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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
A talkback for all of the various hardcover collections of the works of Carl Barks, Don Rosa, and Floyd Gottfredson. I'll posts some of my reviews here.

First up: Mickey Mouse in Race To Death Valley by Floyd Gottfredson. Other reviews may be forthcoming depending on whether or not anyone else is interested.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse "Race To Death Valley" By Floyd Gottfredson

This book is something I have been waiting for for ages. These volumes are going to collect all of the classic Mickey Mouse strips done by Floyd Gottfredson, in chronological order with essays and special supplements. The book even contains the (admittedly bad) strips that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks did before Gottfredson came aboard during "Race To Death Valley". My only real complaint about the book is that the strips are in black and white. That makes sense since they are dailies but I first read many of these in color comic books and I always enjoyed that.

Best stories are Gottfredson's first (Race To Death Valley), the introduction of Butch and Minnie's parents (!) in "Mr. Slicker And The Egg Robbers", the gimmick two part story that had kids sending over 20,000 requests for Mickey Mouse pictures (Mickey Mouse, Boxing Champion / High Society) and the cute spotlights for Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow (Fireman Mickey / Clarabelle's Boarding House). Book Overall: *****.

"Race To Death Valley"

Gottfredson's very first Mickey story is a doozy. It starts off as a haunted house thriller and midway through (about the time Gottfredson took over the strip completely) it goes on to become an epic Western. It isn't as funny as later Gottfredson stories (the jeopardy situations are a bit too "serious" for my tastes) but it does one thing right: it keeps compounding the troubles and problems to the point where you don't EVER think Mickey is going to win. Part of that may be that the story is a bit too long but part of that is that Gottfredson, even in this early stage of his career is a good storyteller. Yes, some of the ways Mickey gets out of the cliffhanger situations are unlikely but none of them (with the possible exception of the branch near the waterfall) are actually "cheats". As for the Fox's identity I correctly guessed the first part (totally obvious) but the triple identity surprised me. I really shouldn't have been, but I was. This was a fantastic story. *****.

"Mr. Slicker And The Egg Robbers" Plus! Short Stories "Mickey Mouse Music", "The Picnic", and "Traffic Troubles"

"Mr. Slicker And The Egg Robbers": Fun story. I felt bad at the end for Butch and the rest of the crooks who helped Mickey expose Slicker. Life is unfair but at least Butch would return to the strip eventually to reform. Speaking of life being unfair, Mickey trying to commit suicide was great for some black comedy. Note: this is one of the few stories where Minnie's parents appear and it makes clear that she lives with them, and is looking forward to college. So Mickey and Minnie are high-schoolers. Fun Fact: Minnie's father's name is Marcus Mouse. ****1/2.

"Mickey Mouse Music": All right, but nothing special. ***.

"The Picnic": I thought the huge dog was funny. ***1/2.

"Traffic Troubles": A LOT of great gags including Mickey disguising the fire hydrant as a funny little man and the big spender turning out to be from the insane asylum. Yes, that's offensive on SO many levels but I laughed. ****.

"Mickey Mouse Vs. Kat Nipp"

A literal Cat and Mouse story with each side taking lumps. I don't care HOW great people say Tom and Jerry is, that cartoon sucked because Jerry's victories were all one-sided and predictable. The game of oneupsmanship here is much funnier. ****.

"He's Funny That Way": One page Sunday strip featuring Kat Nipp. I wish they had included more Sunday strips in the book. ***1/2.

"Mickey Mouse, Boxing Champion" And "High Society"

"Mickey Mouse, Boxing Champion": This was a lot of fun. I smiled when Butch broke out of prison and helped Mickey win the fight. A good 'un. ****1/2.

"High Society": This must have created havok when it was first released. I loved the gimmick and the fact that they received 20,000 letters from Mickey Mouse fans. Butch is also priceless and I love that Mickey took him back to prison so he could convince the warden to parole him. There's just a fundamental decency to Gottfredson's Mickey. Later stories made Mickey "decent" by pretending he was a square but Gottfredson basically portrays Mickey as having a strong moral code despite his imperfections. ****1/2.

"Circus Roustabout" And "Pluto The Pup"

"Circus Roustabout": This was nice but I didn't like the fact that Butch disappears halfway through the story with no explanation. Closure, people! ***1/2.

"Pluto The Pup": VERY cute. This is the first appearance of Pluto in the strip. ***1/2.

"Mickey Mouse And The Ransom Plot"

Not gonna lie. The story IS pretty racist against Gypsies. However it's nowhere NEAR as bad as the essay would have you believe, especially considering some of the MUCH uglier stuff written and drawn by Gottfredson later on. The story's biggest problem is that IT ISN'T FUNNY. Well, the Mountains or Seashore stuff with Clarabelle and Horace was, but once they decided on camping the laughs were remarkably absent. There was no humor in the dangerous situations the cast was put in. And are we seriously supposed to believe that Mickey, Minnie, Horace, Clarabelle and Pluto can take out an entire camp of Gypsies by themselves? It's like Gottfredson couldn't think of an ending and decided "They win. Just because." Still, for a story that got raked over the coals in the accompanying essay, it really could have been much worse. Not great, but far from terrible too. **1/2.

"Fireman Mickey" And "Clarabelle's Boarding House"

"Fireman Mickey": Enjoyable story. I loved the Horace and Clarabelle stuff. ****.

"Clarabelle's Boarding House": A lot of amusing gags. I particularly like the revelation at the end that Horace won Clarabelle's engagement ring in a card game. ****1/2.

The Gottfredson Archives: Essays And Special Features:

Great amount of articles, publicity material and rare unseen strips. A much faster and more interesting read than the articles from Gemstone's Mickey And The Gang: Classic Stories in verse. And without the glossy paper the tiny letters are easier to read too. Overall: *****.

Mickey Mouse In "Lost On A Desert Island" by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks

This was terrible. These are the first Mickey Mouse strips from the beginning before Floyd Gottfredson joined in "Race To Death Valley". The first week of strips of Mickey building a plane was funny but once he gets to the desert island the strip becomes a string of racist jokes and portrayals. And Mickey being able to walk home from the island was so stupid an overseas publication commissioned two original strips to salvage the ending. *.

Mickey Mouse Overseas Strip: Now THAT'S a lot of Mickeys. ***1/2.


Well-Known Member
Jan 23, 2007
New York
As someone who has been collecting the Carl Barks complete library, let me say a lot of it has not aged well, but still most of it as a great read, and can't get enough of it.

Just me or does the "Chickadee Challenge" justify sexism, the way the nephews act at the gull of being challenged by girls and Donald and anybody else calling them out on it. And Donald saying he understands how they feel, they does not make any of them look good They never get their come uppings for looking down on girls.

I would love it if they re did that story either in comics or animation, but I would change one thing, instead of just the Junior Woodchucks who stops competing to save Donald, I would have both the Junior Woodchucks and the Chickadees stop what they are doing (with the Chickadee going against the wishes of their scout master who really is the only real villain of the story) and work together to save Donald. And both parties gain respect for each other. That small change improves the story a lot.

I felt the Chickadees unjutly (also because their scout master Captain Ramrod is the only real representation of the group, , and she some what villainous, at the very least setting a bad example for the girls) portrayed as villains in that story.

I thought the story had a good premise, just the ending could be tweeked, the nephews still learn sportsmanship, but they don't learn not to be sexist, and have the good scout groups gain some respect for one another. I am very sure, if April, May, and June were involved, (this story came out after "Flip Decision" but before April, May, and June second appearance, so they are no Chickadees yet) they would join in saving Donald, and maybe they could lead a revolt against Captain Ramod and her winning is all that matters attitude.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Great review, Zoombie. I think a lot of the Carl Barks stuff is inherently sexist due to the fact that the nephews are little boys and little boys of that era thought girls were gross and inferior. And that's the only reason that happens. Granted Donald and Scrooge are portrayed as inherently sexist at various points too, but I think Barks had the nephews act that way for the same reason Bill Watterson did Calvin: It's funny. Now Watterson's version of the trope was actually funny because Susie Derkins is superior to Calvin in every measurable way. But there weren't a ton of little girl characters in the canon to contrast the nephews with (April, May, and June were used so rarely I was surprised to actually see them on the Duck Family Tree) so when Barks does it, unlike Watterson, there isn't actual irony involved.

Here are some of my Carl Barks reviews:

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost In The Andes By Carl Barks

An new archived collection of classic Donald Duck Carl Barks stories from Fantagraphics books. This is a pretty sweet volume. It doesn't have as much supplemental stuff as the Fantagraphics Mickey Mouse books do but the story notes are still pretty great. I didn't care for the infamous Voodoo Hoodoo (this was my first time reading it) but "Lost In The Andes" and "Race To The South Seas" are undisputed classics. Volume overall: ****1/2.

The Adventures

"Lost In The Andes"

One of the most famous Barks stories is also one of the best. It not only is a great story, but it's surprisingly funny too. I really loved how annoyed everyone was with the nephews and their bubblegum blowing exploits. I love the Plain Awfultonians too and their cornpone dialect. Don Rosa made an equally good sequel in "Return To Plain Awful" but that wouldn't have been possible had Barks not laid the groundwork here. Everything about the story is great and the artwork is gorgeous. So many quotable lines too. I think my favorite is "Yo' did it! Yo' blew squah bubbles!". Best gag is Donald breaking the square egg in front of the Old Vicuna Hunter and him revealing that he was blind without his glasses. Classic. One of the best Barks stories ever. *****.

"The Golden Christmas Tree"

By the end of the story, it seems like Barks is just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. As I understand it from the notes it was editorial interference that made the ending so muddled. It's a shame because up until then it was pretty good. I wish Barks had been able to craft a better ending on his own but it was not meant to be. ***1/2.

"Race To The South Seas"

I honestly don't have too much of a problem with the racial stereotypes in this story because they all subverted your expectations. The pleasant islanders are really hard-nosed cynics and the "cannibals" are actually Unca Scrooge's gophers. Not to mention the fact that none of the Africans were drawn as monkeys as they were in "Voodoo Hoodoo". The story itself is fun too and gives us a rare loss for Gladstone Gander (which is always nice to see). Good stuff. ****.

"Voodoo Hoodoo"

Unlike "Race To The South Seas" this story is basically indefensible. Kudos to Don Rosa for actually being able to not only keep it in canon, but limiting the damage the story did to Scrooge's character in The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck. I would have probably just ignored it altogether but he really went for broke with how bad this made McDuck look. Oh, and the African monkeys that were absent in "Race To The South Seas"? They're here instead. *.

The Short Stories


A little bit boring to be honest. **1/2.

"The Crazy Quiz Show"

Funny stuff. Great idea to have Donald win the quiz show at the end but I saw him accidentally picking the tricycle coming a mile away. Still good though. ***1/2.

"Truant Officer Donald"

Another enjoyable Huey, Dewey, and Louie romp, I really liked the climactic gag of it being Saturday and Donald making the boys do lines anyways. ****.

"Donald Duck's Worst Nightmare"

Passable but I don't appreciate the idea that Donald thinks knitting and the like is for sissies. Another sign of the times but it grates. That said, the end gag the story built to was hilarious. **1/2.

"Pizen Spring Dude Ranch"

Nice story. I love The Nephews being the ones who outsmarted the horse thief. I'm betting Donald got back all the money he lost rebuying the same horses too. ****.

"Rival Beachcombers"

A classic Gladstone / Donald rivalry with an unpredictable and satisfying ending. Gladstone really IS a heel and I love it when Donald and the boys beat him. REALLY good story. ****1/2.

"The Sunken Yacht"

I was hoping Donald would win this one but he didn't. At least he didn't actually take a real loss (except for his pride). Early Scrooge is a jerk. ***.

"Managing The Eco-System"

Funny, but my jaw dropped at the "Jew's Harp" bit. Still, the story was REALLY good. ****1/2.

"Plenty Of Pets"

Loved it. Predictable but I enjoyed every second. Those animals were cute! ****1/2.

The Gags

"Jumping To Conclusions": Very cute. Love it whenever Donald is impressed with the boys. ****1/2.

"The True Test": Ouch! Funny, but yeah... Ouch! ***1/2.

"Ornaments On The Way": After Don Rosa's "Fir Tree Fracas" this Christmas tree gag doesn't impress me. **1/2.

"Too Fit To Fit": Weird visual gag. ***.

"Sleepy Sitters": SO adorable. I want a plushie of that baby duck. *****.

"Slippery Shine": This made me laugh, as implausible as it was. ****1/2.

"Tunnel Vision": I love it whenever the nephews are portrayed as rowdy brothers who don't always get along. ****.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas For Shacktown By Carl Barks

Another great collection of Carl Barks stories from Fantagraphics Books.

My favorite stories in the volume are "The Gilded Man" (can you believe this is the first time I've read this famous story?), the sickening "Gladstone's Terrible Secret", and the black comedy "Statuesque Spendthrifts". Volume Overall: ****1/2.

"A Christmas For Shacktown"

Cute story but the ending left things a bit unresolved. Still, Scrooge DID deserve an unhappy ending for his behavior in the story. ****.

"The Big Bin On Killmotor Hill"

First appearance of the Money Bin, and second ever appearance of the Beagle Boys (here wearing baseball caps). Barks retconned the Money Bin's history in later stories (it supposedly is brand new here but later stories have stated Scrooge has ALWAYS had it). Don Rosa was the one who took the idea of Scrooge's gruesome booby traps and really ran with it. ****.

"Gladstone's Usual Very Good Year"

Sometimes getting something isn't all it's cracked up to be. I have to marvel at how foolish Donald was here to think he could go up against Gladstone's luck in a raffle like that. In his defense this may have been an earlier story, and Donald may not have yet learned his lesson, but he seems to understand Gladstone's luck throughout the story, and wastes money tempting fate anyways. ***.

"The Screaming Cowboy"

Silly story but despite it SEEMING predictable the ending was a bit different than how I thought it would go down. ***.

"Statuesque Spendthrifts"

The Maharajah of Howduyustan was one of my favorite Scrooge rivals as a kid. I love that this story proves that under the right circumstances Scrooge isn't afraid to go nuts with his money. It says a lot about his character that he is only willing to spend great amounts of money when it comes to his pride. *****.

"Rocket Wing Saves The Day"

Didn't much care for this. **.

"Gladstone's Terrible Secret"

I have to say the last panel with Donald asking the nephews "Any comments?" was surprising because it was so modern in its observational sensibility. I laughed hard at a line that could have come out of a Joss Whedon or Dwayne McDuffie script. The story is great too and I believe this is the first appearance of Gyro Gearloose. And Gladstone Gander is a truly disgusting character. I hate him almost as much as Carl Barks obviously does. *****.

"The Think Box Bollix"

This is Gyro's first main story and it's a good one. I like that the story plays with the notion of talking animals in a world where nothing BUT animals talk. A little bit meta and pokes a bit of fun at the funny animal trope. But I still can't figure out why Goofy can talk and Pluto can't. ****.

"Full-Service Windows": Clever. ****.

"Rigged-Up Rollers": Dumb. **1/2.

"The Golden Helmet"

I dislike this story because the greed that gets into the hearts of practically every character including Donald and one of the nephews gives me the creeps. Maybe that was the point but I find it EXTREMELY out of character for Donald to maroon the nephews on an iceberg for ANY reason. That said, the artwork is beautiful and the climax is exciting. And the premise obviously set Don Rosa's imagination to work in the similar premise in the vastly superior His Majesty McDuck. ***.

"Awash In Success": The nephews are sure enterprising, but this seems like the kind of exploitation Uncle Scrooge would do. **.

"Stable Prices": Math is fun. ****.

"Houseboat Holiday"

I didn't much care for this story because the nephews were too dumb. They're Junior Woodchucks, for Pete's sake! **.

"Gemstone Hunters"

Fair. But I'm getting really sick of Gladstone. ***.

"The Gilded Man"

I love the ending to this tale which seems to be three stories in one. The first part is Donald taking up stamp collecting, the second is the search for the Gilded Man, and the third is the race home to find the letter. What I loved about the end was that for once Donald's decency was rewarded. True, Gladstone never gets a comeuppance for his behavior. But it's Donald's fundamental honesty throughout the story that ties the moral together. Great story. ****1/2.

"Armored Rescue": Silly gag strip with nice artwork. ***1/2.

"Crafty Corner": Donald is NOT as dumb as he looks. ****1/2.

"Spending Money"

What I like about this story is how uncomfortable Scrooge is throughout it. He simply cannot enjoy himself even when ostensibly having "fun" if it means spending money. Donald is a MASTER of wasting money and completely in his element. Yes, it backfired but not for a lack of effort. ****.

"Teeing Off": Lame. *1/2.

"Christmas Kiss": I don't understand this gag strip. Why wouldn't Daisy want to kiss Donald? He's her boyfriend and he's done nothing wrong and is in fact acting romantic. I just don't get this joke at all. *.

"Projecting Desires": Say what you will about the nephews' greed here: they certainly are clever. ***1/2.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Old Castle's Secret

The weakest of the Carl Barks Fantagraphics collections so far because it only had three real adventure stories. Both The Old Castle's Secret and Sheriff Of Bullet Valley ARE excellent but the third adventure story (In Darkest Africa) is plagued by racist imagery and ideas that make it difficult to enjoy an otherwise solid story. The ten pagers are also very hit and miss here. While Gladstone's first appearance is a great one (Wintertime Wager) there were too many short stories that were just extended jokes and not usually funny enough to justify the previous ten pages. The worst ten pagers were Wired, Spoil The Rod, and Foxy Relations. Book Overall: ***1/2.

The Old Castle's Secret:

Can you believe I have never read this classic story before? It is awesome even if the resolution to the mystery was a bit of a cheat (invisible spray made by spies? Really?). I'm glad it wasn't the real Scottie who betrayed the gang (I forgot that Don Rosa spoiled that ending in one of his linear notes to "The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck" so it was still a surprise). But BOY, did Rosa mine this story for gold in Life And Times and "Letters From Home: The Old Castle's Other Secret". What is so impressive about the Barks mythology is that despite the stories usually only being loosely related to each other (if at all) is how tight it is as a whole. That must have been what attracted Rosa to it in the first place. *****.

Bird Watching:

Cheap, but funny joke. ****.

Horseshoe Luck:

Luck DOES seem to play a huge role in the Duckverse, doesn't it? ****1/2.

Wintertime Wager:

While Gladstone's Gander's trademark luck is missing in his first appearance (and how!) Barks nails the cruelty and frivolity of the character from the outset. Trying to evict Donald and the nephews on Christmas Day? Jeez! It's no wonder Barks grew to so strongly dislike him. ****.

Watching The Watchman:

Did I mention how big a role luck plays in the Duckverse? Another excellent example. ****.


Predictable and unfunny. One of Barks' weaker ten-pagers. **.

Going Ape:

Another ten-page disappointment. That said, the gags were cartoonier than usual and Barks demonstrates he can do a straight-up slapstick comedy as well as anyone (John K. who?). But that's not why I read Donald Duck comics. **1/2.

Darkest Africa:

I cringed at all of the ugly racist stereotypes in the story because unlike Floyd Gottfredson's racism, they didn't actually need to be a part of the story for it to work. Gottfredson spun tales wholecloth out of his prejudices, but there is an actual decent story here that is pretty much wrecked by the casual bigotry. I wish that brilliant last gag of the caterpillars all turning into the rare butterflies making the one they captured worthless had been in a different story. It's really unfortunate. ***.

Bean Taken:

Admittedly, this gag is wickedly funny but the moral completely misses the mark. There is absolutely nothing dishonest about buying a jar the same size as the one at the raffle and filling it with beans. It is in fact, clever, and cleverness is a trait that should be encouraged. What the nephews did WAS dirty pool but the gag shouldn't have acted as if what Donald did was too. Still, four stars for the joke itself. ****.

Sorry To Be Safe:

Sometimes you just can't win. ****.

Spoil The Rod:

Speaking of traits that should be encouraged, NONE of them were in this story. That idiot professor was NO "friend to children". His philosophy was a surefire way to screw them up. *1/2.

Rocket Race To The Moon:

Barks gets into the rocket craze. However, I'm pretty sure even when this story was written we already knew there was no air on the moon. He dropped the ball with that. ***1/2.

Donald Of The Coast Patrol:

Donald does not deserve nephews as good and loyal as Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Although in some stories I don't think they deserve a parent as patient as Donald either. Still, Donald is REALLY stupid here. ***1/2.

Gladstone Returns:

Nice morality play with everyone's fortunes reversing at various points. And Huey, Dewey, and Louie only win when they decide to do the right thing. ***1/2.

Sheriff Of Bullet Valley:

I've always wanted to read this story and it was even better than I was expecting. It's DEFINITELY not a "Mastery" tale. Not even close. But I do like that the story gives Donald a rare opportunity to redeem himself and he takes full advantage of it. That happens once in a while in the adventure tales like this one, but almost never in the ten-pagers. ****1/2.

Best Laid Plans:

I laughed. ***.

The Geniune Article:

Donald has many admirable qualities. That doesn't change the fact that he is also stupid. ***1/2.

Links Hijinks:

A good Gladstone ten-pager with a fun closing joke. I didn't even mind that Gladstone (whom I detest) won this round. By the way: The artwork? Perfect. Nobody nails movement in a comic book like Barks does and all of the expressions on the characters (as noted in the accompanying essay) "look right." Tough feat to pull off. ****.

Pearls Of Wisdom:

I like how it's the nephews' turn to be dumb but in this story it's for different reasons. ***1/2.

Foxy Relations:

I'll concede the pay-off was mildly amusing but not amusing enough to justify such a dumb story. "Yoicks, The Fox!" is MUCH better. **1/2.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Christmas On Bear Mountain By Carl Barks

This isn't my favorite volume of Barks' Donald stories, to be honest. I'm much more interested in his upcoming Uncle Scrooge collections. There are still some great Donald stories yet to be reprinted in this series (Dangerous Disguise, Big-Top Bedlam, and Mystery Of The Swamp spring immediately to mind) but there is a ton of great Uncle Scrooge stuff that we haven't gotten to yet either, since Fantagraphics has only come out with one Scrooge volume thus far.

Still, there is no denying the significance of Christmas On Bear Mountain, which also doubles as a great, funny story in its own right, and Ghost Of The Grotto is even better than I remembered it (even if the villain's "punishment" didn't ring true). And Three Good Little Ducks was a turning point for Huey, Dewey, and Louie. But the rest of the ten-pagers are hit and miss, and the four gag pages are mostly misfires. And that's not even getting into how unpleasantly racist Volcano Valley and Adventure Down Under are. Not Barks' best work. Volume Overall: ***.

Christmas On Bear Mountain:

An undisputed classic that is the very first appearance of Uncle Scrooge EVER. Yes, he's a little more ornery than he eventually became in his own series, but this is a GREAT introduction. I STILL find myself howling with laughter every time I read the nephews pitching a fit and Donald going out and getting a Christmas tree. A ton of other gags made me laugh too. The Baby Bear is unbearably cute (sorry) as well. I love the colors in the Fantagraphics book that were based on the original comic. They are great. *****.

Fashion in Flight: A little too out there. **1/2.

Turn for the Worse: Some people have no sense of humor. ****1/2.

Donald's Posy Patch:

Is Donald's purported immunity to bees a superpower in the vein of his Eye For Detail as scribed by Don Rosa? ***1/2.

Donald Mines His Own Business:

I think Donald is a bit too stupid here. **1/2.

Volcano Valley:

This story is full stop racist. It has no redeeming qualities. I only read it once before, but now I hate it. 0.

Magical Misery:

It appears I know how the sawing person in half trick works and Carl Barks doesn't. Thank you, Masked Magician! Just kidding. Barks almost certainly knew, and didn't reveal the actual secrets out of respect to the Magician's Code. That is kind of awesome, when you think about it. ****.

Ring Wrongs:

Is it wrong that I'm tickled Mickey was name-dropped in this story? ***1/2.

Adventure Down Under:

Okay, it IS annoying how racist this story is, but what I REALLY dislike is how inauthentic it is. Why do the African Bushmen all talk like American Indians? It's not all bad. The stuff with the kangaroo was cute and I really liked the gag of Donald cutting a drop of water into four pieces to share with his thirsty nephews. But the story aggravated me more than it amused me. **.

If the Hat Fits: This joke makes no sense. *.

The Waltz King:

I'm just impressed Donald managed to beat up that huge guy so thoroughly he had to ask his girlfriend to get revenge on him. ***1/2.

The Masters of Melody:

The tub water being black during the nephews' bath was a genius sight gag, just because it was so understated. I do think one thing is unlikely. How is going for a weekend out to catch frogs with Donald cheating, and putting together that Rube Goldberg device with the cat and the treadmill is not? The nephews are suffering from a wee bit of hypocrisy here. ***.

Donald Duck And The Ghost Of The Grotto:

A nitpicking person might note that Donald put his boys in unnecessary risk by not heeding the villagers' warnings. But if he had done that then another boy would have been nabbed and NOT rescued. Donald had nothing to fear, because he knew he could handle the situation. And it turns out he actually handled it pretty well! I do have a nitpick: I don't believe the "Ghost" would have been allowed to keep that money. He DID kidnap a kid after all, and the only reason Dewey is free is because he got caught. I'm pretty sure in real life child abductors don't get to eat hamburgers on sunny beaches just because the kids they abducted were recovered alive. But outside of the last two panels, the story was pretty great. ****1/2.

Fireman Donald:

Predictable and slightly boring. **.

The Terrible Turkey:

That ending gag made no sense. Maybe Carl Barks though he was striking a blow for Patriotism, but it was still an incredibly stupid joke. *1/2.

Three Good Little Ducks:

Oh my! This was hilarious! I love how absolutely every good deed the Nephews tried to pull blew up in their (and Unca Donald's) faces. But the very best part of the story is how Donald doesn't lose his temper for a second and realizes the entire time that Huey, Dewey and Louie are making a REAL effort to be good. It reminded me of how a really patient parent can behave around their children when they know they are making an effort and failing miserably. Great story. The ending was adorable too. *****.

Machine Mix-Up:

One of those sight gags that doesn't make any sense (Much like the eagle breaking the saw in The Terrible Turkey). Barks is usually better than this. *1/2.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Trail Of The Unicorn by Carl Barks

This collection is a mixed bag. While Trail Of The Unicorn, New Toys, Luck Of The North, Letter To Santa, and Super Snooper are classics, those are the only five stories that are. And that's unusual for a Barks volume to have that low of a batting average. The worst stories are the dumb "Dowsing Ducks", the stupid "The Goldilocks Gambit", the lame "Donald's Love Letters", and the racist "Land Of The Totem Poles". Shockingly low overall grade: ***.

