Archive Apr 07

Home ] Up ] [ Archive Apr 07 ] Archive Aug 07 ] Archive Dec 07 ] Archive Feb 07 ] Archive Jan 07 ] Archive Jul 07 ] Archive Jun 07 ] Archive Mar 07 ] Archive May 07 ] Archive Nov 07 ] Archive Oct 07 ] Archive Sep 07 ]

Book and Comic Reviews

(4/22/07)

The Complete Peanuts: 1963-1964 by Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics).  Our latest installment of biyearly enjoyment finds the "classic" version of Schulz' strip at, or very close to, the zenith of its greatness.  When I say "classic," I'm referring to what Schulz biographer Rheta Johnson characterized as the "first neighborhood" of Peanuts – the suburban landscape in which the strip's core cast live, move, and have their (frequently frustrating) being.  Snoopy's "fantasy world" is still in a nascent stage of development, though the increasing number of gags and situations involving the beagle and the gaggle of proto-Woodstock birds hint at what's to come.  (The birds are still semi-realistic-looking at this stage – enough so to have Snoopy shoo them off his doghouse and make nervous reference to the contemporary Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.) Meanwhile, the "second neighborhood" in which Peppermint Patty and her friends live is still a couple of years away from being established.

Schulz' comfort level with the "classic" cast during this period is illustrated by the fact that he makes only a token effort to lengthen the roster with the "addition" (heh) of 5 95472 and his twin sisters 3 and 4.  Frieda (introduced in '61) was limited enough that Schulz was forced to create the "alternate scenario" of her encouraging Snoopy to go out and chase rabbits just to give her something to do, but 5 is even less substantial than that.  Schulz wrung a week's worth of gags out of the contemporary reference to the Zip Code and the resulting fear that American life was becoming increasingly impersonal, but 5 was strictly a spear carrier and "face on the baseball diamond" after that.  As for 3 and 4, they're remembered (if at all) because they appeared in several scenes in A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Schulz certainly wasn't "coasting" at this point, but he had reached a certain plateau of creativity and seemed content to develop the characters on hand.

An unusually large number of strips from this era had never been reprinted, especially the ones from '64.  Despite this, the only truly substantial continuity that makes its book debut here is tacked-on to the plotline involving Charlie Brown's bout of "Little Leaguer's Elbow".  Having been cleared of that malady, Charlie learns to his horror that he's been diagnosed with "eraserophagia", caused by nibbling on erasers (all those letters to his pencil pal exacted a toll, you see).  The other characters have a good laugh about Charlie's complaint, as the latter moans: "Name a new disease, and I'll get it!".  (That's a little less funny nowadays, given the threat of bio-terrorism.)  The back-cover blurb talks of "never-before-collected longer stories, including Linus' ill-fated run for school president and Snoopy's traumatic stay at the hospital", but this is not strictly true.  The school election story has been reprinted (in Peanuts Classics, I believe), though with several of the gags removed.  (It was also the basis for the TV special You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown.)  Likewise, a few of the Snoopy-at-the-hospital strips have turned up in reprint volumes over the years.

The school election scenario – and a contemporary continuity from '64 involving the proto-Woodstocks' engagement in a "political campaign" consisting of punctuation marks on placards – reflect the increasingly contentious cultural times in which these strips first appeared.  Schulz had never been so politically "aware" before, apart from the occasional gag about "I Like Ludwig" buttons.  (He ended up supporting LBJ over Goldwater in the landmark '64 election, though he came to regret it.)  For the most part, however, such goings-on as the civil rights movement, the free-speech movement, etc. scarcely ruffled the neatly trimmed lawns fronting the houses of the "first neighborhood."  Schulz was at the peak of his game, and the tone of the strip reflected an America still mostly at peace with itself -- give or take the occasional blanket-addiction, spate of crabbiness, or bout of depression over a red-haired girl's unrequited love.  In the next volume, with the debut of Peppermint Patty and Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, we'll see Peanuts become both a "pop culture" monster and a reflection of a faster-paced, more worrisome time in American history.

