Okay, so I don’t know a thing about Uncle Scrooge or Donald Duck comics besides that they exist, my bud Scott Tipton says they’re awesome, and one of them is sitting right here in front of me waiting to be read. This one is called UNCLE SCROOGE AND DONALD DUCK: A MATTER OF SOME GRAVITY, originally written by writer/artist Don Rosa and published in 1997. This version is a reissue by Fantagraphics Books, done specially for Free Comic Book Day 2014.
As this is my first foray into the seemingly expansive Duck Universe, I thought it’d be fun to share my experience with the kind fans of Blastoff Comics. Here we go!
It opens at Uncle Scrooge’s, where Donald is complaining about the chores he has to do for his rich uncle. He’s filling in as secratery for a moment, when the most subtly named witch duck of all, Magica De Spell, walks in. She’s clearly not welcome, and Scrooge is shocked at the audacity she’s showing by walking right into his home. More than anything, it seems, she wants Scrooge’s “number one dime,” a symbol of his enormous wealth. It’s a cool and breezy set-up that is turned on its head when Magica lives up to her name and performs a spell that allows her to easily get the dime and walk out.
She redirects Scrooge and Donald’s personal gravity.
Besides being a cool concept, this leads to some of the most interesting and trippy art I’ve ever seen in a comic. It’s an especially visually-driven book, as it’s a full issue’s worth of chase scene, but it’s made even more aesthetically captivating by Scrooge and Donald’s gravitational woes.
I’m feeling almost disoriented as I’m reading this. I’ve previously written about how I loved how Alan Moore played with perspective in The Saga of the Swamp Thing, leading you to organically turn the book as you read before even noticing that you’re physically engaging with the narrative. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo did something similar in his Court of Owls arc on Batman, while purposely disorienting the reader to get them to feel like Bruce, trapped in a labyrinth.
This comic, however, takes it to the next level. The primary characters we’re following are moving horizontally, while everyone they interact with is right side up. It’s a trick on the brain, and my eyes are trying to right the characters, involving me in the exact problem they’re facing. It’s brilliant, and it’s giving me a headache that I don’t regret for one second.
It’s pretty damn inventive.
Don Rosa doesn’t stick with the shtick long enough for it to get old – or comfortable – though. As soon as the characters, along with we, the readers, are getting used to the perspective, Magica notices and redirects them again… only this time, they’re upside down.
Through all of this, the action rolls on until it reaches its clever and satisfying end, righting both Magica’s evil deed and our perspective. More than I would’ve ever expected in a comic about anthropomorphic ducks, Rosa writes and draws a visually engaging and even challenging tale that could only have this very physical effect on readers in the wonderful world of comics.
I guess I’m a fan!
PAT SHAND is a comic-book writer (Robyn Hood, Charmed: Season Ten, Grimm Fairy Tales) and pop culture journalist (Blastoff Comics, Sad Girls Guide). His favorite Disney movie is The Lion King, because it showed him, at a young age, that hyenas are horribly misunderstood creatures and lions are just jerks.