Who doesn’t love a little Disney magic in their lives? In addition to the cartoons, Disney’s famed anthropomorphic animals have had plenty of comic book adventures, particularly members of the Duck family. “Walt Disney Showcase” is a collection of some of the IDW staff’s favorites, and this month, they’re focusing on two Donald-centric stories from Italy.
Written by Rudy Salvagnini and Valentina Camerini
Illustrated by Lara Molinari and Manteo Testa
Colored by Disney Italia with David Gerstein and Travis and Nicole Seitler
Lettered by Travis and Nicole Seitler
Translated by Jonathan H. Gray and Thad Komorowski
“The Bad News Bruise Cruise!” We know Donald’s proud of his sailor suit—but can he singlehandedly sail a luxury liner full of billionaires across the ocean? And if not… why is Uncle Scrooge demanding that he try?
When one reads a Disney comic, the expectations are different than what one might have for a superhero story. We’re not expecting fast action or compelling drama, but rather, some good entertainment with beloved characters.
Fortunately, this comic delivers on that.
Even though it’s a “showcase,” we’re not seeing repeats of classic comics from many years past; the oldest one goes back to 2004, but it will still be unfamiliar to most American readers, unless you happen to follow fan translations of Italian Donald Duck comics. (And if you do, bravo for the commitment.)
Most Donald Duck stories can be summed up as follows: Donald has a task to do, misfortune befalls him every step of the way, hilarity ensues. The specifics of the task and related misfortunes don’t matter, but they lead to the hilarity. In this case, Donald and Fethry (a character from the comics who has yet to be animated) are hired by Scrooge McDuck to serve as crew and entertainment for his ship.
Naturally, this means including several amusing characters who will cause nothing but trouble for the ducks, and a narcoleptic captain. (“Narcolepto” is actually his middle name, in a nice bit of foreshadowing that younger readers may not catch.) The rest of the crew? Just them.
Thus, we have the job and the misfortune, leading to the ensuing hilarity.
So is it funny? Does it entertain? Yes, quite so. The guests aboard Scrooge’s ship are all distinct in their quirks and flaws, giving both Donald and Fethry plenty of material to bounce off of. We get brief but amusing glimpses of their interactions with each of them, letting us know exactly what kind of people they’re dealing with, not to mention a running gag or two (particularly involving the captain dozing off at a moment’s notice).
Of course, it is the circumstances of Donald and Fethry’s predicament that leads to the most humor, as they have to run an entire ship by themselves. From their mish-mashed uniforms to Fethry’s ill-fated one-man magic act, there’s never a moment’s rest for duck or reader.
When the second act kicks off, the predicaments grow worse, and Donald’s suffering grows. Yet as is proper for the character, his misfortune leads to our amusement, culminating in a twist at the end that will make readers go “Yeah, I should have seen that coming, all things considered.”
The first chapter in “Walt Disney Showcase” features illustrations by Lara Molinara, with colors by Travis and Nicole Seitler. Their work is just fine, and suits the comic nicely. The character designs all match the Disney style, and with their exaggerated features they’re perfectly expressive, as cartoons should be.
The scenery onboard the boat is filled with personality, and the second act’s island has a nice look and style to it. The comic is filled with slapstick humor, and the art does a fine job at adding the dynamic energy to it.
When things get intense, the the artwork adds some nice shading effects that illustrate the mood without compromising the style. The color work is vibrant, matching the look and feel that a comic based off a cartoon should have, without needing to make itself look like an animation cell.
There are subtle differences between Italian comics and American comics, but if anything has been lost in translation, you’d be hard-pressed to tell what. The jokes all still land, which is credit to Rudy Salvagnini for writing them and Jonathan H. Gray for the translations, and all the characters have fittingly distinct personalities about them.Continued below
Donald and Fethry bounce off each other well enough when they talk, and they’re not exactly foils to one another, nor are they exactly alike in their flaws. So while sometimes it feels like they can be interchangeable, they have good character chemistry to keep the story flowing.
The second comic is much shorter, a mere four pages. It’s a short tale of Donald’s failed attempts to get rid of an unwanted gift, and the character-driven decisions that send it back to him. There’s not much else that can be said of Valentina Camerini’s tale, but each decision made is one that’s perfectly in-character, and Thand Komorowski’s translations keep the dialogue feeling fresh.
Manteo Testa provides the illustrations, and I love the looks he puts on Donald’s face, although the characters do have a tendency to look directly at the reader, even when there’s something else they should be looking at. The color work from David Gerstein, along with Travis and Nicole Seitler works nicely, as it did in the previous story.
In short, it’s a fine little addition to the end of the comic.
While “Walt Disney Showcase” may not be a masterpiece of the Disney library, it’s still an amusing comic that will keep Donald Duck fans entertained. The story flows well, the translations keep the dialogue smooth, and the artwork is perfectly fine. If you’re the type of Disney fan who collects the comics, this one will make a respectable addition to your set.
Final Verdict: 6.1 – An amusing Donald Duck tale, which fans of the character will enjoy.