Back to the Top

(4/15/07)

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #679 (April 2007). In an issue stuffed to the gills with bizarre (and sometimes downright unpleasant) fare, "Little Dog Gone," a reprinting of the first Scamp comic-strip continuity from the old Silly Symphonies feature, stands out as a uniquely bright light.  First appearing in October 1955, a few months after Lady and the Tramp had premiered in theatres, the story marked the first concerted effort to market Lady and Tramp's rambunctious male offspring, whose antics had all but stolen the last scene of the movie and who was considered a potential "break-out" character.  It's a simple tale in which Scamp dismisses admonitions to refrain from wandering as "a lotta grown-up yap!" and hits the city pavement for a brief, but potentially fatal, adventure from which he ultimately requires the assistance of his "Pop" to escape.  Those familiar with Scamp from the Al Hubbard comic-book stories and the long-running daily strip will quickly notice that the peppery pup, drawn here by Dick Moores, is somewhat brawnier in build than the cuter character of later years.  He's also a shade or two more aggressive in a negative sense, thinking nothing of stealing bones from smaller dogs or flirting with a female dachshund.  In these respects – especially the latter! – he is a lot more like his slightly disreputable father in this bow-in ("bow-wow-in"?) adventure than he would later turn out to be.  Writer Ward Greene, a principal crafter of the story framework for the animated feature, adds an additional note of asperity -- and realism -- at the very start when he admits that "of course," Lady and Tramp "didn't live happily ever after" following the events of the movie, sometimes getting into arguments due to their conflicting personalities.  Scamp's parents did have their share of spats during the long Hubbard comic-book run, but rarely was the state of affairs stated quite so baldly as this

Speaking of realism so raw that it deserved to be served as sushi…  rarely has Donald Duck's character ever shown to "worser" effect than in Daan Jippes' "Easter Basketcase," this issue's lead-off story.  Determined to show up Daisy for trying to "uplift" him from his standard mind-state of inattentiveness and obliviousness, Donald plans to use an Easter-egg hunt at Daisy's house as cover for "planting" a book he'd borrowed from her but forgotten to return.  Upon "finding" the volume, he'll then have an excuse to "shame her into thinking she was wrong after all!", as Dewey snaps after the Nephews get wind of the plot.  HD&L try to prevent Donald from doing the deed and ultimately succeed, leaving the book destroyed and Don literally with "egg on his face."  The connection to Easter is so tenuous that I half believe Jippes built the entire plot out of that one ending gag and simply picked Easter as a convenient time at which ambient eggs might be found.  Donald's behavior is certainly in character, but it ups the quotient of bitterness and paranoia to levels even Carl Barks' stories rarely reached.  "Real life only deals you hands that shove you down a rat hole!", snarls Don, who's bent on getting even with Daisy for "years" of "[bending] over backwards to accommodate her!" and showing the Nephews that "looking out for number one makes things come your way!".  Nice chap, eh?  It'll take more than a rapid exit from town and a stay in Timbuktu to clean up this particular psychological mess.  Donald should consider himself lucky that Daisy remained oblivious to his scheming.  However, if the Nephews ever want a handy stick with which to beat "Unca D" for blackmail purposes…

