Follow-Up Gemstone thoughts

Jonathan H. Gray jongraywb at
Fri Nov 16 19:58:40 CET 2007

          To beat a dead horse for a second: Going back to the 3-three
panel discussion, I don't think I can make it any clearer than Dean and
Oliver have.

I think that "The River of
Time, Pts. 1 and 2" are a perfect example of a 3 panel story NOT by
Scarpa/Cavazzano that shocked the heck out of everybody because it was
just so amazingly well done in a sea of bleah. What did you think of "Cloned Again"?
Before reading it i was a bit leery, but after reading it I found
myself liking it quite a lot (I think that this might be because I am
very partial to Massimo Fecchi now and wouldn't mind more of his work depending on the quality of the story). The same goes for
"Quacked Quest" in WDC&S (which was honestly hilarious since I've
encountered creepy LARPer types like that). According to David,
"Brother" and "Cloned" were meant for U$ and not the pocketbooks anyway
and I can see why. "Cloned" won't win any Eisner awards but it was a
fun story. "Brother" is moot given it's Cavazzano and we haven't
gotten a bad story from him yet. Fecchi's stuff seems to be pretty
quality among the Egmont 3 panels but - I've said before that I
think his artwork is awesome - I think that has a lot to do with
the writing as well. There have been Fecchi stories with beautiful art and some mediocre writing.

In this regard, story selection is paramount. Pretty
artwork wasted on a craptacular story is annoying. Pretty artwork that
enhances a great story is even better. Terrible artwork on a lousy
story is just plain idiotic. Sadly, we seem to have gotten more of the 3rd than the 2nd option in many cases. =\


The only time I wince upon seeing a 3 panel story is if it's by anybody
other than Scarpa, Cavazzano, or Fecchi (for the latter I wince
depending on who the writer is). Horrible art is one thing, but
horrible scripting is the pits. I thought about it - and
Gemstone has very subtly taken care of one thing that bugged me ever
since the implosion of the main line into prestiges. If you think
about it, things are a little better than they used to be. What I mean is this:

the non-pres Uncle
Scrooge VS Uncle Scrooge Adventures. At the inception of the prestiges
often got many mediocre short stories with a few good ones. Given
the price of paper and such I figure that if U$A were still going and
U$ were not prestige we'd be paying roughly 2.95 or a bit over for the
books. The prestiges currently costs what - $7.50? As of right now,
you're paying roughly
the same thing for the prestige that you'd be paying for two "cheaper"
books. However, the key to getting your money's worth is content.
Nowadays, Gemstone usually prints at least 1 long story (to cover the
"Adventures" bit) and reserves shorter stories for the latter portions
of the book. Occasionally we'll get two long stories, but less and less
have we gotten books with all short stories and nothing else outside of
WDC&S. This is a good thing. Gemstone has
been doing this under the radar for a while now and I like it because
if the prestiges
were filled with nothing but short stories I'd kind of feel as if they
were a
waste of my time. But at least 1 or 2 long stories is really no
different content wise than when we had the short U$ and U$A books. Its
just that now they are condensed into one. So what does that have to do
with the 3-panel discussion?

Well - I look at "Cloned"
specifically. Cloned was meant for U$ but its a long Scrooge story,
something that (back in the day) would have been a perfect fit for U$A. What
makes it different from "Quacked Quest" and "Jean Therapy" - both
printed in WDC&S? Both of those are Donald Duck stories and there
is no Donald Duck prestige. Because of this there is nothing to cover
both short DD stories and longer stories that would have been perfect
for the old school "Donald Duck Adventures". The only place to put
them is WDC&S - which ruins the variety
aspect of the series (hence the annoying "duck overload" thats
been coined as of late). 

if we got a M&D monthly prestige or a Donald Duck/Mickey Mouse
bimonthly - which I think may actually be a better idea to continuing
classic numbering - both could be in the vein of how U$ is now. A long
story to lead, short stories to follow. WDC&S could revert back to
how it was without the ducks and mice pushing out the wolves, rabbits,
chipmunks, and pups and we could get long and short stories in the
"main" books. Furthermore, I would limit any Egmont 3 panels in the
main books to an
absolute minimum. They just aren't that good: stuff like "Cloned" is
the exception, stuff like "Ring Thrice" is the clincher. And in terms
of Mickey Mouse the same thing applies: The Byron Erickson stories are
always gold, but much of the other stuff was just kinda meh. Anything
like the
pocketbook Bancells stories are just what Gemstone needs to avoid.


  I would say TNT is the only big
exception (and thats not just because David had a hand in creating
them). TNT is kind of a like Duck Avenger - a subseries in the main
comic universe. The only place they could really go now is in a Donald
prestige and I wouldn't mind seeing them continue there if that comes
to fruition. Flemming Andersen kind of reminds me of Ben Verhagen in
the sense that his style is so incredibly wonky and takes some getting
used to, but its solid and consistent. Far more so than the generic
Egmont artist which is why I kinda like it.