Trail Of The Unicorn:

I never read this story but I really liked it. I think the unicorn's color is horrible though. It's a muddy brown. I realize that's the color the story was originally printed with, but when Rosa brought back the unicorn he was white, so I assume they fixed his color for all of the other reprints. I laughed at the idea that what Gladstone took from his lack of success is that cheating is a form of work, and that is beneath him. Just the fact that Barks had the character state something like that tells me as much as Barks hated Gladstone, he truly understood the psychology of the character and how to use him best. Granted, Don Rosa's Gladstone stories are an improvement. But possibly Bark came to detest Gladstone so much because he wound up doing his job as villain TOO well. And as a great storyteller, Barks has no-one to blame but himself. Another refreshing thing about the story for me is that the ducks take a trip to India and there is no racism in the story whatsoever. Whenever Floyd Gottfredson had Mickey travel somewhere else, he'd make fun of the culture, often in an inept stereotypical way that reflected his biases and ignorance. Barks always seems to think journeying to other culture and viewing the sights is, well, COOL, and allows us and the Ducks to enjoy the voyage without slamming the people there as nitwits who speak broken English. Barks DOES have a few racist stories in his canon. He is not immune to the bigotry of the era. But those stories are few and far between. They are the exception, not the norm. ****1/2.

Fractious Fun: This Donald guy knows exactly how to handle a high-maintenance girlfriend like Daisy. What I love about the solution here is that it doesn't mean Donald has to let Daisy win. It's just now that when Daisy throws a fit due to being a poor sport, Donald won't get hurt. I like that Donald refuses to be a gentleman just to avoid abuse. And I think he's right to do that. ****.

King-Sized Cone: What I love about this joke is that the solution is the kid thing to do. As outlandish as those many scoops are towering off of those ice cream cones, if you let a kid eat ice cream before everyone else, they will find a way to give themselves the biggest serving. I recognized my childhood in that joke. ***1/2.

Super Snooper:

This is good, but it seems as if Barks doesn't really have as accurate a feel for superhero comics as Rosa does. Plus, the sequel is better because Rosa has a point about how much superhero comics suck. In the original, Donald is the actual bad guy. Good things? The artwork during the action sequences is gorgeous. There is a reason he's called "The Good Duck Artist". ****.

The Great Duckburg Frog-Jumping Contest:

Hilarious. I love the end joke of Donald refusing to eat the frog's leg and trying to order a plate of bumblebees for his new friend. What, do you think they're cannibals? What a hilarious ending. All that being said, the initial jumping-off point (sorry) for the story is a bad one. Donald tries to catch his own frogs because Restaurant Frog's legs are expensive? The reason they are expensive, isn't because they're rare, it's because it takes a top chef to prepare them right. Donald can catch and kill as many frogs as he likes, he's not actually ever going to get the same experience without paying three dollars for it. But once the story turns to the frog-jumping contest it totally redeems itself. ***1/2.

Letter To Santa:

I love all of the little bits of the story, if not the story as a whole. First off, this story attaches a couple of plausible explanations to the Santa Claus. First, he gets down the chimney by shrinking. That makes sense. Secondly, the story states that Santa doesn't get present for every kid, and sometimes lets the parents handle it. That works as an explanation for any kid who "caught" their parents doing that. I love that Scrooge is so dumb and unaware that he doesn't even realize it's Christmas. And if you think it is out of character for Scrooge McDuck to throw an extra million dollars at a judge for no real reason, that's precisely why it is funny. He wouldn't do that. Which shows how bonkers the story is. I am a little bit amazed that neither Scrooge nor Donald actually realizes the kids meant a toy steam shovel in the first place. What a couple of dopes. The last panel of Uncle Scrooge asking Santa for books used to be the subscription advertisement at the back of Gladstone Comics in the 1980's. It's still funny. ****.

Toasty Toys: Wow, when Donald runs out of firewood he burns the kids' toys? He is often a terrible parent. **.

No Noise Is Good Noise: Not particularly funny. *.

Dowsing Ducks:

The nephews are too dumb in this story and Donald is too cruel. And Barks doesn't seem to understand what "water on the knee" is. *.

The Goldilocks Gambit:

Insanely stupid story. I'm frankly a little bit shocked at how bad this is. If Gottfredson had come up with a story this dumb it would be par for the course, but I hold Barks (and Rosa) to a higher standard. Good things? The comic timing IS great. I just wish all of the gags weren't so dumb. *.

New Toys:

This story states something startling about Christmas that most kiddie Christmas specials will not touch with a ten foot pole. Many poor kids do NOT get toys for Christmas and Santa doesn't bail them out. As selfish and despicable as the nephews are behaving earlier in the story, they accept the poor kids' story and decide to help them. That's admirable. Granted, Barks cannot actually state that the real Santa ignored them, but this Christmas story deals with a reality and truth for many families in a way most Christmas stories refuse to. I admire that. *****.

No Place To Hide: I don't think the logic of Donald thinking he has to buy the kids new, different Christmas presents because they found and unwrapped the old ones holds up to scrutiny. *.

Tied-Down Tools: Did not get this joke. *.

Luck Of The North:

Wow, a lot of psychological stuff going on. First, Gladstone is a dirtbag. If he finds a wallet, he keeps it. That should tell us exactly what kind of person he is. And Donald saying that Gladstone's luck made him feel helpless is exactly right. And yet, Donald still has enough of a conscience to try and rescue his cousin when he believes he's in danger. I love Donald begging Gladstone to rescue the nephews, and the nephews refusing to leave without Donald. Those four are a loyal family in the way Gladstone will never understand. Funnily enough, I learned a few years ago that the term "gypped" is racist against Romani. Very jarring to see it in a Disney Comic repeatedly after learning that. ****.

Noise Nullifiers: Explain to me why the nephews would choose to be quiet in a library if that won't with Donald. This gag makes no sense. *.

Matinee Madness: Exhibit A on the nephew's public behavior being no better than their private behavior. **.

Donald's Love Letters:

I pretty much detest both Daisy and Gladstone by the end of this, and even if I'm not mad at Donald, I still think he's an idiot. Who doesn't remember writing something like that? Not credible. Also Gladstone seems to be the type of person to borrow books and never return them, and use marked cards and phony theater tickets. Gladstone claimed in another story in this volume that cheating is too much like work, but we see by this story that he's a hard worker anyways. How is Daisy reprehensible? First off, she gives Donald back love letters he didn't even write. Jerk move. But what's even worse is that she kept them even while she was dating Donald. There are some people who think that it's a perfectly fine thing for a man or woman to keep love letters from an ex-lover while they have a different current spouse or significant other. I am not one of those people. Ann Landers is nuts. Random Question: Is Donald's fake persona as Salesman Fooler Brushman a precursor to DuckTales' Filler Brushmore? Maybe, maybe. **.

Rip Van Donald:

The world of 1990. I'm tickled that Barks actually lived to see it (plus another decade). ***.

Land Of The Totem Poles:

The bad: The story is racist against Indians. Ugly stuff. The good: the artwork is phenomenal. Barks drew the best nature vistas in the business. **.

Serum To Codfish Cove:

Forgettable story, although I like the FBI type guy. **1/2.

A Fetching Price: Cute gag. **1/2.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Pixilated Parrot

To be perfectly frank, this is the best Fantagraphics Carl Barks Library Volume since the first Uncle Scrooge one (Only A Poor Old Man). Almost all of the stories written and drawn by Barks are classics and the ones he either just wrote or drew aren't too shabby either. I still cannot believe I had never read "Vacation Time" and now it is one of my favorites.

My other favorites from the volume are the classic "Ancient Persia", the comical "Big-Top Bedlam", and the excellent Christmas yarn "You Can't Guess". I can't do a "Worst of" list for this volume because none of the stories suck. At all. Volume Overall: *****.

The Pixilated Parrot:

Cute story but a bit pedestrian. Still, middling Barks is better than 99% of all other comic book writers and artists. I think the thing that bugged me was the idea that the crooks would say their exact address out-loud in front of the parrot. I don't say "Well, I think I'll go back to my apartment at blankety blank" whenever I go home. It hits the ear wrong. Also those crooks are dumb spending all that time dividing up the money. Haven't they ever heard of joint checking accounts? I like the idea of Parrotese but it seemed a little hard to follow when they were switching back and forth from it. The parrots' colors on the front of the volume (blue and red) were much more interesting than in the actual story (both different shades of green). ***1/2.

Wild About Flowers:

Hate Gladstone. Daisy without a bow in her hair looks outright weird. Wonder why Barks didn't use it for this story. ***.

Ancient Persia:

A classic. Evil mad scientist, Donald doppelganger, underground catacombs, this story has the works. I love that Donald seems to be disappointed in the end that the Mad Scientist was evil after all ("I thought he was all right!"). I also thought it was very clever of Donald to hide in the bath to escape the fumes. Donald Duck, as written by Carl Barks and Don Rosa is a MUCH cleverer character than popular culture usually gives him credit for. I love this story so much. *****.

Vacation Time:

I cannot believe I have never read this story before. It is a bonafide classic. One of Barks' best. What I especially love about it is that Barks gives the kid readers actual real-life tips on how to set-up a safe camp and start a safe fire. And he also showed a very clever way to survive a fire that I'm betting he researched first. I'm betting it would work. It's interesting that it is Donald who knows these tricks rather than the nephews. This must be before the Junior Woodchucks. The unnamed villain is one of the most detestable characters Barks has ever given us. I love these Fantagraphic Collections. I keep finding new Barks, Gottfredson, and Rosa classics I have never read before that I now consider among my favorites. Here's hoping they'll eventually do these things for William Van Horn and Romano Scarpa too. *****.

Talking Parrot: Barks just supposedly did the writing on this one page gag (but the editors aren't sure). ***.

Donald's Grandma Duck:

Barks didn't actually write this but you can't tell. It's quite good and his signature artwork is top-notch. Is Ezra Scrooge related to Scrooge McDuck? Or was this story written without the writer knowing about Barks' signature creation? ****.

Camp Counselor:

This one's writing (also not by Barks), isn't so hot though. That being said, Barks has had his share of stories with this level of pedestrian writing. It is not outright terrible. **1/2.

The Magic Hourglass:

Fast-paced, great artwork, well written, I should love this story. It should be a classic. But I don't and it's not. Don Rosa has said the exact problem with this story (and it's something I agree with): the idea that Scrooge McDuck got his fortune due to a magic talisman and not his own hard work is bogus. Even worse because it's hinted he stole the hourglass. Before starring in his own book, Barks always wrote Scrooge out of character here and there, but that is just something I cannot get past. I was also disappointed that Fantagraphics either chose not to print, or couldn't get the license to print, the William Van Horn wraparounds that basically make this story a campfire story in the Barks canon. I loved that idea and maybe we'll see those pages if and when Van Horn gets his own volume sets. ****.

Big-Top Bedlam:

One of my favorite stories as a kid is a little less special now that I see Gladstone wisely edited out a shockingly ugly racist panel. Still, everything else about the story is phenomenal. Zippo the Quick-Change is such a great character because he is ultimately benevolent. Once he realizes the mix-up, he laughs heartily with Donald and gives the pin back without question. For some weird reason, the stories where Barks draws human characters tend to be better than the stories without them. I don't know why that is and there are definite exceptions (see Back To The Klondike, Tralla La, Lost In The Andes, and Only A Poor Old Man) but it's usually true. I'm betting because that means that Barks is putting his all into the artwork. And it looks great. Zippo's various disguises are magnificent and the comic timing is so well paced you could set your watch to it. A terrific story. I'm deducting half a star for the racist panel. ****1/2.

You Can't Guess:

Another classic. This volume is amazing. Barks ALWAYS does great Christmas stories and this is one of the best. I love it. ****1/2.

Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: Only A Poor Old Man By Carl Barks

The first and so far only volume of Fantagraphics Uncle Scrooge stories (they've been focusing more on Mickey and Donald). You can't say they don't hit the ground running. They reprint the two best Scrooge stories (Only A Poor Old Man and Back To The Klondike) as well as one of the best of Barks' later stories (Tralla La). Frankly, they put SO much great stuff in it I wonder how subsequent volumes can possibly measure up.

Best stories are the three I mentioned above. All of the stories are great although a couple of the one-page gags aren't. Volume overall: *****.

"Only a Poor Old Man"

This is the first full-length Uncle Scrooge story and it's a bonafide classic. It's funny, it sets up the "new" Uncle Scrooge perfectly, and the artwork is magnificent. No wonder Don Rosa mined so much gold out of this story for his "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck". Fantastic. *****.

"Osogood Silver Polish": I like this gag. Scrooge is SUCH a cheapskate and SO willing to take advantage of others. ****.

"Coffee For Two": McDuck's version of charity. Cute. ****1/2.

"Soupline Eight": So much for McDuck's vaunted business sense. Heh. ***1/2.

"Fare Delay": Sometimes Uncle Scrooge's cheapness comes across as stupidity. ***.

"Back to the Klondike"

One of the greatest Barks stories of all time. I think it's even better than Lost In The Andes. It's that good. I love how many times Donald and the nephews wind up tackling Scrooge here about his memory pills. Best part is Scrooge and Goldie's flirtation near the end that ends in Scrooge screaming at her that she owes him a billion dollars. I also love how Scrooge did the right thing at the end but did it so that no-one would know and that it was Donald who figured it out. Good old Uncle Scrooge. So much goodness in this story including Donald and Scrooge making mosquito coats, the bear licking honey off Scrooge, and Scrooge making the nephews walk miles and miles because he forgot he owned the airline. A five star, highly recommended story. *****.

"Height of Finance": Silly gag. ***1/2.

"The Checkers Game": An earlier version of Pixar's Geri's Game. Maybe Uncle Scrooge IS a little bit crazy. ****.

"Somethin' Fishy Here"

A five pager about a trick of Donald's on Scrooge that completely backfires. I love how far Barks was able to milk the premise in five short pages. Barks was a master. ****1/2.

"Barber College": Funny. ***1/2.

"The Horseradish Treasure"

WAAAAYY better than the DuckTales adaptation. A rousing adventure. ****1/2.

"Follow the Rainbow": I like the colors in this gag. ****.

"Itching to Share": This is the funniest Carl Barks gag I have ever read. For those morons who say Carl Barks is boring (I'm looking at you John Kricfalusi) I say this gag proves that he was one of the world's funniest cartoonists. *****.

"The Round Money Bin"

Scrooge is portrayed as a BIT too stupid in this story. It's fun, don't get me wrong, but if the Beagles HAD gotten away with his money he would have totally deserved it. ***1/2.

"Ballet Evasion": Eh. **1/2.

"The Cheapest Weigh": Scrooge is also not afraid to take advantage of innocent people for his own end. **.

"The Menehune Mystery"

I had never read this story before or even heard of it. It was pretty good. The coloring was great too. I love it whenever I get to read a Barks or Rosa story I missed. I'm glad Fantagraphics is going to be printing every single one of his stories (and Floyd Gottfredson's). Now if they would only do the same for Don Rosa and William Van Horn... ****.

"Bum Steer": Mean-spirited. *.

"Hospitality Week": Not very funny. **.

"The Secret of Atlantis"

Scrooge is often his own worse enemy. This was a fun story that kept twisting and turning in all different sorts of direction. Cool! ****.

"McDuck takes a Dive": Old gag but funny. ***1/2.

"Slippery Sipper": Scrooge is a jerk. **1/2.

"Tralla La"

One of those classic stories that Don Rosa was able to mine for rich sequels. This is one of the only stories in which Scrooge is portrayed as resenting and hating his money and it's frankly a welcome plot twist. This also blows the DuckTales adaptation out of the water. There Fenton Crackshell practically goads the Tralla Laians into becoming greedy, but here it is much more insidious because they get there totally on their own. On DuckTales you just think Fenton is an idiot. Here, Barks has decided to make a commentary about the nature of humankind. My only complaint is that the story ends too quickly. It seems like Barks simply ran out of pages and had to cram the entire climax into eight panels. ****1/2.

"Oil the News": This gag stretches credibility a bit (doesn't McDuck have business associates to let him know about the status of his oil wells?) but it's funny if you don't think too much about the logic of it. ***.

"Dig It!": McDuck is also quite willing to inconvenience others to get what he wants. The artwork in this strip is beautiful. ***.

"Outfoxed Fox"

Scrooge at his jerkiest. The nephews' punishment for him was fitting. ***1/2.

"Mental Fee": I've always wanted to try this. ***1/2.

Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: The Seven Cities Of Gold By Carl Barks

It seems to me that so far the Uncle Scrooge volumes of the Fantagraphics Carl Barks Library have so far been vastly superior to the Donald Duck ones. The Donald Duck ones seem to have one or two memorable stories per volume. This one has at least seven. Great stuff.

Best stories are the absolute classic "The Mysterious Stone Ray", the cynical political one (A Campaign Of Note), the super exciting one that was watered down by DuckTales (The Lemming With The Locket), the ridiculous weight-loss story (The Tuckered Tiger), "The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone" ('Nuff said), the perfect gag ten pager (Heirloom Watch), and the unedited "The Golden Fleecing." Worst stories are the idiotic "Million Dollar Pigeon" and the one that sends a poor message about Scrooge (Riches, Riches, Everywhere!). Volume Overall: ****1/2.

"The Seven Cities Of Cibola"

This was an excellent story...until the ending. The ending ruined it. Completely. If there is anything worse than an "It was all a dream" resolution it's a mass amnesia one. There were a couple of interesting things to note: I haven't read all of Barks' stories yet (these volumes are going to come in VERY handy) but this is the first real treasure hunt story I've seen the Beagle Boys in. Well, maybe The Doom Diamond but that was MUCH less about "the quest" than this was. The second interesting thing is that this shares many interesting elements with Don Rosa's "Son Of The Sun", including the treasure being destroyed due to squabbling over the finest piece, and each area of the city showing more and more glorious treasure. I actually now think that "Son Of The Sun" is this story done right. Barks purists can sniff at Rosa all they like, but his very first story was miles better than this famous Barks one. ***.

"Million Dollar Pigeon"

For someone so inept, it is REALLY hard to believe Scrooge is a millionaire. An IDIOT could see the myriad ways sending a million dollars by pigeon could go wrong, and he only realizes them AFTER the bird is sent. I'm also really resisting the moral of Scrooge gaining back TWICE what he lost due to his folly. That kind of seems like a poor message to send about sheer stupidity. *.

"Temper Tampering": Good to know Scrooge's employees know how to "handle" him. ****1/2.

"Phone Call": I remember this gag from the Gladstone Comics days and it still cracks me up. *****.

"The Mysterious Stone Ray":

One of my absolute favorite Scrooge stories when I was a kid. I loved it at the time because a month or two later after I read it for the first time Don Rosa came out with "Cash Flow". This was pretty much my introduction to comic book continuity! Yay! The story hold up really well! The Beagle Boys are quite the menace in this story and I love the cabbage crazy island professor who turns everybody except Scrooge into stone statues. Why not Scrooge? Ahem. We won't discuss that. The running prune gag with that one Beagle Boy never gets old either. *****.

"A Campaign Of Note":

What I like about this story is that it portrays Scrooge at his best: as the last honest man. When it looks like he'll win the election due to an accident, we cheer anyways because Scrooge was the only one in the story campaigning the right way at the beginning. Scrooge McDuck is such a rich and wonderful character and you can even see his complexity in this five-page story. ****1/2.

"Diner Dilemna": Scrooge is rich because he is good at math. ****.

"Money On The Brain": The moral here is "Always have a loophole". ***1/2.

"The Lemming With The Locket":

DuckTales made a serviceable adaptation of this (which is a rare thing) but I like the comic book version better for two reasons: in the cartoon, the Lemming's adorability is supposed to be the funny thing. In the comic, since it looks like a nondescript rat, it is Scrooge's reactions to it that are cute and hilarious. I think making Scrooge the cute one was definitely a better choice. The second reason is that the comic is actually exciting! There is genuine tension and actual thrills which is something I've RARELY felt on the DuckTales cartoon. There were a few. But they were few and far between compared to the Barks and Rosa comics. ****.

"Classy Taxi": McDuck sure doesn't ACT like a rich person. I'm surprised neither Barks and Rosa have ever shown him panhandling. **.

"Blanket Investment": I'm not sure if the logic of this one follows. *1/2.

"The Tuckered Tiger":

"Sixty Pounds Less Than Nothing!" One of the best McDuck quotes EVER! I love how instead of trying to make their animals feel better, Scrooge and the Maharajah go on a weight losing contest. It is SO stupid and yet SO funny. A modern story could never get away with that. Even Rosa would have too much shame to do it. But I sometimes miss the shticky Carl Barks comics. Rosa may have sophisticated the canon, but there is something to be said for Barks' occasional lunacy. ****1/2.

"Easy Mower": This was a terrific joke, even if it was entirely predictable. It builds EXACTLY as a good joke should, and the answer fit every unlikely scenario. I really have to hand it to Barks for coming up with the "clippings" line. That was absolute genius and shows that Barks is a master of the classic building punchline joke. *****.

"Ski Lift Let-Down": Cruel. Even for McDuck. ***.

"The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone":

A classic with a GREAT showing for Huey, Dewey, and Louie AND the Junior Woodchucks' Guidebook. I love all of the attention to detail Barks obviously put into researching this story, making it sound actually plausible. The artwork is gorgeous too. One of Barks' most famous longer adventures. I love that Barks is not afraid to take supernatural elements and make them sound scientifically possible. A good 'un. *****.

"Cast Of Thousands": Dumb joke. **.

"Deep Decision": I like how Barks has made Scrooge screwing with the coffee shop guy a running gag. ****.

"Heirloom Watch":

Significant Barks story because it dates the canon as 1955, which Rosa ran with. The end gag was pretty good too. ****.

"Smash Success": You know how Scrooge always claims he makes his money square? This short shows that is b.s.. *.

"Luncheon Lament": SO unfunny. 0.

"The Great Steamboat Race":

This is a good story but if Scrooge had lost that race, he would have deserved to have lost it. If he isn't going to invest in the effort to compete properly he never should have accepted the contest. in the first place. ***1/2.

"Come As You Are": These sound like something that were probably an actual thing in the 1950's. They also sound incredibly stupid. **1/2.

"Roundabout Hand-Out": I'm sorry, but are we supposed to think it's clever that Scrooge is cheating squirrels in the park? I think it is inane. 0.

"Riches, Riches, Everywhere!":

I don't like this story. It hints that Scrooge got wealthy due to uncommon luck. Everyone actually knows it was due to his own hard work. **.

"Watt An Occasion": Another instance of Scrooge thinking he is being clever, when he is in fact being inane. *.

"Doughnut Dare": Return of the running gag of Scrooge cheating the coffee shop guy. ***1/2.

"The Golden Fleecing":

Not as great as I remembered it, but it still had some nice touches. I liked the fact that the gold bars the larkies threw overboard were the thing to finance the voyage for the nephews. That was good writing as were the various doublecrosses used by the larkie Scrooge "befriends". Nice use of the weird rules of Roman Mythology too. ****.

"A Sweat Deal": This joke was majorly stupid. And majorly funny. ****1/2.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 23, 2007
New York
A silly question, but whose voices do you hear when you read these comics. For me, when it comes to Donald, Donald is Donald, Clearance's Donald and Tony's Donald there is very little difference. For Scrooge is Alan Young, for Huey, Dewey, and Louie, believe it or not it Russi Tyler, mainly because in the comics they more Donald's sidekicks like they are in Ducktales oppose to the antagonist brats they are in the classic shorts when Clearance Nash voiced them. Daisy is the most tricky, they are times when I hear Gloria Blondell, but most of the time it is Tress MacNelle who I am hearing, especially if I am reading a Don Rosa comic.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Donald's voice in my is entirely different than the cartoons, and an actual normal speaking voice. I sort of have a voice similar to Alan Young and Russi Taylor in my head for Scrooge and the nephews, but they are also somewhat different (especially the nephews).

More reviews, this time for Don Rosa:

Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: The Son Of The Sun: The Don Rosa Library Volume 1

Kaboom Comics tried to do a Don Rosa Library but they lost the Disney License after they only did two of them. Fantagraphics' version is better because it is hardcover, on bigger and sturdier paper with better colors, and covers Uncle Scrooge too (The Kaboom ones only got around to Donald Duck). I wish it was thicker but there is a MUCH more limited Rosa canon than Barks so I understand them wanting to spread these out a bit. I just hope they don't halve The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck the way Boom Kids foolishly did. But so far, I am very happy.

Honestly, I have always liked Rosa better than Barks. While his artwork is technically worse, it is also more visually interesting. The jokes are funnier and the stories always tend to build to either a super exciting climax or really funny last panel joke. Don't get me wrong. Barks could do this too. In his very best stories. The Good Duck Artist also had his share of stories where he obviously wasn't trying very hard. That is not so with Rosa. The Son Of The Sun of one of the very best Uncle Scrooge stories of all time and that was his very first one. Rosa takes these characters seriously and gives each story his all. I for one, appreciate it.

And nobody appreciates Carl Barks more than Don Rosa. He's gotten a lot of flack for making sequels to Barks stories but since they are so good I don't care what other people say. Plus, Rosa's version of Gladstone Gander is WAAAYYY better than Barks' because he doesn't actually hate the character. I grew up with Rosa the same people Disney Comics fans of a certain age grew up with Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson. He has always been my favorite.

Best stories are the incredible "The Son Of The Son", the debut of Rosa's hilarious version of Gladstone (Nobody's Business), the mad-funny sequel to "The Mysterious Stone Ray" (Cash Flow), the Donald Duck Halloween ten-pager (Fit To Be Pied), the perfect four page Christmas story (Fir Tree Fracas), the first hint that Rosa REALLY knew how to use Gladstone's luck to great effect (Oolated Luck), and the sequel to "Back To The Klondike" (Last Sled To Dawson). There aren't any stories I dislike but the weakest are some of the two page gags. It's not surprising that they weren't written by Rosa. Volume Overall: *****.

Uncle Scrooge and "The Son Of The Sun":

What I find interesting about Don Rosa's first story is how excellent is it right off the bat. Carl Barks is the gold standard among Disney Comics writers/artists, but if you look at it objectively "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold" isn't actually all that hot. In fact I would argue that Barks never delivered a REALLY great Uncle Scrooge story until he got his own comic ("Only A Poor Old Man"). But Rosa struck lightning in a bottle on his very first try. Even if the artwork is somewhat primitive (even by Rosa standards) "The Son Of The Sun" is one of the greatest Uncle Scrooge stories of all time. Rosa has done a couple of better ones ("His Majesty McDuck" and "The Old Castle's Other Secret" spring immediately to mind) but it is pretty much the Star Trek "Best Of Both Worlds" moment for Disney Comics. The Next Generation in all it's glory. Well it took TNG three years to get on the map with that cliffhanger and Rosa does it right in his first issue. This is definitely the bigger accomplishment. My favorite bit was Donald telling Scrooge how he liked his eggs while Glomgold threw a fit in frustration. Rosa did a better Glomgold than Barks did. Sacrilege, I know, but Barks only used him in two or three stories and Rosa used him often. It makes sense he'd have a better feel for him. A defining moment in comic book history. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "Nobody's Business":

So much happens during this ten pager it seems a LOT longer than it actually is. On most things that's an insult, but here, I think it is just Rosa knowing how to use ten pages to their fullest. I also have to say, this version of Gladstone Gander is a LOT more lovable than Barks' version. I'm guessing that's because Rosa doesn't outright hate the character the way Unca Carl did. This was the first Gladstone Gander story I ever read, so going back to the Barks version in the years that followed always left me feeling a bit disappointed. Gladstone's actually funny here! He reaches for a pizza slice before he even knows it's there, and he answers the phone saying "Yahs?", and says things like "Hey, what gives, Mack?". I also now appreciate some of the gross foods Donald spoiled the investor with were actually edible tortures the Larkies from "The Golden Fleecing" used, right down to the parsnip pudding. Donald is not a very self-aware person. The weirdest thing to me is that the Gladstone logo at the end still exists and that no other comic book company has had a problem reprinting it when they run the story again. Gladstone was a VERY special company and I love that every Disney comic book company loves them as much as I did. Gemstone was close, but Gladstone was the real deal. *****.

