Monday, October 15, 2007

A Don Rosa Halloween Treat

While Carl Bark's comic book adaptation of the cartoon Trick or Treat is considered by many to be Disney's best Halloween-themed four color endeavor, modern duck scribe Don Rosa contributed a dandy 10-pager to the genre that is equally classic though largely unrecognized.

Published originally in 1987 in Walt Disney Comics & Stories #526, Fit to Be Pied steers entirely clear of the more supernatural themes explored in Barks' Trick or Treat, and instead uses traditional Halloween trappings as the backdrop for another over-the-top conflict between Donald and his arch-rival Neighbor Jones.

The Duck-Jones battles were a staple of Barks' classic run of 10 page stories from Walt Disney Comics & Stories. And in true Don Rosa-fashion, our modern duckman pays loving tribute to those well-crafted neighborhood showdowns. With only the best of intentions, Huey, Dewey and Louie encourage the backyard rivals to set aside their differences and team up for a Jack-O'-Lantern carving contest being sponsored by the mayor of Duckburg. It seems that while Jones has a stock of enormous, prize-winning pumpkins, he lacks Donald's master pumpkin-carving skills. Due to the usual braggadocio and bickering, the partnership lasts a mere four panels. The gauntlet is thrown down and battle lines are quickly drawn. There are no pumpkins left in Duckburg, so Donald has to acquire one from Jones, and Jones soon realizes his carving skills are not what they need to be.

To say things get a little messy would be an understatement. The fates of Jones' pumpkins becomes a splatter-filled garden variety Ten Little Indians as each one befalls a fate predestined by the story's title. Pratfalls build in scale and scope, from Donald's early efforts at simple sabotage to Jones' full scale assault that demolishes most of the duck's house. And along the way, Rosa plants distinct visual clues that ultimately lead to the tale's penultimate climax--a hilarious sight gag that is clever in conception and brilliant in execution.

Unfortunately, Fit to Be Pied has not been reprinted during Gemstone Publishing's recent run of Disney titles that are still readily available. For those willing to search a little, either via Internet or back issue bins, the story was published in the aforementioned Walt Disney Comics Stories #526, and then reprinted in 1996 in the better quality format of Walt Disney Comics & Stories # 606.

3 comments:

Grumpwurst (Ray) said...

Seeing these type of posts with a hat tip to the comics really makes me upset my entire comic book collection got lost in one of my many moves with my parents (this one an int'l move between NC and Asia).....

I had several of these Duckburg-based comics and these posts bring back the memories of the joy I had reading and re-reading them

Honor Hunter said...

Ya got to love Don Rosa...

David Gerstein said...

But... but... we Gemstoners reprinted "Fit to be Pied" in last year's free Donald Duck Halloween Ashcan giveaway!
http://coa.inducks.org/issue.php/x/us/DDAH++2#b

We don't sell back issues on that one because our supply was exhausted, but we can't help that. (-: