19,999 Leagues under the Sea, when Verne meets Disney: the review

19,999 Leagues under the Sea, when Verne meets Disney: the review

19,999 Leagues under the Sea, when Verne meets Disney

Comes in the Disney De Luxe Parodies series, 19,999 Leagues under the Sea which, as the title suggests, sees the Disney characters interpret the classic of Jules Verne's adventure fiction 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. The story, signed by Francesco Artibani to the texts and Lorenzo Pastrovicchio to the pencils, originally came out in two parts on Topolino 3355 and 3356 in March 2020 and is now re-proposed in a luxurious hardcover volume full of extras.

You can already discover the new Panini Disney for August 2021 thanks to our dedicated article.

The secret of the sea monster is an impossible feat

New York, 1870. The Alabama frigate is about to set sail from the port of the city, its mission, financed by the Natural History Museum, is unravel the secret of the alleged sea monster that is attacking ships in all known oceans. Professor Michel de Topolin (Mickey Mouse) thus joins the crew led by the resolute Captain Faraboot (Macchianera) and the gruff whaler Ned Gamb (Gambadilegno) who have every intention of finding and killing the creature.

But de Topolin, a biologist, is more intent on studying the phenomenon and in fact makes friends with O'Quack (Donald Duck), a boy on his first boarding. After days of sailing, Alabama finally comes across the monster that does not hesitate to ram the ship causing de Topolin, Faraboot, O’Quack and Gamb to fall overboard. Much to the surprise of the men at sea, however, what they find in front of them is not a titan of the abyss in flesh and blood but a gigantic and prodigious ship.

Welcomed inside, the 4 marvel in amazement at the incredible technology of the ship, able to travel completely submerged without problems, becoming guests of the mysterious Captain Nemo (Pippo). The ship's name is Nautilus and its mission is to explore the unknown depths of the oceans.

Obviously, the technology of the ship and the wealth accumulated by Nemo do not escape Faraboot and Gamb who join forces waiting for the right moment for a mutiny. When the Nautilus runs aground in the ice of the South Pole, Nemo is forced to carry out an emergency maneuver outside the ship with futuristic bathyscaphe. It is precisely at that moment that Faraboot and Gamb try to take possession of the ship.

19,999 Leagues under the Sea: when the parody is a tribute

From the point of view of the script, more than a real parody that of Francesco Artibani is a very clear tribute to Jules Verne and the sense of wonder of his adventure novels which still represent, even today, an inexhaustible source of inspiration and not only for writers from all over the globe. In this sense, the screenplay and plot of 19,999 Leagues under the Seas slavishly follow those of the original novel, allowing only to change a few small details such as the introduction of Captain Faraboot (at the helm of the Alabama frigate, formerly Lincoln in the original novel, and second antagonist together with Ned Gamb) and that of the O'Quack hub (which effectively replaces the Conseil of the original novel).

If Artibani's love for the original material is self-evident from the very first pages, this does not prevents you from making a final as daring as it is adrenaline but certainly less "abrupt" than that of the original novel and decidedly more open and adventurous (19,999 Leagues under the Seas has already enjoyed a sequel entitled The Mysterious Island and appeared in Mickey Mouse 3385, 3386 and 3387).

To re-read the original novel, Artibani also seems to have dug deep into the tradition of Disney writers who have made the Parody their highest expression. Specifically, it is evident that the screenwriter has well metabolized the lesson of Carlo Chendi and Luciano Bottaro by inserting a certain very subtle basic irony that winds throughout the story (in addition to the inevitable comic relief entrusted to the slap stick gag of Donald / O'Quack ) and which finds an outlet not so much in the twist that actually opens the third act as in the incredible "casting" of Nemo and Faraboot.

Artibani plays everything on an inversion of roles, which obviously is "reabsorbed" by proceeding in the reading, between the interpreters of Faraboot and Nemo. Macchianera in fact does not interpret, as one could easily hypothesize, the grumpy Nemo who is instead interpreted in a very effective way by an extremely determined, brilliant but never too gruff Goofy (if not perhaps at the moment of his entry on the scene) and able to show very well that thirst for disinterested knowledge that theoretically moved even his original counterpart.