The book's other Donald story is 180 degrees removed from Jippes' painfully nasty exercise.  "The Sit-Down Strike", by Janet Gilbert and Vicar, is built on the somewhat familiar notion of a Gyro Gearloose invention running amuck, but WHAT a notion goes nuts this time: a device that enables people to talk to their furniture!  In a twist reminiscent of the Darkwing Duck episode "A Revolution in Home Appliances," the ambulating armchairs, sentient sideboards, et al. take advantage of the opportunity to stage a revolt against human "mistreatment."  Gyro can't communicate with the furniture (and yes, in case you were wondering, the latter have sprouted eyes and mouths, so "communicate" should be taken quite literally), so he sends an unwilling Donald under(slip) cover as a chair (!!!) to convince the fuming fittings to forego their fight.  This is Gilbert in the late, unlamented tradition of "Scrooge joins the circus" and similar stories in Disney Adventures, as opposed to her more recent string of good stories for Egmont.  The only place where something this weird might have worked well is on an episode of Raw Toonage, or something similar.  And how could Janet have neglected to use such an obvious piece of dialogue for the "divan"-ly proportioned Donald: "I've got the strangest feeling I'm being turned into a chair!"  (Hi, "Silver Age DC" fans!)    

Mickey Mouse fares better in the Noel Van Horn story "Faulty Circuits."   Doc Static has created the "ultimate computer game," one which will create the ultimate "virtual reality of sight and sound," but Mickey is reluctant to try it until all the bugs have been worked out.  The infuriated game then takes matters into its own, well, circuits and digitizes Mickey itself.  Trapped in increasingly strange alternate realities (and bodies), Mickey dodges the game's attempts to consume him, then gets the bright idea to imagine that he has total control.  Alas, the bugs are still being worked out, and the story ends with a furious Mouse still chasing the apologetic game.  This tale bears the unmistakable stamp of Noel's father's influence, though the various bizarre menaces are rendered in Noel's somewhat more realistic style.  Given the spate of Mickey fantasy stories in the early years of Gemstone, I'm surprised that this particular tale hasn't shown up before now.

Much of the recent Junior Woodchucks material that we've seen in the States has been redrawn Barks scripts from the 70s, so it's a pleasant surprise to see "Arrested Development," a "joint" Dutch production crafted by such old hands as Dwight Decker, Daan Jippes, and Fred Milton (the last-named of which seems to have had the final say as to how the art would look).  Denied the companionship of their usual dogfaced and pigfaced Woodchuck pals – heck, even Doofus isn't around – HD&L, who are engaged in cleaning up a nature preserve, have their hands full (of trash) when Slashburn J. Clearcut, a stereotypical Texas loudmouth, comes on the scene spreading litter everywhere and brandishing a contract that will give him the right to develop the place.  Strangely, the boys never actively decide to try and destroy the offending contract – local flora and fauna do a decent enough job of that, to Clearcut's dismay.  Ultimately, the plans are foiled because the city council voted down the project.  This could be described as a decaffeinated version of an old Junior Woodchucks epic, with the cast cut to the bone, HD&L acting more like unwilling bystanders than active participants in saving the planet, and "society" rendering the final verdict.  Given Europe's level of green-mania, you'd have thought that this story would have been far more of a goody vs. baddy struggle than any of Barks' tales.

The book is filled out by a reprint of a two-page Li'l Bad Wolf gag by Bill Van Horn (from the Disney Comics years) and "The Imp and I," a Mickey story by the McGreals and Cesar Ferioli that is -- and I'm being extremely kind here -- "very strongly influenced" by the eternal battle between Superman and the devilish Mr. Mxyzptlk.  Yes, even unto the "backwards incantation" that returns the prank-playing imp to "the eleventh dimension" from whence he came.  The McGreals foment a vaguely mystic origin for the creature, so it isn't a complete rip-off of "Mxy", but suffice it to say that it was difficult for me to avoid hearing Gilbert Gottfried speak the imp's lines of dialogue.

