"Mickey's Craziest Adventures"
...so apparently, we're on a one-a-month schedule now? Well, we'll how that holds up. Could go up, could go down, the future is uncertain. But what's NOT uncertain is that I recently read "Mickey's Craziest Adventures," and it was very obvious that this was going to have to be the subject of a post. So here we are.
First: the conceit, which is the above. The idea is that we have this allegedly lost comic being presented here for the first time in modern days, but--this is the really important bit--some of the pages are missing. This metafictional shit is catnip to me, and while other Disney comics have sort of flirted with these concepts, I've never seen anything remotely like this before. It's a huge departure, and I'm surprised and glad that the powers that be let it happen.
Can I cavil a bit about the above text? As I do? They "were meandering without looking for anything, except for one of them." THAT doesn't really work, does it? "Neither of them except one of them?" No--you'd need a GROUP of people for one of them to be the exception. As it stands, they were meandering and fifty percent of them were looking for something. Also: "Lewis worked hard to adapt the humor of these masterpieces as best he could." What? Now, this is a French comic, originally published in installments in the weekly Journal de Mickey, so the idea is that he allegedly localized them into French. But in an English-language publication, this meaning is lost, innit? And yet, you can't just come out and say that he wrote them, as that would contradict the idea that they're by an unknown writer from decades ago. I guess you have to credit Trondheim for SOMETHING, but this doesn't seem like the best way to do it. I'd just credit him with something vague like "editing" the series. I mean, it's not like the book is actually trying to fool anyone; Keramidas and Trondheim are credited as writer and artist right there in the front of the book (though of course, I don't know the details of the original French publication...).
Also, I'd leave the question mark off of "a forgotten treasure?" That's just begging for trouble.
Each page-long installment has an image like the above at the top, giving it a vintage feel and allowing the reader to see how many pages have supposedly been lost in between--and they also look pretty nice themselves. One thing to note is that, as mentioned above, this was originally published in installments--one or two pages a week. It's definitely a different experience reading it all in a collected format than it would've been just a bit at a time. The (intentional) lack of cohesion in the story is a lot more pronounced if you're seeing it all at once. If you'd been reading it as originally published, your memory would soften the disjunctions a bit, and you might even think, huh, did I actually miss an installment? Here, not so much, and it's a bit jarring at first. Honestly, on my first reading, I was not all that fond of this; it took rereads before I felt like I got and appreciated what it was doing.
So what's the story? Well...the broadest possible outline is that Pete and the Beagles have used a shrink ray to rob Scrooge. Donald and Mickey have to save the day (as you can see, they've been shrunk themselves in the above). But beyond that, talking about specific story beats...well, that's where the whole "missing pages" business comes in, as we'll see.
As you've probably been able to ascertain by now, the characters aren't exactly on-model in a typical way, contributing significantly to the sense of alienness--it's hard to know exactly how you'd react to the story if it were more normal-looking, but my guess would be "not very well." However, I DO think the art, on the whole, is pretty damned gorgeous.
...sometimes, as in the above, you get pretty good jokes. And sometimes you get super-lame ones, but somehow, that works too! After all, this whole thing was supposedly a sixties Gold Key publication--not Western's absolute nadir, but there was definitely plenty of lameness out there.
So yeah, this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. We jump from the basement to a garden, and we can only imagine how we got there.
The whole thing has an intentionally distressed look, with that old-timey printing with all the visible dots (what's the word for that?). It creates a Certain Feel, for sure. The only time it actually interferes with the story is this, however, in the name of making a vaguely scatological joke.
I just wanted to note that the idea that Mickey's suitcase is filled with nothing but identical pairs of shorts amuses me. Perhaps more than it should!
Couldn't go through the whole thing beat-by-beat if I wanted to. This thing basically rips the connecting tissue out of a typical adventure story leaving only high bits left. It actually does a pretty good job of recreating the spirit of such things.
...and if I didn't mention it already: GOR BLIMEY is it ever pretty. Phew!
DOCTOR EINMUG! Whom, of course, you would've have seen in an actual Western comic, since they didn't bring back old characters like that (the Phantom Blot being the exception that proves the rule). Still fun, though, and actual-authenticity--as opposed to sort of intentionally simulated authenticity--is not the goal!
Giant flying mushroom thing!
You know, presenting these images like this gives a good idea of what the story is really like. You just get one cool bit after another, leavened by jokes of varying quality. The result, to my mind, is fairly riproaring. Yay!
...gotta cavil at this (alternate name for this blog: "Call in the Cavilry!"). Because there are different KINDS of not-making-sense; the kind that results in decontextualized images of bits of adventures is fine, but the kind where our heroes--in the middle of an urgent quest, allegedly--have to do an RPG fetch-quest for moon rocks? Hmm. I mean, I'm fine with the idea of them going into space, of course, but this justification for that is weak and unnecessary.
...but then, "ya definitely aren't th' world rock collector champion" is funny. So, six of one half dozen t'other.
Another bit of what I see as the bad kind of not-making sense: the guy wants to reward Donald for looking after his chair but he actually wants Donald to just SELL the chair? WTF? I mean, I suppose it's meant to be intentionally nonsensical, but it doesn't work for me in this particular context.
A nice, bucolic ending that makes me happy, although I have to wonder why the ducks and mice look so shell-shocked to have run into one another.
...and that's a fun stinger. The end.
Well, that was fun, wasn't it? I think so. I had fun. Now, in all fairness, it must be said, as clever as this is, there's not really THAT much to it. I mean, there's the "missing chapters" bit, and that's it, really, as far as meta concepts go. I'm not complaining, really--I like this a lot! It's no lie!--but more could certainly have been done with the idea. Still, what HAS been done is extremely worthy of praise. It's just plain ol' heartwarming to see the comics I love expanding their horizons like this. Trondheim and Keramidas are not regular Disney creators, but I sure wouldn't mind seeing them do more, and more generally, outside talents like theirs should be sought out, and IDW should bring them to our shores. Seriously, guys, great job; this whole thing seems to be working out rather well, dunnit?