Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

“It paints you with indifference, like a lady paints with rouge, and the worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed, is the one that we call Scrooge. Unkind as any, and the wrath of many, this is Ebenezer Scrooge.” – Scrooge, written by Paul Williams.

O.K. I’ll admit it. When I first saw a cover to Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime, I thought it was a variant for one of the Avengers titles. Obviously, I was mistaken. It was one of 13 different covers — you tell me which is not the variant — of Marvel’s first-ever (kinda) produced Disney legacy characters comic book.

I doubt I would have guessed Jason Arron would be the writer. Not that I have a bad opinion of his work; quite the contrary. It just didn’t occur to be that a Punisher writer, not to mention Superman, The (various) Avengers, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — among a treasure trove of others — would be the person to waddle in the palmate footpath of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

Back when I first entered the friendly confines of organized comic book fandom, and I use the word “organized” advisedly, it seemed as though there were four things “everybody” was collecting: Will Eisner’s The Spirit, EC Comics, All-Star Comics (the Justice Society of America, although no one would pass up those first two issues), and Carl Barks. Well, mostly Barks’ duck stories, although, again, nobody would pass up his Porky Pig. Barks’ nickname was “the good duck artist” because it took a while for us to learn the names of the rest of Disney’s flock of talent.

It was Carl Barks who created Uncle Scrooge, but even if he hadn’t the rest of his duck oeuvre would have landed him the rank of “the best of the best.” I dare say most of us thought nobody else could come close, particularly on Uncle Scrooge, but that was until Don Rosa came along.

There have been plenty of Disney duck writers and artists all over the world and while I can claim to having read only a comparative sliver of their work, by and large I’ve found their stuff to be quite enjoyable. Not as strong as Barks and Rosa, but, damn, if Will Eisner could outshine all of his collaborators and successors (Bob Powell, Wally Wood, Lou Fine, Jack Cole, Jules Feiffer, Jerry Grandenetti… you get the idea), that leaves a lot of room at the top.

Can Arron find a nice condo in that space? I’ll bet you he’s wondering the same thing. He’s joined by artists Paolo Mottura, Francesco D’Ippolito, and Vitale Mangiatordi, and we can find out June 19.

To tell you the truth, for the first time ever I’m actually looking forward to one of those truly massive variant cover stunts. I’ve been annoyed with the stunt-cover marketing device ever since Image Comics rejected my idea of doing a Shaman’s Tears cover printed on hard bubble gum stock. That was over 30 years ago; I generally don’t hold on to grudges, but if something is exceptionally silly, it sticks to me like acne on a teenager’s first date. However, I am damn curious to see how some of the variant artists handle Unca Scrooge: Lorenzo Pastrovicchio does the “main” cover, and Alex Ross, Ron Lim, Peach Momoko, John Romita Jr., Elizabeth Torque, Gabriele Dell’otto, J. Scott Campbell, Walter Simonson and Steve McNive. That should be fascinating.

I’d have liked to have seen Virgil Partch — Vip — handle one, but the former Disney animator and magazine / newspaper cartoonist (Big George!) died in 1984. Disney fired Vip after he took part in the animators’ strike of 1941.

Yes, Disney owns Marvel and Marvel publishes other Disney-produced Disney comics. So do many other publishers, and offering product around to competing venues is quite the rage these days. But this one is the first such story produced by Marvel per se.

They’re making it easy for newbies. The Infinity Dime has a nice little back-up: Scrooge’s debut story Christmas On Bear Mountain. If you missed it, that story was written and drawn by Carl Barks. You know. The Good Duck Artist.

I do not know if Thanos is in the lead story. C’mon; I know you woulda asked…