Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mickey Mouse in the Mysterious Crystal Ball Part 1


The following article reveals the entire plot for “Mysterious Crystal Ball”. If you haven’t read the story yet I suggest you do before you read this blog post.

Also the story I am reviewing was made in very restrictive conditions imposed by Western Publishing.  For Paul Murry and the other artists and writers at Western Publishing this was a grueling job they did for many years and I have the up most respect for them. That said I will criticize the story when necessary but understand that it is very much a product of its time and should not be expected to hold up to modern material.

(End of disclaimer)

Hello Folks, been awhile. I’ve been working on numerous different blog posts for quite some time now but couldn’t find a topic that truly interested me. When I finally did real life got in the way and prevented me from working on it. Funny enough this was not what I was working on. I was writing a comment on this story for Joe’s blog, but when I realized how much I had to say I adjusted it into a full-fledged blog post.

This is one of the earliest stories by the team of writer Carl Fallberg and artist Paul Mury. Together (well actually separately since did not collaborate or know each other, Fallberg wrote the script, Murry drew it) they sent Mickey on many 3 part serials that bookended Walt Disney Comics & Stories for decades. While they never reached the heights of Gottfredson and Walsh these were fun, solidly written, well drawn adventures. When IDW announced the reprinting of this story I got excited as I feel these 2 men worked loyally for many years and their work deserves to be occasionally reprinted.

Since this was originally intended to be serialized I deiced to look at each part individually than have a post of my final thoughts on the whole story.

Part 1:

The story abruptly begins with Mickey and Minnie at a carnival. Minnie spots a fortune teller’s tent and want to go in but Mickey, so repulsed by the idea of such a scam artist, won’t have any of that “bunk”. Mickey precedes to scold Minnie and convinces her to walk down the midway. This part along with most of Mickey and Minnie’s interaction in this story is incredibly outdated. Mickey has no right to talk to anyone, especially his girlfriend in such a hurtful way over such a little thing.  

As this happens the fortune teller and his helper recognize them as the friends of Chief O’Hara’s and begin scheming ways to get them in their tent. They mention that the “Professor” will be able help them out.

Mickey wants to go on the Ferris wheel but Minnie has a funny feeling and doesn’t want to go on. Mickey, being the “gentleman” he is doesn’t give a rat’s ass and is about to make her go on anyways. Again, he has no right to make her do anything and this is especially bad considering that Minnie didn’t make him go into the fortune teller’s tent when she wanted to. Mickey does try to comfort her but it only makes thing look worse for him. “Oh, There’s Nothing To Be Afraid Of! Not If You Hold On To Me! Heh,Heh” Something about that line makes me really uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because he is yet again, imposing his will on her. Or maybe it’s that weird “heh,heh” vocal tick that appeared in a lot of Western material.

Luckily for Minnie the fortune teller intercepts saying that the ride is dangerous. Mickey finally relents and sure enough the car they were going to go in falls of at the top of the Ferris wheel. Mickey is shocked and heads back to the fortune teller’s tent for answers. He’s even more surprised when the fortune teller knows their names. Mickey really shouldn’t be, he could have found out their names by overhearing their conversation. It becomes apparent (to us, not Mickey) that the fortune teller has researched Mickey’s public info which is how he knows Mickey’s name, address, dog and that he’s an amateur magician(WHAT!). If Mickey’s has enough of an interest in magic that a basic background check associates him with it then why was he so repulsed by the idea of seeing a circus fortune teller?

Anyways, the fortune teller attempts to convince Mickey that they share the same physic powers. He proves this by asking both Mickey and Minnie to look into his crystal ball. When Minnie looks she sees nothing but, when Mickey looks he sees a Jewelry store being robbed. The fortune teller explains that the robbery hasn’t happened yet but it will and that Mickey has time to stop it. Mickey grabs Minnie and rushes out to warn Chief O’Hara. When they get to the police station they find out that they were too late. Mickey somehow decides that a crime scene filled with cops and the chief of police might somehow be dangerous and abandons Minnie at the station without even asking what, she wants. After this she just vanishes from the rest of the story. So, first off what was the point of her being in the story if she just there to be ridiculed by her jackass boyfriend. Second off, how would a crime scene filled with police be dangerous. I could see Minnie not wanting to go to one but Mickey could have least asked considering that he’s her ride home. Speaking of that, Third of all, we don’t find out how she’s going to get home. Is her house a block away, is an officer going to drive her home, did Mickey give her money to take the bus. I don’t know and we aren’t about to find out Mickey just leaves at the station.