Back to the Top

Uncle $crooge #364 (April 2007).  Eggs – of various sizes, varieties, and construction – feature prominently in three of this issue's stories, but the lead story has more in common with another Easter staple: gooey, sticky chocolate.  "The Case of the Sticky Money," a 1963 story by Carl Barks, finds the Beagle Boys suddenly so rich that they can afford to live in the ritzy community of "Plushwood Oaks" and fritter away funds in a grotesquely lavish manner.  Scrooge is certain they're stealing from him – especially since he seems to be missing some "familiar" bills from his money bin – but how are they doing it?  And how can the Nephews' new invention – a super-sticky glue that can only "stick things to ducks and people" (are ducks considered a different race than the other dogfaced and pigfaced residents of Duckburg?!) – help to solve the mystery?  Produced at a time when most of Barks' other $crooge stories seemed to involve Magica de Spell, this predictable but generally delightful romp harkens back to the best of the Scrooge vs. Beagles tangles of the 1950s.  The scenes in the soda "jerkery" remain my favorites from this effort.  (If that word didn't make it into the dictionary, it should have.)

The Gyro Gearloose story "Into the Future" should have been better than it actually is.  Imagine the adventurous possibilities inherent in Gyro's 31st-century descendant Chip Gearloose coming to Duckburg to enlist Gyro's help in solving a crime in Chip's previously crime-free world.  And what a crime: the "last dime on Earth," no less than the Old #1 Dime of (the presumably deceased) Scrooge's, has been stolen from the McDuck Museum!  Unfortunately, the denouement is disappointingly dull, involving descendants of the Beagle Boys who swiped the dime simply because they were bored.

Personally, I'd have been more impressed had "The B-Boyz" turned out to be the real Beagle Boys, following Gyro and Chip through time for a chance to launch a crime spree against a civilization that is completely unprepared for it.  What irritates me even more than the lackluster plot is the fact that all the 31st-century characters talk just like Eega Beeva, hanging a "p" prefix on the occasional word of dialogue.  Is this now the "official speech template" for ALL characters in the "Disney comics future"?  It worked for Eega because "The Man of Tomorrow" had evolved physically to the point where such crazy gimmicks made a loopy sort of sense, but Chip, the B-Boyz, and the other 31st-century folk look like generic Duckburgians of 2007.  A lot of fine talents, including David Gerstein, labored to lick this short story into shape.  Too bad their efforts (with the exception of a very clever ending gag) didn't bear better fruit.

Now for our "three-egg omelet."  In Pat and Carol McGreal and Rodriquez' "Scrambled Eggs," Donald "borrows" a rare "Fibbergee Egg" from Scrooge to give his Nephews a model from which to craft Easter eggs.  The Nephews do their jobs so well that a quartet of identical eggs are soon circulating around Duckburg, with an enraged Scrooge and aghast Donald (not to mention a dishonest appraiser) in hot pursuit.  Dick Kinney and Al Hubbard's Disney Studio story "The Egg and Why" sees Fethry rope Donald into the egg business, with Scrooge eventually butting in for a "crack" at the potential profits.  Both stories are solid but nothing special, though it is rather interesting to see the latter story interpret the "luckiness" of Scrooge's Old #1 Dime in quite literal terms indeed.  When Scrooge flips a coin to determine the terms on which he'll get the egg business from Donald, he uses Old #1 and thus expects to win!  (The coin goes down a chicken's gullet, so that even by the end of the story, we still don't know who won the flip.)  "The Nest Egg," by Lars Jensen, David Gerstein, and Rodriquez, is the best of this particular clutch of stories, featuring amusing guest shots by many of Scrooge's most fearsome foes.  The Barks "pig villain" ("Lardo J. Porkington, architect extraordinaire!") convinces the baddie-beset Scrooge that he needs to replace his money bin with a giant egg, since eggs are among the most "structurally sound" of shapes.  All the switcheroo does is open the door – er, sky – for Magica de Spell to use the " 'transform into a giant roc bird' spell" she's been "sitting on" for just such an occasion and attempt to glom onto the ovoid structure. Before his troubles are over, Scrooge must save his fortune from Magica, the Beagle Boys, and others, all the while fielding a non-stop stream of questions from an overly curious reporter.  Chisel McSue ("The Horseradish Story") appears in a couple of scenes, and even The Phantom Blot joins in the final raid on Scrooge's money.  Where's Gizmoduck when you really, really need him?

