UNCLE $CROOGE #294: "The Life and Times of $crooge McDuck --The Invader of Fort Duckburg" (1902) "
COVER: Well, yeah, dash it all -- this is the issue when Gladstone was forced to go to "self-covered" comics due to the rising cost of paper and the loss of the o-so-sweet distribution deal with Marvel, which also compelled them to start putting that #@%& UPC code thing on the cover! Ah, well...
This is also the first of two covers which I did not do just for Gladstone's presentation of this series. I did this cover a year earlier for the German "Don Rosa Album" series, but in order to fit the oval portrait (which is new) into the upper-left, Gladstone flipped the art over into a mirror image of itself... and the portrait covered only a Beagle Boy being blown sky-high by an artillery shell. They then also redrew the Beagle Boy's prison number so it wouldn't be bass-ackwards. However...
This chapter X has always struck me as perhaps the most enjoyable in the series, and that's probably because the plot does not seek to cover umpteen years for a change, but simply picks up almost immediately after the end of the previous episode and tells of the events of two days in $crooge's life. I don't think any other chapter has so much action and logical interplay of "Barksian facts". But you want to hear them annotated, right? Let's take them in order...
Each chapter has opened with a map -- therefore, this chapter must show the location of Fort Duckburg. Thank your lucky stars that I didn't inflict that map with as many Duckburg landmarks as I could have, but I did stick in a few personal favorites. The Black Forest is mentioned in WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #227; "Old Demontooth" Mountain is from WDC&S #157; the Tulebug River is mentioned in the back-up story in UNCLE $CROOGE #15; and the state of Calisota is mentioned in "The Gilded Man" in DONALD DUCK / FOUR COLOR #422. I won't bother to say precisely where I situated Duckburg and Calisota on America's west coast... it's not important. But if you get out a good map and compare the coastline, you'll see that I stuck the old gold-prospector's adopted hometown directly across the bay from a very appropriately named actual city.
All the details about $crooge's Rolls-Regal horseless shay, including its features and storage location, can be found in "The Chugwagon Derby" in UNCLE $CROOGE #34.
I showed $crooge buying Killmotor (Killmule) Hill from Casey Coot in my own "Last Sled to Dawson" in UNCLE $CROOGE ADVENTURES #5. The name of Killmotor Hill was first given in the Barks 10-pager in WDC&S #135, the first story to show the Money Bin.
Now we need to deal with some Duck family members and where they come from. Grandma Duck's first name was never given in any story by Barks, but it was mentioned in the "Grandma Duck" feature in WDC&S #121. This is not a "Barksian fact", but Grandma is not a Barksian character, so I had no reason to ignore the name, as long as it was suitable. Donald's father Quackmore and Gladstone's mother Daphne were only mentioned the same place $crooge's sisters Hortense and Matilda were -- in that Duck Family Tree that Barks had done in the 50s for his own reference. But this is the first time they'd been put into "official" use. And Donald's Uncle Eider was mentioned 'way back in WDC&S #47!
To me and probably lotsa other old Duck fans, the identity of Donald's parents has been a well-known fact for decades, and was not even meant to be anything but a background detail in this series, hidden way over here in chapter X. But what a sensation their identities caused in Europe... particularly Italy! In that country where the Disney Ducks are such a national institution, this was treated as a major revelation that literally made front-page news and network TV for weeks! I was absolutely astounded how the Italian press picked up on that item. One should never underestimate the fame and popularity of these Ducks (as well as, perhaps, the promotional efforts of a few Italian Duck fans?)!!! These are truly the world's most well-loved comic characters (though you'd never know it from America, unless you hopped in a time-machine and jumped backwards about 40 years). Wow!
Anyway, my revealing the contents of Barks' old Duck Family Tree caused other problems with European translators and Duck readers. Barks' Tree clearly shows that $crooge and Grandma Duck are not related, and there are several reasons why that would obviously be true. Yet, unbeknownst to me who grew grew up on American Disney comics, European comics have always told of $crooge and Grandma being brother and sister, making Grandma Donald's mother! I'm sorry to accidentally disrupt that tradition... but that's just not the way it's ever been in American comics.
