Thursday, December 25, 2008

"Christmas? Bah, Humbug!"

Scrooge McDuck is a Disney character created by American comic book artist Carl Barks (1901 - 2000) for the Donald Duck story Christmas on Bear Mountain in 1947. The wealthy, nasty and misanthropic old duck, scary to the point of being Gothic, was modelled after Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Christmas-hating rich curmudgeon in A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens. Mr. Scrooge's disapproving catchprase "Bah, humbug!" was something he used to describe the Yuletide in general.

Thus "Scrooge" has also became a common nickname for the people disliking Christmas for various reasons of their own.

Later on, for his Donald Duck comics Carl Barks softened the character of "Uncle Scrooge", who became a caricature (though one not portrayed with a too critical eye) of an extremely wealthy but overtly stingy venture capitalist, keen to literally take swims in the sea of coins he keeps in his Money Bin building. For those to whom Walt Disney's empire means American cultural imperialism at its worst, the association became all too poignant (for further studies, check out How To Read Donald Duck by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, 1971).

Politics aside, the late 1940s is my favourite Barks era when his visual style was at its sharpest; often capturing some hues of the noir-ish post-war angst even with occasional Gothic overtones, to his otherwise comical stories meant for children. This was especially obvious with his long storylines, usually displaying a more epic scale in exotic locations around the world, in comparison to his "shorties" that were based on different "screwball"-style gags around everyday hometown situations, and other classics such as The Ghost of the Grotto and The Old Castle's Secret were born.

  • Christmas on Bear Mountain synopsis and links @ Wikipedia