Back to the Top

(4/8/07)

Walt Disney's Spring Fever #1 (April 2007).  This $9.50 "special" may sport a #1 on the cover, but it's not the first Disney comics issue of its kind.  During the salad days of the Disney Comics line, Spring Fever #1 was issued in the spring (what else?) of 1991 at the considerably more modest cost of $2.95.  The original SF #1 was part of a rotation of quarterly titles (the others were Summer Fun, Autumn Adventures, and Holiday Parade) that ended up rotating only one-and-a-quarter turns before Disney pulled the plug in late '91.  Now, 15-plus years later, we get the first issue of a quarterly designed in part to make up for previously cancelled Gemstone titles.  Funny how life works…

Disney Comics' SF #1 contained several stories that actually had something to do with spring, most notably a Carl Barks story in which Donald and the Nephews celebrate the first day of the season by attempting to go fishing and kite-flying, respectively.  No such luck this time around, though "Mystery of the Swamp," the 1945 Barks adventure that leads off the book, might possibly have taken place during the early spring months. Otherwise, Donald and HD&L might've found the conditions considerably less benign as they scoured the Florida Everglades for excitement.  The Ducks end up finding the Gneezles, a bunch of "swamp Okies" (Barks' own description) who represent Barks' first attempt to create a society of "strange creatures" with whom the Ducks can interact.  These guys have their good points – notably a love of square dancing and a playful streak that has them drive the Ducks nuts by appearing and disappearing seemingly at will – but they're primarily a device to put Donald in peril and give the Nephews a chance to rescue their uncle (a popular notion of Barks' at the time he crafted this story).  Could Barks' use of occasional "spare G's" in the Gneezles' speech ("Gnope!  An' Gnossy's gno runt!") have somehow influenced Bill Walsh when the latter created Eega Beeva for the Mickey Mouse newspaper strip a couple of years later?

The issue's second Donald story, "Holy Cow," puts Don in the unenviable position of unwittingly turning down a chance to marry an exotic princess and inherit part of a maharajah's (presumably) vast fortune.  The funny thing is, one can readily sympathize with his decision.  Forced to care for a pampered "sacred cow" after the babied bovine parachutes out of the sky and lands on him on the street (it's pretty contrived, I must admit), Don does his best, then almost has a, er, cow after Grandma Duck insists on taking the humored heifer to her farm for more "appropriate" treatment.  Once there, the cow falls (demurely) for one of Grandma's bulls, ensuring the continuation of the line and easing the maharajah's pain.  Don quickly blows off the maha's offer of a fitting reward, and can you really blame him?  Nice dialogue by Don Markstein (from Gorm Transgaard's original story), funny artwork by Fred Milton.  If only they'd thought the setup through a little more carefully rather than relying on an "udderly" improbable coincidence.

Mickey and Goofy are also represented in a pair of stories herein.  "Spooks' Island," a 1947 adventure drawn by Bill Wright, is, in the words of Joe Torcivia in the Mickey Mouse Comics Index, "a toned-down version of the 1937 Gottfredson strip adventure commonly known as 'Mickey Mouse in Search of Jungle Treasure'."  I've not read the original, but I suspect that "toned-down" is a code word for "black native-less."  The premise is still pretty gamy.  Black Pete and a crooked sea captain are delivering sailors who are "known criminals" to the island of a vengeful professor who's trying to find the sailor who killed his gorilla Spooks' mate.  When Mickey and Goofy go undercover in the guise of shady salts to investigate, they too wind up on the island.  I think we're supposed to feel sorry for the professor, since he's not presented in a particularly negative light (apart from that little vigilante thing he has going on, of course), but modern civil libertarians will find their hackles rising more and more with every turn of the page.  Since the "crooked" sailors have committed no recent crimes that we know of – they've been imprisoned on the island so Spooks can enjoy the "turnabout-is-fair-play thrill" of looking at humans in cages – why are they apparently arrested when Chief O'Hara comes with the cavalry on the last page?  And how on earth did Mickey secrete a live carrier pigeon in his duffle bag to fly off for help?  I wouldn't want to recommend the writer for any medals (even if it was mostly Gottfredson), but it's always enjoyable to see Wright's prime-period art.