Ugh, well at least with Minnie and 1950s sexism out of the picture the story actually starts to get good. From on here on out the story becomes a fast paced, exciting mystery, it’s like it got shot in the arm with adrenaline and doesn’t let up until its conclusion! Once we arrive at the crime scene we meet the true hero of the story, Shamrock Bones, an obvious parody of Sherlock Holmes. I really like Bones, he is so wrapped up in his own maddens that his dialogue is filled with kooky lines like “I suspect suspects “and he’s a pretty darn good detective too. From just a toothpick on the street he deduces that the crime was done by a television actor and goes into strenuous detail that is obviously impossible for him to know from that seemingly meaningless “clue”. However he then deduces from Mickey’s body language that Mickey somehow had knowledge of the crime. I really like how this is done. Bones first deduction was mainly played for a laugh but the fact that his second deduction was based off body language (evidence we, the reader, can see) and is correct gives his first deduction some merit. It shows that Fallberg understands how to make fun of something without being entirely disrespectful to the source material. It also set up a pretty funny direction that the story could (and does) go in.

There’s an interested tidbit revealed when O’Hara sticks up for Mickey after Bones’s accusation. “I’ve known young Mickey here my entire life” Really? Huh. Is this derived from Gottfredson because even if it isn’t, O’Hara as a family friend of Mickey’s would make sense. In Gottfredson’s serials Mickey didn’t collaborate with the police until Detective Casey and Chief O’Hara were in the picture. It also explains why Mickey and O’Hara had such a good relationship almost immediately. You could also argue that O’Hara ran a tighter ship than the last Chief as the mob rasin’, lynchin’, old fashioned police force from Gottfredson’s early serials has disappeared.  

Mickey tells O’Hara about the fortune teller but he doesn’t believe him, thinking he’s tired and needs rest. Mickey then rushes back to the Carnival royally pissed off, runs into the fortune teller’s tent and demands answers. The fortune teller ends part one on a cliff-hanger by repeating what he said earlier. He didn’t tell Mickey about the robbery, Mickey looked into the future and told himself.

Thanks for reading this post and please comment. I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts about part one of “Crystal Ball”. Next week in part 2 of this post we’ll go over the rest of the story. The part with comedy, action and deductions flying! You know, the good part.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Introduction/ Review of “Ghost Town Airport”

Hello folks, welcome to my corner of the internet. The name I’ll be going by is Clapton, pleasure to meet you. Alright let me tell you about my little blog here. I am an avid fan of Disney Comics and I plan to do a retrospective of Gladstone 1’s run on WDC&S along with other miscellaneous reviews. Unfortunately, I am missing the first 4 issues of Gladstone 1’s run of WDC&S so I decided that until I get them I should get my feet wet with some other comic reviews. So I’ve decided to look at the lead story from the 6 issues of Mickey Mouse from Gladstone’s 1 run that aren’t Gottfredson reprints.

With that out of the way let’s take a look at “Ghost Town Airport” written and drawn by Bill Wright and reprinted in Mickey Mouse #240. Bill Wright was Gottfredson’s inker for a time and filled in for Manuel Gonzalez while he was in the army on the Sunday page. Other than that I don’t really know much about Wright. I’m sure the essay in volume 7 of Fantagraphic’s Gottfredson collection about Wright would help in my quest for obscure Disney comic’s knowledge. But, I’m holding off for the Vol 7/8 boxset for a few reasons (1. I like the slipcase, 2. It comes out in December so it’s like I’m buying myself a little Christmas present and 3. It’s Cheaper, well not much but I’m a very frugal man.) Anyways, Onward!

