cgeraci at cgeraci at
Sat Nov 17 14:50:50 CET 2007

I'd like to thank Jerry Blake for adding his food for thought. Very interesting. And thanks to Francesco Spreafico for his comments, as well.

The Italian stereotypes may not bother native Italians, but to (some) Italian-Americans, it gets old. Not that I'm really that offended--it just gets to be ubiquitous. I'm surprised that this was altered by Disney, for usually Italian stereotypes are left to stand. The popularity of The Sopranos and the constant portrayal of Italian Americans as either gangsters or buffoons grates after a while. Sadly, many Italian-Americans even find this association with crime "cool." There's truth there, to be sure, but some more balance would be nice.
But Jerry's experiences are more far-reaching. What did you think of the cartoon "Coal Black"? I'm sure it was done with affection (and the enthusiastic participation of black artists) at the time, and the cartoon is joyously active: great music, non-stop pace... but the stereotypical designs are just too much to bear. I'll watch it and love it, but at the same time regret the look of it. It's a real dilemma. And no disclaimer is going to completely ameliorate that feeling.
Mammy Two-Shoes in the Tom & Jerry cartoons was a great memory of mine--but my memory grows hazy. Would I enjoy her today? In my memory, she was a benign, loveable character (we only saw her feet), but I recall the voice being one that I heard often here in the southern US. Or is my remembrance faulty?
Finally, I don't mean to be offensive, but my other favorite duck is Daffy (the original daffy Daffy). And you can't deny he's black. (One of my favorite lines: "Mighty sporting of the little black duck!" If you can identify that, you're a true duck fan.) Of course, I'm goofing around now--but is that offensive humor? We walk a fine line....

Carmen (Carmelo) Geraci

> From: francesco.spreafico at
> To: dcml at
> Subject: Re: Floyd Gottfredson Library
> Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 15:56:37 +0100
> jerryblake2 at wrote:
> > Will the
> > stereotypical Italian fruit vendors in several stories have their
> > dialogue changed to proper English so as not to vex Italians?"
> >
> > Actually, they've already done that--Gladstone's version of OSCAR THE
> > OSTRICH from back in their first run was altered to Anglicize the
> > dialogue of the crooked pet-store owner Tony, as well as the dialogue
> > of a minor fruit vendor character.
> As an Italian, let me add that I'm "vexed" by such censorship, and not in 
> the least by the language originally used. But that was obvious, wasn't it?
> Francesco 

I'd feel remiss if I didn't add to this conversation somehow.

a black guy who grew up in the deep south. To put it in context, my
Grandfather of 92 years was raised on one of the last surviving cotton
plantations in the south where his mother and father were
sharecroppers. When I was five years old my first encounter with racism
was in the first grade when a little boy alerted to the class that his
grandfather informed him that black people were "white people who had
done terrible things and were shoved into ovens to be marked for the
rest of their lives." The grandfather had most likely said this to
scare the little kid into not acting bad, but considering I was 6 years
old, clearly stupid in the ways of the world, and one of only 3 or 4
black kids in the class at the time - I went home to my Grandmother
crying my eyes out trying to figure out what it was that we'd done
wrong. Naturally, when my mother came to pick me up from my
grandparents house after work, this did not go over well with the
school board and the PTA. :P

Surprisingly, even after that,
racism does not vex me as much as it does others, because I've come to
understanding that it is the product of incredibly stupid and ignorant
people who don't seem to possess even 1/4 of an iota of a brain. As
someone who's goal in life is to do cartoons and comic books, I even
understand the context behind the different times that many of the
pieces in question were created for - Let's use the most well known
"banned" Looney Tunes short "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" for
example. I knew this friend who was also in animation and also black
that took offense at even the slightest thing like that. I could see
where said person was coming from in this day and age where we are
supposed to be past that, but i also explained that the context was
totally different as well. Even if its a well animated cartoon that
relies on heavily cloyed stereotypes to get its point across, in the
context of a historical perspective its symbolic for the story behin!
it. Besides that, it isn't half as bad as many cartoons that were
FAAAAAAAAAAAR worse in thier portrayal of lazy, shiftless, jive talking
blacks like "Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat" which even I thought was
out of control. :P

Like I said, it takes a lot for something to
bother me - and while I may get annoyed at things - I do understand the
context and what they mean, and I don't fly off the handle at every
thing that may bug me. I usually just shrug and brush it off or -
because I'm a nerd like that - ingest it with rabid fervor and interest
to try and find out more.

Having said that, a long time ago I
managed to get my my hands on some selected scanned pages of Treasure
Island - significant for being the first appearance of Captain
Churchmouse and Spooks the Gorilla. It's a pretty good serial as far as
early Mickey serials go. I don't remember how or where I got it from or
what i did with it (I think it was an old print from a guy who owned a
comic book store and collected old stuff like that), but I remember
seeing it and being visibly shocked at the depiction of the savages who
were like something out of a bad caricature of savages from a mediocre
Tarzan movie. I remember seeing it and thinking to myself "HOLY COW. I
can see how this could be gotten away with back then, but they'd NEVER
get away with printing this today." It also doesn't help much that - if
I remember correctly - it begins with the infamous "Mickey's Suicide
Attempt" subset of strips. The lips on some of the savages are so big
that they practically droop and hang unke!
 mptly off of their
faces. It's a good story as is its sequel, but its one of those where
even with a discalaimer before it, it's kind of sadly got that "Wow..I
can't believe they did that!" stigma attached to it. I've heard rumors
that the follow-up story, featuring Pete and Squinch instead of Pete
and Shyster, is just as bad in those respects. And the same would also
probably go for "The Great Orphanage Robbery" which spends the entire
first third of the story with Mickey and co. in blackface re-doing key
scenes from "Uncle Tom's Cabin": good stories that unfortunately fall
prey to the sadly bigoted backgrounds of thier times. =\

get it twisted, now. I'm not standing up for Disney's censorship. I
detest censorship. (Remember how we were almost banned from seeing the
far more harmless "War of the Wendigo" during Gladstone Series 2?) On
the other hand though, I can see the dilemma that the guys who DO WANT
this stuff printed in context are facing: Given that a disclaimer just
won't cut it for the hardcore unnecessarily prudish types, do you run
the risk of not printing 1 or 2 stories in what was supposed to be a
full collection or jeopardize the entire shebang by risking the ire of
the censors and depriving the fandom further of something they've been
begging for for years? And to gild the lily a bit more, lets say you
are allowed to print it, but only if strips are omitted and or totally
redrawn? That, in and of itself mars the idea of the collection to
begin with - especially when nearly an entire story would need
"redrawing" and not just a few panels. If getting an almost complete
Gottfredson !
 library means taking option 2 over option 1, I
wouldn't necessarily like it, but I wouldn't balk at it either given
the option of not having it at all or having it censored for stuff FAR
less harmless than this. =\

if now is the best time for Gemstone
to do this with minimal damage, I say go for it. Furthermore, for every
"me" that DOES understand the historical context and significance
behind it and doesn't really care, you also have the "opportunists" and
or "stupidly offended at everything types" that feel it is their job to
sanitize society whether society likes it or not. And everybody knows
that its always the loudmouths that ruin it for everybody else. I say
take the Leonard Maltin DVD Treasure approach, but sadly what is done
for the cartoons can't quite be done for the comics yet. We haven't
reached that point, apparently. But hey, look at how long it took us
JUST TO GET the cartoons out there and uncut to begin with. 

least we're getting some form of a Gottfredson library, even if its not
truly complete. Heck, it won't be until a 3rd Barks library that we
even get anything complete from him.

Food for thought. =\
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