DCML Digest #62 & 63

Don Rosa donrosa at iglou.com
Sun Jun 1 07:04:44 CEST 2003

> From: Anthvvuono at aol.com
> Subject: To Mr. Rosa:
>>>> I'm glad you still plan on responding to questions even though this
board is a mess sometimes. I always have a ton of inquiries. I just wanted
to know what story you are working on now and in the near future.
>>>Have you finished the "Letter from Home?" I can't wait to read that one
... Was the reappearance of Matilda McDuck everything you hoped for when you
originally thought out the story?

Funny you should ask that question in *that* way. Are you psychic?
Yes, I am still working on "A Letter from Home" or "The Old Castle's OTHER
Secret"... and it has turned into the longest story I've ever done... 36
pages in the three-part continued form (including the 2 full recap pages).
It can't appear in America until after "The Crown of the Crusader Kings"
which acts as part one of this pair of stories about $crooge's search for
the lost Treasury of the Knights Templar. Both of these stories together are
a very loose sequel to Barks' "Philosopher's Stone", at least in that the P
Stone is, by legend, part *of* the KT Treasury, so I found a very
appropriate spot for Mons. Mattressface in my pair of tales. And yes, it
does tell of the return of $crooge's sister Matilda whom (in my version of
things) $crooge has not seen since she left Duckburg in disgust with him
nearly 25 years earlier (1930). The story was originally intended to also
feature Hortense with whom Matilda always seemed to act as a duo, but I was
told by Egmont that I could not ever use Hortense in a current-time story
and that she must be considered "deceased" -- this is because there could
never be a suitable reason why she would have stayed away from her own
children Donald and Della since their childhood. For this same reason, I am
also told that I can never try to tell the story of what happened to HD&L's
parents because (as I've described in past messages) there can never be a
suitable or happy ending to that tale. And that's okay with me... I knew
many people have wanted me to do that story for 15 years, and I've been
drawn to it and have often pondered HOW on earth to tackle it... but it's
sortuva relief to be told not to even try such a problematic task. Now I can
be saved from any accusations of either screwing it up or chickening out by
pointing to the fact that I can't do it for Egmont. (Of course, if I
reeeaaally wanted to do it, I could do it for France or Italy or...
But you phrased the question a certain way -- was the story everything I
hoped for? Not by a jugfull. First of all, the Knights Templar being the
most intensely INTERESTING historical topic I've ever handled, I did far
more research than I've ever done on any previous story. And drawing a dark
and gloomy and mysterious Castle McDuck is a job I don't take lightly, since
the discovery of "The Old Castle's Secret" was a momentous day in my life...
when (at about age 15 when first starting to *collect* rather than just read
comic books) I first discovered that my sister did NOT have every Donald
Duck comic by that "good artist" ever printed, and, in fact, here was an
earlier story with *much more* realistic and atmospheric artwork than even
the great stories with which I'd grown up that she had in her closet in the
attic (those all being 1949-c1960). So in addition to all the research time,
factor in all the extra drawing time since I don't have the slightest idea
how to draw backgrounds without inserting every single last stone in a
castle wall, or shading every blasted gloomy dungeon scene (90% of the
story) into crosshatch oblivion.
But that aspect is only bad for *me*, taking so much extra time and blowing
the @#%& outta my flat page-rate so that it comes out to about $2 per hour.
The problem for readers is that I finally was so overcome by Templar lore
and the reconciliation of $crooge with his sister that I fear that what I
have constructed is a very interesting, very mellowdramatic, very *unfunny*
and very *action-less* story. The Ducks just seem to go from room to dungeon
to secret passage solving ancient clues, and the whole thing finished up
with about 8 pages of everybody just yammering and pouring their hearts out
in an absolutely serious sequence. Actually, it was originally about 8
pages. I told the editor that I was very unhappy with the story but I didn't
know what to do... see, there's no "buy-out" deal with these comics... when
writing a novel, if a trusted author spends a year on a book that he
realizes is not up to snuff, the publisher will agree to "buy-out" the
author's work, paying him a good but modest fee on good faith for the
attempt, and then sending him out to start fresh on a new idea. I can't
afford to do that -- there's no "buy-out" option and this doesn't pay enough
that I can just "eat" 3 months of work and move on. If I have an idea that's
not working, I need to still go ahead and do the best job with it I can and
get it over with and *then* move on. But with a story *this* complex, the
drawing of it means 2-3 more months of work on a project that I'm not sure
is worth the time I've already put in. Still, the funny thing is that the
editor's suggestion was that the problem with the story was that it needed
MORE mellerdrammer, and he had me add 2 *more* pages to the talking-heads
scene at the end.
I say all this in safety since I figure you'll forget it all by the time you
read the story in 9 months (Europe) or a year or two (America)(if ever?).
The only thing that keeps me going is that I recall that one other adventure
that I was certain was a dreadful mistake from start to finish was "The
Guardians of the Lost Library", a story which some readers have said was
their favorite Duck story ever and a few have even said it was their
favorite comic book story they'd ever read, period (take that with a grain
of salt -- you know there's NO accounting for tastes!). Also, I could not
help but take notice, as I researched this tale, of that "Philosopher's
Stone" original by Barks, which was one of my TOP favorite adventures when I
was a kid. If you look at it carefully, you see that there's no action and
precious little humor in that tale... just solving clues and going from
place to place. And yet I LOVED it. So......
The proof will be in the pudding.......

From: "Klartekst" <info at klartekst.no>
Subject: The List, Favorite Disney Comics and Rosa Analysis
>>>I ask all list memebers to please do their best to restore this list to
its former quality. It would be just too stupid if one person should
single-handedly ruin what so many have built up over the years.

The timing and wording of this might lead one to infer that this was what I
was trying to say in the previous Digest. Any problems with this ML lately
are definitely not due to just ONE person. One person cannot childishly
squabble with himself... that takes several people... even if one person is
the catalyst.

>>>>I would like to say a few words about "His Majesty McDuck"....
A great story, very well constructed and brimming with gags. And it has one
of the neatest surprise endings I have ever seen in a comic book (if you
didn't get it, study the last panel very carefully).
Quite a heavy message for a comic book 'just for kids'.
Anyway, that's how I read the story. Any other comments?

Yes. I say the author stole the basic plot from a favorite, though obscure,
movie of his named "Passport to Pimlico", Ealing Studios, Great Britain,
1949. He's always lifting ideas from favorite old movies and old comic
books. The cad. A pox on him.

More information about the DCML mailing list