Rosa's own li'l Universe

Matthew Williams kingofduckburg at
Sat Apr 3 16:56:54 CEST 2004

This whole universe debate is quickly becoming a very personal argument
between two men, and I would like to see it brought back into the realm of
fan/quasi-intellectual/friendly debate.  It's funny; in my earlier e-mail, I
said that the ducks affect my daily life little, but I find that that's not
quite true.  I do feel some emotional involvement in where the ducks are
heading and going.  Perhaps we all suffer from some mental deficiency that
leads us to spending a substantial amount of time debating and speculating
about ducks on the web.  At any rate though, I send this e-mail in the hopes
of fostering discussion and not contentious argument.

I'm happy with the thoughtful comments posted by Kai Saarto, Katie Sullivan
(I'm so sorry about your grandmother), Chris Hilbig, and others.  Still, I
am personally troubled by the idea of different duck universes.  Chris
Hilbig brings up the various "universes" present in Marvel comics and uses
it to argue that one character can exist on several planes.  I would argue
that the Marvel characters (who I liked in earlier incarnations) have lost
all of their meaning because of a lack of consistency of vision.  Part of my
concern is that if Rosa, Van Horn, Lustig, the Blocks, etc. all decided to
do their own thing the ducks and their world would become as meaningless as
the Marvel characters are presently.

Additionally, Daniel has an excellent point that all of these characters are
DISNEY characters first and foremost.  Various creators can bring their own
visions in, but it's unreasonable for them to significantly alter the
universe many artists and fans are sharing.  Consider how pissed off many of
us feel about alterations in DuckTales.  Consider how the Disney company
urinates on our beloved characters in House of Mouse.  Why aren't we taking
a hearts and flowers, "all universes are swell" attitude here?  Mr. Rosa,
you like to think of DuckTales as an unauthorized version of the duck world.
How does your discontent here fit with your assertion that you can have your
own universe?

I want to try to pen down what my main contention with Rosa's work is, and
let me emphasize that I am quite fond of most of his work.  I don't like how
rule-bound Rosa's work has become, though.  I hate the idea that every event
in Scrooge's life happened during a specific, real year.  I'm willing to
accept that the ducks never aged beyond the age they were when they made
their first appearance; it's a ridiculous, absurd notion, but it follows
very precedented cartoon logic.  This business about all of the stories
taking place in the fifties drives me bonkers, though.  Why didn't Huey,
Dewey, and Louie noticeably age between 'Pirate Gold" and "The Doom Diamond"
?  The idea that Scrooge died in 1967 gives me shivers!  The fact is that
Barks wanted his characters to age and to engage in the current social
scene.  The Barks' ducks felt WWII angst and Cold War paranoia.  They dealt
with fifties beatniks and sixties hippies.  Donald had a victory garden AND
visited war torn Southeast Asia without aging a bit.  Staying in one brief
time period for eternity is stagnation.

Concerning Katie's comments about Goldie: even if he had intended to reveal
more, I'm glad that Barks was limited by his editors.  "Back to the
 Klondike" is fascinating for how many questions it leaves unanswered and
for how much Barks implies but doesn't say directly.  I initially enjoyed
"Hearts of the Yukon" and Rosa's more recent references to Goldie in "The
Coin and "The Beagle Boys Vs. the Money Bin," but I think these revisionist
approaches to Barks' work have an ultimate, cumulative demystifying effect.
The Goldie plot becomes a lot more ordinary and familiar.  This pretty much
captures how I feel about several of Rosa's sequels.

I do believe Rosa is a top-notch writer.  "The Empire-Builder from Calisota"
is one of the best Disney comics ever created.  The story isn't great
because of the references to Barks, though.  What makes it great is the
characterization: Hortense and Matilda's reaction to the moral collapse of
their brother, Scrooge's own complex reaction to his wrongdoing.  I love the
drama and palate of emotions Rosa brings to this story and several others.
"Gyro's First Invention," on the other hand, strings together a complex web
of Barks references and is almost completely lacking in heart or substance.
I guess part of what I feel is that if Rosa is going to tamper with the
universe that we all share, I want him to make me laugh and cry.

Honestly, I feel more frustration at the fanatical faction of Rosa's fans
than I do at him, though.  I think Daniel is very accurate in likening some
Rosa fans to some religious fundamentalists.  I feel greatly for Daniel
right now because I think this forum is often a place where it is very
difficult to say anything about Rosa besides "Isn't 'Letter from Home'
great?  What are the scientific principles behind glorping?"  Additionally,
while Rosa is often self-deprecating about his work, he can be quite biting
and caustic in his postings.  For goodness sake, Mr. Rosa!  Chris Hilbig was
arguing that you are a great writer!  Did you have to correct his spelling
and definition of prima donna (which the American Heritage Dictionary only
defines as "a temperamental, conceited person")?

I will stop running my mouth here.  Thank you for trudging with me this far!
I hope I haven't alienated anyone, and I look forward to hearing more of
this fascinating debate.


More information about the DCML mailing list