So this helicopter comes out of nowhere and snatches Mickey. Turns out it’s the work of Mickey’s old pal former Captain, now Colonel, Doberman. Doberman, while his personality isn’t very distinct, was a likeable mentor in the Gottfredson serials and it’s good to see him again. Though I hate to brake it to him but a phone call would have been must faster than getting a helicopter to kidnap Mickey but, it was an effective way to immediately get reader sucked in to the story.


Right here you see why Wright’s mouse stories (or at least the ones I’ve read) are much better than what his Western Mouse Comic contemporizes were churning out: he understands Mickey’s adventurous spirit. If you take away Mickey’s dive for adventure you’re not left with much of a character, as we found out in many of the Fallberg/Murray stories that dominated American Disney comics for the 50s, 60s and 70s. Not trying to undermine Wright’s understanding of Gottfredson but… Goofy and Captain Doberman already met in the Gottfredson classic “Sky Island”. This “continuity” error is not really a big deal since back then Wright probably didn’t have access accesses to Gottfredson’s earlier work at the time and was going off memory. Anyways, with the exception of when Gottfredson moved from serial to serial there was never really any continuity in these comics so… who really cares?
I have a feeling that the minute Goofy and Mickey leave the room Doberman remembered Goofy and realizes the terrible mistake he just made by letting him in.
Mickey and Goofy arrive in Spectorville and run across Doc Wombat, whom is obviously a bad guy.
This cracks me up! Wright along with understanding Gottfredson’s Mickey also understands Gottfredson’s Goofy. It’s easy to cast him as an annoying idiot or, to another extreme as he was often portrayed in Murray/Fallburg’s “adventures” a boring side kick. But nah man, Bill, gets it. Goofy’s not an idiot he just has his own inside-out upside-down logic that makes no sense to anyone but himself.

Alright back to Doc Wombat who is to quote myself “obviously a bad guy”, repeatedly tries to dispose of our heroes who are somehow completely oblivious of his real intentions.

Good Gosh, Goofy’s got some bent up aggression! I wonder how often this comes up in his everyday life.

(Goofy and Mickey are at a Burger King.

Goofy: “Excuze me mister sandwich man but I said no mayyonase on my burger”

Cashier: “Sorry bud I already made it. Now pay up!”

Goofy: “But…But… you said I could have my way. You said I COULD HVE IT MY WAY YA @#$%!”

Waiter: “Dear god he’s foaming at the mouth. Somebody help me!

Mickey: “Groan! I’ll get the tranquilizer darts. Fer gosh sakes Goofy this is the fourth time this has happened today.)

So Pete’s here now and later that night he over hears Mickey revealing to Goofy why there rally there.

That night Mickey and Goofy receive some guests in the form of a Ghost and a Ghost Plane.

Doberman sends one of his pilots into Spectorvile to refuel. While the pilot has trouble landing and taking off its shown that a skilled enough pilot can manage, thusly explaining how Mickey didn’t crash going in. But wait a gosh durn minute… why did Doberman’s men have crackups if they were also experienced and more perplexing than that why didn’t Mickey have any problem landing at all?
So from this point on wards I can basically stop summarizing the plot because it’s totally predictable. Obviously Pete and Doc are behind the crack ups through magnets and projectors and get caught. That said Bill Wright takes this very basic ending and has fun with it through the unexpected burning of Mickey’s plane, the details of Pete’s plans and the fun action packed conclusion.
Overall while this story isn’t great it is consistently fun. This is mainly due to the Gottfredson-esque characters, the great artwork along with good humor and a perfectly paced plot, despite some of the minor logical gaps. If anyone doesn’t have this issue I highly suggest you get it and if you already have it please post a comment expressing your opinion. And while you’re at give me your honest opinion of this entry. I’ve never written a blog post before so the only way I’ll learn is if someone explicitly tells me what I’m doing wrong.