Goofy takes center stage in Sarah Kinney and Maximino Tortajada Aguilar's "Cyrano de Maniac".  Dunned by Minnie for being obsessed with Doc Static's inventions, Mickey puts the Doc's pint-sized "spy walkie-talkies" to good use, coaching Goofy a la Cyrano de Bergerac as the awkward Goof attempts to woo pretty Prissy Purebred.  The scheme is found out in the end, of course, but it turns out that Prissy was enamored of Goofy's basic bashfulness all along and asks him to "be mine."  (Would that Prissy were more than a one-shot device – though, since she looks more like a dogfaced version of Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures than any Disney character I know of, that decision may be for the best.)  Kinney's understanding of Goofy is unmatched, though here she shows a deft touch with Mickey and Minnie as well.

Corner-fillers include reprints of several William Van Horn shorts, 1988's "Lost on a Dog" (the first appearance of Baron Itzy Bitzy, the singing flea) and 1992's "A Nap in Nature," and an amusing Chip and Dale tale from 1960, drawn by Jack Bradbury, in which the chipmunks conspire with Br'er Bear to concoct a scheme in which their ex-girlfriend Clarice (or Clarisse – what IS the official spelling, anyway?) becomes a "damsel in distress" to be rescued.  Romance… mating… I guess that is a "rite of spring", isn't it?  Perhaps I gave the Gemstone gang insufficient credit for riffing on the "spring" theme.

Back to the Top

Uncle $crooge #364 (April 2007).  Eggs – of various sizes, varieties, and construction – feature prominently in three of this issue's stories, but the lead story has more in common with another Easter staple: gooey, sticky chocolate.  "The Case of the Sticky Money," a 1963 story by Carl Barks, finds the Beagle Boys suddenly so rich that they can afford to live in the ritzy community of "Plushwood Oaks" and fritter away funds in a grotesquely lavish manner.  Scrooge is certain they're stealing from him – especially since he seems to be missing some "familiar" bills from his money bin – but how are they doing it?  And how can the Nephews' new invention – a super-sticky glue that can only "stick things to ducks and people" (are ducks considered a different race than the other dogfaced and pigfaced residents of Duckburg?!) – help to solve the mystery?  Produced at a time when most of Barks' other $crooge stories seemed to involve Magica de Spell, this predictable but generally delightful romp harkens back to the best of the Scrooge vs. Beagles tangles of the 1950s.  The scenes in the soda "jerkery" remain my favorites from this effort.  (If that word didn't make it into the dictionary, it should have.)

The Gyro Gearloose story "Into the Future" should have been better than it actually is.  Imagine the adventurous possibilities inherent in Gyro's 31st-century descendant Chip Gearloose coming to Duckburg to enlist Gyro's help in solving a crime in Chip's previously crime-free world.  And what a crime: the "last dime on Earth," no less than the Old #1 Dime of (the presumably deceased) Scrooge's, has been stolen from the McDuck Museum!  Unfortunately, the denouement is disappointingly dull, involving descendants of the Beagle Boys who swiped the dime simply because they were bored.

Personally, I'd have been more impressed had "The B-Boyz" turned out to be the real Beagle Boys, following Gyro and Chip through time for a chance to launch a crime spree against a civilization that is completely unprepared for it.  What irritates me even more than the lackluster plot is the fact that all the 31st-century characters talk just like Eega Beeva, hanging a "p" prefix on the occasional word of dialogue.  Is this now the "official speech template" for ALL characters in the "Disney comics future"?  It worked for Eega because "The Man of Tomorrow" had evolved physically to the point where such crazy gimmicks made a loopy sort of sense, but Chip, the B-Boyz, and the other 31st-century folk look like generic Duckburgians of 2007.  A lot of fine talents, including David Gerstein, labored to lick this short story into shape.  Too bad their efforts (with the exception of a very clever ending gag) didn't bear better fruit.