Donald Duck "Mythological Menagerie":

The colors they used on the beast at the end in this volume make is MUCH scarier and more bizarre looking than it did when the story was first printed. That look the nephews give each other after looking up from the guide book is one of the best timed gag beats Rosa has ever done. Jeff Smith would be proud. I also now recognize many of these creatures from Harry Potter. Smart of Rosa to point out they had already captured a unicorn. Huey, Dewey, and Louie might have seemed AWFULLY stupid if they didn't have a rational reason to believe what they did. ****.

Donald Duck "Recalled Wreck":

The ending isn't that great but the story is fun. Great use of props too. "And how Jack!" ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Cash Flow"

This was the third Rosa story I'd read and it is still one of my favorites. I had just gotten into comics so I hadn't even read a BARKS story that was better. I was hooked. The story this was based on (called "Message From Mysterious Island" in the Gladstone days) was also good, so this story was a great sequel. This was the first instance of Don Rosa turning science facts into speculative fiction and it's something he became a master of later. This contains some of his best sight gags ever and lovable character moments (Donald blackmailing a desperate Scrooge, the Beagle Boy mooning after prunes). The prune mooning is especially great (check out the awesomely funny expression on his face when the Beagle Boy eats the stolen prune). I especially like the traps Scrooge set around his money bin complete with a "welcome" sign). The artwork was amazing and the high concept was neat. One of my faves as a kids. "And with a liquid center to boot!" *****.

Donald Duck "Fit To Be Pied":

Don Rosa didn't do as many recent gag stories as he used to during his Gladstone days and this story proves that it's a shame. The whole escalating pumpkin war with Neighbor Jones and the nephews caught in the middle is so priceless because it is SO in character. Like the majority of his short stories the entire story builds up to climax in a hilarious end gag. Rosa's longer stories may usually be better but DANG he knows how to make great gag stories too. And I honestly think Rosa put better use to Neighbor Jones than Carl Barks ever did. That look of Donald's that Jones snaps in his camera and later makes a pumpkin was mad-funny. ****1/2.

Donald Duck "Fir-Tree Fracas":

Only four pages, this is pretty much the perfect gag story. SO well-timed and the artwork is beautiful. Rosa literally drew what I honestly believe is the most beautiful Christmas tree of all time. That's a tall order to pull off and Rosa actually did it. If somebody were to ask me what the best looking Christmas tree ever was, I'd instantly say the one from Fir-Tree Fracas. I'm not just jiving about that. *****.

Donald Duck "Oolated Luck":

One of my favorite Gladstone Gander stories of all time because it actually used Gladstone's luck in a new and unpredictable way (The Sign Of The Triple Distelfink is great for the same reason). Gladstone Gander ALWAYS beats the odds. The interesting thing to me is that even if winning the contest turned out to ultimately be unlucky for Donald, he still won it! That is what we call a moral victory and against Gladstone, those are the best (not to mention only) kind. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Paper Chase":

Cute gag but the best Rosa stuff is written by him too. **1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Last Sled To Dawson":

What a beautiful story. I bet the flashback is what convinced Rosa to do "The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck". SO great. The last two pages of the story were beautiful too. Funniest moment was Donald hanging from the sled saying "Up, up, and Away!". The best thing about Rosa doing sequels to Barks stories (in this case "Back To The Klondike") is that we get updates on characters we always wondered what had happened to. Here we learn Glittering Goldie now owns a hotel where the Blackjack Ballroom used to be. Best line goes to Scrooge: "So I have Lava in my java in Cassava and the wrong gongs are long gone from Hong Kong." *****.

Donald Duck "Rocket Reverie":

This wasn't written by Rosa but it's pretty good. The gag it builds to is a groaner though. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Fiscal Fitness":

Also not written by Rosa. I think the artwork was too detailed which has always been Rosa's problem. **1/2.

Donald Duck "Metaphorically Spanking":

This is one of those stories where the nephews actually lose. Repeatedly and embarrassingly. It's almost painful to read. Funny stuff. However, I would like to point out that Gladstone "Oh shut up!" runner in "Sign Of The Triple Distelfink" was MUCH funnier than the nephews' repeated "We couldn't be THAT unlucky." Maybe this was practice. ****.

"This Should Cover It All!":

These are Rosa covers for stories not by Rosa. This contains the only single page gag (single picture really) of Rosa's entire writing duck output. He's better sticking to the longer stories. Overall: ***1/2.

Donald Duck And Uncle Scrooge: Return To Plain Awful: The Don Rosa Library Volume 2

The first half of this book is absolutely amazing with some of Don Rosa's best stories. It is when we start getting into a long streak of awful stories not written (and in one case drawn) by him that the book loses a great deal of its appeal. The first Volume doesn't really have a story as great as His Majesty McDuck. But it doesn't have a string of stories as bad as several from the second half of this book either.

Best stories are the one based on the Carl Barks cover (The Crocodile Collector), the most punny and wordplay filled story of Rosa's career (His Fortune On The Rocks), the sequel to "Lost In The Andes" (Return To Plain Awful), arguably the greatest story Rosa ever did (His Majesty McDuck), the daffy Magica DeSpell screwball comedy (On a Silver Platter), Rosa's "collaboration" with Barks (The Pied Piper Of Duckburg), and Rosa's blistering indictment of comic book "collectors" (The Money Pit). Worst stories are the rare misfire actually both written and drawn by Rosa himself (The Curse Of Nostrildamus), the Daisy Duck story that makes no sense (Forget Me Not), and the one where the characters are all acting out of character (Making The Grade). The DuckTales story not drawn by Rosa (Back In Time For A Dime) sucks too but it gets a passing grade due to it's completely bizarre real-life history and what it means to be the only Rosa story to feature Launchpad McQuack. Volume Overall: ****.

Donald Duck "The Crocodile Collector":

Rosa never actually did that many long DONALD stories outside of the Caballeros ones but I think when he DID do them they were awesome. This is his first long Donald adventure. Slavish Barks continuity? Check. Mickey Mouse slam? Check. Easter egg picture of Unca Carl himself? Double check. The last frame is funny too even though you KNOW Donald and the boys are not going to keep that treasure for long. Classic story with a REALLY unexpected ending. I love how Rosa lets Donald be Donald here, and he is an overzealous crank but not actually stupid. Rosa may humiliate Donald too frequently in his stories, but NOBODY writes Donald funnier and more likable than him. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "His Fortune On The Rocks"

I think this is the story where Rosa's artwork and comic timing really started to improve. Those gems being chewing gum and then a mountain goat's nose were REALLY memorable gags. My only real complaint is that the story is too punny. Still, that "Gneiss Rock" bit is punnery at its finest (even if "Chert off his pack" wasn't). He also paces the action very well. This is the most visually interesting Rosa story so far. ****1/2.

Donald Duck "Return To Plain Awful":

One of my favorite Don Rosa stories EVER, this sequel to Carl Barks' Lost in the Andes is SO great because it follows the rules established in the previous story thoroughly (and in the case of Donald's buttons, more so) and each twist builds upon the other. I LOVE the great ice cream soda race, ESPECIALLY Donald's reaction to the kids telling him they needed to create one from scratch on the spot. ("How are we supposed to pull off that trick?") I also love how with the exception of getting his number one dime, back NOTHING goes the way Scrooge wants it to in the story. I love how even how when the Awfultonians mimicked Scrooge and Glomgold's mannerisms that they stayed noble and true to themselves. And I ESPECIALLY loved Donald's role in the story as patient teacher to Uncle Scrooge, which builds INCREDIBLY into the last line which is SO perfect and probably one of the greatest gags in all of Disney Comics. *****.

Uncle Scrooge: "The Curse Of Nostrildamus":

This was one of Rosa's weaker and more predictable outings. There aren't many stories I can say that for. *1/2.

Donald Duck "The Star-Struck Duck":

This unfinished Lost tale would have been wild to seen completed (both Mickey AND Goofy appear at the end) but there is no way I would have considered it canon. Someday I hope to see a future artist complete this tale much the same way Rosa and others have finished some of Barks stories. A curiosity. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "His Majesty McDuck":

This is considered the greatest Don Rosa story ever written, and it is hard to argue the point. I actually like "A Letter From Home (Or The Old Castle's Other Secret)" slightly more, but it tickles me how annoyed Rosa would get at people calling his best story one of the earliest he ever did, as if he would never be able to top it. But boy, is it good. For such a high farce, the ending was surprisingly beautiful and moving, and shows exactly how much Scrooge privately cares about Duckburg. One of the most interesting things is that Donald is such a goofball during it, but then turns on a dime when Scrooge complains he isn't taking the situation seriously. "How can I? This is such a FARCE!" Donald rages. Honestly? Outside of Scrooge himself, Disney Comics and cartoons aren't really the places to find Crowning Moments of Awesome, but that? That was Donald Duck's. His finest moment, and I love that his nephews agreed with him, and even Scrooge couldn't argue the point. Donald's fury was righteous, and you instantly realize his fake playfulness wasn't him enjoying himself, but rather him letting his uncle know that he thought the entire thing was stupid. He was affording the situation the exact level of respect it deserved. That's REALLY deep and interesting. It is SO freaking hard to believe something of that level of psychological depth came from Donald Duck, but it did. There were a ton of great jokes too, especially the nephews writing laws on the spot ("It's rude!" / "A sound thrashing!"). I also enjoyed McDuck's run about the frozen smoke. Maybe the sword fight wasn't all that hot, but this is early in Rosa's career. I'm willing to let it slide. I love how the story uses a completely original idea for a cartoon, and turns it into a fable about the actual role of government in our lives, and that maybe people thinking that it would be better without it aren't really thinking at all. The import taxes (great drawing on Donald's "He did it to me again" by the way), to criminals having diplomatic immunity, everything that the government provides when Scrooge needs it most is gone. I actually own the first printing of this ("The Son Of The Sun" too) and I've got to imagine it is worth some serious scratch now. I remember how absolutely bowled over I was when I first read it. It wasn't just the best Disney Comic I had ever read, it was pretty much the best comic I had ever read, period. True, Bone hadn't come out yet. But Calvin and Hobbes HAD. This is seriously better than Calvin and Hobbes, if you can believe it. Rosa paces the entire thing like a movie (Citizen Kane being the obvious main influence) and it reads as if it is animated. Rosa may be mad at us for saying he never did a better story in the intervening years. But with the exception of "A Letter From Home", I think it is absolutely true. I don't even think Barks ever did a story this good. There. I said it. Come and get me. *****.

Donald Duck "Do Unto Others":

This is probably the best of the stories in the book not written by Rosa. It seems to be written in a style much like his. ***.

Daisy Duck "Forget Me Not":

Meh. Is this the only Don Rosa drawn story featuring Clara Cluck and April, May and June? *1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "On A Silver Platter":

Lots of weird, funny visuals. You can tell Rosa had a lot of fun coming up with this story. ****1/2.

Donald Duck "Making The Grade":

I actually find Donald and the boys acting out of character here. True, the story wasn't actually written by Rosa but I have pretty high standards when it comes to him and Barks (and even William Van Horn). I complain about it all the time when other creators mess up their personalities and the writer shouldn't get a pass just because this was drawn by Rosa. *1/2.

DuckTales "Back In Time For A Dime":

In this ultra-rare story you can SORT OF see Rosa's influence, but the story is so short you can tell it was butchered by the editors with the inclusion of Bubba among other things that Rosa wouldn't have done. This IS probably the closest we will ever get to seeing Launchpad in a Rosa Duck story though. Stupid story but interesting for its history. **1/2.

Gyro Gearloose "The Pied Piper Of Duckburg":

This is the only story that is by both Barks and Rosa. Barks wrote and penciled the first three pages Rosa inked them and wrote and drew the last five. The gag at the end was classic Rosa as was the concept of the strong smelling cheese. I imagine if Barks had finished this story it would have turned out very different. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Leaky Luck":

One of the few ultra rare Rosa one-page gags. He didn't write it himself which explains why it exists. ***1/2.

Donald Duck "The Money Pit":

I have ALWAYS loved this story, especially how Scrooge is the grown-up here. I love how Duck stories shift the perspective on who the hero is in each story. Sometimes it's Scrooge, more often it's the nephews and once in a while it's Donald. I also love how this story first appeared in Donald Duck Adventures #1 in the 90's because the moral in it about collecting stuff completely contradicts how comic book companies tend to see first issues. Oh, it's also mad-funny. Scrooge's perspective of coin collecting and the value one should put on objects was interesting and I love how he took Donald up on his offer to get "a discount on his wages". Donald was the one certainly about to learn a lesson. *****.

"The Should Cover It All!":

I loved seeing all of the Mickey Mouse covers. *****.

Donald Duck And Uncle Scrooge: Treasure Under Glass The Don Rosa Library Volume 3

The third volume of the Chronological Duck stories of Don Rosa.

This era of Don Rosa stories is frankly not my favorite. For some reason, when he was starting out at Egmont, the quality dipped a little. Things got back on track with The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck (which will start in Volume 4) but outside of the fabulous Tralla La sequel "Return To Xanadu", I don't really outright love any stories in this volume.

Or do I? The fact remains that Rosa is a master of the funny animal comic, and even when he's going through the motions, he's funnier and cleverer than just about anyone currently in the business. The only people at his level are Jeff Smith and Bill Watterson. So me saying I don't love most of this stories is me probably just kidding myself.

The best story is "Return To Xanadu" and the worst is the sci-fi "The Duck Who Fell To Earth" (which even Rosa doesn't seem too fond of in the Linear Notes.) Volume Overall: ***1/2.

Donald Duck "The Master Landscapist":

Rosa's take on Carl Barks various "Brittle Mastery Of Donald Duck" tales. The visual of the giant rat face on the landscape shows Rosa's inherent talent for funny sight gags and the climax builds impressively to disaster. That being said, this is hardly one of Rosa's best stories. And I find it hard to believe a fox hunt is actually enjoyable for the fox. ***.

Uncle Scrooge "On Stolen Time"

DuckTales did a nearly identical premise with the episode Time Teasers, about the Beagle Boys using a stopwatch that froze time, and it just goes to show how superior the comics were to that cartoon. They did not mine ANY of the interesting premises that Rosa does here like how in frozen time blades of grass are as sharp as needles. Or having the Beagle Boys climbing a flock of pigeons to escape only to realize that if they unfroze time they'd fall. And they certainly weren't clever enough to have one of the Ducks fake being frozen in time to trick the Beagle Boys. Here is an irony though: The DuckTales episode came BEFORE the Rosa story, although he has had this specific idea in his head for years. It shows. He mined the premise for all it was worth, while DuckTales barely scratched the surface. Coolest thing about the Fantagraphics reprint is that they used yellow outlines outside of the panel squares to indicate frozen time. Why didn't Disney Comics think of that in the 90's? ****.

Uncle Scrooge "Treasure Under Glass"

"I've heard of Coral Barques." I see what Rosa did there. Love "Bos'n Huey" and the detailed artwork was beautiful. The colors used in the reproduction make it more gorgeous than ever. The glass dome popping up above water looked awesome as did "the hole in the ocean". And as usual, I learned things I didn't know like that treasure hunting was a thing in the 1600's. Which makes sense. They had the opposite problem the ducks usually do. They knew where the treasure was, but had no means to get to it. The Ducks exploring a sunken wreck in their street clothes is an irresistibly cool concept, as is the idea that the 300 year old air in the diving bell was cleaner than regular air. A really great story. ****.

Uncle Scrooge "Return To Xanadu"

This was the best story from this era of Rosa's output. As Disney Comics billed it it's "The Sequel you didn't expect". And everything that happens in it feels like Deja Vu to the Ducks. The story even sounds familiar until Scrooge crankily tells Donald that he wouldn't have visited paradise and simply forgotten it. And I love that the secret hidden treasure is actually the bottlecaps. And there is a double surprise of Kublai Khan's treasure actually being sunk at the bottom of the whirlpool. It may seem strange that Carl Barks' original story fed into the Xanadu myth so flawlessly, but Xanadu is the same concept of Shangri La, which is what Lost Horizon and then Tralla La was based upon. It was fun watching Scrooge warm up to the place and the callback of him being good at fixing dolls. And he even mentions his sisters in Scotland for good measure, which blew by me back in the day because The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck hadn't come out yet. The picture of the gate bursting open with water was a great visual and one of the things Rosa excels at. I like Donald saying being paid a quarter and a nickel per hour is only handsome if you think Washington and Jefferson were cute. I also laughed at the nephews' astonishment that in one of the myriad tomes in the Tralla La library existed a fact not in the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook. Donald Duck's "Cold day" joke was less funny than it was obvious. I like Scrooge telling Miss Quackfaster to double his yearly donation to the Junior Woodchucks worldwide, and her telling him that that's the same amount. My one complaint is that the story engages in more than a few negative Asian stereotypes at times (especially regarding the yak herder). It's nowhere near as bad as the worst of Floyd Gottfredson's, or even Carl Barks' stuff, but the difference here is that Rosa should have known better. Still a great story though. *****.

Donald Duck "The Duck Who Fell To Earth"

Subpar. And the "knocked him into next week" as clever as it was, didn't justify the entire story. The scientist seems incredibly stupid to be worried about spacetime warps. I see why Bark substituted the cretin from Donald Duck's Atom Bomb for the comparatively respectable Gyro Gearloose. **.

Donald Duck "Incident At McDuck Tower"

"See how casually he falls off the building." That last page of Donald falling and bouncing off scaffolding was masterful, and Don Rosa's detailed artwork at its best. And Donald becomes so afraid of heights, he gets vertigo off of a street curb. He decides to become a street sweeper because you can't fall off of a street. And then he promptly falls into a manhole as Uncle Scrooge asks him if he should be washing windows. I love that Scrooge is so freaked out by losing the nickel. "Yes, what's your point?" says everything, and that McDuck is pretty much going to be occupied elsewhere for the remainder of the story. I always thought back in the day that the story was kind of edgy for having Donald being confused with a "jumper", and being slapped by a secretary for being "flirty", and both things are still kind of adult themed and saucy. Great story. ****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Island On The Edge Of Time"

Another great high concept involving the international dateline in which Scrooge outwits Glomgold using a loophole (the best way to outwit Glomgold) and the nephews outwits him using another one. Dewey seems a bit outraged at Scrooge getting Glomgold arrested and quarantined and says it's a dirty trick. Well, it's positively mild considering what Glomgold repeatedly puts them through. Truth be told, I am not sure either Scrooge or that kid's claim using the international dateline would hold up in a court of law. I'm surprised Glomgold didn't even bother to threaten to put his lawyers on it. I like that when Donald tries to weasel out a day's pay, Scrooge pays him in nothing as "imaginary money for imaginary work". The one thing in the story I dislike is Scrooge breaking the fourth wall at the end, but to be honest, Rosa's Narrator was working my last nerve too, so I see why Scrooge was getting annoyed. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "The War Of The Wendigo"

This story created a bit of a controversy back in the day because Gladstone and the American publishers refused to print it due to racial stereotypes of Indians. This was during the Pocahontas controversy, and Disney didn't want to fuel that that particular fire. And I kind of get why that is. But I do understand Rosa's argument too. The Peewaggahs have the same character designs they did in "Land Of The Pygmy Indians", but they are a much more modern day interpretation of Native American archetypes. The story involves conservation and that maybe environmentalism is not just in your own best interest. It's a tiny sacrifice you make for the Earth because it gives you everything else. And maybe the fact that the environmental messages in this story are spiritual rather than scientific perhaps makes this story seem dated when it should be relevant. But I've found when talking to conservatives about protecting the environment, it helps to use their language and framing to get the point across. The story isn't religious, and even if it was, it would be using Indian religions, but the message still works for Christianity too, so it's compelling for the same reason. There are stereotypes in the story however, but most of them involve slurs being said by the white characters (and they are portrayed as insensitive for saying them). I understand that it WILL offend some people. But generally speaking, that's sort of the point of any character using the word "Injun" or "midget". Once Gladstone went out of business, they relented and finally printed the story in the last Uncle Scrooge issue they published because they figured they had nothing left to lose. It's interesting to get it in a collection of the actual era from which is was written. ****.

Donald Duck "Super Snooper Strikes Again!"

I have always thought the sequel was better than Carl Barks original and I think the reason is because Donald is the villain in the original and the nephews are the villains here. If Donald is a ginormous ass all throughout the story, you can't really take his complaints about superhero comics seriously. But if Donald is well-intentioned and simply looking out for the nephews best interests, you can actually show exactly why comics like "Marvin the Monkey" are superior to modern "adult themed" superhero fare. And it's to the nephews' credit they realize how badly they have been treating Donald and declare him their hero after the ordeal. Interestingly, they also referred themselves being "orphaned" which seems to me to be the clearest clue given by Rosa ever about Della Duck's actual fate. This isn't the best Rosa story ever, but like many sequels to Carl Barks stories, it crazily wound up better than the original. ****.

Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: The Last Of The Clan McDuck: The Don Rosa Library Volume 4

Book Four of The Don Rosa Library deals with roughly the first half of The Life And Time Of Scrooge McDuck (not counting the half-chapters which will be printed later). Rosa's ultimate masterpiece is an incredible tough read for a casual fan. But if you actually care about this? As much as Rosa does? You'll absolutely love it. Before Rosa there was never any tight continuity present in ANY Disney comics, Duck or otherwise. With his sequels and this prequel, Rosa made the Duckverse as geeky as any superhero comic. Only of a much higher quality than the average superhero fare.

The Best stories are the second chapter (The Master Of The Mississippi) and the fifth chapter (The New Laird Of Castle McDuck). Weakest story is Part 7 (The Dreamtime Duck Of The Never Never). I won't call it the worst story though, because that would imply it's actually bad when it is far from it. Volume Overall: ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Of Ducks, Dimes, and Destinies"

Rosa correctly predicted this story might be a bit polarizing and he's right. I don't like the implications that Magica De Spell gave Scrooge his first dime one bit. And I also don't think the sci-fi premise works with Rosa's idea in the Linear Notes that maybe the timeline reset at the end and that the entire past adventure was retconned. I don't buy that because that isn't how time travel stories work. So I think for better or worse, we are stuck with this. Good things? Rosa did an admirable (if not perfect) job of making the scene we saw in The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck look if not identical, than at least indistinguishable (and from a different POV no less!). Neat trick since he hadn't even written that story yet. **1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part One: "The Last Of The Clan McDuck"

The Life And Times portion of the Rosa canon is surprisingly heavy reading. There are a lot of details to unpack, and it take a lot more focus to get through and enjoy than the average Rosa yarn. I actually like it less than the rest of his canon for that precise reason (and Rosa speculates in the Linear Notes that the heavy nature of the story would probably appeal less to casual fans). Hortense is quite adorable in this story, and this is the other chapter besides 11 that really piles on the Barksverse details. And it's a bit more work to put into than the average Duck comic. Interestingly, in this Fantagraphics printing, one of the Whiskerville's exclaims, "What the bloody hell?" I don't know if the canon is actually better for that swear existing, but it certainly shows that Fantagraphics is giving Rosa more freedom and leeway than any other American comic book company. ****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Two: "The Master Of The Mississippi"

I've always liked this this part although it feels five or six pages too long. The first "ending" is a false one and the story keeping continuing for some reason. I think Rosa's origin of the Beagle Boys is brilliant. The masks are from Mardi Gras. This is the only story that I am aware of that we see a Beagle Boy face without the mask. But Rosa is so clever because the rest of the face is covered in mud, so the skin around the eyes where the mask was taken off looks like a mask itself. I like that when a customer complains that Ratchet Gearloose's clarifying pills make the water taste like skunkweed, Ratchet shoots back that he bets Edison's first lightbulb didn't taste very good either. But the selling point of the story is Pothole McDuck and his allegories for how muddy the Mississippi was. They are comedy gems first written by Mark Twain. He wouldn't drink the water unless he rinsed it off with other water first. And then he'd drink it with a fork. Dust gathers on the surface and catfish come up to sneeze. Whenever it goes around a bend, it cracks. The farmers complain it is too thick to drink but too thin to plow. It's so muddy you could lay down railroad tracks on it etc. Rosa must have had fun stealing those corny "Tall Tale" jokes. I also liked seeing the genesis of Scrooge getting the idea to pay his nephews 30 cents an hour by Uncle Pothole only paying him 30 cents a day. Was there anything in the story I didn't like? I didn't like when Blackheart admires Pothole for supposedly being willing to let his nephew die, and that he'd do the same to his own kind, the sons saying, "Atta boy, Pappy!" "Wait a minute! He's talking about US!" That was Rosa overexplaining the joke. If he has to do that then it's not funny. But it's my opinion that he didn't actually have to do that. So now a joke that WOULD have been funny actually isn't. ****1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Three: "The Buckaroo Of The Badlands"

I love the idea that young Scrooge punked the James Gang, and I always love the idea that Teddy Roosevelt and Scrooge became good friends and TR was his mentor. The square eggs things was a great bit of canon too although even Rosa points out in the Linear Notes that it doesn't actually fit "Lost In The Andes" canon. I laughed that Scrooge screams "Wak!" like a duck on the rodeo horse. Because he is Donald's Uncle. I also loved Hortense's reaction to the letter saying that Scrooge named his horse after his sister because they had similar tempers. The idea that it was raining so hard that Scrooge saw catfish swim by shoulder high is another good Tall Tale joke. The joke about Scrooge refusing to shoot the bear because bullets were expensive would undoubtedly get Chris Rock's approval. Good chapter. ****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Four: "The Raider Of Copper Hill"

I love that the insufferable John Rockerduck's father Howard is actually decent. We actually saw him in "Ducks, Dimes, and Destinies" but didn't realize it was him, and that Scrooge's first dime was originally owned by him. And I especially love that at this stage of the game, he is probably more decent than Scrooge. He taught him some tough lessons about the reality of people and money, although I would have liked to have heard him actually give the prospecting tips. I feel a little weird that we didn't hear them because that is usually the kind of thing Rosa researches. Maybe this chapter was on a tight deadline or something. ***1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Five: "The New Laird Of Castle McDuck"

If anyone deserves to be called a hellion it's Hortense McDuck. I love that these stories finally have the proper colorings for the Whiskerville's white hair and beards. It looks SO much better now. I love the moment of all of the ghosts of Scrooge's ancestors scaring off the Whiskervilles, and I love the "Another Rainbow" reference at the end (even if the rainbow itself is badly drawn, as Rosa admits in the Linear Notes). This is one of the best Chapters of the saga. ****1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Six: "The Terror Of The Transvaal"

"You just made me mean!" That was awesome, and sums up Scrooge's entire relationship to Flintheart Glomgold. What a great origin story for Glomgold. He was always a sneak, but he wasn't always a rich, RESPECTABLE sneak. And is there any cooler battle cry than "Fill your hand!" from "True Grit"? I laughed at Scrooge asking the stableman to look after his lion. I like that Rosa was able to do this story because Glomgold never says his name and neither recognize each other from this experience in their later years. Which is very consistent with how clueless and self-involved older Scrooge is often portrayed. But maybe Glomgold actually DID recognize Scrooge from this adventure when they met in "The Second Richest Duck", and just never revealed who he was. There is nothing in the Barks canon that disproves that interpretation either. ***1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Seven: "The Dreamtime Duck Of The Never Never"

This chapter is admittedly a bit of a filler. But I liked that Platypus cave drawings at the end representing the Money Bin, Donald, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie. **1/2.