Dean nailed it, the generic Egmont
3-panel stories get bad reps because they feel dumbed
down. Longer stories should have a grander plot to tell, not something
that could be done in 10 pages or padded out to feel like a bad Marvel
Comics trade. Furthermore, theres nothing wrong with making things a
bit more modern in small doses, but when you do it at the expense of
characters, story, or concepts this is where problems arise. This was
one of many spectacular failures associated with the early Disney run
and their often askew take on Mickey Mouse.

trades, I'd
rather see large trade paperbacks over seasonal specials. The content
feels more special in that sense. EX: The Treasures series, the
Ducktales trades, Life of Scrooge, etc. Gemstone could use the trade
opportunity to branch out and print a lot more quality stuff rather
than "the usual
fluff" we'd see in the main books in seasonal specials. I dunno...I
wouldn't cut out the Christmas or maybe Vacation Parades, but...I think
I'm apt to buy trades first before I buy those. It's a tough call. Even
though its not my favorite story, I am looking forward to "Scrooge's
Quest" and "The Gold Odyssey" just because they're something different
and I fully support seeing things we don't often get. Hell, if we could
do it I'd go so far as to eventually request a trade of "The King of
Beasts Caper" or a reprint of "For the Love of Cheese" from the old
Rescue Rangers series. Don't laugh: they were darn good stories, and
the first would definately make for a far better collected trade than
Scrooge's Quest IMO (it'd also be a nice compliment to the Ducktales
trades though I am not so sure I would go far as to reprint its more
lackluster followup "Coast to Coast"). Not all the Disney produced
stories were bad. It just depends on context...Anyway, this is wildly
off topic.


Concerning something Oliver said: I do miss the articles and ESPECIALLY
the profiles. It's nice attatching a face to a name. I'd love one on
Marco Rota or Cesar Ferioli or the Mcgreals or even Cosme Quartieri
since his stuff is seeing print a little more via the Ducktales stuff.
I think the reasoning for cutting the articles out was perhaps a bit of
overload on them and also Gemstone needs the extra room for story or
two - which I do not mind in the least bit. I noticed that after Bruce
Hamilton passed, the "Year That Was" series quietly faded away, so I'm
guessing that was probably a pet project of his, though I can't be sure.



Despite the fact that I do not like these 3 panel 
stories near as much as the 4 panel stories, I bought each and every issue of 
Donald Duck Adventures and Mickey Mouse Adventures.  Moreover, I would 
*still* gladly be buying these titles if they were still being printed and I 
would have bought the B/W collections if they had ever materialized.  

You're a good
one. I'm a grad student on a budget, so I made sure whichever ones I
bought had stories that I was really interested in. Anything that fell
in the opposite category is sitting by the wayside until I can be
bothered to pick it up (thus going back to the previous argument). =\

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 

True, but remember also: Endless
reprints are NOT a good thing. This was one of *many* problems with
Gold Key and especially Gladstone Series 2 to an extent. After a while,
seeing the same old Barks stories every other month that we JUST saw in
an album or a trade or who knows what else becomes more of a chore and
repetetive annoyance than anything else. This is not to downplay the
mans talent but I would rather see something we DON'T often get like
the later Barks stories or something new, than seeing "Back to the
Klondike" or "Only a Poor Old Man" reprinted for the umptee three
millionth time.


  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 


I want a Gottfredson library first more than anything and a Taliaferro
library to follow on down the line. But - while I don't want it NOW - a
hardcover Barks color library is long overdue. Especially now that we
(sadly) have a definative beginning and ending from "Pirate Gold" all
the way down to "Somewhere in Nowhere". The Albums were nice, but color
hardcovers would sell like hotcakes.


  In fact, 
Jonathan, did you ever consider doing some comic book work? :)


I would love to eventually draw and write my own Mickey Mouse stories.
I have so many ideas and so many things I'd love to do if I could ever
get the chance to do them. Perhaps I'll post some Mickey work after I
get some new model sheets created just for opinions sake. Its something
of a small dream of mine that may not be too far off, but who knows.
Maybe with time, patience, and a little luck... Right now I am
freelancing for Gemstone doing some dialogue work while I am in
graduate school. Its not my own stories and art, but its a start,
right? :) 


I did  "By Twilight's Bite" in the final Gemstone MMA book, and the
more recent "Great Gawrsh-Durn Champion" in WDC&S 681. There's one
more Scarpa that hasn't been printed yet as well as an Uncle Scrooge
story that I am currently working on and will have turned in hopefully
by the weekend. Prior to Gemstone I had done several issues of Sonic
the Hedgehog for Archie (art only). It was my first professional job in
the industry so looking back on things - its a bit amatuerish, but I am
very proud of what I did there. I like to think that its somewhat solid
for a first outing, even though all I see are the errors (I guess us
artists are temperamental like that). Even Carl Barks and Floyd
Gottfredson had to cut thier chops and hone thier skills before "Pirate
Gold" and "Death Valley" came along... **sigh** 


It's depressing for me, but maybe someday... XD


Jonathan H. Gray
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