Now for our "three-egg omelet."  In Pat and Carol McGreal and Rodriquez' "Scrambled Eggs," Donald "borrows" a rare "Fibbergee Egg" from Scrooge to give his Nephews a model from which to craft Easter eggs.  The Nephews do their jobs so well that a quartet of identical eggs are soon circulating around Duckburg, with an enraged Scrooge and aghast Donald (not to mention a dishonest appraiser) in hot pursuit.  Dick Kinney and Al Hubbard's Disney Studio story "The Egg and Why" sees Fethry rope Donald into the egg business, with Scrooge eventually butting in for a "crack" at the potential profits.  Both stories are solid but nothing special, though it is rather interesting to see the latter story interpret the "luckiness" of Scrooge's Old #1 Dime in quite literal terms indeed.  When Scrooge flips a coin to determine the terms on which he'll get the egg business from Donald, he uses Old #1 and thus expects to win!  (The coin goes down a chicken's gullet, so that even by the end of the story, we still don't know who won the flip.)  "The Nest Egg," by Lars Jensen, David Gerstein, and Rodriquez, is the best of this particular clutch of stories, featuring amusing guest shots by many of Scrooge's most fearsome foes.  The Barks "pig villain" ("Lardo J. Porkington, architect extraordinaire!") convinces the baddie-beset Scrooge that he needs to replace his money bin with a giant egg, since eggs are among the most "structurally sound" of shapes.  All the switcheroo does is open the door – er, sky – for Magica de Spell to use the " 'transform into a giant roc bird' spell" she's been "sitting on" for just such an occasion and attempt to glom onto the ovoid structure. Before his troubles are over, Scrooge must save his fortune from Magica, the Beagle Boys, and others, all the while fielding a non-stop stream of questions from an overly curious reporter.  Chisel McSue ("The Horseradish Story") appears in a couple of scenes, and even The Phantom Blot joins in the final raid on Scrooge's money.  Where's Gizmoduck when you really, really need him?

Back to the Top

Movie Reviews

Back to the Top

DVD Reviews

Tale Spin Volume 1 (Disney DVD).  It took some doing – and a lot of sessions on the treadmill – but I finally have completed watching the first 27 episodes of this marvelous Disney TV series.  IMHO, only DuckTales surpasses it in the DTVA canon.  It does have its flaws – most noticeably, a failure to develop a large number of exceptionally one-shot characters into series regulars, and a little too much willingness to slot Baloo into plots once shouldered by Fred Flintstone – but the ambience, the quality of storytelling, and the unique personality and background of Kit Cloudkicker, arguably DTVA's best original juvenile creation, simply cannot be matched.  A must for TV-toon buffs (not to mention "furry" fans – you know who you are).

Quack Pack Volume 1 (Disney DVD).  Actually, the main menu title reads "The Best of Quack Pack."  It's a goof right in keeping with the bulk of this mostly forgotten Disney TV series, which made ill-conceived attempts to recapture the "spirit" of the old Donald Duck shorts and update Huey, Dewey, and Louie into 90s teens complete with the requisite catchphrases, hairstyles, and attitudes.  It must be admitted, however, that two of the episodes on this three-episode disc – "Feats of Clay" and "Transmission: Impossible" – are, in fact, among the few genuine gems to emerge from what my friend Joe Torcivia once termed a "deconstructionist disaster."  I suspect that it was mostly a matter of dumb luck – or a convenient plot contrivance of the sort Quack Pack had all too many of -- that they turned up here.  One bright spot:  Daisy Duck, who got a thoroughly appealing makeover for the series, features fairly prominently in "Feats of Clay," so you'll get a chance to appreciate what she was like on this series.

Back to the Top