Behind The Scenes:

We actually get to see the very intriguing prologue from chapter 1, detailing McDuck family history before Scrooge! Fascinating stuff, and Rosa wasn't ultimately able to get back to it all in the story. Here we see an ancestor of Donald's Neighbor Jones. One thing I dislike is that Rosa seems to be quite downplaying the horrors of the Crusades. There are also first draft pages from the third chapter, but as Rosa himself admits, they suck, so they only included two of them, and they aren't really worth going into detail about. ****.

This Should Cover It All:

I love seeing Rosa covers for Barks stories, or the even rarer Rosa covers for Non-Barks European artist Duck stories (which he claims he never even bothered to read before drawing the cover). Some of these covers I recognize from my old Disney Comics collection without ever realizing they were Rosa's. ****.

Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: The Richest Duck In The World: The Don Rosa Library Volume 5

The Fifth Uncle Scrooge Don Rosa Libary book finishes off The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck, and offers two other stories, one good, one not so much. From "Duckburg To Lillehammer" is such an awkward and unlikely premise that even Don Rosa thinks it is 100% non-canon, and a Duckverse Elseworlds, if there was anything else to call it. "Guardians Of The Lost Library" is interesting because Rosa shows genuine apathy towards it in the Linear Notes, and yet, he also admits that many think it is his best story. And I think they are both wrong, and it's just really good.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck stuff got really interesting this issue. Aside from the must-read "The King Of The Klondike", the penultimate chapter, "The Empire Builder Of Calisota", fixes one of the gravest mistakes Carl Barks ever made. I hope up in Heaven he is still grateful to Rosa for that. It was an entirely gracious gesture from one superfan to his hero and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Best stories are Scrooge striking it rich! Rich! Rich! Rich! (The King Of The Klondike), and pretty much the best, most gut-wrenching, and mindblowing chapter in the entire series (The Empire Builder From Calisota). Worst story is "From Duckburg To Lillehammer" but I'm sure you already gathered that. Volume Overall: ****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Eight "The King Of The Klondike"

Magnificent. Soapy Slick is in my mind the most detestable Scrooge villain ever. Just because he reads the letter from home Scrooge gets to his pals and laughs at the fact that Scrooge's mother has died (which is the first Scrooge is hearing of it). I love the idea of the Tall Tale that followed, but I choose to believe it actually happened, if only because it is the only kind of justice for Soapy's scumbaggery. It seems fitting and perfect that the thing that gets Scrooge to lose his cool is Soapy talking smack about his dead mother. Out of all of Scrooge's various vanities and hang-ups, it strikes me as incredibly cool that Rosa instead turns to something universal and relatable. Rosa seems almost apologetic in the linear notes that followed for the violence in the story, but whether it actually occurred or not, I think it was fully justified. It's not like Carl Barks himself never drew that brutal bar fight in "Back To The Klondike" so it's not unprecedented either. I love that Wyatt Earp fears Scrooge by reputation (the dime on the string has gotten famous in the meantime). I also find it interesting that Scrooge knows what the frozen mammoth is, even if he doesn't know the proper name for it. It shows that Scrooge is very smart and worldly. Great part. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Guardians Of The Lost Library"

There are several major clues that the Guardians of the Lost Library are actually the Junior Woodchucks throughout the story (such as the fact that all of the clues seem to lead back to the Guidebook), but it doesn't make the revelation less pleasurable. Scrooge having a happy ending by saving billions of dollars in library fees felt right too. I love that Donald watches various action TV shows with a guy named Savage who's mode of transport always seems to burst into flames. I didn't know Cleopatra was Greek, rather than Egyptian, but Duck Comics teach me something new every day. Serves the nephews right for having to live with the idea that the Woodchucks were founded by a girl. That was probably the one part of the story I didn't like. Rosa thinks this story is boring, and many fans think it is his best. They are both wrong. It is merely good. ****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Nine "The Billionaire Of Dismal Downs"

This was an incredibly moving issue for me with Scrooge's father dying and the ghost of him and his mother waving goodbye to Scrooge and the girls. Just watching them walk through the wall with Sir Quackly as Fergus' body lies still in his bed gives me the chills (in a good way). I also liked Scrooge getting five points in the tournament for retrieving the golf ball from the bog. Only a highlander would be such a cheapskate. Great joke there. Also fun to learn the genesis of Scrooge's classic outfit. And Scrooge is rich. He's not loony, he's eccentric. ****.

Donald Duck "From Duckburg To Lillehammer"

Gladstone Gander story and those all aggravate me. Once in a while Rosa (not Barks) can add an interesting twist to the luck premise, but he didn't do it here. **1/2.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Ten "The Invader Of Fort Duckburg"

The guy who made it square against the guy who DEALT it square. Rosa is REALLY good at this. I like Scrooge saying TR did almost as well as himself, and the Beagle Boys being starstruck they were being arrested by the President of the United States. Hortense and Quackmore being crabby love at first sight was amusing as was the origin of Killmotor Hill, Daphne Duck's luck (to be inherited by Gladstone), Elvira Duck being call Ma Duck before Grandma Duck, and the Junior Woodchuck deciding to create a hand held manual. Fun fact: We don't actually SEE Ma Beagle in this story, but we DO hear her voice for the first and only time in the canon. This is really the last "fun" chapter Scrooge has in the saga before everything goes to hell in the next part. ****.

The Duck Fanily Tree

I agree with Rosa that I would have preferred Ludwig Von Drake to the annoying Fethry on the tree, but the truth is, since Barks never really used Von Drake, and Fethry was after his time, neither actually belongs on the tree. Still wonder who the nephews' father is. The new DuckTales cartoon and comics are exploring the history of Donald's twin sister Della, but I wonder if we'll ever get the answer to that or what Rosa's second Tralla La sequel would have entailed. *****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Eleven "The Empire-Builder From Calisota"

Holy. Freaking. God. Rosa once described the penultimate chapter of his opus "the killer" and it is. Frankly, I don't think the last part is a good enough conclusion to this. It makes sense that Scrooge winds up old and alone before he reconnects with Donald on Bear Mountain, but holy freaking God, I wish things had ended better with his sisters. Do you know what I notice about Matilda? She is very forgiving. And unlike Hortense, understanding. So you know when things go to Hell in Africa and she is in tears, that Scrooge has gone over the line. There is nothing about "Voodoo Hoodoo" that doesn't suck. Except Rosa wrung the best part of his most famous story out of it. Some future Mickey Mouse writer is able to do the same with Floyd Gottfredson's dreadful "Mickey Mouse Meets Robinson Crusoe" and I'd be shocked. Foolu Zulu and Bombi's new character designs fascinate me. They still sort of traffic in arch racial stereotypes, but since neither of the characters are actually portrayed that way (in this story at least) it makes their designs much less offensive. Rosa did tone a lot of that stuff down from Barks story, while still being smart enough to make the characters still recognizable. I love that the first thing kid Donald Duck does upon meeting Scrooge McDuck is to give him a swift kick in the ass. How perfect is that? I mean, really. There are Barks purists who hate Rosa for the liberties he takes with his stories, but that one moment shows that Rosa gets the characters better than anyone. I sincerely doubt even Barks could come up with a meeting that perfect had he been the one tasked to write this saga. Great nods to the Gilded Man and the Maharajah of Howdyustan. Flintheart Glomgold is not the Second Richest Duck at this point. I wonder where on the list he actually was. Even if you dislike the rest of the saga, you will probably love this part. Because it took the absolutely crappiest Barks story, and pointed out WHY it actually sucked, and wrung drama and pathos from the fact that it sucked so much. Carl Barks is Don Rosa's hero. But I hope he was grateful for what Rosa did in this chapter. He fixed Barks' biggest and most shameful mistake. That is how dedicated a fan and writer Rosa is. He makes Barks better in hindsight and after the fact, than he actually was. There aren't that many second generation writers of a franchise able to do stuff like that. The Star Trek sequels of the 80's and 90's couldn't do it. Russell T Davies on Doctor Who couldn't do it. They both supplemented the original material just fine. But actually improved it? This is only a skill known by Rosa. Perfect chapter. *****.

The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck: Part Twelve "The Richest Duck In The World"

This did some things right and some things wrong. The first right thing was the genuine 100% homage to the beginning of Citizen Kane at the beginning. And somehow I think Glittering Goldie O'Gilt has more value than an old sled. I also love that this story sort of fixed the way the old DuckTales cartoons misrepresented the first dime. It was called the "Lucky Dime" and in reality, it never was. Scrooge got where he was on his own. Rosa was actually wise enough to ignore the "Magic Hourglass" for the same reason. Rosa and William Van Horn never really worked together on their stories, but Van Horn wrote a new wraparound to "The Magic Hourglass" a few years back, suggesting the entire thing was a Tall Tale and not canon. Which pretty much makes it the only Van Horn story that fits comfortably in the Rosa canon in my mind. The biggest mistake of the story was not addressing the multiple balls left in the air from the last part. I also think Donald is far too annoying in this story. Did he really NEED to be such a skeptic to all of the things we witnessed Scrooge do in the previous eleven parts? It just makes him unlikable and unusually stupid. Speaking of unusually stupid, I don't care if the nephews are years younger than we usually see them, they are DUMB if they are asking the butler if he is their Uncle Scrooge. Why? Because he's a freaking dog! Even I know how this stuff actually works. Interesting that Donald sees that Scrooge has won an Eisner Award which means Rosa actually won before he finished the story. He deserved the award, but I kind of think awarding something that prestigious to a comic book miniseries should happen only after the thing is actually finished. Maybe they could only do the award in the timeframe of the year it was given, but it would have been a much more impressive win in hindsight had the awards committee been able to judge the entire thing as a whole. Either way though, it definitely deserved the award. ****.

Behind The Scenes:

Some deleted pages from "From Duckburg To Lillehammer" and "The King Of The Klondike". The Klondike pages suck, the Lillehammer ones don't. In fact they were better than what was in the actual story! ****.

This Should Cover It All:

Not a ton of other Rosa covers in this edition and almost none of them have a D.U.C.K. dedication. **1/2.

Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: The Universal Solvent: The Don Rosa Library Volume 6

The 6th Volume of The Don Rosa Library has a couple of great stories and a couple of lousy ones. I tend to differ with many fans (and Rosa) about what the lousy stories are, but there is no question that "Hearts Of The Yukon" is still one of Rosa's best. I also have always loved "An Eye For Detail", even though Rosa does not. The stories I disliked ("The Universal Solvent", "The Lost Charts Of Columbus") are both Rosa and fan favorites so I seem to be alone in my disapproval there. Volume Overall: ****.

Donald Duck "The Duck Who Never Was"

I like the Donald Duck 60th Birthday story. I like the idea that Donald is just as crucial to Duckburg's success as Scrooge, but the thing I don't like is that his influence seems more to do with random bad luck coincidences happening with him gone. That's not the world being a lesser place for Donald Duck not being in it. That's simply alternate timeline chaos theory. That being said, the three people in Duckburg who seem legitimately worse off because Donald isn't there are Huey, Dewey, and Louie, which is important to me, because I believe Donald Duck is one of the greatest examples of fictional parents ever. Maybe it's random that the Think Boxes backfired on Gyro, or that Scrooge was unlucky enough to only have Gus Goose as a living relative old enough to work for him, but those are the breaks. The nephews having Gladstone as a parent is a legitimately bad turn for them. The nephews still being around says that Hortese and Quackmore were still a thing, but that Della was an only child who never had a twin. I got the heebie jeebies looking at the body of Gyro's Helper. And the devastating thing is that there is nothing he can do for him. I think the Beagle Boys being corrupt cops is the icing on the "Duckburg Sucks" sundae, but frankly, learning that Gladstone is even happier with Donald gone has got to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and the impetus to actually set things right. Daisy as a hot mess is bad enough. Gladstone being the nephew's guardian? Donald must fix this. Now. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Treasury Of Croesus"

I would very much have loved to have seen that adventure with Magica and the fireworks coming out of the Money Bin. I like the parallels between Scrooge and Magica and Croesus, Circe, and Midas, and I love that Scrooge actually decided to help Magica with her spell with Croesus's coin. But I think Scrooge is missing the forest for the trees as far as the moral of the story goes. The moral isn't "This means Scrooge McDuck is actually the richest Duck in history." It means that Circe and the Midas Touch are fiction, and Magica is a hoary old fraud and always has been. I get the latter idea appeals to Scrooge's ego, but sometimes Occam's Razor is the best answer. I again love how Rosa uses Donald as the voice of reason at the end and give both Scrooge and Magica a good and deserved shellacking. Because both of those two WERE getting on my nerves by the end of the story. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "The Universal Solvent"

This story has always rankled me for some reason because both Scrooge and Gyro seem far stupider in it than they should be. Gyro is stupid for creating something that dangerous and Scrooge is stupid for not finding out how it works before foolishly giving it applications to mining. All of this (and the later troubles with the Black Knight) could have been avoided if either character had a lick of common sense. This was another story where Rosa uses strange science to give us great visuals and I loved seeing the cameo of the Terra Firmies again. I also love that the second hardest material next to diamonds is Disney contracts, and that Jules Verne was portrayed as a five fingered human.. But the story doesn't really hold up in hindsight and makes both Gyro and Scrooge look uncommonly bad. **1/2.

Donald Duck "An Eye For Detail"

Donald has one of the best actual superpowers ever. I freaking love this story and always have. A mosquito bite behind Louie's ear? Ear? Never mind. I love that Donald refuses the good donut at the end because it has fly footprints on it. I laughed at the nephews' outrage over the idea that they look and act exactly alike. They seemed to really enjoy Scrooge grabbing them, holding them up to Donald, and him correctly identifying them. Correct as always! I think the DuckTales remake is losing a lot of the nephews' appeal in making them look and sound different. Donald definitely can't have that cool superpower there. I laughed that one of the things on the nephew's contract negotiations board was the return of artwork. Rosa always seems to put his personal details in these stories, doesn't he? Aside from Scrooge making Donald pay for donuts and coffee, I laughed at the idea that he has broom, mop, dustpan, and bucket rentals in his office. As Scrooge noted, he doesn't consider Donald calling him a miser an insult. One of my favorite Rosa stories from this era of his output. I find it quite weird that he dislikes it. *****.

Donald Duck "The Lost Charts Of Columbus"

This was a similar premise to "His Majesty McDuck" except I don't think it is quite as plausible. McDuck claiming a small piece of land as his own country is more plausible than two shysters being able to claim ownership of North America and making everyone their slaves. It's a foolish premise, no matter what U.N. laws state (even fictitious one). No country would ever stand for it, especially not the U.S.. What I did like was the end suggesting perhaps that Native Americans owned Europe. It's a silly idea, but very thought-provoking. To be fair to Rosa, the stupid fictitious law cited in the story was actually created by Carl Barks. It still makes no sense though and I still think this story is otherwise overrated. **.

Uncle Scrooge "The Incredible Shrinking Tightwad"

Great last half page splash panel, but Rosa is always great at those. The open mouth reaction shot of the nephews seeing the Money Bin has disappeared and then looking directly into the camera was absolutely priceless. Perfect visual joke there. Who says the nephews aren't funny? I also laughed at the Beagle Boys laughing that the nephews all look alike. And the Prune Beagle Boy is a running gag that somehow never gets old. I also loved the idea that Scrooge had Donald rewind his ball of string from "The Second Richest Duck". Good story. ***1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Hearts Of The Yukon"

This story is so amazing. Just the gag of Goldie rescuing an unconscious Scrooge from the Blackjack Ballroom is priceless enough. But you got that hilarious scary bear-tamer splitting town because Steele is coming and I'm rolling. Steele is great. I love that he says "Sasquatch" because Mounties do NOT say "Yowtch!" (or get muddy for that matter). Jack London and the "Always Get Our Duck" runner was great too, and the last scene of Scrooge not opening the letter, just so he could keep hope that there was one person in the world who loved him was great. Goldie stating that she could stand a little pressing from Scrooge was perhaps the most salacious line I have ever read in a Disney Comic. I love that Scrooge goes back to the idea of the barroom brawl from "The King Of The Klondike" being a Tall Tale to Coot until Coot suggests he couldn't have possibly licked that many people. But the idea that it was an exploded boiler that Scrooge just took from there is actually quite plausible. One of my favorite Scrooge stories of the "Life And Times" era, even if it's the only one of those not under that particular banner. *****.

Behind The Scenes:

The penciled original second half of The Lost Charts of Columbus was actually better than the published story (absent the last unfunny panel). Appropriately Akers McCovet also shows up and the story sort of turns into a parody of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The Indians owning Europe idea was also made more explicit, and frankly works better and is more awesome here. Rosa seems really regretful he had to lose that angle and I see why. More lost Rosa art is from The Universal Solvent, showing Scrooge regaining his classic top hat he lost in "Land Beneath The Ground". I wish those two panels had appeared in the published version because I feel as annoyed as Rosa was for Scrooge losing his original hat in that story. ****.

This Should Cover It All:

Not a ton of unrelated covers this round, but I liked the ones we got. ****.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Walt Disney's Donald Duck And Uncle Scrooge: The Treasure Of The Ten Avatars : The Don Rosa Library Volume 7

The Seventh Volume of The Don Rosa Library includes two keepers of stories in the 50th Anniversary Uncle Scrooge story "A Little Something Special", and the ten page Magica De Spell story "A Matter Of Some Gravity". Both stories are pure dynamite, and Rosa at his best. The collection also has the great "The Treasure Of The Ten Avatars", the good "The Last Lord Of El Dorado", The mediocre "The Once And Future Duck", and the lousy "Attack Of The Hideous Space Varmints". But seeing "A Little Something Special" and "A Matter Of Some Gravity" again made every cent I paid for the book worth it. Volume Overall: ****1/2.

Donald Duck "The Once And Future Duck"

Don Rosa isn't crazy about this story, and neither am I. But he thinks it's too dark (it's based on a Pertwillaby Papers story) and I think it's too stupid. It's a really cool concept to see the idea that King Arthur was NOT a Legend, but that instead we saw the genesis of how the legend was created and told. It never actually happened. But because of what happened with the Ducks, everyone thinks it did. The problem in my mind with the story is that there is a giant plothole in it and some outright bad writing. The Ducks should have known they had traveled back in time immediately. That's precisely what they were attempting. Why are they acting surprised it worked? The second hole is just plain stupid. How is Donald Duck's broke butt supposed to be able to pay to not only fly overseas, but bring over all of Gyro's necessary equipment? This kind of expedition is expensive, and Donald cannot actually afford it himself. This is why Duck adventures work better when Scrooge is involved. Scrooge may be cheap, but he can actually believably get the Ducks to where they need to be. And I do not understand why Rosa continually keeps giving "Crowning Moments Of Awesome" to Little Bulb. He barely has a personality, and is cute at best, and suddenly he's the dude who pulled out Excalibur. That's the kind of moment that should have gone to either Donald or Gyro. Or all three nephews at once. Because it's Little Bulb, and he is such a meaningless character, the entire MOMENT is meaningless. Rosa states he dislikes this story because it's not a Duck story. But he was the one who chose to make Little Bulb the Savior, which is why the story REALLY sucked. That underwhelming twist is on him and him alone. This will probably wind up being the only Donald Duck story in comic history to refer to "wild orgies". And I'm fine with that. "Run away! Run away!" was like the only funny thing in the story. Underwhelming story with an admittedly interesting concept. **1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "The Treasure Of The Ten Avatars"

First time I read this one. I love that even though Uncle Scrooge lost the treasure, he's perfectly happy with the outcome. Which is the right reaction. Not just because the people in that village were finally brought out of poverty, but because the entire reason he went to India in the first place was to hire some of these people, and now he can. He appreciates what happened for the win it was, rather than the loss it was. I like that because Scrooge doesn't always do that. But as Rosa's adventures have gone on, it's clear to me that some of Donald and the nephews' wisdom about stuff like that has rubbed off on him. In the preface, Rosa claims you cannot actually change the Duck canon. Well, he kind of rewrote how Scrooge evolved and reacted to wins and losses anyways. Speaking of Donald and wisdom, the one thing I didn't like in the story was the fact that Donald kept foolishly setting off those booby traps. Donald is sometimes useless, but not always, and Rosa only seems to do that when he's with Scrooge, so that's a failing on Rosa's end. But he is totally Short-Round in those moments. Which is not a good thing. I like that the story ends with Scrooge telling the Maharajah that he's finally learned the concept of zero. One of the reason Carl Barks was so talented and so beloved, is because he knew instinctively the right line or joke to end a story on. Rosa has that same gift. Great story. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "A Matter Of Some Gravity"

Great concept, great visuals, great story. What I love about Magica is that she doesn't actually seem to possess real magic. And only Barks and Rosa get this about the character. But that gravity wand seemed as science based as anything Gyro Gearloose cooks up. The only difference is that Gyro's weird inventions have buttons and switches. Are we sure those are magical incantations? Because it seems likelier to me that the wand is merely voice operated. Nothing Magica ever does in a Barks or Rosa story is outside of the realm of ducky science. It's only DuckTales and the European Duck stories who have retconned Magica into a powerful Sorceress. As far as I can, tell she seems a bit of a fraud to me. Which not only levels the playing field for Scrooge and her, but it also means Rosa is able to come up with far more interesting concepts than if Magica simply curses the Ducks, or makes them disappear, or sends them to another magical dimensional. Scrooge vs. Magica is a very relatable squaring off in Rosa (and Barks) stories. Because Magica simply a regular Duck like all of the rest of us. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Vigilante Of Pizen Bluff"

I like that Scrooge's posse is called the "Magnificent Seven" because P.T. Barnum counts himself twice. And if Annie Oakley is REALLY mad, it's the other end of your pipe she'll aim for. I like the idea of Uncle Pothole coming up with the concept of "Nephew Scrooge" comics. Ah, the Rosa spin-off that never was! Speaking of which, I like that the story's end sets up the Dutchman Mine story. This is the only Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck related story that does something like that. You might feel underwhelmed that we only heard Buffalo Bill describing what Scrooge did to the Daltons, but that's a classic Rosa sensibility, in suggesting the legend of Scrooge's violence in the past sounds bad, but the reader doesn't actually know if it's true. Some of it is just legend and exaggerated. Now this violence is far more credible than the Tall Tales from the Yukon because Bill is relating it as it happened here. But it is very consistent with Rosa declining to turn the Vigilante of Pizen Bluff into an actual violent comic book vigilante. Which is one of the things I like about the Duck comics in the first place. ****.

Uncle Scrooge "A Little Something Special"

The 50th Anniversary story lived up to the hype. And it's Rosa's ONLY "Special Event / Anniversary" story that did that. Everybody got a moment, and even Gladstone's luck was useful for the first time ever. And while the story is ostensibly about how important Scrooge is to Duckburg, his family saves him and Duckburg. As Scrooge notes, Duckburg has more defenders than just the poor shoeshine boy from Glasgow. It's not just Scrooge that makes Duckburg what it is. It's everyone. Which is an amazing and weirdly empowering message. Honestly, Blackheart Beagle's plot will probably go down as the most infamous criminal plot in Duckverse history, at least as far as Barks and Rosa are concerned. This story was a few years before 9/11, but it's clearly the same thing, with the same intention. And it's the only story where all of Duckburg is at stake solely because somebody wants to destroy Duckburg. Duckburg is often caught in the crossfire between Scrooge and his enemies. But the people are never the target. And suddenly Blackheart is the worst villain in Duckverse history. I was expecting more with a potential betrayal from Magica simply because that was well set up. The allies all claimed their goals aligned because they all wanted different things, but that was always completely untrue of Magica's goals, whether Magica is too dumb to see that ahead of time or not. The other thing that hinted at a bigger Magica defection than we got is the notion that she's a bit shocked and surprised that Blackheart intends to level the city, and never told them that. Whatever Magica's faults, she is not a murderer, and has never tried to kill Scrooge, while the rest of his enemies have. And I like that things "just got real" in this moment and she realizes she didn't sign up for this, and was allied with people with much more darker intentions than she actually has. Flintheart is dumb. He instructs a crowd of Duckburg citizens to shoot Scrooge in the back as if he actually expects they will, and didn't just publicly implicate himself in an attempted murder with a thousand witnesses. This stupidity is why Glomgold will NEVER be the World's Richest Duck. He's smoother than the smoothies, softer than the softies, and made his money round. I love that Rosa points out that Magica is Italian. Because June Foray had a sort of Romanian accent to her on DuckTales, but in the Comics Magica has always been Italian, just like Flintheart Glomgold's Money Bin is actually in South Africa and not Duckburg. I especially like the fact that he has a First Pound that Magica winds up stealing, simply because Magica never learns. If the Beagle Boys rob Glomgold blind and Scrooge gets his money back, the First Pound will be worthless to her. I like that of the people in the group, only her and Flintheart have back-up escape plans in case the others louse the mission. In Magica's case it worked out. Not so much Flintheart's. And the revelation of Goldie at the end was fun, as was the kiss, but I was a little annoyed at how shabbily Scrooge treated her. I understand that you can't actually give Scrooge that particular ship. But still, it's not a flashback, and Rosa is not constrained by what Barks already told. It's the present day. He is allowed to have Scrooge be happy to see her and them part on pleasant terms. But that's the only thing about the story I didn't like. Everything else was Rosa amazingly delivering a huge, epic story in the canon, and finding a way to not actually change the canon even a little bit. That is a tough thing to show, and I don't think he did it in the Donald Duck 60th Birthday story. But he definitely did here. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "Gyro's Beagletrap"

This must be Rosa's only one page story ever. Rosa always says he's better at longer adventures. He's right. *1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Attack Of The Hideous Space Varmints"

This is the first time I've read this particular story and I don't like it. There are no stakes, it's just random nonsense and that tries to attach pathos to Scrooge wanting to stay in space by creating an old man alien who is nothing more than a random coincidence. The only virtue the story has in my mind is that the new craters on the dark side of the moon are a not-so-hidden Mickey. I also like that Scrooge already knows the farmer's name in Duckburg is Clem, but once I realized he keeps his spaceship for him, that much less impressive on Scrooge's end. And I'm sorry, does Rosa truly think he's the first guy to come up with a story where aliens think humans are monstrous and ugly, and that they are the alien invaders? He's acting like this sci-fi story is reinventing the wheel, and subverting all expectations, when this is Star Trek's Tuesday. A dud of a story. *.