Fort Duckburg being on the future site of the Money Bin comes from "The Money Well" in UNCLE $CROOGE #21. Occupying the old fort in my story are the first three Junior Woodchucks, and references to them in this tale are partly gleaned from my own "Guardians of the Lost Library" in UNCLE $CROOGE ADVENTURES #27. In the Woodchuck Museum in that story you'll see that big ol' Guidebook and a display mentioning the tall kid, Fulton Gearloose (Ratchet's son and Gyro's father).
We saw this Beagle Boy gang back in chapter II; note again that these aren't the modern Beagles -- these are their parents (and grandfather) whom Barks used in the old Dell giant UNCLE $CROOGE IN DISNEYLAND. The fact that Grandpa Beagle had this homestead on section 26 of the Tulebug River shoreline comes from "The Money Well" story mentioned above.
The previous meeting of $crooge and Teddy Roosevelt was in chapter III of this series. And the Transvaal story $crooge is telling Teddy was first related in "The Looney Lunar Gold Rush" in UNCLE $CROOGE #49. I never dealt with that event in the African episode since it smacks of a tall tale that $crooge might pull out to regale listeners (similarly, he once claimed to have sold road-maps to Marco Polo).
That brings us to the matter of when the Money Bin was built. A few European readers claimed that my date of 1902 contradicted the 1951 story in WDC&S #135 where Donald visits $crooge's "new Money Bin". I contend that Barks created $crooge gradually between 1947 and 1952... we all know that $crooge McDuck was originally intended to simply be a one-shot character and that no one, Barks included, ever suspected $crooge would eventually surpass even Donald in popularity, particularly in American comics! WDC&S #135 was simply when Barks first came up with the classic idea of a Money Bin, but thereafter he treated the Bin as though it had always been around. As proof of that, and for further corroboration on the matters of the Fort, the river and the fact that $crooge's presence was the catalyst for Duckburg's growth, check the untitled back-up story in UNCLE $CROOGE #15 for these comments by $crooge/Barks: "I bought this land when there was nothing... but a fort on the Tulebug River". "I built my fortune here and watched the city grow up... around me." "My Money Bin and I have been here (on Killmotor Hill) for 70 years!" This actually places the building of the Bin not in 1951 or even in my 1902, but in the impossibly early year of 1886. But I regard this as an indication that Barks' ultimate intention was that the Bin had been in Duckburg as long as $crooge had, ergo my decision on 1902.
I made a few changes from the original script -- we'll present the original script pages here in an attempt to bore you silly.
I wrote this story during the last presidential election. That explains why Grandma Duck's father is named Clinton Coot. My making Grandma into a granddaughter of ol' Cornelius Coot would explain a lot of things and make for some nice story possibilities... but it's not a "Barksian fact".
Political correctitude rears its ugly head on page 5, panel 2: "attacks by insurgents" was "attacks by bloodthirsty Indians and Mexican insurgents" in my original script.
Copyright infringement fear rears its ugly head on page 8, panel 6: I'd said "Lone Ranger", natch. And "Tonto" on the next page. But no big deal.
What a shock I had when I saw Gladstone's page 10! When I made my research, and needed to give coloring notes to Egmont, I can't tell you the trouble I had finding COLOR pictures of the Rough Riders' uniforms or the American warships of 1902! But I tracked it down after calls to various military experts, and gave the proper coloring notes to Egmont, and the instructions were followed in Europe. I can't recall off-hand exactly how the Rough Riders' uniforms were supposed to be colored, but Gladstone has anything that is supposed to be brown, blue... and vice versa. But the tragedy is the warships! American warships of 1902 had snow-white hulls with red at the waterline, and a tan superstructure above. Gorgeous! But in the Gladstone issues they're "battleship gray". Blah. But it's not Susan's fault -- Egmont didn't send any coloring notes, as usual. If I had only known (sob)...
Animal rights rears its ugly head on Page 11, panel 7: I had some horse legs sticking out of the rubble, with the people legs. But the horse legs are gone. Cruelty to animals, I guess. Fair enough...
Speaking of how this issue looks, it frankly was quite a disappointment all around. First the cover, then the coloring... but especially the rather muddy printing. Gladstone can't control this as they'd like... but the album reprints should have much sharper images.
Movie buffery rears its ugly head on page 14, panel 3: "...and I hacked my way through a wall of human flesh, dragging my canoe behind me!" is a W.C.Fields routine from DIXIE with Bing Crosby. Actually, I'm still surprised it got through.