the entire first draft of the script! Ouch! My original story involved $crooge meeting up with Grandma Duck who was running a diner in Dawson City with all her family, whom I ended up using in chapter X. Grandma's husband at one point is on his way to put $crooge's claim in his safety deposit box, but Soapy has told Goldie about it and Goldie coldcocks him and swipes the claim. Goldie had a large role in this version, with her and Grandma Duck getting into a dance-hall-girl vs. frontier-wife brawl right out of DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. But Byron said that $crooge's Yukon adventure should represent the toughest, nastiest, loneliest, most miserable time in his life to be suitably dramatic! My first script had $crooge almost like the secondary character in a story about a large bunch of his friends and supporters. And Byron was right, as always! So I did a complete rewrite. It would take too much space to show you the entire original 24-page script, but we'll try to use one sequence to show you it was a funny, but lifeless tale.
There are some inexplicable changes/errors in the American printing. One is in page 2, panel 7 where $crooge is saying that the nicknames he's earned around the world were "not quite accurate". My script had the same dialogue but without the word "not". Big difference!
On page 4, panel 2, after the shoot-out, notice the face in the picture on the wall is looking up? There's supposed to be a bullet-hole in the middle of his forehead. Maybe Disney thought that looked too dangerous and kids might try putting bullet holes in their foreheads at home? But to give credit where credit is due, I commend Disney for allowing a comic story like this one to see print in America, teeny changes aside.
If the sound-effect on page 6, panel 2 seems odd to you ("KICK! SOCK!"), it does to me, also. The "kick" was supposed to be in the previous panel.
$crooge's original dialogue in page 18, panel 6 was "Carry on!", not "Go back to sleep".