Uncle Scrooge "The Last Lord Of El Dorado"

It's still a good story years later, but I don't like it as much. Donald kissing Glomgold freaks me out. Not only because of Daisy, but because he basically plants a kiss on a stranger unasked. It's literally the creepiest thing Donald has ever done in these stories, and it's totally gross. But not for the homophobic reasons Rosa thinks it is. Still, great treasure hunt, great treasure reveal and resolution, and I love Glomgold's expression once he realizes Scrooge owned the land deeds. Interestingly, unlike Barks, in Rosa stories, Scrooge doesn't often get to keep the various treasures from his treasure hunts. And I think that's probably the right answer, because Barks usually had Scrooge search for stuff that was a single item like the Golden Fleece, the Philosopher's Stone, or the Candy Striped Ruby. But if Scrooge just take an entire treasure out from under the entire Colombian Government, he's the villain. In the end, it's the adventure that's important in the Rosa stories. I can accept Scrooge wandering off with the Lost Crown of Ghengis Khan. Stealing another country's huge amount of treasure makes him the actual bad guy. And since he is NOT a bad guy, he understands that. Which is what I like about him. I don't like the gag of Scrooge retrieving the map from Donald in such a dire situation. It would be one thing if Scrooge did that because he knew the nephews would get him out of that fix, but they didn't. Donald survived by blind luck. So it's not funny. It's callous, and out of character. It would be funny if Scrooge did that because his faith in his grandnephews was absolute. Since it's because he's greedy, it's not. I still like the story, but not as much as I did years ago. ****.

Behind The Scenes:

Some deleted pages and commentary. The Maharajah of Howdoyustan was originally going to be the villain in The Treasure Of The Ten Avatars, until Egmont pointed out to Rosa the Maharajah was far too evil in the story to be him. So Rosa changed it to a new character.

The Should Cover It All:

Some really nice ones in here. I'm getting much better at spotting the "D.U.C.K.'s".

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer

Some of my reviews get a little political for the following Mickey Mouse Comic Strip books, which makes sense because this was the era of the strip that became political. But that means I feel like offering my opinion perhaps more freely than some people might be comfortable with.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse "Trapped On Treasure Island" By Floyd Gottfredson

Another fantastic collection of Floyd Gottfredson stories. Some of these were very offensive in places, but I knew that going in that they were going to be. The stories that AREN'T filled with racism are easily some of the best Mickey stories ever.

"Blaggard Castle" is one of my personal favorite Mickey stories and "The Mail Pilot" was rightly lauded as a turning point. I also really loved "The Crazy Crime Wave" and "Mickey Mouse And His Horse Tanglefoot" especially since both Goofy and Mickey are completely loathsome in each of those respective stories. I wasn't crazy about "The Great Orphanage Robbery" or "Mickey Mouse Sails For Treasure Island" but despite being racist they were more competent storytellingwise and better artwise than "Lost On A Desert Island" from the last volume. Volume Overall: ****1/2.

"The Great Orphanage Robbery"

My jaw pretty much dropped reading this thoroughly twisted and politically incorrect story. It's not so much that it's offensive (although it is) it's that seeing the cast perform "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in blackface and the townsfolk looking to lynch Horace is just plain weird. And disturbing. SO weird and disturbing that seeing it in a Disney property sort of feels wrong on every level. The story isn't actually that bad if you look at it objectively. Yes, the entire town turning on Mickey and Horace was wrong but it looks like Gottfredson in this story portrays the police and the District Attorney as not merely incompetent but thoroughly corrupt. It predates Batman's Gotham city by a few years and the entire justice system is screwed up. Horace's neighbors trying to lynch him is less easy to rationalize especially since he promptly forgives them for it when they fail. "Boys will be boys?" That's about the most detestable rationale for lynching I've ever heard. It's like Gottfredson was trying to look at a corrupt system but because of the nature of the Disney brand couldn't ever look at the very real fall-out these horrible actions would produce. A happy ending in a Disney story must be achieved at all costs. Honestly, I think Gottfredson might have done better to leave police corruption politics out of his strips. Mickey as an asset to Police Chief O'Hara works much better. Sometimes you want to just rail against the unfair system. But I don't think Mickey Mouse is really the best character to do it with. ***1/2.

"Mickey Mouse Sails For Treasure Island"

Good and bad. Good story, great execution and a killer cliffhanger with Drs. Ecks And Doublex. Bad because the island cannibals were grotesquely offensive. You know, considering the era these stories were made in I can forgive a lot. And in fact the story seems to be subverting stereotypes in a way by having them ally with Mickey. But once they desert him because of cowardice there really isn't any justification other than pure racism for their inclusion. I realize Gottfredson did this a lot and that now that they are collecting his complete works, ugliness and all, I'll have to suffer through all of it. But that doesn't mean I'll ever accept it or think it's "just a sign of the times". Cark Barks worked in the same era, and even he had a few outright racist stories and they weren't unheard of. But they were STILL rare and a bit subversive. But Gottfredson goes to the monkey cannibal well an insane amount of times. There's no way I can excuse it. But, as I said, the story and execution were excellent. If it wasn't for the ugly stereotypes I would have enjoyed it. I'll grade it accordingly. ***1/2.

"Blaggard Castle" And "Pluto And The Dogcatcher"

"Blaggard Castle": A turning point for the strip, this masterpiece completely revitalized everything about Mickey Mouse and Disney Comics in general. It is just so GOOD. Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex are scary and cool villains and the story has all of the best haunted house trappings. I still want to know more about how Ecks and Doublex turn into Dr. Doublecross from the Disney Comics relaunch in the early 90's. That seems like a story worth reprinting if they ever finish the Gottfredson strips. Stephen DeStefano's Mickey stories are my third favorite Mickey stories after Gottfredson and Romano Scarpa. They even printed the DeStefano's Blaggard Castle sequel in the book!. A classic. *****.

"Pluto And The Dogcatcher": Didn't like this because Peg-Leg Pete is all of the sudden a dogcatcher with zero explanation. Speaking of zero explanation the story just completely stops suddenly. I'm betting Gottfredson got quickly tired of it and wanted to get to the next adventure story right away. *1/2.

"The Mail Pilot"

Great story with the first appearances of Gloomy and Captain Doberman. I like Gloomy's second story a bit better but this was pretty awesome in it's own right. My only complaint is that they went back to the Pete and Shyster well so soon. Pete, I understand. He's Mickey arch-enemy. But Shyster just isn't as good of a villain and Pete works better calling the shots. But that just quibbling. The story was amazing. ****1/2.

"Mickey Mouse And His Horse Tanglefoot"

Silliness. Mickey is pretty much borderline abusive to his horse and it makes me smile. Him insuring Tanglefoot at the glue factory is perhaps the single most despicable thing he's ever done. I love it when they make Mickey unsympathetic because it happens so rarely and nowadays never. Fun. ****.

"The Crazy Crime Wave"

Fun story that made the insane crime wave actually make sense. This is the first appearance of Dippy Dawg in the strip and he's a bit of a jerk here. He steals things and is all around unpleasant. Fascinating to watch one of Disney's most beloved and angelic characters in Goofy acting like a complete dirtbag. I loved this story. ****1/2.

The Gottfredson Archives: Essays And Special Features

More great articles and rare promotional art. They even included the Disney Adventures Two-Parter "Return To Blaggard Castle"! Neat! *****.

Walt Disney's The Perils Of Mickey "Return To Blaggard Castle" by David Cody Weiss and Stephen DeStefano

Man, this was slavish to Gottfredson's original continuity and considering it was originally made for the disposable comic features in Disney Adventures it really didn't have to be. Nicely done and Stephen DeStephano is my second favorite Mickey artist after Gottfredson. ****1/2.

Walt Disney's The Perils Of Mickey Part Two: "Shadows Of The Past" by David Cody Weiss and Stephen DeStefano

The ending was too sudden and I can't believe I was disappointed by an appearance of The Phantom Blot! I really wish they had included Drs. Ecks, Doublex, And Triplex in the story itself and not have had them been fakes. ***1/2. Two Part Average: ****.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse "High Noon At Inferno Gulch" by Floyd Gottfredson

Volume Three of Fantagraphics' collections of Floyd Gottfredson's classic Mickey Mouse daily strips.

Some of my favorite stories of all time are in this volume including "The Captive Castaways" which is the very first Disney Comic I ever read, as well as childhood favorites "Bobo The Elephant", "Race For Riches", and "The Pirate Submarine". This is also the first chance I got to read "The Bat Bandit Of Inferno Gulch", "The Sacred Jewel", and "Editor-In-Grief" and if Bandit and Jewel are pretty good, "Editor-In-Grief is a bonafide classic. Don't ask me to pick a favorite story from this volume. They are all great.

For the record, the "PC" version of Pluto The Racer I read as a kid is a five star story. I took a half star off the original for ugly stereotypes but the one printed by Gladstone and later Fantagraphics on Free Comic Book Day is flawless. Volume Overall: *****.

"A Silly Symphony Starring Pluto The Pup": Cute Sunday strip. I hope Fantagraphics decides to print an entire volume of Sunday strips at some point. ***.

"The Captive Castaways And Pluto's Rival"

"The Captive Castaways": This was the first Disney comic I ever read and it got me hooked. SO funny and cool and filled with high adventure. I only had part three of this so to get the whole thing reprinted is a treat. I love Hiccup and the funniest part is when he pleads with Mickey to let him tie him up and Mickey says "Go away. I'm busy," while untying Minnie. A classic story. *****.

"Pluto's Rival": A million cartoons have done a million stories like this one before. This is an early (and admittedly cute) take. It was the SECOND Disney Comic story I ever read so it definitely has a nostalgia factor for me. ***.

"The Bat Bandit Of Inferno Gulch"

Chinky? Really? Other than that unfortunate and VERY unpleasant instance of casual racism this story works. Unfortunately it is entirely predictable. I knew who the Bat Bandit was from the start and the story did a poor job of hiding it. Gottfredson can't even use the excuse that kids wouldn't have guessed it because he was clearly writing for adults too. Good, but not great. ***1/2.

"Bobo The Elephant"

Garfle! Bobo is easily the cutest animal Mickey has ever owned and THAT is saying something. I love Eli Squinch and always thought he made a better bad guy than Sylvester Shyster because after his first story Shyster stopped being a crooked businessman and was simply a boring old crook. It's no wonder Gottfredson created a nearly identical character that encompassed the earlier qualities of Shyster that made him interesting. Great story. ****1/2.

"The Sacred Jewel"

Good story. I was actually surprised by Pete and Shyster's reappearances for once, just because the story absolutely did not call for it. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. ****.

"Pluto The Racer"

This was one of my favorite Gottfredson stories back when Gladstone had the Disney license and it hasn't lost any of it's punch years later. I especially like the moral against animal cruelty and thought Mickey's plan to get Pluto to win the race was absolutely brilliant. Great writing. The gags are funny too and the artwork is boss. My only gripe is that I wasn't aware of the stories racist stereotypes until this book. Every reprint I'd seen before left them out. That's kind of depressing. ****1/2.


Terrific story. If only we had a media nowadays as non-corrupt and dogged as Mickey turned out to be. We'd ALL be better off. Great to see Donald Duck too and even if I guessed Pete was involved he still fit the story (even if the idea of the police not having enough evidence to arrest him was far-fetched). A great one. *****.

"Race For Riches"

Great story with a bunch of fun and implausible twists. I'm going to miss Horace Horsecollar. My favorite parts of the story involved Mickey taking cheap shots at Horace's car. That is just SO awesome that Mickey can be a brat sometimes and give Horace the business. *****.

"The Pirate Submarine"

I think Gloomy should have appeared in more than two stories. He's a terrific character and his cynicism and wisdom remind me a bit of Gruffi Gummi (who is also awesome). Speaking of terrific characters, Dr. Vulture is a scary villain too. He reminds me of Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex in that he only appeared once but made a HUGE impression on me. Great story. *****.

The Gottfredson Archives: Essays And Special Features:

Love that they printed Donald Duck and the Secret of Mars in English and thought the Floyd Gottfredson paintings were boss too. *****.

Donald Duck "Bobo" Strip: Cute but Al Taliaferro's Bobo design is nowhere NEAR as adorable as Gottfredson's. ***.

"It's A Gift!": A Mickey strip with British humor. ***1/2.

"Square All Round?": Another British Mickey strip but the logic of it escapes me. **1/2.

"Donald Duck And The Secret Of Mars"

I do NOT see how this is a prequel to The Pirate Submarine. Prometheus had less tenuous connections to Alien. Still a good story though. ***1/2.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse "House Of The Seven Haunts" By Floyd Gottfredson

Great collection of stories that I hungrily devoured. I'm almost sad we're going to have to wait a year for another daily strip collection (because the upcoming The Call Of The Wild will be collecting color Sunday strips). This volume had a bunch of great stories in it.

It starts off with "Oscar the Ostrich" who is quite a lovable pest. Then "Mickey Mouse Joins The Foreign Legion" in a great story that I actually prefer the censored version of. "The Seven Ghosts" gives Donald Duck his biggest role ever on the strip and the looooooooonnnnnnng "Monarch Of Medioka" was a little too on the nose in its political satire. So much so that it caused the Mickey strip to be banned in several countries.

But for my money the big draw of the book is "Island In The Sky", which is in the top five greatest Mickey stories of all time, and along with "Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot", (which will come out in a later volume), one of Gottfredson's personal favorites. It's easy to see why: it introduces the breakout character of Dr. Einmug who was SO popular that you're astounded to realize Gottfredson only used him once.

Best stories in the volume are "Mickey Mouse Joins The Foreign Legion", "The Seven Ghosts", and "Island In The Sky". The worst story is "In Search Of Jungle Treasure" and it is SO bad, and SO offensive, that it's almost amusing in a trainwreck sort of way. It's hard to believe it was done by the same guy who did "The Seven Ghosts" or "Island In The Sky". Collection Overall: ****1/2.

"Oscar The Ostrich"

I think the thing I love about this story the most is that Gottfredson keeps an exact running tab of how much Mickey's debts are throughout the story. Sure, he didn't quite have Mickey pay off the EXACT amount (by slyly making the pet shop owner admit to the debt) but the math was pretty consistent at all times. Oscar is cute too. The story is the first one where Dippy Dawg becomes Goofy and he has a MUCH nicer personality here although by the end he's reverting a bit to his jerkish Dippy persona. ****.

"Mickey Mouse Joins The Foreign Legion"

Outside of Mickey in blackface (a truly reprehensible scene) there is nothing in this story I don't like. Great thrills and chills and my favorite scene was Pete trying to convince himself how much he hated Mickey after he saved his life. Loved the spooky opening too where the Secret Service test Mickey's mettle. Great story. ****1/2.

"The Seven Ghosts"

You know, normally I'd complain that because of this story we were subjected to so many boring Paul Murray Scooy-Doo type mysteries in the 60's but no, this story is WAY out of Murray's league. Even if Murray copied the idea that there are ALWAYS scientific explanations for ghosts and that all would-be spooks are really disguised crooks, the concept shares little else in common with Murray's snoozefests. For one thing there is an actual mystery here with rational enough explanations. For another, the climax is action-packed and exciting. And third, it's actually FUNNY! You know, like a funnybook is SUPPOSED to be. Really, this may have started a rotten trend in Mickey Mouse comics, but that's just because none of the writers who came later were HALF the storytellers Gottfredson was. *****.

"Island In The Sky"

Rightfully considered a classic. I had forgotten how darn funny it is too. It really is a VERY clever story with no easy answers. Mickey DOESN'T get the formula in the end and the reader is led to believe that is probably for the best. Even with the best of intentions Mickey and Captain Doberman shouldn't be trusted with something that powerful. The science is a little wacky but that's what makes it fun. And Dr. Einmug is such a classic character that it's a shame Gottfredson never brought him back. But as the forward to the story noted, Gottfredson was such a confident and superlative storyteller that he resisted the temptation to bring back one of his most beloved characters for a sequel or sequels that would lessen his initial impact. Keno Don Rosa would probably disagree with taking that tack but it sure is impressive to think about. *****.

"In Search Of Jungle Treasure"

So patently offensive it's almost funny. Almost. Well, the gorillas hugging Mickey and the gang were cute but everything else was pretty much appalling. This story does make a good point: why doesn't Pete ever kill Mickey when he has the chance? Weird. This sucked. *.

"Monarch Of Medioka"

The most controversial Mickey comic of all time seems SO tame by today's standards and isn't in the same league of offensiveness as the jungle cannibal stories Gottfredson would trot out every other year. The political satire IS a bit biting and spot-on but I would think any person with common sense would realize that censoring such a mild critique of monarchies such as this will only lead to MORE people reading it and giving it more weight. Sometimes I think people back then needed more to do with their lives and then I remember that it's not much better in America today. Note: this is Gottfredson's longest serial of all time and it's a ripping good yarn. The gag at the end of the throne having been switched was pure genius and something so audacious that only Gottfredson could have come up with it. ****.

"The Mystery Of Freefer Hall" by Don Markstein and Cesar Ferioli

GREAT story and sequel to The Seven Ghosts. I loved that Donald showed up and all of the characters were in their classic Gottfredson character designs. I think the ending was a bit of a cop-out but I enjoyed the story up until that point. I am also really glad that the writers finally seemed to have found a good balance between Mickey and Donald being in the same story and making Donald a grump instead of an idiot. Good story. ****.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse "Outwits The Phantom Blot" By Floyd Gottfredson

My childhood died after reading this. I am now an older and wiser person, but also a markedly more unhappy one too. This volume of Mickey Mouse stories contains a couple of stories so full-stop racist that I have to just out and out say I am no longer a Floyd Gottfredson fan. Now I can't stand him. And frankly, I don't think any other Disney fan should either.

It is true that "Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot" is the single greatest Mickey Mouse story ever told, comic or animated. But from what I gather D.W. Griffith also did a LOT of great films besides Birth of a Nation. But because Birth of a Nation is KKK propaganda I have no interest in seeing them. "Phantom Blot", "Blaggard Castle", and "Island In The Sky" are pretty much perfect stories. But if I had a choice that if they never existed neither would "Mickey Mouse Meets Robinson Crusoe", I'd make that trade in a heartbeat.

The essayists in the accompanying featurettes pretty much admit how horrible this story, is but lay the blame that it was just a sign of the times, and that people who knew Gottfredon said he wasn't personally racist. After reading that story I was like "Why are they even trying to defend that guy? Why even bother?" Wouldn't Occam's Razor imply that if a guy wrote a bunch of stories straight out of minstrel shows that portrayed all black people as apes, savages, and cannibals, that the person actually believed that? If it was just a few instances like Carl Barks, I could look past it, but Gottfredson is pretty much unending ugliness sprinkled with a few good stories in between. I would actually argue that there are many more ugly stories than outright good ones. With Fantagraphics reprinting these stories unedited I can't even enjoy many of the stories I loved as a kid that the Gladstone Editors wisely trimmed out the offensive parts of. Because now I see them as they were originally intended and they suck.

The essayists are SUCH Floyd Gottfredson fans that it is hard to reconcile that they all agree some of this stuff is completely out of bounds, and yet... for some reason, they are still fans. For me? Mickey Mouse comics are not the hill I choose to die on. Why should I continue to defend the indefensible? Maybe instead of instinctively defending them because I loved them as a kid, I admit that Floyd Gottfredson was a lousy storyteller and a lousier human being. Maybe I have enough integrity to acknowledge that me defending Gottfredson over the years was wrong, and that there is nothing he could possibly do to repair how I see him now. The essayists seem to be willing to look past Gottfredson's intense racism to enjoy the few stories where that wasn't a problem at all. I'm not willing to do that. Not anymore. Collection Overall: 0.

"Mighty Whale Hunter":

This is the best Gottfredson story I never read. The message is ANTI-whaling and there is a lot of action and great artwork. Mickey is especially clever in it too, first by getting the Captain to admit his room wasn't TOO messy after all because he had been the only one in it, and then by correctly surmising the female whale would follow them back to the ship because she'd want to eat them. There are a ton of Gottfredson stories better than this. But this is the best one I hadn't ever read before. All of the other "new" finds were pretty much abhorrent. This was great. ****.

"The Plumber's Helper":

A lot about this story bothers me but I'm having a tough time putting my finger on it. It seems vaguely anti-union, but Gottfredson is clever enough to hide his tracks using dogwhistles (for the most part). It is just REALLY disheartening to see the guy who used to write such empowering stories for the little guy turn into a conservative crank against the New Deal and so-called welfare mooches. The essayist says Gottfredson turned cynical. That's a polite way to say "into a rightwing nutjob." It is REALLY hard to excuse Gottfredson's unending racism when we see he turned on the Democratic Party pretty much the exact same time as the Dixiecrats did. The editors want me to think that Gottfredson grew jaded. I think Gottfredson has ALWAYS been like this but only turned against FDR and the New Deal once he worried it was helping "Those people." Gottfredson wrote some of the greatest Mickey Mouse stories of all time, and is second only to Carl Barks in the impact they made to Disney Comics history. But just based on rereading this stuff it is quite clear he was NOT a very nice person. **.

"Mickey Mouse Meets Robinson Crusoe & Unhappy Campers"

Soul-crushing. Every page further I read the Robinson Crusoe story the more sick to my stomach I felt. The essayist says Gottfredson's peers claimed he was no racist, but you simply cannot come up with the ideas in this story unless you have the same hatred in your heart as a KKK member. I'm starting to rethink Gottfredson's entire output. The man had a VERY dark and ugly side to him that was not apparent in the cleaned up Gladstone reprints I grew up with as a kid. A part of my childhood died reading this. I will never get it back or look at Gottfredson the same way again. It seems inexplicable that this story is paired up with the adorable Unhappy Campers which is a story I remember reading on summer vacation as a kid and loving. We always wanted a complete set of Gottfredson's work. Maybe we shouldn't have. Overall: 0.

Mickey Mouse Meets Robinson Crusoe: That was ugly. It hurt to read. It is without a doubt the single worst Disney comic book story I have ever read. By far. And it isn't even a contest. 0.

Unhappy Campers: For some strange reason I couldn't enjoy the story immediately following that disgusting Crusoe one. And I loved it as a kid. I always loved Goofy's threat of wanting to get his hands on the fellow who wrote that book and Morty and Ferdie's new character designs are adorable. I set the book down after this because I wanted to take a little bit of time away from it before rereading Phantom Blot. I didn't need that on my mind when I read it. ****.

"Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot":

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Floyd Gottfredson wrote the very best Mickey Mouse story of all time. Barks and Don Rosa have come up with a few stories set in the Duckverse that were better. But there has NEVER been a better Mouseverse one. Never. Not one. The entire story is kind of ghastly to be honest, especially the Blot's insistence at the end that he has a gentle heart because he can't stomach witnessing his gruesome deathtraps to their conclusions. That is REALLY psychologically twisted and seems better suited to a rogue of Batman's rather than Mickey Mouse. But WHAT a rogue. I'm going to say something controversial (and I KNOW Don Rosa will disagree). Carl Barks never came up with a villain as good as The Phantom Blot. Never. Magica De Spell, The Beagle Boys, and Flintheart Glomgold each have their charms, but in every single one of their adventures, they are less interesting than Scrooge and Donald themselves. I cannot WAIT to see the Blot pop up and every time we see his horrifically scary character design my heart beats a little faster. That NEVER happens with Scrooge rogues. The only other fictional character I can think of off the top of my head with that sustained level of perfect awesomeness is Beetlejuice in the movie Beetlejuice. But the Blot is amazing. The deathtraps were ingenius in their simplicity. I also loved that none of them fudged the weird premise of the Blot constructing traps that made you kill yourself rather than have the Blot do it himself. They didn't cheat even once (even with the sleeping powder!), and Gottfredson probably could have gotten away with it. But the Blot's sick motives are entirely consistent. The one bad thing about the story is that whenever Mickey went back to Peg-Leg Pete after this it was now a let-down. Pete has ALWAYS been a lame villain (especially since he's Mickey's Big Bad) but after the Blot he is wholly inadequate, and the fact that he is used so often is quite embarrassing. Frankly, most of Gottfredson's output is embarrassing, but the fact that a villain as great as the Blot came and went just made every single lame Peg-Leg Pete story that much less special. *****.

"The Miracle Master":

Good and bad. The bad: racism. Much more than there was when Gladstone edited out the offensive bits when I first read it. Also, Gottfredson seems to be taking more swipes at the ungrateful poor and the New Deal. That is just unpleasant. The good: the "It was all a dream" ending was nowhere NEAR as annoying as the essayists claim. As the story got more surreal it seemed less of a way for Gottfredson to buy his way out of it, and more of the most appropriate and fitting end ever. I also really liked the joke of the guy who slept on a bed of nails complaining that his wife ate crackers in bed. That was funny. ***.

"An Education For Thursday":

The essayists claim this story seems to be an apology of sorts by Gottfredson for the Crusoe story. Gottfredson can stuff his apology. If anything this is even MORE offensive because Gottfredson actually thinks he's being complimentary. Minnie calls Thursday an "ape", Mickey tries to sell him to the freak show, and the threat of a concentration camp is looming for him and Mickey. I'm not even joking about that last bit. It is actually in the story. Dave Barry is not making this up. If there is an afterlife, I hope Gottfredson is burning in hell for the amount of small children he indoctrinated into the depths of his hatred and racism. He normalized this stuff and it sickens me how much Disney has cleaned up his reputation amongst the public. His output is pretty much indefensible. 0.

Behind The Scenes: The Blot Thickens

These are the Blot scenes I grew up with as a kid. Now seeing the original story in this volume, I finally realize how absolutely inferior they are. **.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: "Lost In Lands Of Long Ago" By Floyd Gottfredson

While is it absolutely true that these batch of stories in Gottfredson's run of the strip are slightly subpar (and that the strip never recovered) these stories are for the most part not as offensive as the earlier ones, and thus easier to read. Yes, there is still a ton of sexism but the racist aspects have been toned down a lot. I don't know if they returned passed this volume, but as of these seven stories, it's easier to take.

Best stories is the weird sci-fi / western hybrid (The Bar-None Ranch). Worst is the overpraised "Land Of Long Ago". And even if the story itself is passable, I kind of hate "Love Trouble", just because it puts into focus that Mickey has been treating Minnie like a prostitute the entire strip, and nothing will ever change that. And I didn't realize it until that very story. And now I CAN'T unrealize it. Stories Overall: ***.

"The Bar-None Ranch":

There is a racist panel in this story but other than that I will have to concede the storywise is pretty much otherwise perfect. Just when the foreign doctor tells Mickey off-handedly "I'm not done with you yet" I kind of get chills that you don't tend to get from stories written by Carl Barks or Don Rosa. Now, they are way better than Gottfredson . But they are unable to unsettle me the way Gottfredson does repeatedly (although Romano Scarpa knows how to do it too). Pete's inaccessible well-kept hideout reminded me of the creepy suburban village that housed the Others in "Lost". It is FAR too perfect looking a setting to exist exactly where it does and gives off a creepy vibe. Dr. Einmug's Island In The Sky does the same thing, but Einmug, unlike Pete, is ultimately benign. Having a BAD guy look like he's living in the pleasant suburbs is what REALLY freaks me out. ****1/2.

"Bellhop Detective"

The essayist is right that this story is a mess. But do you know what? It wasn't racist or appalling in this slightest. I'll call that a win. I enjoyed it. It was light and fun. The end gag of Mickey jokingly asking for the $10,000 as a reward was funny too. ***.

