Jun 2, 2018

Bill and I Fall Asleep Reading Uncle Scrooge

When I was a kid in the 1960s, it was hard to find comic books.  I didn't get a regular allowance until junior high, and when I did manage to earn a quarter or a dime, Schneider's Drug Store would be out of my favorite titles. I depended mostly on gifts from my uncles, or hand-me-downs from my cousin or the big kid down the street.

So one of my fondest childhood memories is of the summer of 1971 -- a few weeks before my Aunt Mavis took us to see The Time Machine.  My boyfriend Bill, my brother, and I went to the Denkmann Elementary School Carnival, and  I won a whole box of Disney comics that somebody donated-- Donald Duck, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, Uncle Scrooge --  over 20 in all.

In those days new comics cost 15 cents, so that was quite a score!

I could do without the Donald Ducks, with Donald being forced to sit on a chair at the Bon Ton while Daisy tried on hats, and the Walt Disney's Comics and Stories were uneven, but each of the Uncle Scrooges was a gem.

In each issue Uncle Scrooge traveled to a far-flung corner of the world with Donald and his grand-nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) to manage his various business enterprises or acquire more wealth.

They are captured by the Harpies while searching for the Golden Fleece.
They rocket to a solid gold moon created by a Venusian explorer.
They find the Mines of King Solomon.
They visit the kingdom of Tralla-La in Tibet.

History, astronomy, mythology, chest-pounding adventure, either before or at the same moment that I was discovering Treasure Island, King Solomon's Mines, Coral Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and the books in the Green Library!

It was a male-only world, with no damsels in distress to be rescued and no girls waiting back home at the adventure's end.  Uncle Scrooge is elderly, his life nearly over, and he has never expressed the slightest interest in a woman.

But my memory has another layer:

I did not read the comics alone.

Bill invited me to stay over at his house so he could "help me" read, squeezed into his small bed in the room down the hall from his big brother Mike.

I read long into the night, long after Bill loosened his grip on a comic, his eyelids fluttered shut, and he began to snore. Once he shifted position until we were pressed together, his soft chest rising and falling, his lips parted slightly, his face illuminated in the golden light of his cowboy lamp.

When I was ready to sleep, I lay against his chest, and he put his arm around me.

I had slept over with Bill many times before, and I would sleep over again, but that was the only time we slept in each other's arms.


  1. I grew up with the Carl Barks' version of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews. ( Gyro Gearloose was actually an inspiration to become a physicist / engineer / inventor. ) All of the Barks stories are still available as bound sets from Fantagraphics. A tax refund well spent...

    1. I'm buying the bound sets as they come out, but I don't like the fact that the volumes aren't dated, so it's hard to look up an individual story.

  2. I used to know a guy on Tumblr who was gay and a huge Carl Barks fan. So, maybe the ducks are gay icons themselves? I mean, we never see Huey, Dewey, and Louie's parents, so they basically live in a male world, as you said.

    *Venerian. Venus is a rare third-declension feminine ending in us. (Genus, corpus, and the like are almost all neuter.) But you know that it's Mercurian, Venerian, Terran, Martian, Jovian, Saturnine, Uranian, and Neptunian, I'm sure.

    So, Sagbad is Baghdad and Islamabad? (I loved trying to figure out the pun of the day.)

    Actually, this reminds me of something as a boy. Most of my friends were uncut, but my token white friend, Jordan, was cut. When we saw the difference, we proceeded to charge one comic book or $1 to girls to see another difference between Indian boys and white boys. Only later did we learn it wasn't genetic.

  3. HDL's father is never mentioned. Their mother is named as "Della," Donald's sister, in the early comic strips, but never mentioned again in Carl Barks' stories. Don Rosa fleshed out the Duck genealogy in the 1980s and 1990s, but he didn't comment on the parents, except to say that they were "missing." Presumably dead.


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