In the middle of course there are Michel De Topolin, a privileged point of view of the events, and Ned Gamb, an indestructible antagonist who ideally represents the reactionary force he seeks to harpoon, as if it were a wild animal, the progress of the technique that is the Nautilus.

19,999 Leagues under the Seas: Lorenzo Pastrovicchio's Verne steampunk

It is difficult to find another designer who express the best of contemporary Disney comics as well as Lorenzo Pastrovicchio. The Friulian designer, in addition to supporting the rhythms of a remarkable production of pages, is also able to bend his style, recognizable and robust, both to the different narrative needs and to the different declinations in which the characters are dropped from time to time. superheroism and PK science fiction through the fantasy of Wizards of Mickey (just to mention the two fronts that see him engaged more regularly, read our review of the volume L'Oscura Profezia) up to the "parody" as in this one specific case.

If the screenplay was a tribute rather than a parody tout-court, even graphically, it can be said that Pastrovicchio takes its cue from the original material and then veers towards a very personal and highly effective reinterpretation. On the one hand we start with a certain adherence to the original historical setting (see the very punctual design by Michel De Topolin or that of Ned Gamb) but in the course of the narration and with the entry into the scene of Nemo (here very close to a his other comic version, the one created by Kevin O'Neill for Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and of his Nautilus, it is evident that Verne's imagery is radically re-read but always with great respect.

La The lens through which Pastrovicchio carries out this operation is that of the steampunk genre that offers the possibility to push more strongly on technology. The Nautilus then becomes a technical prodigy complete with a robotic crew that, abandoning the original description that approached it in design to that of a sea snake or a shark with a serrated nose, becomes an imposing machine like a mechanical whale that plows the seas almost as the Enterprise (the ship of the Star Trek sci-fi saga) did with the most hidden corners of the cosmos. Yes, because in the end the two missions are similar: “to get where no man has ever gone before”.

This obviously also allows the designer to insert robots and mecha of various shapes and sizes, see the excellent sequence in the third act of the volume in which there is the chase between two bathyscaphe piloted by Faraboot and Ned Gamb on the one hand and Nemo and De Topolin on the other.

From the point of view of the stroke and construction of the table, Pastrovicchio opts for an essential approach with an extremely effective synthesis in terms of storytelling. The tables are distributed on a regular basis, never exceeding the six squares (in the classic 3 × 2 scheme altered with single horizontal double or in some cases with single quadruple that occupy half a page) allowing the designer to give the narration immediately a pressing rhythm but without "tears" and which ideally manages to fit into the groove of Verne's style.

The designer opts for a continuous line that makes the figures plastic and extremely expressive, also thanks to a search for detail that is wisely dosed (see the backgrounds of both the marine environments and the interior of the Nautilus) never flooding the table but on the contrary being the favorite instrument, especially in the last part of the volume, to highlight the exceptional nature of Nemo's enterprise and his reluctant crew. Also noteworthy is the excellent work on the colors that are spread in large flat backgrounds, reducing the use of shades to a minimum and thus enhancing the designer's decisive and punctual inks. The carto-technical care of the hardcover volume created by Panini Disney is extremely valuable. It is a large format volume with particular dimensions of 20.5 × 31.5 cm (in practice a volume higher than wide) which enhances the graphic work of Lorenzo Pastrovicchio whose tables benefit notably from the enlargement of this De Luxe edition as well as the colors very bright on coated paper but not overly glossy. The volume also has an evocative unpublished cover signed by Pastrovicchio himself.

The editorial apparatus of the volume is very rich. It starts with a preface by Francesco Artibani that illustrates the genesis of the project and the inspiration behind the reworking of the classic Verne. In closing instead we find an interview with Lorenzo Pastrovicchio and some of him preparatory studies on characters and vehicles. There is also space for another short interview with Stefano Zanchi, the designer who instead took care of the realization of the Nautilus model or the gadget attached to the issues of the weekly Topolino on which the story was initially serialized.

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