World’s Wealthiest Waterfowl

Uncle $crooge: Only a Poor Old Man, by Carl Barks – As you may know, Barks invented the character of Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck’s uncle, richest man in the world, and user of a dollar sign in his name long before Ma$e or Ke$ha. He’s obviously named after Ebenezer Scrooge, and had the chance to play his namesake in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but I don’t think Ebenezer was Scottish. Anyway, I think part of the cleverness in the Scrooge comics lies in taking a character you might be inclined to dislike, due to his greed and cheapness, and making him a hero. Sure, he’s a jerk sometimes, and enjoys tricking even his own family, but the comics also showcase his initiative and resourcefulness. Far from being some wimpy trust fund kid, Scrooge gained his money through a series of adventures, and continues with this adventuring in his old age. He’s sort of a prototype Indiana Jones, except more concerned with profit. During the stories in this book, Scrooge and his nephews discover both the sunken city of Atlantis and the valley of Tralla La (Barks’s version of Shangri-La). I grew up with DuckTales, as I’m sure many of you did, and the show is largely based on Barks’s comics. In fact, at least three of the stories in this particular volume were made into DuckTales episodes. In “The Horse-Radish Treasure,” Scrooge settles a debt with the nasty Chisel McSue. In the cartoon equivalent, the villain (here renamed Fritter Away, perhaps because “chiseler” wasn’t as common of a term in the eighties) actually gets a hold of Scrooge’s fortune for a while and uses it to buy stupid stuff, while Scrooge himself is forced into temporary homelessness. Anyway, getting back to the comics, they’re a good mix of adventure and humor. The Beagle Boys appear as villains in a few stories, and they’re more competent than they’re often portrayed in later media. It’s also confirmed that the ability to swim in money is a trick on Scrooge’s part that apparently no one else can do (the Beagle Boys are knocked out when they try), although it’s obviously not explained. I think Scrooge has monetary super powers.

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