"Land Of Long Ago"

Okay, to say the editorial overpraised that is an understatement. The story is just plain unpleasant. Where to begin? What does Goofy do once he learns the Professor's servant is a caveman? Threatens to beat him up. There is just NO way to justify that behavior. It's not even funny or an insightful character moment for Goofy. It is just plain ugly and indefensible. Gottfredson's Goofy literally had no redeeming qualities. He was the Peter Griffin of the 1930's and 40's. Secondly, Mickey cut that rope and let that caveman fall to his death. And we aren't supposed to have a problem with it? Frankly, it's out of character for MICKEY not to have a problem with it. Even if we take Gottfredson's moral of "savages" being nothing but animals at face value, Mickey has ALWAYS been shown to be relatively kind to animals. If he can avoid harming them, he will. He's not enlightened about how to treat them well but he doesn't actually want to hurt them. And let me just say the amnesia thing at the end was the stupidest thing I've ever read. Gottfredson seems to be telling the reader it's so no-one can get back to the island, but then hedges his bets and says Dustibones' memory comes and goes. It was his way of adding an additional twist at the end that meant nothing and was completely unearned. Just because this story was written in 1940 doesn't mean I can't view it through a modern lens. And that is unacceptable storytelling. Any good things? I think Gottfredson did a passable job explaining the inexplicable dream gimmick at the beginning. Because really, that is absolutely lunacy (and needlessly complicated) and he made it plausible within the framework of the Mouseverse. Maybe there were less insane ways for the Professor to contact Mickey and make him think he dreamed the whole thing in case he said no. But it is hardly the craziest thing to ever happen in this strip. **.

"Love Trouble"

Floyd Gottfredson wants me to think Minnie is being a passive-aggressive b-word here, but honestly? Her anger is righteous. Mickey has NEVER appreciated her, and feels he can drop off the face of the Earth for months at a time, and expect her to be waiting for him when he gets back. That's b.s.. He isn't even getting paid for the adventures, so he can't even claim they are work related. They just seem more fun to him than spending time with Minnie. He expects her to be there for him when he wants her, and gone when he doesn't. Mickey doesn't see Minnie as a girlfriend. He think she's his w-word. So, no, Gottfredson, I will NOT give Mickey any credit for "forgiving" Minnie in the end, since he refuses to take any responsibility for how horribly he treated her in the first place. Minnie is not the villain here. It isn't even Monty. It's Mickey. **1/2.

"Mickey Mouse, Supersalesman"

Here is the thing about this story: everybody in it was super manipulative. Everyone is b.s.-ing someone else and the winner is the guy whose b.s. sounds best. We're supposed to think that Mickey is MUCH more honest than Windy, but his low-pressure tactic is STILL a tactic. It just happens to work better. Pretending otherwise is dishonest on Gottfredson's part. Mickey didn't win because he was virtuous. He won because he was the better b.s.-er. All that said, the story was super fun to read and greatly enjoyable. Maybe I should have said that at the outset of my review. ****.

"Mystery At Hidden River"

Interesting things to note: the locals mistake an actual cow for Clarabelle. Pete wants to retire and grow "marihuana". Seriously. That is actually in a Mickey Mouse strip. And Pete's "Where you're going next depends on how you lived your life" is one of the most badassed, cold-blooded things I've ever heard a bad guy say. Pete might as well have been quoting Ezekiel at Clarabelle. I liked Mickey's friendly relationship with the G-Man too. As for the Indians, I can't get too fussed. Gottfredson has done MUCH worse, and none of the caricatures were actually uncomplimentary. Cliched, yes, but none of the Indians were either drunk or particularly stupid (for this strip). I'll let it slide. ****.

"The Gleam"

While it was super obvious Minnie was the accomplice, what shocked me was the idea that Minnie's aunt and uncle were imposters too! That took an admirable amount of chutzpa. Fun fact: supposedly Minnie's full first name is Minerva but since it's her "Uncle" who says this that might be b.s.. Still, I think I might have heard that in another Gottfredson story before too, so who knows? Mickey doesn't correct him at any rate. Great story. ****.

Behind The Scenes: The Gottfredson Redraws:

This shows some of the panel from famous Gottfredson stories redrawn for 50's comic books by lesser Disney artists like Dick Moore and Paul Murray. They look especially cheap compared to Gottfredson's detailed and surprisingly on-model stuff. *.

"Riddle Of The Red Hat" Art By Carl Barks:

This story is a LOT better upon rereading it than I gave it credit for. It is just as good as the Mickey stories in the book, and seems to have a Gottfredson sensibility to it that every other non-Gottfredson story from back in the day lacked. Vastly underrated. ****1/2.

Mickey Mouse "March Of The Zombies" By Floyd Gottfredson

This book is the first collection of Mickey stories I've read since I declared I was no longer a fan of Floyd Gottfredson. I'm still a Disney completist but I knew going in that there was every chance I would hate most of the stories in the book.

Was I right? Let me put it this way. This collection wasn't TOO bad, but it also wasn't great enough to get me back on the Gottfredson bandwagon. If Gottfredson and new scripter Bill Walsh had delivered story after story of the quality of "Blaggard Castle", "Island In The Sky", and "Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot", I'd give his reputation a second look, but we are pretty much into the era of the strip where most everything is subpar. The only really cool story is "The 'Lectro Box" (although I did like the gag strips that comprised "Goofy's Car".). Slightly less successful is "The Nazi Submarine" but it is good enough to make me sad to realize that its subject matter means it can almost never be reprinted, and that's why this is the first time I've read it.

I think the worst story is "Mickey Mouse On A Secret Mission". It's not really offensive, but it's stupid, so I'm offended anyways (or at least my intelligence is). Plus, I'm still a little sickened by the fact that they made Peg-Leg Pete a Nazi. Over the line.

The book also contains the Daily strips engaging in Daily Gag strips for the first time. I will not be reviewing the individual gag strips, partly because they aren't titled, and partly because there are so many. But I will review each section of gag strips between the stories separately.

"Goofy And Agnes":

This is a cute story, but once again Gottfredson doesn't do his homework. Female lions are NOT more docile than male ones, and are in fact the hunters. It was fun seeing Mickey being so manipulative though. Especially as it turned out to be for Goofy's benefit. ***1/2.

"The Black Crow Mystery" and "Working To Win": Plus Short Story "Goofy's Car" and Gag Strips:

The Black Crow Mystery: Mickey's new girlfriend is a cat? Kinky. May I just point out Mickey is a racist? He starts to claim the Asian guy is there to start trouble and nothing comes of it. I suspect Gottfredson planned for him to be the culprit before going in another direction. I laughed at the idea that Goofy's design lankiness would actually result in being called deformities by the army. That was funny. ****.

Goofy's Car: Goofy is a dope. ****1/2,.

Gag Strips: Goofy's case for joining the army IS logical. If he's already a casualty, what do they have to lose? ***1/2.

Working To Win: A rare instance of Gottfredson putting women in a positive light. It's not perfect, but it's the best we've gotten. ***.

Gag Strips: Speaking of logic, I liked how Morty and Ferdie are able to rationalize fights by comparing them to spankings, and get Mickey to admit that there are a ton of other virtues better than being smart before handing him their lousy report cards. The best strips are the Morty and Ferdie ones, although the one where Goofy confuses Mickey advising him to oil his lawnmower with pouring oil on his grass is good too. And I am still amazed that little boys wore dresses back then. They still look all wrong, and Mickey looks like the creep of the year for refusing to buy his nephews pants. Those lipstick marks on Mickey's face hint that he and Minnie totally make out when we aren't looking. ***1/2.

"Mickey Mouse's Wild Holiday" and "The Nazi Submarine"

Mickey Mouse's Wild Holiday: Dumb, stupid, and frankly, racist. *.

The Nazi Submarine: Bill Walsh's first story! Hasn't been reprinted in years (for obvious reasons). I like how it ends on the gag of Mickey asking Police O'Hara to untie him and Minnie. Because that should have happened several strips ago, and I laughed that Walsh was self-aware enough to joke about it. Do you what was dumb? Chief O'Hara throwing a sack over Mickey's head to take him down to the police station. That makes about as much sense as Peter and Brian Griffin putting on a horse costume so Lois won't know they're going to the Clam. ****.

"Mickey Mouse On A Secret Mission"

Boy, this strip sure got dumb. I get it's WWII propaganda, but it would be nice if it were remotely plausible. It's great that Bill Walsh is into fantastic elements for the strip, but the guy seems to do even less research on a subject than Gottfredson did (and that is saying something). Maybe Carl Barks and his National Geographic obsession, and Don Rosa's painstaking detail to history have spoiled me. But the Mickey Mouse strip takes the easy way out every time. The writers aren't so much aware of politics as much as only having the cursory understanding of the topic their audiences of kids do. Sure, it is true that the Nazi hired actors to make things look better than they were. But it's the specific things this uses (like fancy dinners) that are an asinine thing to believe the Nazis faked. It's lazy. And stupid. And if Mickey's a racist, how exactly is he morally superior to the Nazis? Speaking of which, making Pete a Nazi is pretty much the worst thing they ever did to him. I cannot ever see him in the same way on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse again, knowing this strip was dumb enough to do that. This strip is so stupid, it attributes a level of incompetence to the Nazis that they never possessed. The Nazis were dangerous because they were deadly serious about their violence and terrorism. It might make the American reader feel better to think Germans are stupid and are going to be easily defeated, but tell that to the victims of the Holocaust. I kind of feel like all of the propaganda stuff back then that simply attributed a "normal" level of evil to the Nazis, are not taking them seriously. To be fair, the Concentration Camps only became widely known after the war. But there were always rumors, and I think if they were going to make Pete a Nazi spy, perhaps they should have thought a little deeper about what that actually meant. Was there anything I liked? One joke amused me in particular. The scientist throw Mickey into an experimental jet and assure him they've worked out the calculations, and then shows him a sheet of numbers and gibberish (which Gottfredson obviously wrote at random). And Mickey's all "If I hadn't seen that, I'd be worried." To be blunt, I think America comes across as a bit desperate and stupid in this story, which just shows it's lousy propaganda. The scientists send the test pilots on the secret missions, never to return, and instead of trying to figure out what went wrong, simply send more and more until one of them gets it right. If Walsh and Gottfredson don't hate science, they sure as heck don't understand how it works or the methodology of weapons. Even back in WWII, people were more careful than that. If this strip took place in World War I, I could excuse the generals and scientists being cold-hearted b words who don't care about the spies or their troops. But it simply wasn't true in WWII, and even in WWI, that was mostly the European countries that showed so little regard for the casualties on their own side. Americans had always been wary of the meat-grinder up to that point, and the strip acting like it is bloodthirsty about the troops, is just bad propaganda. If they are trying to make the U.S. look good, they failed. It looks terrible. This story pretty much sucks on every level. 1/2.

"The 'Lectro Box" and "Pluto The Spy Catcher" Plus Gag Strips:

The 'Lectro Box: Very cool and fun story. The science is nonsense, but they put in a LITTLE effort here. I'd never read this full story before and now I'm glad I have. ****1/2.

Pluto The Spy Catcher: Sort of boring. **.

Gag Strips: Morty uses the words "Jap". Automatic zero. 0.

"The War Orphans"

I am a little amazed at how little this offends me. It should, but none of the foreign kids are sinister, so I can't get too mad. Gottfredson has done MUCH worse stuff in the past. ***1/2.

U.K. Gag-A-Day Strips:

Very clever way to reuse old art when there was a strip shortage. **1/2.

"The Professor's Experiment"

This is kind of dumb but it's also kind of cute. It the kind of scientific fantasy that is present in some of the softer Carl Barks Donald Duck stories. Like "Land Beneath The Ground" this isn't great, but eminently readable. ***1/2.

Win Smith Non-Mickey Strip: Bizarre to see cartoon characters talking about the Mickey Mouse strip without Mickey actually in it.

Australia Woman's Weekly Strip: Cute. ***.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: The Tomorrow Wars by Floyd Gottfredson

Ironically, the first three stories are a return to form for the strip as Bill Walsh joins the strip as writer, and things take a dark, adult, and gothic turn. People actually die in "The Pirate Ghost Ship", "House Of Mystery", and "The World Of Tomorrow". and the strips becomes a genuine horror / sci-fi / fantasy comic at turns. It is super interesting.

Unfortunately right after those three amazing stories, (and the silly Western "Billy The Mouse"), the strip gives us almost a year's worth of nothing but gag strips, and then a bunch of short two and three week continuities that are mostly outright terrible. The strip hit ones of its high points, and immediately sunk back down to its former lows. Hopefully things will get better in the next couple of volumes when Eega Beeva and the Rhyming Man show up. Collection Overall: ***1/2.

"The Pirate Ghost Ship" Plus Gag Strips:

Great story and great run of gag strips. Overall: ****1/2.

The Pirate Ghost Ship: I have to admit that was pretty amazing. Not as good as Gottfredson's best, but definitely a return to form after the strip experienced a lull. Very moody, creepy, and faster paced than the strip has ever been. Part of that seems to be because the strips has shrunk, but there are actually less word balloons now too, so it is a faster read. I don't have to set aside an hour to read one of these serials. ****1/2.

Gag Strips: I had no idea people used to smoke tobacco out of bongs but it makes sense, because that's what opium was. Also I see kids smoking in one of the strips (a definite modern no-no) and a reference to something called mumblety-peg. Still no clue what that is. ***1/2.

"The World Of Tomorrow":

It's a good story, but the dream ending took me out of it. I can't really think of a different believable one, but those things always make Gottfredson's stories seem pointless. And he went to that particular well a lot. It's cool that the story had a ready made excuse for Mickey's new outfit, but now that it's a dream, it doesn't make any sense why he's wearing it past this story. Crossed wires there. Very gutsy to not only kill Mimi off, but to have Mickey express remorse. The Pete Stand-in died in "The Pirate Ghost Ship" too, but that wasn't explicit, and nobody cared. Mickey's grief is real, even if Mimi is a robot. Very adult concept. ****.

"House Of Mystery" Plus Gag Strips:

House Of Mystery is good, but the gag strips are boring this round. Overall: ***1/2.

House Of Mystery: I will concede that was a good story. But it ended way too quickly. I can't for the life of me figure out why Walsh and Gottfredson didn't take an extra week to wrap it up properly. It's not like the serial HAD to be a certain length. I can forgive a rushed ending to a Carl Barks Comic Book. Not A Floyd Gottfredson Comic Strip. That being said, the very last panel is probably one of the most memorable things the strips ever did. But I kind of wanted a little bit more to have earned an ending that dark. ****.

Gag Strips: Nothing interesting in this go-round. **.

"Billy The Mouse" Plus Gag Strips:

Billy the Mouse is a silly story and this is the longest run of gag strips so far. Overall: **1/2.

Billy The Mouse: King Silver is perhaps the creepiest looking horse Gottfredson ever drew. Yoyo the Indian is offensive, but nowhere NEAR as offensive as most of the stuff in Gottfredson's past. I love Mickey saying that the horse costume was getting a little droopy around the tenderloin. I liked the moment after Mickey and the bad guy escaped from the bear they smiled at each other with a "We did it!" moment, realized they were fighting and got back to it. That same joke was used with Indiana Jones and the Nazi in the runaway truck in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. ***1/2.

Gag Strips: A lot of these puzzled me. People used to chew tar off the street because they thought it was good for their teeth? People in the 1940's actually picked up something off the street and put it in their mouths? Now I know where Louie Gohmert comes from. I liked Mickey using radio ad jingles to chase gophers out of his yard. Another couple of incredible 1940's moments included Goofy buying a ton of airplanes. Somehow, I doubt Mickey's claims that old airplanes are a dime a dozen are remotely true, even in 1946. Also idiotic is the idea that painting a light-bulb yellow keeps insects away. Two very unfortunately trends in this round of strips. Mickey seems to spend a LOT of time leering creepily at beautiful women he doesn't know, and I kind of have stopped thinking Minnie's jealousies are irrational. They're justified, especially since he keeps doing it in front of her. Second thing is that Mickey seems to live in a bad neighborhood. He is constantly dealing with burglars and muggers, and I think even back then, they'd be kind of rare for a middle-class man like Mickey. I'm sure when these were first printed, they seemed funny. But reading them one after another makes me think Mouseton is a criminal warzone on the level of Gotham City. **1/2.

Short Stories: "Mickey's Great Grandfather", "Home Made Home", "The New Girlfriend", "Mickey's Mini-Plane", "Mystery Next Door", "Gangland", "Sunken Treasure", "Trailer Trouble", "Aunt Marissa", "The Candidate", "The Little Genius":

Most of these short stories suck. Overall: *1/2.

Mickey's Great Grandfather: Painfully unfunny. And I don't care if he thought the gold nugget was fake at the end, Mickey is a jerk for throwing it out. It was a gift from his Great Grandfather. You don't just toss those in the garbage because you don't think it is worth anything. *.

Home Made Home: Cute story, but a bit boring. **1/2.

The New Girlfriend: Let me get this straight. Mickey decides to date someone else and we are supposed to think Minnie is the bad guy? Ludicrous. 0.

Mickey's Mini-Plane: I thought Mickey supposedly never lied. He sure seemed to be willing to tell that investor anything he wanted to hear. **.

Mystery Next Door: This might have been better if it was longer. ***.

Gangland: Dumb story, but serviceable. ***1/2.

Sunken Treasure: I like the expression on Mickey and Goofy's faces when they are "acting goofy". ****.

Trailer Trouble: Story ended too quickly. **1/2.

Aunt Marissa: Totally unlikable story. *.

The Candidate: The logic of Goofy being awarded the Councilman position does not hold up. **.

The Little Genius: Operation Bubblegum did NOT disappoint! Hilarious! The best of the short stories. ****1/2.

Chesty And Coptie:

Early War Bonds promotional piece by Gottfredson. Gladstone reprinted it in color, but Fantagraphics goes back to making it black and white with the only color being the red feather. ***.

Mr. George's Wife:

These early comic strips by Walt Disney are horrible. Aside from being sexist and unfunny, the artwork is absolutely atrocious. The fact that the essayists don't seem to think it was for that era, leads me to believe early comic strip art was terrible in general. 0.

A Mickey Mystery by Byron Erickson:

I loved Erickson's World Of The Dragonlords, specifically because it took the concept and the characters seriously, and constructed a legit, novel-length Disney fantasy. This story takes things a little TOO seriously, and gives an alternate Earth Mickey a dysfunctional life incongruous to anything we've seen before. I will admit that this is the type of story Gottfredson might have written had he been able to get away with a version of Mickey so horrible. But Gottfredson's gifts as a storyteller are overstated. It still seems a bit forced and badly written, I think. Still, I do not begrudge Erickson for taking chances with the characters, even when those chances don't pay off. That's part of telling a story. Not everything is going to be dynamite. I think the one serious thing in the story I did like was the last two panels. That seemed to be a very thought-provoking way for Erickson to state that Mickey is at his best in the red shorts with yellow buttons. The later Gottfredson / Paul Murray stories where he's wearing a shirt and porkpie hat do not cut it. Accept no substitutions. ***1/2.

Mickey Mouse: Color Sundays: Call Of The Wild by Floyd Gottfredson

Have you ever wanted to see Mickey Mouse be a complete dirtbag? Someone who would make Bender from Futurama seem lovable? This is the book for you.

I'll admit straight off that the Sunday strips are nowhere NEAR as good as the Dailies (especially the stories) but they are still addictive anyways because Mickey is a grade A butthole in them. I've complained about how appalling Chip's behavior in Rescue Rangers actually is but he has nothing on Dirtbag Sunday Mickey. The guy is just unpleasant. He looks forward to houses burning down, seriously ponders shoplifting apples, and tries to break up his friends' couplehood just for laughs. He also goes out looking for Indians to shoot and kill although part of me fears that that is simply Gottfredson's notorious racism and not actually a terrible character quirk. It's not portrayed as a bad thing anyways. And Mickey Mouse is the most vanilla character since the Smurfs and the Care Bears came along so it's hilarious to see him behaving as if he was a soccer hooligan in a British sitcom.

The book also colors everything the way they originally appeared in the Sunday strips, incorrect colors and all. Ever wanted to see a white Pluto or a yellow Donald Duck? No? Well too bad, you got 'em.

I think I now understand why Gladstone and Gemstone reprinted Mickey Sunday strips so infrequently. Mickey is a TERRIBLE role model in these and I'm betting Disney didn't want people to get the wrong idea about him.

Best stories are the windbaggy "Rumplewatt The Giant" and "Hoppy The Kangaroo" which is the story that most resembles the Daily strip.

Definitely a curiosity. Volume Overall: ***1/2.

Silly Symphony: Bucky Bug! ****.

In The Beginning: Gag Strips:

The first batch of gag strips are pretty good. Mickey plays pranks in many of them that backfire. I miss that aspect of his character. I think the last time we saw a mischievous and luckless Mickey was in The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia. Strips Overall: ***1/2.

What Do You Mean You Lost Your Dog?: Wow, Mickey's colors are weird in this. Fascinating stuff. ***1/2.
The Fire Fighters: The logic of this one is faulty. No one would keep a bust facing OUT of a window. But unless we saw the front we wouldn't know what it was. ***.
The Cow Husband: A lot of farmland hijinx early in the strip. ***1/2.
Ice Show: Funny building gag. ****.
Indian Whoopee: Offensive. No question. 0.
Rubbernecker: Heh. I see what they did there. ***1/2.
The Ham What I Am: The little pig is cute! ****.
Too Many Cooks: Mickey is a rascal! *****
Letter Rip: This may be the earliest use I've seen of this gag. ****.
Mickey Eggs 'Em On: That cow mooing made me laugh hard as did the last panel. *****.
His Trysting Place: Pluto got some! Whoo hoo! Wow! Weird that he's colored white though. ****.
Too Bee Or Not To Bee: Excellent moral. ***1/2.
Up-And-Coming Pilot: A snore. **.
Trade Secret: Perfect ending. ****1/2.
A Cycle Of Songs: Dumb. **.
Invention Of The Year: Sort of funny, sort of stupid. **1/2.
Minnie's Lucky Day: Not lucky for Mickey. ***.
Hide And Found: Fun. ***1/2.
Horace Gives Up The Ghost: First appearance of Horace Horsecollar in the Sundays. ****.
Cat On A Wire: Pluto is still colored weird. **1/2.
Happy Ending: I liked the end to this one. ****.
Sleeping Partner: Treacle. **.
Is There A Plumber In The House?: Great build-up and last panel. ****.
Hold That Tiger!: Amusing. One of Mickey's Stupider pranks. ***1/2.
I Build My House Of Bricks: Mickey is clever. ***1/2.
Mickey Keeps Clean: Mickey cross-dresses. ***1/2.
His Rain Was Interrupted: Boring. *1/2.
Art's Servant: Okay. **1/2.
Keep Wandering, Minstrel: The title of the strip is funnier than the strip itself! **1/2.

"Dan The Dogcatcher", and "Mickey's Nephews", and Gag Strips:

Dan The Dogcatcher is a pretty good story (Dan is Pete's good/evil twin) and I liked Mickey's Nephews too. But it's really the gag strips that have improved the most in this part of the Sunday run. Overall: ****.

Dan The Dogcatcher:

This story gets pretty scary by the end with Pluto dragged to the execution chamber. Cartoons in the old days were REALLY dark. ****.

It's A Stick-Up: Orange taffy? Mmmm. ***.

Mickey's Nephews:

There isn't much difference between early Morty and Ferdie and early Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Just sayin'. ***

The Lone Arranger: I can't tell if Mickey is clever or stupid. I'm leaning towards clever. ****.
Laundry Blues: Here? Stupid. ***1/2.
Cut The Wood: Mickey got what he deserved. ***.
Dogged Resistance: That's one way to solve the problem. ***.
Never Again: I will never get used to a white Pluto. ***.
Colorful Delivery: Mickey AGAIN gets what's coming to him. And FINALLY Pluto is colored correctly. ****1/2.
Cooperating Audience: Sunday Mickey is musical. ***.
S'No Use Hiding: Excellent lesson here. ****.
Enter...Dippy Dog!: Dippy Dawg's first Sunday appearance (here called Dippy Dog). ***1/2.
The Man Who Came Back: What is with Dippy's obsession with his juice harp? ***.
Bone Loser: ALMOST a good idea. ***1/2.

"Lair Of Wolf Barker" and Gag Strips

Lair Of Wolf Barker is an extremely overrated story and can't hold a candle to Mickey's Daily strip adventures. That said, the gag strips that follow it are VERY interesting. Mickey is a total dirtbag in most of them. I'll repeat why Gladstone and Gemstone reprinted the Sunday strips so infrequently. Mickey was actually a bad role model! Overall: ****.

Lair Of Wolf Barker:

It's hard to see this story as anything but subpar when compared to the Daily Strips. It's got SOME action in it in the second half but it's really not that great of an adventure. To be fair, this early in the Daily Strip's run the stories were STILL hit and miss too so I can forgive it. I just cannot fathom how and why people would consider this a classic story. **1/2.

Spring! It's Wonderful!: Boing! ***.
Slide, Mickey! Slide!: If only all store returns were that easy. ***1/2.
The Mosquitoes' Parade: Loved the cameo of the Wolf Barker in Mickey's dream! Mmm, that's good continuity! *****.
There's Many A Slip: Eh. **1/2.
Arrow Error: I understood this gag, I did, but that doesn't change the fact that it still doesn't make any sense from a storytelling perspective. *1/2.
Mickey Takes A Dive: Cute. ***.
Going Nowhere Fast: Classic build and Classic Gottfredson: *****.
Some Poor Fish: Excellent punnery! *****.
All Alone By The Telephone: Poor Clarabelle. ****.
Red Hot Sands: AGAIN Mickey is closer to clever than stupid here. ***1/2.
Window Pain: I can't live without my window screen. I hate to think back to the time when they were new and most people didn't have them. ****.
Hose Tricks: Closer to stupid here. ***1/2.
Of Mice And Manners: Ain't that the truth, Mickey. Well said. ****.
Call For Androcles: Stretches credibility a bit but it IS a cartoon. ***.
Playful Pluto: I guffawed at the last panel. Well played! ****1/2.
Greetings, Gates: Mickey veers into stupid again. ***1/2.
The Stamp Act: Why didn't I think of that? ***.
Pie A La Horace: Mickey is SUCH a little stinker. ****1/2.
Well Heeled: I'll say one thing for Mickey: he's got an optimistic spirit. ***1/2.
Cowcatcher: A little bit of a cheat in the last frame but that's quibbling. ***.
A Tough Pull: See, I thought the gag was gonna be that the dentist pulled the wrong tooth. The way they went was MUCH more unpredictable (if less realistic). ****.
Shoot Something Lively: No dialogue in this one. Impressive. ***1/2.
A Bicycle Built For Three: This strip brought to you by The Bad Idea Bears. ***1/2.
Mickey Give A Darn: Mickey is useless sometimes, isn't he? ***1/2.
Don't Sugar Me: But Mickey didn't actually solve the problem. He still destroyed Minnie's only sack. ***.
Ashes To Ashes: Totally predictable but I laughed anyways. All in the delivery. ****.
You Bring The Ducks: Dumb. **.
The Punishment Fit The Crime: Even dumber. *1/2.
Patience Is Rewarded: I didn't get this one. **.
In The News: You can't win. ***.
Rival Romeos: I sometimes wonder about that Minnie. ***1/2.
Still Water Runs Deep: Stupid bet. **1/2.
Aw, Fudge: I like the idea of making Mickey's conscience a running gag. He really WAS a bit of a dirtbag in the early Sunday strips. ***1/2.
He's Got Her Pegged: That'll learn 'er. ****1/2.
Tingling Blood: Mickey is equally stupid and clever here. The strip show that wisdom comes with experience. ****.
The Un-Conscienced Mind: This is the first cartoon/comic/ANYTHING where I've seen Mickey Mouse pondering shoplifting. No wonder these Sunday pages haven't seen the light of day in decades. ***1/2.
He Faw Down An' Go Boom!: Horace later became famous for his practical jokes. They usually backfired then too. ****.

"Rumplewatt The Giant" and "Tanglefoot Pulls His Weight"

Two pretty good short stories followed by a clever gag strip. Overall: ****1/2.

Rumplewatt The Giant:

Mickey is SUCH an insufferable windbag in this story. His ego matches Donald Duck at his worst. And that's precisely why it is so entertaining. He goes on, and on, and ON. But I ain't one to gossip so you ain't heard that from me. ****1/2.

Tanglefoot Pulls His Weight:

The Daily strip story "Mickey And His Horse Tanglefoot" is far superior but I want to point something out I realized when I read this: usually Mickey is a HUGE jerk in the Sunday strips and is nicer in the dailies but he actually treated Tanglefoot MUCH worse in the early daily strip continuity. He basically bet a horse race on Tanglefoot using money he got from the glue factory. Now DAT'S a dirtbag! ****.

Trust Busters: Mickey is clever again. And all is right with the world. ****1/2.

"Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum" and Gag Strips:

Hit and miss in the gag strip department but the Serum story is pretty good. Overall: ***1/2.

Dr. Oofgay's Secret Serum

This answers the question of what would happen if Dr. Einmug were a total b word. Clarabelle is also pretty detestable in this story too but at least she's funny. There is a LOT of mayhem that can be mined from an unethical scientist character even if they aren't actually evil. Like most Sunday stories the continuity is pretty loose, especially during the first half. You had to read the Daily for the thick continuity stuff. ****.

Introducing Mickey Mouse Movies: I'm still a little bit POed that Fantagraphics didn't include the Silly Symphony toppers with the Gottfredson Sunday strips. True, they weren't actually by Gottfredson, but what is the point of cataloging a complete collection of strips that isn't actually complete? ****.
Fortune's Fool: Racist. Straight up. 0.
Chicken Inspector: I couldn't tell who to root for so this was a wash. **.
Schooled: Does Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law apply to fishing? ***1/2.
Broadcast News: Dirtbag Mickey strikes again. Him trying to break up Horace and Clarabelle as a prank goes beyond ANY limit of acceptable behavior. ****.
Wonderful Waterfull: They must have told this same hose joke a million times in the Sunday strip. It gets less and less funny with each retelling. **1/2.
"Chair" Did It Go?: That's what's coming to a braggart. ***.
Mess Production: A "Loving Cup" has to be some dated 1930's thing that I as a modern reader have no point of reference for. **.
Meet John Doe: Once again the modern title is cleverer than the strip itself. **1/2.
The Finer Things: If you squint a bit Minnie DOES do a good Clarabelle impression. I wouldn't have been able to stop laughing either. What can you do? ****.
One In A Million: A dud. 1/2.
Mickey's Hat Trick: A laugher. I got the giggles. ****1/2.
It's A N'Ice Fire: There is something seriously wrong with Mickey's sense of priorities if, as a fireman, he WANTS there to be a fire. His state of mind borders on the sociopathic. ***.

"Foray To Mt. Fishflake" and Gag Strips

Pretty good story and decent gags. Overall: ****.

Foray To Mt. Fishflake:

I don't quite see this as a defining bonding moment between Mickey and Dippy as the person who wrote the accompanying essay seems to. It's good but it's no gamechanger. ****.

Minnie Takes Mickey Down A Peg: I hated learning to skate for the same reason Mnnie does: you can't trust your teacher. ***1/2.
A Cat And Dog Life: Spotted the ending coming a mile away. I enjoyed it anyways though. ***1/2.
Donald Thinks It's A Dog's Life: You think a white Pluto is bad? You will never, EVER get used to a yellow Donald Duck. **1/2.

"The Case Of The Vanishing Coats" and Gag Strips:

Good run of strips although the mystery itself disappoints. ****.

The Case Of The Vanishing Coats:

Fun story but a REALLY weird ending. ***1/2.

One Step Ahead: This must've convinced Walt Disney to give Donald his own nephews. ****.
A "Wicket" Hit: Morty and Ferdie are little stinkers. Donald is a BIG stinker. ****.
Solomon Was Right: I really like this strip for some reason. It's not all that funny but it's kind of sweet so I smiled all the same. ****1/2.
Five Minutes Of Fame: Hilarious. For the record, that psychological trick only works on adults. *****.
A Striking Idea: Mickey's nephews ARE pretty clever, aren't they? ****.
Racketeers: Just like real kids. ****.
Water Let Down: Mickey is dumb. ***.
Seeing Is Believing: I laughed at this one too. ****1/2.
Trouble Bruin: "Do deer ever blow their horns?" Good question! Mickey is still an idiot though. ***1/2.
Sticky Sentiment: Mickey is SUCH a dirtbag but what is Minnie upset for? ****.
Another Fine Chest: Dippy is dumb too. ***1/2.
Swing Low: Donald got what was coming to him. ****1/2.
Delivery Detour: Donald can't win. ***.
Sweet Sickness: This made no sense. **.
Minnie's Helper Proves A Hindrance: Unpredictable gag. ***1/2.
Pluto Joins The Club: Predictable *1/2.
A "Ram"ing "Apple"cation: Eh. **1/2.

"Hoppy The Kangaroo" and Gag Strips:

The strip size shrinks midway through the Hoppy story which is sort of a bummer. I liked the Sundays strips because they were easier to read on my poor eyes. Overall: ****.

Hoppy The Kangaroo:

Best story length Sunday strip so far although the ending was a little rushed. First appearance of Peg-Leg Pete in the Sundays. ****1/2.

Water The Ducks: Serves Donald right. AGAIN. ***.
Distance Lends Enchantment: An unlikely scenario. **.
Innocent Babes: I can't tell if this makes Mickey a bad parent or a good one. Probably the best ever! ****.
Stop The Music: This annoyed me. *1/2.
Mickey Slips Up: This annoyed me too but a little bit less. **.

The Gottfredson Archives: Essays And Special Features:

Good stuff. I wish they had printed all of the Donald Duck wrap-around segments by William Van Horn for his 60th Anniversary issue. They should just reprint that entire issue someday. Overall: ****1/2.

Mickey Mouse Chapter:

Fred Spencer's rough artwork reminds me greatly of R. Crumb's. **1/2.

Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: Robin Hood Rides Again By Floyd Gottfredson

More Mickey Mouse Sundays. As somebody said in the essay is now feel WEIRD to own every single Sunday strip Gottfredson ever made. I'm sure I'll feel a similar level of amazed when Fantagraphics finishes his Daily run in a few years.

For the record, the Sunday strips still mostly suck. But Mickey is less of a dirtbag once Goofy becomes the antagonist. Gottfredson's Goofy is easily my least favorite version of that character of all time. He is detestable and has no redeeming qualities. How Goofy wound up so beloved is due solely due to the cartoons. If Gottfredson has written the cartoons Goofy would be every bit as hated as Gladstone Gander.

Best stories are "Mickey's Rival" which is SO good is could have been a Daily strip (in fact the Daily strips DID do another version called "Love Trouble"), and "The Sheriff Of Nugget Gulch", which is great, if not as great as the essay on it would have you believe, and the Roald Dahl-esque strip "One Good Turn Deserves Another". Worst story is the gag strip where Mickey threatens to beat Pluto with a baseball bat to teach Morty and Ferdie a lesson (Framed). Yes, you read that right. Volume Overall: ***1/2.

"Mickey's Rival" And "Helpless Helpers" And Gag Strips:

I prefer the Daily Strip story of Mickey's Rival but this has one REALLY great gag in it. Helpless Helpers is a disappointment though. Overall: ****.

Mickey's Rival:

The Sunday version of Mickey's Rival has less to do with Mickey and Mortimer competing for Minnie's favor and more with pulling violent pranks on each other. Mickey's gag with punching Mortimer without touching him was the best. Totally worth a dollar. ****1/2.

A Dog Gong False Alarm: Stupid gag. **1/2.
Open, Says Me: This made me laugh. *****.
Mickey Chains His Dogs: Funny. ****.
Demon Drivers: This was a funny joke. ****.

Helpless Helpers:

I hate to say it but this is merely average. ***.

He Hit Him Back First: This is SUCH an old timey gag. They wouldn't do a joke like this today. ****.
You Asked For It: Ouch! ***1/2.
The Tooth Hurts: I've had recent dental problems. I can relate. ***1/2.
Floating Power: This is clever even though it would never work in real life. ***1/2.

"The Robin Hood Adventure"

REALLY cool story that reminded me of Gumby with Mickey falling into that book. A LOT of fun stuff and I really like how Mickey earned the respect of Little John, Robin Hood and Richard the Lion-Hearted. But... The ending was a HUGE let-down. ****.

"The Ventriloquist" And Gag Strips

The Ventriloquist was a disappointment and most of these gag strips suck because midway through, Goofy became the focal point of the strip, and Gottfredson's Goofy is extremely unlikable. All that said, While I would normally be inclined to give this substandard run of strips a single star it also contains the greatest Mickey Mouse Sunday strip of all time (well, maybe not, but it IS my personal favorite). Three and a half stars just for that. I wish it had occurred during a better run of strips though. Overall: ***1/2.

The Ventriloquist:

My first reaction to finishing this story: And THEN what happened? The daily strip would have made Mickey meeting a real Ventriloquist the jumping off point for an adventure. Here the story just stops when it's getting good. ***1/2.

Up And At 'Em: A groaner. But a FUNNY groaner. ****1/2.
One 'Cross, Two Down: Sap sums it up. ****.
Artists And Models: The logic of this escapes me. *1/2.
A Frightful Eyefull: Unfunny and boring. 0.
Goofy Did A Bang-Up Job: An old gag but Goofy is a REALLY literal character so they had to do it at least once with him. ****.
Hat Trick: Goofy isn't just dumb, he's low-class. I don't care HOW fancy a hat is, you don't pick one up and put it on when you find it in the street. ***1/2.
One Good Turn Deserves Another: Calling it: this is my favorite Mickey Mouse Sunday strip of all time. By far. It's a classic that I first read in my Gladstone reading youth. I later read a Roald Dahl story with the exact same premise and I'm betting he got the idea from this strip. What I love about it is that it subverts your expectations. Here Mickey is the lousy stool-pigeon and it is the pickpocket who is honest and honorable. Him doing that favor for Mickey at the end showed a level of class that Mickey did NOT deserve. My favorite Sunday comic and would have been my favorite strip ever if there wasn't an even funnier four panels in the Daily story "Captive Castaways". Excellent. *****.
He Don't Get It: This wasn't funny. **.
He's On The Way Down: Goofy is DUMB. *.
Tricks Of Your Own Trade: Minnie is a lot smarter than she lets on. But she said she has used this trick before. How many boyfriends has she actually HAD before Mickey? ****.
Ya Gotta Hand It To Him: This has actually happened to me. When I was a little kid I once cupped my hands to catch raindrops out of a store roof's gutter and somebody shoved a dollar into them. Even as a little kid, that was embarrassing. But, hey, free money. ****.
A Bunny Situation: Treacle and unfunny treacle at that. 0.
Goofy Knows The Ropes: This was hilarious but I'll just say it: Goofy was too clever here. It was out of character. ***1/2.
Goofy Sled Him On: THIS however is the kind of accidental genius Goofy is known for. MUCH easier to buy. Although I'll concede this strip isn't as funny as the last one. ***.
He Ain't Happy: I can't sympathize with Mickey because my reaction in the same situation would have been the exact opposite of his. I would have felt RELIEF that the item I had just destroyed was supposed to be mine. Mickey's lack of empathy here is very hard to get behind. *1/2.
Goofy's Plum Right: Goofy is still dumb but in this case, the joke is too. *1/2.
Cracked Ice: Serves Mickey right. **1/2.
Motor Mix-Up: This was funny but also a bit painful to read. Here Goofy plays a little bit like Michael Scott in his disastrous incompetence having negative consequences for the people around him. **1/2.
A Big Help: Stuff like this is the reason I so strongly dislike Gottfredson's Goofy. **.
He Just Couldn't Bear It: I didn't get the logic of this one either. **1/2.
He Can Dream, Can't He?: The fact that Gottfredson totally missed the homosexual implications of this strip tells me he wasn't ONLY an oblivious writer when it came to racial matters. **.
The Pay Off: Goofy is such a witless git. *1/2.
It Was All Very Con-Fuse-Ing: Goofy is a prat. I hate that the Sunday strip has turned into "The Goofy Show". *1/2.
Goofy's Demonstration Was A Flop: Michael "Goofy" Scott strikes again. This strikes me as no different than Michael ripping up some poor kid's expensive text book at Ryan's seminar to make a cliched point. I find stuff like that more painful than funny. *.
Dimbulbs: I'll admit it. Mickey deserved this. **1/2.
Goofy Lost His Memory Too: Another good example of Goofy's accidental cleverness. But it is AGAIN done in such a way that makes the character VERY unlikable. ***.

"Sheriff Of Nugget Gulch" And Gag Strips:

Sheriff Of Nugget Gulch is easily the best adventure serial the Sunday strip ever did. The Robin Hood Adventure was good too but its ending sucked. But despite the many plot holes and logic failures Sheriff of Nugget Gulch reads more like a Daily serial than any other Sunday story. It blows Lair of the Wolf Barker out of the water. Unfortunately, the gag strips in this run are hit and miss. More good ones than the ones that accompanied The Ventriloquist but only about half of them are funny and nearly ALL of them feature the characters behaving in quite deplorable and unpleasant ways. It is VERY easy to see why Gladstone and Gemstone reprinted so few Sunday gag strips. All of the characters were bad role models for kids! Overall: ****.

Sheriff Of Nugget Gulch:

I dunno, I think the editorial accompanying this story was a bit too hard on it. Yes, there are plot inconsistencies and changed premises but the same could be said for the early days of the daily strip. And the idea that the crummy and racist story "In Search Of Jungle Treasure" is better than this is laughable. The Sunday strips have almost ALWAYS been worse than the Dailies and this was about as good as an average Daily strip. About half of the Daily stories are worse than this and a good chunk of them more offensive. I had a good time reading this which is one of the few times I can say that for a Sunday serial. ****1/2.

Going, Going, Gone: Goofy is stupid. **.
Slightly Sidetracked: This was kind of a dirty trick on Mickey's part but Goofy deserved it. Me? I would have just taken a picture and shown it as a gag to friends. Wouldn't have wound up in jail for that. ***.
He's An Old Apple-Knocker: Of course Goofy's uncle is named Dizzy. He also has a cousin Dimwit, an Aunt Dumbass, and Grandma Developmentally Disabled. **.
Bedtime Bombardier: A rare Mickey strip without a single line of dialogue. It still "reads" easily enough. ***1/2.
Mickey Takes His Medicine: Figures JUST when Mickey channels The Boondock's Granddad Freeman that he runs out of medicine. Phooey. ***1/2.
A Book To Get Up In The Air Over: This is the second strip in this volume that says that Mickey is an avid book reader. That's a really positive trait to have. ****.
Mickey Had It On Ice: I find this gag just as ludicrous as Wile E. Coyote painting tunnels on cliff walls. But MUCH less funnier. *1/2.
Goofy's A Good Skate: Just desserts for Goofy. ***1/2.
Snowbound: Haven't seen Morty and Ferdie in awhile. Mickey had that coming. ***1/2.
They Took Mickey For A Sleigh Ride: Ditto. ****.
She Didn't Know Mickey Was Deseated: I really dislike Clarabelle too but that isn't just Gottfredson's version, it's ALL versions. Gottfredson's is the most well-known though. **1/2.
Mickey Got A Bum Steer: The was sort of like a Calvin and Hobbes sledding/wagon joke minus the philosophical discussions. But the artwork and pacing was nearly identical to Bill Watterson's. ***1/2.
He Fell For That Line A Second Time: My sympathies for the victim of Morty and Ferdie's prank are limited. ***1/2.
A Bang-Up Round-Up: An adventure serial in a single strip! *****.
A Rolling Pin Gathers No Remorse: Return of the Rascal Mickey. ***1/2.
-Snow Use: Minnie is HORRIBLE in this strip. Sometimes I think the Sunday gag strips are one of the only places you can see Disney characters treating each other like dirt with rotating villains. ***.
Faith, Hope, And Fraternity: Mickey is a bad Uncle. Donald Duck NEVER would have fallen for that trick. True, he wouldn't have given his nephews money for no reason either, but I think it is QUITE humorous that Carl Barks always depicted Donald as a better parent to his nephews than Mickey was to his in Gottfredson's Sunday strips.
The Wagon Yields: Serves Goofy right. You know how all later versions of Goofy are portrayed as near saint-like and innocent? Gottfredson's Goofy is EXTREMELY selfish and thoughtless. It is quite unpleasant. ***1/2.

"Service With A Smile" And Gag Strips

Decent gag story and some more hit and miss strips. Beware Dirtbag Mickey: he threatens to beat Pluto with a baseball bat in order to teach his toddler nephews a lesson. Buttmunch. Overall: ***.

Service With A Smile:

Servicable (Groan). ***1/2.

Two Mad Hatters: Morty and Ferdie are two really rotten little kids. ***.
Goofy's Theory Proven To Be De-Fenceless: Goofy's logic here is so stupid it doesn't even make ANY kind of sense. Most of his literal delusions do in some respect but not-so here. **
...And The Stand Of The Brave: Pretty funny. I love "accidental heroism". ***.
Pluto Showed Mickey He Was All Vet: So-so. ***.
Mickey's Well Attired: You. Cannot. Teach. Goofy. To be. Clever. Can't be done. The sooner Mickey realizes this, the less aggravated he will be. **1/2.
An Education For Mickey: I worry about some of Morty and Ferdie's pranks being imitatable. I'm betting they were in 1938. ***.
An Undercover Recovery: Mickey is the worst. ***1/2.
He's Funny That Way: Mortie and Ferdy channel Michael Vick. I'll say one thing for Dirtbag Mickey: he sure knows when to unleash his righteous fury. It isn't often but it is always well-earned. ****.
Well, Dunk My Cake!: What exactly is the lesson here? *.
Patience Is A Virtue: Minnie is ALSO the worst. **1/2.
Some Fun, Eh?: Goofy is a grade-A moron. ***1/2.
The Gift Of Gab: If you can't beat 'em, distract 'em with b.s.. Mickey shoulda been in politics. ****.
Minnie Was Entrance: Dang, Minnie. BUUUUURRRNNN. ***.
There Ain't No Justice: Goofy is so self-absorbed he can make telling the OTHER GUY'S story first seem narcissistic. ***1/2.
Framed: This strip is appalling and absolutely sickening. One of the worst Disney Comics I have ever read. 0.
You Can Count On Goofy: Goofy nearly wins a Darwin Award. ***.
This One's On Mickey: Free comedy tip, Mickey. NEVER count on Goofy to "get" your jokes. ***.
Grin, And Bear It, Mickey!: Cute. ***1/2.
You Can't Tell-His-Scope: I'll admit it. Goofy's stupidity is SOMETIMES amusing. ****.

"The Brave Little Tailor" And Gag Strips:

The Brave Little Tailor story is done in a different format than other Mickey Mouse strips. In it Mickey gets a phone call from Walt Disney and is treated as a bonafide movie star. That's kind of neat, but frankly, it's also a bit jarring. Once we get to the "movie" though the story is fine. Overall: ****.

The Brave Little Tailor:

Fantastic illustrations but it should go without saying that the animated cartoon itself is a thousand times better. By the way: you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has synergy? Nobody, but NOBODY beat Disney at the promotion game in the 1920's and 30's. ****.

You Can't Film-Flam Goofy: Goofy may be the worst but at least at this point Mickey has figured that out. ****.
Goofy Amused Them With His Tails: Not funny. **.
You Can't Soot Everybody: Um, what? I have a sneaking suspicion this is supposed to be racist but I have no clue what the actual joke is. 1/2.
No Use Mnnie-Mizing The Evidence: Gottfredson's Minnie has always been all over the map. Sometimes she's clever, but sometimes she's as obnoxious as Daisy Duck. A cast of rotating villains is Mickey Mouse Sundays. **1/2.

The Later Years: Gottfredson Fill-Ins:

These are some of the occasional strips Gottfredson did to fill-in on the Sundays. I think they are better than the book's editor gives them credit for. For one thing, with the exception of the now too vanilla Mickey, every single character is more likable, particularly Goofy and Morty and Ferdie. I WILL concede however that the artwork sucks. I don't know what happened to Gottfredson in his later years but the early Daily strips and Sundays were some of the most on-model Disney Comics ever done. They looked EXACTLY like the animated cartoons which is only something I think Carl Barks was the only other person able to pull it off. Even Don Rosa and William Van Horn don't look completely on-model. Gottfredson's strip, instead of looking like an illustrated animated cartoon, now resembles Hi And Lois. I don't know if it's laziness, or a new mandate from Disney or what, but it's REALLY noticeable. Overall: ****.

What Goes Up: Funny Bill Walsh sight gag. ****1/2.
Sputnik Sundae: I would have eaten the HECK outta that sundae. ****.
Snob's Your Uncle: Those twitty nephews of Minnie were driving me nuts. **1/2.
But He Knows What He Likes: I see what the title writers of the book did there. ****1/2.
-For Man Nor Beast: Groan. **1/2.
Splash Test Dummy: That is ONE off-model Chief O'Hara. ***.
Snug In A Rug: At this point in the strip's run, Gottfredson is forced to use the dreaded "throwaway" gag that newspapers often cut to save space. Those obnoxious things ALWAYS throw off the pace of the strip, and is a big part of the reason both Bill Watterson and Berkeley Breathed renegotiated their comic strip deals to do away with them. ***1/2.
Brotherhood Is Powerful: I was exactly the same way as a kid. Morty and Ferdie are MUCH more relatable in the later years of the strip. ***1/2.
Delayed Reaction: Eh. All right. But plenty of the later strips are funnier than this. **.
East, West - Home Is Best: I will say this: Goofy is MUCH more likable in the later strips. *****.
Hat Check: This was fun. ***.
And The Grass Grew Green All Around: Deadly dull. *1/2.

Gottfredson Guest Stars: Donald Duck And Treasury Of Classic Tales:

These are the various non-Mickey comic strips Gottfredson drew throughout the years. None of them are as good as the Mickey Daily strips (although the two Donald Duck ones are about as good as a Mickey Sunday strip). Overall: ***1/2.

Donald Duck:

These two strips contain Pluto and Goofy respectively. I don't recall many other Donald strips that used the "Mouse" characters. Overall: ***1/2.

Dog Daze: Cute. ***.
Donald Scented Fowl Play: Donald had this coming. ***1/2.

Lambert The Sheepish Lion:

Nice artwork and faithful adaptation. But the cartoon itself is nothing special and the comic certainly doesn't improve upon it. **1/2.

The Seven Dwarfs And The Witch-Queen:

This is totally a Smurfs story. And the Witch Queen is Gargamel. ***.

Sleeping Beauty:

Not as good as the movie but better than you'd expect. ****.

101 Dalmatians:

Serviceable adaptation. ***1/2.

Sunday Pictorial Mickey Strip: An old Gottfredson strip with new dialogue. ***1/2.

Mickey And His Friends Strip: This pantomime strip is very interesting. I'd like to eventually see a collection of this short-run strip. ***1/2.

Scamp Strip: Cute. ***.

Gag Strips: A Mickey Supplement:

These are six strips by Bill Walsh and Manuel Gonzalez. The artwork is more detailed than Gottfredson's and the writing denser. Interesting. Overall: ***1/2.

Too Realistic: Beautiful artwork. ****.
Double Trouble: The strip used pink flesh tones in this era. I personally like it (even if it's pink instead of peach). I loved it when the Disney Comics in the 90's did that and the ducks' eyes robin's egg blue. ***1/2.
Sweet Smell Of Success: You see the look on Minnie's face in the last panel? You can totally tell she's putting Mickey on. You can't kid a kidder. ****1/2.
The Cat's Meow: Cute Pluto strip but I didn't like the ending. **1/2.
Bored Of Education: An Ellsworth strip. ***1/2.
Little Wooden Head: The idea of this strip is a ridiculous. It was a bit much. **.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: Escape From Forbidden Valley: The Don Rosa Library Volume 8

The eighth volume of the Don Rosa Library.

I'm pretty sure we've gotten to the era of Don Rosa where I have read every single one of his later stories in Gemstone American printings (including the rare "Sign Of The Triple Distelfink") although the One Page Epilogue for "The Quest For Kalevala" was new to me. It's sort of sad I won't get to discover any Rosa stories I had previously missed again. I thought there were more of those stories I never read than there actually were.

Best stories are the Huey, Dewey, and Louie Anniversary story (W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N.*), the Gladstone Gander Anniversary story which turned out to be the best Gladstone story of all time (Sign Of The Triple Distelfink), one of the best later Life And Times chapters with some of Rosa's best artwork (The Cowboy Captain Of The Cutty Sark), and the solid adventure story "The Dutchman's Secret".

Worst story is the horribly written "Escape From Forbidden Valley", which is weirdly what they centered the volume around.

The Volume also contains one of Rosa's most famous stories (in Finland anyways), "The Quest For Kalevala". It was a little much for me to understand, but it's outright weirdness, meticulously crafted artwork, and moral ambiguity definitely make it one of the biggest curiosities of the book. Volume Overall: ****1/2.

Huey, Dewey, And Louie: The Junior Woodchucks "W.H.A.D.A.L.O.T.T.A.J.A.R.G.O.N.*"

I freaking love this story for the history of not only the Junior Woodchucks, but the Duck family itself. I totally forgot Grandma was Clinton Coot's daughter, and I love the clarification that she is Huey, Dewey, and Louie's grandmother. This also hints that Donald's twin sister Della had Donald raise the boys because she was afraid Scrooge would be a bad influence. The Woodchuck honchos being name Taliaferro and Osborne was genius. I love that Donald has a much better opinion of the Woodchucks here than he did in Rosa's earlier stories, which funnily enough shows character growth. And the nephews still ultimately need Donald at the end. I like the resolution that McDuck can't fire a Woodchuck, because all of his staff were former Woodchucks and Chickadees and would resign in protest. I love that. I also thought Scrooge's appearance on the film strip was hilarious. We don't even see his face, but his personality comes through loud and clear. I love this story so much. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Black Knight":

This is a good story and Arpine Lusene, an original character created by Don Rosa, is definitely Scrooge's most difficult and worthy foe yet. As Scrooge notes, he's the Scrooge McDuck of thieves. That being said, I strongly dislike him because his goals are far crueler than the Beagle Boys who want to rob the Bin, Magica De Spell who wants his Number One Dime, or Flintheart Glomgold who wants to be richer than Scrooge. Rather than prove he's the greatest thief by actually stealing the money, his appalling idea is to simply DESTROY the money, and say he stole it. For someone who is supposed to live by a thieves' code of honor, that is pretty lowdown. I like that Scrooge literally pulled the rug out from under him, but that was a careless and risky move. If the diamonds hadn't been where they were, Lusine would have fallen straight to the Center of the Earth, destroying it in the same disaster Scrooge was trying to prevent in "The Universal Solvent". As far as I'm concerned, Scrooge is lucky his solution worked instead of causing Armageddon. I like how disturbed the boys were that he coated the stuff in a suit of armor. This will be a lot harder than they thought. I loved the gag of Donald mischeivously touching things in the Trophy Room. Lusene is also a smart foe for thinking to use the sword covered in the Solvent to sweep for mines on the hill and to create stairs out of acid. There IS an actual reason he's a legit threat and not the bumbler the Beagle Boys are. But it doesn't stop me from hating him personally. For the record, I actually really like his black catburglar outfit before he puts on the armor. It's like the Phantom Blot's costume, only less bulky, and more lithe, so he can easily move around. I had wish we had seen it again. ****.

