200 WEST 40th STREET – Ohhhhh, comics. I love ya, I love ya. After a long day of making grim decisions and dealing with mankind, it’s so nice to pick up a glossy folio where all of life is reduced to GOOD and BAD. A copy of Secret Six, a Singapore Sling, maybe some Call me Poupée, and I’m a happily anesthetized little, fuzzy, man-child.
Ho ho. Good times in the Money Manse.
But not everyone loves comics the way I love comics. And that is terrible.
No worries, though, I -as ever- am here to help.
Over the next five (5) weeks I’ll bring you a few general tips and some specific recommendations to get you and keep you into comics once and for all.
Comics is (are?) a vast sea of ink and, increasingly, pixels. Jumping in can prove daunting when done alone and, in my opinion, never moreso than when jumping into The Big Name ongoing series from The Big Houses (DC & Marvel).
Seriously. If you asked me what is going on in Spiderman right now, I’d have no real idea but here’s what I’ve managed to catch-as-catch-can:
-Through a deal with the devil, for some reason Peter Parker and Mary Jane are no longer married, oh, and…
-Peter Parker and Mary Jane were married
-During the big Civil War event, Spiderman revealed his secret identity to the world on national TV but…
-Now, apparently, he didn’t.
Fun fact: changing something that blatantly happened in a comic is called retcon, short for “retroactive continuity.” Sometimes this is a great idea especially when the something in question happened back in a copy of Amazing Comic Tales of Splendor and Amazement in 1953. When it happened less than a year ago as part of one of Marvel Comic’s biggest company-wide events to date… slightly lame.
Need more examples?
-Batman is dead. Yep. Dead. Nope, I’m not going to bother explaining the who what why but he’s dead, but, oh, wait…
-Maybe he’s not.
And THAT’S why you don’t jump into the big titles like Batman right off the bat, man.
That said, I might recommend starting out picking up some trade paperbacks (collected editions of comics, usually encapsulating one major story or “arc”). And while we’re on the subject of things that have been retconned, perhaps one of the finest examples of comicbookering I’ve yet to come across is collected in…
Written & Illustrated by his majesty, Don Rosa
When I was but a little shaver and would come down with the occasional ailment, Papa Money would often bring me home a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic, the only known remedy for the flu.
Scrooge McDuck is many things: globetrotting entrepreneur, adventurer, Scottish ex-pat. But most importantly, he is the richest man -er, duck- in Duckburg -nay- THE WORLD. He keeps all his money not tied up in his many businesses but in a huge bin on top of a hill in the center of town and whenever he’s got time, he likes to swim through it “like a porpoise.”
Most Uncle Scrooge comics involve him following up on a new invention he has funded or returning to sources of revenue he forgot he had, often with his bumbling hot-head nephews Donald and competent and cool-headed (I guess great-nephews?) Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Adventure was constant and flippin’ awesome.
As it turns out, my favorite stories from those comics were probably as old as Papa Money himself and created by comics legend, Carl Barks. Many of Bark’s stories would go on to be distilled into episodes of Duck Tales, another fond childhood memory until its truly epic shark-jump with the additions of GizmoDuck and Bubba the Caveduck.
I was not the only one who liked Barks’ work it seems as Don Rosa created a masterwork of scripting, humor, warmth, and most of all, rock-hard continuity wrought from throw-away snippets of dialog from old Bark’s comics – a marvel considering that Barks never really created any continuity between his own comics.
This collection of twelve original issues explains just where Scrooge got all that money in The Bin and, more importantly, how he got so dang cantankerous. Told by way of letters to his family back in his homeland of Scotland, Scrooge gradually grows older, wiser, and ultimately, more cynical between the periods of his childhood in roughly 1877 to his crotchety old-age and technical first meeting of his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, in 1947, thus beginning his adventures anew.
Along the way, Scrooge is constantly running into his family (future or otherwise) and trying his best to make his fortune fair and square while being “sharper than the sharpies and tougher than the toughies.” The question of the series, however, is “but at what cost?” and the series can actually get quite dark as Scrooge must get more and more leathery to survive and ultimately profit at the cost of his connection to family and, ultimately his humanity (er… water-fowl-anity?).
Lovingly rendered with heaps of chicken fat (non-sense going on in the background of comics) to find with each successive reading, this series is a pleasure from start to finish. It’s no wonder that it won an Eisner Award in 1995.
There is also a companion, aptly called, “The Life and Times of Uncle Scrooge Companion” that includes further adventures of Scrooge from the times chronicled in Life and Times as well as some of Rosa’s earlier works about Scrooge’s youth, especially pertaining to Scrooge’s time in The Yukon.
You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it…
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is probably the perfect comic.
It’s got a front and back, it’s got heart, and it’s got a dude riding a moose. If you can find a better comic, I’ll read it.
That said, put down whatever you’re doing right now and run out and grab this fine, fine piece of comic anywhere you can.
If you like The Life and Times of $crooge McDuck, you might also like these comics (but don’t take my word for it):
TUNE IN NEXT TIME WHEN WE HEAR YOU SAY: “But Cash, aren’t comics for kids?” “Maybe if your kids read Ayn Rand.”