Yet more Gemstone thoughts
mouse-ducks at orange.fr
Sat Nov 10 13:22:25 CET 2007
Ditto to what Jonathan & Dean have said-- I will try and go beyond this lazy statement, though.
Many licence agreements, financial constraints and risks are to be taken in consideration, which I do not know about and probably cannot imagine, but ideally speaking, as a reader, I suppose a third regular title might be a good idea, idea.
This would naturally enable Gemstone to further diversify the contents of WDC&S and give us even more comics to read-- and maybe not necessarily in the prestige format (beautiful & certainly appealing to potential readers though it is), if this makes it easier on the costs and makes for more pages.
There is one thing I would love to see return (I have actually already said it here): articles on Disney comics and history, whether 2 pages or even only 1 page long. Gemstone does run inside cover essays by Don on his stories, but what made Gladstone particularly unique (to me, at least, comparing to French publications; I think it's different with the Greek Komix, for one) were all those "The Year That Was...", "Gladstone Profile", ..., features.
Regarding the stories themselves, the format per se is not the problem, naturally, though the infamous 3/6-panel stories do take some place in the star titles, which makes for even greater disappointment with the lesser stories.
(I have bought all the DDA & MMA pocket books, but have not read them all yet-- I'm quite behind in my reading--; I am thumbing through them to write this.)
Script-wise, Dean has a point: many of those stories appeared to be simple short stories drawn out over three times the number of pages their plot required, through much padding. Some of them tried to be hip and trendy, or plain goofy, which did not work because style does not make (up) for substance. And then others tried to be smart and (post-)modern but failed.
The overall result was thus very uneven and disappointing; Pat & Carol McGreal write good stories (there are some I didn't like, though), Stefan Petrucha is reliable (his X-Files Mouse stories are fun), the "TNT" series is rather original and fun (a comic MIB with ducks), ..., but there were also "good premise but disappointing story", "what's the point?" or just plain "how could they pick this?" moments.
A case in point of the latter, and the worst story, is "Ring Thrice and I'll Clobber You, My Lad" (D98058, Mark Shaw & Bancells), where Daisy becomes a bully who kicks and beats Donald every other page, and it whole leads to an appalling climax where the "only" solution to the problem is for Donald to beat Daisy to a pulp (to exorcize her), hitting her first with tons of food, but then using a giant hammer, punching her repeatedly in the head, taking her by the feet and smashing her against the hard rocky ground-- and then the "cured" Daisy tramples him and kicks him with a board.
I cannot understand how such a story could ever be accepted by the Disney powers, and how Gemstone could publish such trash-- I'm sorry for the creators, but there's not other word for it; I am not a prude Dr Wertham, but there is no justifying so much senseless and pretty graphic violence (it's not a "whirlwind" fight with only onomatopae, you clearly see Donald punch Daisy several time) against a female character.
Actually, this story so totally ruined the book (which featured a rather funny Italian MM story "The Imperial Vortex, and another very good & original Petrucha story) that it certainly accounts for my having stopped reading my collection of pocketbooks, so sour was the taste left in my mouth.
Hence my question: how were the stories chosen, and how could this one in particular ever be printed? Even if it was part of a batch, I can't imagine how Gemstone could print that.
I loved the Gutenberghus stories in Gladstone's comics; they were true to the characters, and did not try to be sophisticated nor to turn the characters into some odd stereotypical model of hip modern "young" attitude. Like Barks & Van Horn's, the ten-pagers had simple, straightforward plots that were nicely told, and even made a point.
Too many of today's stories lack all this. I would rather have older but good stories.
As for the art, many of those stories were not visually appealing either; it's all a matter of personal taste, of course, but I don't like Flemming Anderson's distorted drawings, for instance; yet, beyond individual taste, the artist's talent very obviously has an enormous impact on the story, and can either enhance an average story, making it at least tolerable and agreeable eye-candy, and in the best instances, improving on it (through added nuances in the characterization, staging, ...), or make it even worse.
For instance, as I said above, I found the "TNT" stories pretty amusing, but I would have them enjoyed them more had tye been drawn by someone else. And to more objectively illustrate the difference an artist can make, you simply have to compare the covers with the stories: Michael Nadorp's cover for DDA 15 is not only more nicely drawn, but a lot more effective thant Anderson's page of the respective story ("Old Number One", p 31-- or more easily: final page minus 5); William Van Horn's cover for DDA 14 is another example.
Such discrepencies obviously make for huge disappointments.
I'm sure the comics would be more endurably appealing to casual readers if you tried to return to the kind of stories Gladstone used to run, rather than print such new stories, believing that their being contemporary (cell phones, computers, future world biker Mickey, ...) makes them more alluring. The truly good stories are never outdated.
As for the books, special Daan Jippes books would be great; I wish you can print more than two stories per book; you know you have a certain number of guaranteed sales with us (I don't think there are many people who don't like Jippes' work-- be it with Milton or Barks); a slightly larger book with an attractive price, featuring 4-5 stories would probably help gain readership.
Naturally, I'm still much in favor of a new Barks Library, a Gottfredson Library, a Taliaferro Library, especially if they are done like the E.C. Archives; I'll repeat my previous mesages on the subject: these are the most splendid book I have; the quality of the paper, the binding, the printing, and the coloring, is outstanding; each page is gorgeous.
If you do a Disney Library this way, though, please try and include slightly longer essays; those in the E.C. Archives are very interesting, but are too short; I will gladly pay 5 dollars more if it enables you to print longer articles, in the vein of the first two CBLs.
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