Donald Duck "Sign Of The Triple Distelfink":

This is the best Gladstone Gander story ever made. It's not THAT hard, because Barks famously hated the character, so his stories were worse than average. But because Rosa doesn't, he can give him this (and the not QUITE as awesome "Oolated Luck"). What an epic notion that his birthday is the one day a year he is cursed with bad luck. We also learned the history of where his mother Daphne's luck came from and how he inherited it. And it's important to me to establish that Donald actually dislikes Gladstone. There is no warm heartwarming scene for them coming. He hates his cousin and that will never change. A lot of funny gags in the story including the "What are the odds of that?" runner, the cabbie weirdly calling Gladstone "Jake" and "Ace", and Uncle Scrooge just sitting back and enjoying watching the chaos at the end. You know what? It WAS a good show. Best Gladstone story ever. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Cowboy Captain Of The Cutty Sark"

I love Cap'n Moore. His smile at the end was both winning and creepy. And he also delivers the story's best line: "I've the urge to do myself a mischief." That's awesome. Speaking of which, this may be Rosa's best artwork period. Quest For Kalevala is more detailed and meticulous, but this looks more effortless and assured. I think he specifically upped his game to make the camera joke funnier and it totally worked. Rosa has done some fine art in the past. But in order to keep up with that specific running joke he outdid himself over and over again here. This is not one of his most famous stories, even though it's technically a Life And Times chapter. But I cannot recall a single story with better all around artwork (besides perhaps Kalevala which I think feels a little overdone). The history buff in me is excited to see Rachet Gearloose invent a car, only to have Scrooge convince him to make it run on expensive petroleum. And the editor stepping to say they would not be doing a sound effect for the Krakatoa explosion, which turned out to be the loudest sound in recorded history, to preserve the reader's sanity was a pretty great meta joke. Rosa is the only Duck writer / artist who does meta, and he does it just swell. I was geeking out over Scrooge riding Hortense IN the water by running on the volcanic Krakatoa pieces. Suffice it to say, that was a great piece of artwork. But what impressed me is that it totally didn't need to be. The idea was awesome enough on it's own, and Rosa could have half-assed it without me complaining a bit. Which again goes into what a literal Godsend the camera running gag turned out to be for the issue. Rosa upped his game in every conceivable way. I'm not going to say this is the best Life and Times Of Scrooge McDuck story. (I like "The Last Of The Clan McDuck" and "The Empire Builder From Calisota" more), and it's not even the best story of the Companion (that would be "Hearts Of The Yukon"). By it's my fourth favorite after those three. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Dutchman's Secret"

Wow, I haven't read this story in a few years but it's MUCH better than I remembered it. I hate how Rosa never lets Scrooge keep any treasure, but a ten million dollar finders fee for this one is a pretty dang good consolation prize. I love that this story uses Donald's "Eye For Detail" superpower, which is something I love about the later Rosa adventures. He did NOT just forget he gave Donald a legit superpower. He is actually allowed to still use it when the story calls for it. Although at the end of "An Eye For Detail" Scrooge is (erroneously) led to believe the power was destroyed, so I question how he can ask Donald to use it. I'll let this inconsistency slide simply because it's more important to me that Donald still CAN use it. And it always was. I liked the joke that Scrooge refused to unglue the paper from Donald's hand because it was his best way to keep track of the map. I was beyond disappointed that he unceremoniously changed his tune, and even worse, when the map was destroyed. But the value of the nephews to me (and Scrooge himself) is that they correctly point out that even if they didn't have the map memorized before it was destroyed, they had gotten a detail from it that nobody else had: that the main markers of the Dutchman's Mine were phony. And with that, and Donald's Eye For Detail, they are able to get the rest of the way on their own. They still should have photographed the map beforehand though. I like that the claimjumper recognizes McDuck's name from his reputation as the cowboy Buck McDuck. I personally think if he had known that he was dealing with world famous billionaire treasure finder SCROOGE McDuck, he would have been a lot more careful than he was. I love Scrooge's trick of gluing a board with his confession he jumped the claim on it. For the record, that would not actually hold up in court and that guy wouldn't be arrested in a million years for it, much less be in jail for days. But it was a clever solution of Scrooge outfoxing his enemy using his brain, instead of violence, which is the entire selling point of the Ducks to me (sneers in the DuckTales' reboot's direction). I liked this story more upon reading it for the second time. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Escape From Forbidden Valley"

Honestly? Lousy. I've always thought so but it was even worse than I remembered. The Stickaree Indian savages speaking in broken English were outright offensive, and unlike Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson, Rosa doesn't have "the sign of the times" as an excuse. Even worse is the way Donald is repeatedly humiliated, which is one of my least favorite things Rosa does to him. But it's worse here than in any other story. And the idea that if the Dinosaur hatches a T-Rex that it will grow up with a sweet disposition was ludicrous. The story was not entirely without merit. I loved getting back to the nutmeg tea and the line "No such varmint!" I also appreciated the nephews sticking up for Donald to Scrooge, and appreciated it less that they didn't really follow through with that idea by the end. The last page gag of Donald looking like the dinosaur was fun too. But this is one of my least favorite Rosa stories. *1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "The Quest For Kalevala"

This is easily Rosa's longest story. As an American, it's a bit confusing to me, but there is enough pathos in it to recommend it. Even if I don't entirely understand what's going on, the moment where Scrooge decides to let go of the Sampo because he doesn't want to face the ghosts of the Yukon yet is amazing simply because it is so ambiguous. It is literally everything Scrooge has always wanted. Why doesn't he take it? Is it outright fear? Or does he think rejecting that specific paradise will help him fix things with Goldie in this world? I absolutely love that scene because there are a ton of layers and potential interpretations for it. I love that Donald's name is on Death's list for the Book of Sleep because he's a loafer, and the joke of Donald laughing in his face. Gyro and Magica's appearances were pleasant surprises too (especially Magica's) and I laughed at Little Bulb chasing her out of Gyro's shop at the end with a broom. Brooms are SUCH a great cartoon weapon, because while they don't so a lot of physical damage, they are still effective and get the job done. And that's the specific reason Helper can shoo Magica in the first place. Magica said something interesting, that I've always believed, but I don't think has been confirmed by either Barks or Rosa until now: She claims she is amateur when it comes to sorcery. And goshdarn it, I have always believed that! All of the magic powers both incarnations of DuckTales have given the character are completely not anything the REAL Magica could actually ever do. And I like that Rosa is allowed to use human characters here, because it IS a special story, and the artwork is great too. I don't think it's quite as good as Cowboy Captain Of The Cutty Sark, simply because there are so many splash panels here that Rosa seems to be showing off a bit, while the amazing art from Cutty Sark looks effortless, and thus better to me. I didn't understand much of this. But what I just read struck me as pretty profound, and probably meaningful for the people who did understand it. Either way it was quite an undertaking by Rosa. I am impressed. After Life and Times, this is clearly the story he put the most amount of effort into. It shows. ****.

Behind The Scenes:

This includes the never before printed in America Epilogue to Kalevala, as well as unused pencils for a longer version of the story. Overall: *****.

The Quest For Kalevala Epilogue: Cannot believe this is the first time I've read this. Amazing closing joke. *****.

Al Taliaferro Strip: First appearance of Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Della is described as Donald's cousin here. ****.

Covers: Insane amount of detail. ****1/2.

The Rosa Archives:

These are the pin-ups Rosa did for overseas. I'm pretty good at finding the D.U.C.K.'s in the opening of the stories, but hopeless at finding them here. Magnificent art. *****.


Well-Known Member
Jan 23, 2007
New York
I have also read the IDW Duck comics that translation of comics from other countries, it is weird for me, in that version, it follows the Disney animated universe in that Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, etc. they existed and they are Donald's old friends, oppose to Mickey being a big movie star who Donald wants to meet, like in the Don Rosa world.
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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Mickey Mouse being a movie star thing was only in non-canon Rosa stories. It's hinted in other stories Donald knows Mickey but it's never said for sure it's because he's a movie star. But the stories where Mickey is a Hollywood Star are unofficial to the Duck canon.

I'll create a general Disney Comics talkback for you.

Road to Gotham

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2003

As usual FUN! I really enjoy the one-pagers with Scrooge trying outwit a cup of coffee out from the diner owner.

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Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Walt Disney's Donald Duck "The Ghost Sheriff Of Last Gasp" The Carl Barks Library Volume 15

A volume comprised entirely of ten pagers, one story Barks only drew, and one gag strip Barks only (probably) wrote. There are some hidden comedic gems in this volume, but I'm like Don Rosa in preferring the longer adventures. Barks is good at slapstick comedy. But that's never been the selling point of the Ducks for me.

The best story wasn't even written by Barks (Donald Duck Tells About Kites). Worst stories are the unresolved "Too Safe Safe", and the dull "Descent Interval". Volume Overall: ***1/2.

The Ghost Sheriff Of Last Gasp:

That was pretty dumb. Unlikely plot turns and sloppy writing mar this cliche of a story. The jail walls crumble because they are old? Stupid stuff. Interestingly, I really liked the last page resolution. Wild Bill's hiccups being cured by Donald's phony looking Hollywood guns was a pretty final funny gag. Even I can admit that. **1/2.

Wispy Willie:

Donald seems pretty on the ball against most of Scrooge's tricks (although it is left ambiguous as to whether or not he actually saw through them at all), but I laughed at how dumb it was he kept agreeing to do menial work for the scientist for no reason or benefit to himself whatsoever. The scientist doesn't even tell him what the mold he wants him to gather is for and he's all "Okay." Scrooge is a jerk for firing his employees because Donald saw through their disguises. I like that the moral of the story is that Huey, Dewey, and Louie cannot pick who they are related to. Because both of their uncles are impossible. ****.

The Hammy Camel:

Slight story (VERY slight). I laughed at the visuals of the ducks rolling up in their sleeping bags against the ghost camel. What I especially love about Donald is that as the night goes on he feels increasingly guilty over chasing away the camel. And the happy ending seems a bit ludicrous (maybe the guy who wanted a glowing camel should have just spent 50 cents on it instead of 1000 bucks a week) but it was a good resolution to get the nephews a dishwasher. ***1/2.

Fix-Up Mix-Up:

An essential Carl Barks theme: Never assume any job, no matter how ordinary seeming, in the service industry is easy. You can't just read a single book on a hard job and learn everything you need to know about it. Honestly? Donald seems a bit too big of a dope here. And I won't cry for Daisy for her fox coat being ruined. She's lucky nobody threw paint on it. **1/2.

Turkey Trot At One Whistle:

Hairy Harry is like the worst bad guy name ever. He looks almost exactly like a bearded Beagle Boy. The story however was not terrible. ***1/2.

Raffle Reversal:

Yeah, it's pretty easy to see why Carl Barks wound up detesting Gladstone Gander. How could you not? I hope Donald caught him at the end of the story and whaled on him a little. Even still, Donald IS pretty hard to root for himself here. ***.

Flour Follies:

For some reason the nephew's confusion over Donald eating out a parlor and two bedrooms strikes me as a hilarious closing joke. For the record, the mess in this issue? Totally Scrooge's fault. 100%. Penny Wise's intriguing backstory with Scrooge (she is supposedly the only person Scrooge fears and could ruin him) seems to be the best Don Rosa story Don Rosa never got around to writing. ****.

The Price Of Fame:

"You lucky, lucky, little nobody." Great closing line. Here's an opinion: The nephews deserved to be miserable. Because Donald was right the first time: They were insulting him within earshot and trying to provoke a reaction out of him. Maybe they'll think twice about provoking those specific kinds of reactions from now on. For the record, I sincerely don't see Simon Cowell ever telling a bad singer the public would be too ignorant to appreciate them. Speaking of bad singing, a comic book is the only plausible place for Donald Freaking Duck to have a good singing voice. The fact that nobody in the story comments on how hard he is to understand is why I envision an entirely different voice for Comic Donald for when I read him. For the record, in this story at least, Donald Duck is clearly insane. ****.

Midgets Madness:

Apparently in G-rated comics, people chew gum for their nerves. One piece of gum sticking up the entire car was a dumb ending. I liked Donald telling the nephews they were making him look "unglamorous" and them seeing his point. ***1/2.

Salmon Derby:

I think Barks cheated a little bit with Gladstone's luck powers here, but I can't say I object to actually seeing Donald win the day for once. ****.

Cheltenham's Choice:

Chentenham reminds me greatly of Chip. I think Donald's "lesson" with the alligator sucked because it was so potentially dangerous. Donald is often a great parent. That showed him being a bad one. ***.

Traveling Truants:

Speaking of which, Donald was laying it on a little thick here. It's ironic because this is one of the stories where the nephews misbehave and deserve to be punished, and Donald is going overboard. I did like the last couple of pages where all four of them get lost because none of them, even Donald, paid attention in school. And the solution is for all of them to go back, including Donald, for geography lessons. What strikes me as interesting about Barks' family oriented ten-pagers is that even if I often don't agree with the lessons Donald is teaching the nephews, the stories are often resolved in a way where everybody learns the proper lesson anyways. Donald tricks in reality are mean and dangerous. But I think they are harmless and funny instead if he and the nephews learn from how foolish they are. ***1/2.

Donald Rants About Ants:

"The gage of battle has been flung!" is like the greatest line ever. And Antofagasta Ax-Toothed Ants would be a good name for a band. This shows that Donald's actual knowledge of the outside world is extremely superficial and limited. He's using an allegory for animals he knows nothing about. Similar to Barks I think, as I've never heard of ants who act like termites before. In Barks' defense, and to his eternal credit, he was smart enough to make these particular wood-eaters an entirely fictional species. I suspect that Barks went into a pet shop one day and saw an ant-farm and said to himself "That's a ten-pager". Barks was famous for writing stories about real-world science that interested him. I suspect that is what happened here. ***1/2.

Too Safe Safe:

This proves that just because you CAN invent something, it doesn't mean that you SHOULD. The dark lightbulb and upside-down mirror also state this explicitly. I like the way Gyro comes up with inventions. The fat cat in the story looks like Lucifer from Cinderella. Barks appears to have written himself into a corner. He couldn't figure a way out of the problem, so the story remains unresolved. This is a weak effort by Barks *1/2.

Search For Cuspidoria:

I thought Scrooge was being insensitive all throughout the story about how much little kids love Christmas, but by the end, he turns it around himself. And Barks is kind enough to reward him anyways for learning the right lesson. Karma does not always exist in Barks stories (Hello, Gladstone). But in Scrooge stories, happy endings tend to be earned more often than not. ****.

New Year's Revolutions:

I thought the resolution for Donald was a terrible idea. For one thing, even though the nephews WERE tricked into breaking their vow by Donald first, having them behave is a far easier ask than Donald never losing his temper. I like the way Louie thought to actually wind him up, but as the other nephews noted, they probably would have just been better off doing the dishes after all. ****.

Iceboat To Beaver Island:

Best gag was at the very beginning of the nephews telling the wiseguy Donald was on his iceboat because he was trying to get a job. Then the guy quips "What, is he selling earplugs?" That was a pretty good burn. ***1/2.

The Daffy Taffy Pull:

Honestly, as badly as things were going for Donald, in a story where Gladstone Gander makes an appearance, it could have gone much worse. I saw how and why the nephews were making him anxious and fraying his nerves at the beginning, but all in all, Gladstone did him a favor. It was not the story to be told in a wraparound in a psychiatrist's office after Donald has a mental breakdown. I like the idea of the guy who bought the taffy to throw into the ocean being called a "crank" but I still think that is probably too kind a word for him. ***.

Donald Duck Tells About Kites:

This is a perfect how-to guide about kites for kids. I have never read this story before, but it's an amazingly helpful thing for kids who want to fly kites about how to make their own and tells them various important safety tips. The lineman who retrieves the kite from the telephone pole is probably human so the kids reading the story would identify with his authority, which shows that Barks was smart, and got how children reacted to things like that. It's a small but effective touch. And he didn't even write the story! I didn't fly kites TOO much as a kid, but I did sometimes. I don't know if modern kids do or not. I didn't like it as much as many kids because I wasn't very good at it. For the record, Grandma stopping the spanking because that is the wrong end to learn lessons from shows that Donald is not the only wise teacher in the story. I'm a little bummed the story ends with Donald chasing Dewey with a switch because Grandma had it right the first time. *.

A Descent Interval:

Slight story with a ridiculously unlikely ending. Barks was coasting with this one. **.

Tennis Match:

Barks supposedly only wrote this one-page gag and Tony Strobl drew it. Let me just say there is a reason Barks is known as the Good Duck Artist. For the record, the archivists who put this volume together aren't even 100% certain Barks wrote it, but it seems more likely than not, and it seemed safer to add for the sake of completion. ***.

The Daffy Taffy Pull Deleted Scene:

I still don't get why Barks cut this. Supposedly because his many pre-literate readers wouldn't understand it? The thing is, Barks does talky stuff all the time. It's hard to believe he cut this serviceable scene because it wasn't up to his best standards in the same volume that contains "Too Safe Safe" and "A Descent Interval". ****.


I like the cover where Donald shaves initials into the nephews' scalps at the barbershop so he can tell them apart. Sadly, I must also point out each of the nephews' shirts on that cover are the wrong colors. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck "The Three Caballeros Ride Again!" The Don Rosa Library Volume 9

The Penultimate Volume of Fantagraphics' Don Rosa Library contains a few great stories and a couple of okay stories. It contains not a single bad story. Even when Rosa is underwhelming me with stories like "Attaaaaaack!" he isn't actually sucking.

Best stories are the one with the McDuck Money Bin blueprints (The Beagle Boys Vs. The Money Bin), the first part of Scrooge's greatest treasure hunt ever (The Crown Of The Crusader Kings), and the best high-concept Rosa gag story of all time featuring Magica De Spell (Forget It!). Volume Overall: ****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Coin"

I sort of understood the conceit of following the coin's perspective during its travels, but it was hard to make that perfectly clear in a comic book. This premise would work better in an animated cartoon. I also find the notion of Donald believing he'll impress Daisy by winning her cake in a raffle outright dumb. Even if Gladstone isn't competing almost nobody wins raffles. And even if he did why would that actually impress Daisy? Like Barks Rosa often has old-fashioned notions regarding Donald and Daisy's 'ship. And this is one of them that does not work. Do you know what ship DOES work? The revelation that the quarter was the one of the ones Goldie threw in Scrooge's face in the Klondike. That was a pretty awesome resolution. I agree with Scrooge! Whatta woman! ***.

Uncle Scrooge "Attaaaaaack!"

This story is all right, but I kind of agree with Rosa's assessment in the forward that there is a little too much mayhem in it. I think Rosa is very good at mayhem when it suits a constructive purpose ("Cash Flow" is my favorite example of this). But this story boils down to a total misunderstanding, so instead of being exciting, the wanton destruction seems too chaotic. I am very glad the army guy said that he cleared out the McDuck building after Scrooge set off ALL of the booby traps at once, and blows off the side of the building. And then I am very disturbed to wonder why Scrooge didn't have the wisdom to do that himself. My favorite thing in the story is the small role for Arpin Lusene, outside of his Black Knight get-up. I was never crazy about the Black Knight sequel because Lusene struck me as the kind of original character that could have been brought back again and again, but because Rosa's nature is to always top himself, he tied him exclusively to the Universal Solvent and this is his only other appearance. It's a shame. Rosa created a villain worthy of standing up with the Beagle Boys, Flintheart Glomgold, or Magica De Spell and barely used him afterwards because he misguidedly thought fans would only like him in the destructive armor. It's a darn shame. But to be blunt, Carl Bark similarly wasted the notion of Flintheart Glomgold and brought him back super rarely, as great and memorable as the character was. Maybe someday in 30 years, the next fannish Duck Comic writer / artist that is solid enough for Disney to consider his or her stories canon to Barks and Rosa could do more with the Black Knight. He definitely deserved a larger place in the canon. ***.

Donald Duck "The Three Caballeros Ride Again!"

Pleasurable. Remember when Donald Duck had actual friends? What I love about Jose and Panchito's admiration of Donald is that it's not entirely misplaced. Yes, they frequently confuse his clumsiness with bravery. But when they start crying in shame because Donald is thinking of using the money to help his ninos they are right that that is completely admirable, and it's not even something Donald does grudgingly. It's the first place his mind goes to. Them being impressed at how much Donald knows about treasure hunting is also fair. Not everything in the story was perfect, probably because Rosa based it on a cartoon instead of the comics. The umbrella hat causing Yellow Hat to fly, and the chile in the gas tank giving the car a burst of speed are the kinds of things Rosa himself would complain about if DuckTales 2017 had done them, and completely broke the reality of the Ducks. I understand that the Three Caballeros are purely cartoons as far as the Duck canon is concerned, and that's probably why Rosa did some of those gags. But the story would not have been weaker if he hadn't done them, and it would have stayed more consistent with the reality of the rest of the canon. I love that Huey, Dewey, and Louie were permitted to see Donald happy and with friends, and Rosa allowed Donald that victory instead of doing the Super Snooper thing where Donald's feats are left unsung. The ending of the Caballeros joyfully laughing upon realizing the treasure was worthless is the selling point of the Caballeros. It sounds corny, but their friendship is the thing they really treasure. The musical numbers weirdly work too. One running gag made me uneasy. Donald's fear over Daisy learning about the Senoritas. Were they dating at the time? Because that sounds inconsistent with Donald's personality. Or does Donald believe that Daisy thinks he is not entitled to a romantic past? That was the thing that struck me as most likely, and it's another reason I find Donald and Daisy's "relationship" as it were, in the Duck Comics such an absolute trial. It was a fun story though. ****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Sharpie Of The Culebra Cut"

On the one hand it's tiresome that Hortense and Matilda are moon-eyed over the cowboys and chasing them like schoolgirls. On the other Hortense slugs Teddy Roosevelt and demands women the right to vote. As far as female empowerment goes the story isn't entirely good or bad things. One of the nephews expresses admiration for her cussing out the President of the United States and Donald's response is "That's my Ma!". The reveal that the trade was the world's first Teddy Bear was funny, but if Scrooge had even an iota of imagination he'd have seen the value there immediately himself. This story continues the continuity of Matilda and Hortense being increasingly concerned with Scrooge's alarmingly greedy behavior. Even Roosevelt is outraged by the end, leading to a funny fistfight that of course Scrooge is gonna win. Good "Lost" chapter of "The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck". ****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Beagle Boys Vs. The Money Bin"

Man, those blueprints of the Money Bin were excellent and detailed. My favorite thing in the story is the Narrator pausing to tell the reader that the layout of the Bin as seen in a cross-section gag panel is inaccurate due to a lazy cartoonist. I love that for several reasons. First Rosa isn't actually lazy. He puts more effort and details into his comics than almost anyone I know. I also appreciate it because it shows how seriously Rosa takes the reality of these characters and premise to tell us a part of the story isn't actually literal. That is amazing to me and that sort of thing influences how I tell MY comic book story. I would have loved to have seen a joke of the Beagles trying to jump into the money via the chute and smashing onto the hard coins. I get why Rosa didn't do it though. In real-life, they would have died. One of the Beagles reads DuckTales Comics which is the only time Rosa references that cartoon in his stories by name. Rosa always seems to save his most effort and details for his anniversary stories and this celebration of both the Beagle Boys and the Money Bin is no exception. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "The Crown Of The Crusader Kings"

If you ask me, this is one of the most important stories in the Rosa canon. It's the first part of a larger arc, but we don't realize that until the end. Right at the beginning of the story Scrooge bemoans all of the recent treasures he's discovered and lost due to other governments claiming rightful ownership of them. And Rosa is a modern writer, so that makes sense because it's not cool for a guy to go around looting treasures to a modern reader. But it was fine during the Carl Barks era, which is why I was frustrated that while Rosa was able to have Scrooge find the Lost Gold of El Dorado, he was never able to add that or the other major treasures of his tenure to Scrooge's famous trophy room. Rosa may believe that finding and losing the treasure is a part of what makes the story fun, but that's only if it happens sometimes, and not every story. This story is significant for the McDuck tartan which is Rosa setting up the idea that in the next installment Scrooge can hunt for both the Ark of Covenant and the Holy Grail, and be legally allowed to keep them at the end of the adventure. I don't just consider "A Letter From Home" the best Rosa Duck story. I don't just consider it the Duck story period. It think it's the best Disney Comics story of all time. And part of that is because of all of the work Rosa put into this story in laying the groundwork for Scrooge's ultimate treasure hunt. I have to say just based on the fact that the treasure of the Knights Templar involves the Ark and the Grail says at this point Rosa was probably not envisioning a ton of future Scrooge Adventures. He probably knew he was nearing the end of his tenure. And he DID retire shortly thereafter. But what a way to go out and this story is a perfect set-up for that. ****1/2.

Uncle Scrooge "Forget It!"

This is one of Rosa's famous high-concept Magica De Spell stories, and the concept here is not just great, but when you hear it you automatically laugh because you know good things are ahead. One of the things I love about Rosa's version of Magica (and this goes for Barks too) is that it's debatable whether or not she is actually doing magic. In other Duck stories and cartoons Magica does legitimate sorcery and is actually powerful. Everything Magica does in a Barks or Rosa story is something Gyro Gearloose could cook up. There is a very large chance Rosa's Magica is a total humbug, and is merely using the same sort of unconventional science Gyro does. Even in this story her spell is referred to as a form of hypnotism. What I especially love is that it's up for debate. Rosa never says for sure either way. But what it DOES do is make Magica more grounded, and a more plausible threat against Scrooge who doesn't have any superpowers. Scrooge should not going up against superpowered enemies, and that goes for Mickey and Donald too. But at some point the comics and cartoon actually thought Magica was a witch, and I think a great deal of the appeal of her and Scrooge's conflict is diluted by that. But this story was a scream because Rosa knows how to write the character best. *****.

Uncle Scrooge "Gyro's First Invention"

Of course it's Helper. There's nothing else it could be. That was a sweet origin story for Helper and Gyro's invention career. It also fills in the continuity hole left by the end of "A Christmas For Shacktown". I liked it a lot. Fun Fact: April, May, and June are mentioned by Gyro here. ****.

The Rosa Archives

Rosa did a LOT of international cover and pin-ups at this stage of his career. They are actually quite amazing. The D.U.C.K.'s are impossible to spot though. *****.
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