Tuesday, February 20, 2018

At least Scrooge didn't charge payday-lender interest on that...

I learned how to read when I was very little, and I'm told I went through a period that whenever the family went to a restaurant, I would try and order haggis, because I had seen the word in an Uncle Scrooge comic. Ironically, I was a super-picky eater back then, so I don't know what I would've done if I got it; or maybe I became so picky because I never did get it! Anyway, I don't think I've blogged any of these, but here's one from a quarter-bin: from 1997, Uncle Scrooge Adventures #50, reprinting 1954's Uncle Scrooge #5, "Secret of Atlantis" Story and art by Carl Barks, from a story idea by Chase Craig.

I'm not sure there's a name for this, but the Simpsons does it pretty often as well; where the story starts with one mundane little goal--in this case, Scrooge trying to collect on a very minor debt--and spirals to the point that he and Donald are trapped in the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. Scrooge hires Donald as a bill collector, and promises him half of what he collects; which turns out to be a nickel, since the debt was a dime Donald had owed him for four years! Donald pushes back to get his change, but Scrooge tries to shortchange him with a bum nickel from a defunct country...that turns out to be worth five bucks to a collector! Donald taunts Scrooge at being taken on the deal, but Scrooge promises to make that money back, and then some, with the rarest coin in the world--the 1916 quarter Donald had paid with before! (I suppose a 1916 quarter may well be rare now, but it wasn't at the time this was originally published!)

Scrooge sets into motion a plan that's almost a textbook in artificial scarcity, beginning with an ad blitz to buy up 1916 quarters, until he had all of them. Keeping one in his vault, he dumps the rest in the Atlantic, making his last 1916 quarter worth "ten skyrillion dollars!" And he's hoping that price might go up, but loses it, setting up a pie fight and skyscraper ledge walk that wouldn't have been out of place in a Buster Keaton movie. (On the "Vampire State Building"!) And we haven't even got to Atlantis yet, but I don't think it's a spoiler to say Scrooge has to learn a bitter lesson at the end here.

Old Uncle Scrooge comics are like EC classics or even Groo, in the sense that while I feel like I've read a lot of them, I haven't read all of them. Which is a comforting thought, like I still have a reserve of good comics out there, waiting to be found. And a good one like this has a shelf life of about forever.


Dale Bagwell said...

Funny, you had Uncle Scrooge, I had Archie as a kid to help me read, and was the first comic I ever collected. Archie was my gateway drug into the world of superheroes, so thanks Arch!

I grew up on Ducktales, as well as Tailspin, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles and Goof Troop, so I definitely know all about Uncle Scrooge. Good stuff.

As for that 1916 quarter, I goggled it, and the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter would be one of those rare coins Uncle Scrooge would've fought Donald over.

SallyP said...

An Asterix in french at the dentist's office when I was dove was mu first comic...I couldn't read it, but by god I loved it.

Seriously, Haggis?

SallyP said...

I really should proof read before posting. I meant I was five, not dove. And my, not mu.