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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

American Comic Book Propaganda Versus Japan - 8

Donald Duck has long been one of my literary heroes - because he doesn't wear pants and is a little spitfire, but really, it's because he's funny as the hard-working but sometimes shiftless working class stiff who is stuck looking after his sister's (Ella) three kids (Huey, Dewey and Louie) after some never before or since mentioned mishap.

At least that's the way it is in the comic books. I think in the cartoons his sister was called Dumbella.

Anyway, I do enjoy raiding Donald Duck comics - especially the adventure and mystery ones penned by the man known as "that Good Duck artist", one Unca Carl Barks. (Unca being Uncle, which was the cute way his nephews would call him).

I have a fairly large collection of Disney Duck related books, but I would be lying if I said I had a great one. I don't. I wish I had a complete one - but I do have some beauts.

About 30 years ago at a local Toronto comic book convention - back when comic book conventions were actually about the comic books rather than this nonsensical claptrap that draws out the mediums more nerdier and more needier fan base - I and three of my high school buds, Time Beischlag (I might have botched the spelling), Dave Kasperski and Dave Kunashko, had a table at the show, where by we could put up some of our comic book boxes and sell our wares.

I was the one with the price guide and of course grossly overestimated the condition of my comics and thus my prices - just like everyone else pretty much did.

But, along with purchasing a Conan the Barbarian #5 with a double cover in NM for $17, I also found some comic books that were part of a 1940s cereal giveaway.

While the 1947 Cheerios comic consisted of more than just Disney Ducks, I only had eyes for Donald. And yet… because I had purchased the Conan book, I no longer had enough money to buy this strange little comic book that had a satantic-looking Donald Duck spilling chemicals in a comic entitled "The Atomic Bomb".

The next year, I visited only as a buyer, but did not see that comic anywhere, but instead saw a bunch of 1950 Wheaties comic book giveaways with Donald Duck, so I bought six of the ones featuring Donald Duck.

And yet… over the years of searching and searching, it became quite obvious that I had blown my chance of owning one of the most sought after Donald Duck comic books.

In 1947, Cheerios produced 4 different sets of Disney miniature comic books. Each set contained four different 32 page Disney comic books and could be obtained by sending in 10 cents and a Cheerios box top. In all, a total of 16 Cheerios miniature Disney comics were produced.

Four of the books belonged to Donald Duck, while the remainder were to other Disney characters. These Cheerio books are all 32-page, full color, newsprint promotional comics measuring 6-7/8-inches x 3-1/8-inches high.

Anyhow, while this story really has nothing to do with Japan per se, it does, in that it has to do with the post-Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs... and it describes the fears of the whole planet revolving atomic/nuclear weaponry—noting that we could all have something bad happen to us at any moment.

Donald Duck's Atom Bomb (#Y1 1947 ) is the rarest of the Cheerios premiums. Besides being the only one of the bunch to feature story and art by Carl Barks, it was supposed to be one of those comics that Disney vowed never to reprint owing to its horrible, unwholesome nature that should not be fit for kids of THIS day and age to ever read and learn from again.

I understand why Disney wouldn't want to reprint it, but I am doubly impressed that they DID allow it in Walt Disney's Comics And Stories #571 from May 1992 (which I have) and present (mostly below) because the pages and art is ultimately cleaner than the cheaper newsprint the original was printed on.

When the comic was reprinted by the Another Rainbow publishing company Disney made Another Rainbow change the ending so that Donald is giving away "free samples" of his hair restorative in addition to other changes to "soften Donald's attitude."

I'll present MY version from the newer reprint, with a few additions of the original...

The reprint did NOT offer the cover, so this will be from the original... plus, in my reprint, the panels are swapped.
The real title page

Original Last Page - a rich Donald Duck! Who touched up the art drawing the bottles of hair tonic in the reprint?!
And there you have it. Donald comes to dislike the atomic bomb... but will still pursue the mighty atom for more peaceful pursuits such as growing hair... but did anyone else notice that it doesn't make sense? Donald's atom bomb causes hair loss - just like atomic radiation might... so how does he now have an atomic product that GROWS hair?

That seems like a mistake OR we are supposed to believe via missing story that Donald Duck has now invented a cure for baldness (caused radiation?).

Obviously this is a one-shot story that doesn't match anything Donald had done previously or since - Donald is a lucky inventor or who often learns about things the hard way - but when did he get smart enough to construct an atomic bomb or even a bomb with radiation? Or even find a cure for baldness? Or even less likely, find a way to make money?

In only a few stories has Donald Duck actually come out well ahead like he does in this one. Get it? Bald. Ahead. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Andrew Joseph

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