Nov 16, 2015

Fall 1987: Heterosexualizing My Childhood Hero

My friends and I at Denkmann Elementary School in the 1960s liked Disney comics -- Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Junior Woodchucks -- but they were hard to find.  Schneider's Drug Store didn't stock them. We had to depend on that one kid who had a subscription, or in the stacks of comics that went on sale every summer at the Denkmann School Carnival.

When we left Denkmann, no more carnival, no more Disney comics.  By the late 1970s, they weren't available anywhere, so I assumed that they were no longer being published.







But I read and reread the few adventures that I owned, with Uncle Scrooge, and his nephews and grand-nephews traveling the world to seek out lost civilizations and ancient treasures: the Philosopher's Stone; the Golden Fleece; the Seven Cities of Cibola; the Mines of King Solomon; the Treasure of Genghis Khan.

There were a few science fiction and humor stories.  Occasionally a character from Greek or Norse mythology showed up.  But mostly it was boys' adventure, like Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard, and the books in the Green Library.

There were no women in this macho world.  Donald Duck never mentioned that Daisy was waiting back home, Huey Dewey, and Louie treated girls as nuisances, and Uncle Scrooge?  During his many careers as cowboy, prospector, explorer, salesman, and financial tycoon, he had never even been on a date.



During college, I bought a massive tome, Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times (1981), which reprinted some of the best Uncle Scrooge stories, and found a woman mentioned: in "Back to the Klondike" (1953), Scrooge recounts how, when he was a young prospector, a devious dance hall girl named Glittering Goldie drugged him and stole his solid gold nugget.  He tracked her down, got the nugget back, and forced her to work at his claim for a month, to teach her the value of "honest work."




That's all.  No romantic entanglement suggested.

When I was living in West Hollywood in the 1980s, Gladstone began reprinting some of the old Uncle Scrooge comics, plus new stories by cartoonist Don Rosa.  He sent Scrooge back to the Klondike in "Last Sled to Dawson" (1987).  And made Glittering Goldie his old girlfriend!

Goldie appeared in several more of Don Rosa's stores during the late 1980s and 1990s, and played a major role in the faux biography of Uncle Scrooge published in 1997.  We find out what really happened during the month they spent alone in Scrooge's cabin on White Agony Creek.  There's even a dirty joke:

En route to the claim, they encounter a giant mastodon partially frozen in the ice.  "Ok, let's get a move on," Scrooge commands.  "Between the legs!"

"I beg your pardon!" Goldie stammers, thinking that he means....

Realizing his faux pas, Scrooge reddens.  "Um...er...the way to my cabin is between the legs of the mastodon."

What can we make of this incessant heterosexualization of one of my childhood heroes?

Don Rosa's comic book stories weren't for kids, but for adults who had grown up with the Uncle Scrooge books. Adults who were old enough for "mature" themes, like girlfriends and "between the legs" jokes.

But children's media was quick to follow suit.  The Ducktales tv series (1987-1990) cast Glittering Goldie as Scrooge's love interest in four episodes. Plus Scrooge flirted with an ongoing series of female reporters, heiresses, and gold-diggers, before, after, or during the adventure.  He was heterosexual.

See also: Donald Duck's Double Life.