Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, review: a classic Disney Made in Italy

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, review: a classic Disney Made in Italy

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, review

A few days after the death of Carlo Chendi, we go to the rediscovery of one of the great Disney Made in Italy classics or Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket. It is a story that has influenced both in form, thanks to the superb pencils of Luciano Bottaro, and in content throughout the Disney production of the following decades (the story was originally published in three parts on Topolino 230-232 between March 10 and April 10, 1960) and which is now available again, in large format, in the Mickey Mouse Gold series thanks to Panini Disney.

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, close encounters of the third kind

Uncle Scrooge is the victim of yet another elaborate plan by the Dachshunds Gang concocted to rob his deposit and impoverish it of all his riches. Not even having transferred the money to a remote location in the middle of the forest seems to have discouraged the Dachshunds, so much so that only the fortuitous meeting with Archimedes allows Scrooge to save his fortune. The brilliant inventor in fact makes available to the Zione both his futuristic and very fast rocket and a machine, with the features of a vacuum cleaner, whose characteristic is to make what it aspires to smaller. A quick and convenient way to transport all your precious coins to a safe place, yes but where exactly?

Uncle Scrooge has his usual stroke of genius and hires Archimedes: to exploit the rocket and the machine to shrink to place a new deposit on the Moon away from the clutches of thieves and profiteers. Obviously, the involvement of the unsuspecting Donald Duck and the curious Qui, Quo, Qua is also part of the plan. If the three lively nephews sneak into the hold of the rocket, Donald is summoned without his knowledge and thus finds himself in space.

The plan seems perfect but apparently Archimedes' calculations are not infallible either. The too much weight on board in fact caused the rocket and the only hope to deflect and unload some "dead" weight to attempt an emergency landing on Jupiter. The "dead weight" is obviously Donald who is parked on an asteroid. At this point the expedition separates starting a surreal epic.

While Uncle Scrooge, Archimedes and the three nephews land on Jupiter, Donald is saved by an inhabitant of the planet from whom he learns that the jovial are greedy for more or less precious minerals. The expedition is reunited in a far from peaceful way: Donald is in fact studied with an exotic specimen and his escape from the zoo propitiates a sensational accident that not only blocks the work for the construction of the new deposit but reveals the presence of the greedy, for the jovial ones, gold coins.

The maneuvers of the ducks, however, also attract the attention of Rebus, dictator of Saturn, in search of a brilliant mind that can operate the war machines of his army. Once again it is Donald Duck who gets into trouble: the distracted Saturnians in fact kidnap him seeing him at work on the rocket, obviously exchanging him with Archimedes, and immediately put him to work. How to be casual then Donald will have to pretend to be a brilliant inventor but also sabotage the plans of Rebus ready to conquer the galaxy.

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, a timeless Disney Made in Italy classic

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket is not only one of the first great Disney Made in Italy classics but a story that, playing with the same anticipatory literature that inspires him, he dictates rhythms and stylistic features for the next Disney production whether it is "original" or "parody". Carlo Chendi's “science fiction duck” is dreamlike but adventurous, fun and capable of reworking certain intuitions of the great masters (Floyd Gottfredson and Al Taliaferro above all) in a new and personal way.

It is easy in this sense to trace the decidedly classic beginning of Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket: Scrooge must defend his fortune, Donald is, as always, involved in spite of himself and victim of the Zione's bullying. However, when just as the story settles on familiar tracks, Chendi turns abruptly taking up suggestions like Lewis Caroll (the giant verne in the asteroid) but also Jules Verne and H.G. Wells by injecting a strong and funny dose of the unusual into the script.

The tense game is simple but effective: separate Donald from the rest of the expedition and then rejoin him in the second act and make him move away again in the third act, the most robustly sci-fi that pays duty to the first great Italian cartoon Saturn against the Earth, published between 1936 and 1946, by Cesare Zavattini, Federico Pedrocchi and Giovanni Scolari. Rebus is precisely the main antagonist of Saturn against the Earth who is parodied here with a subtle irony towards the rhetoric of totalitarian regimes, at the time still a "fresh" memory, and with a bizarre and distracted characterization that is well suited to the character character alien. This will be the canvas on which many literary characters, but also from entertainment and sports, will be filtered by the Disney lens.

Impossible not to mention also the acrobatic linguistic inventions of Carlo Chendi (exceptional in another story of 1960 , Donald Duck Il Paladino, so much so as to influence the Italian maccheronico of L'Armata Brancaleone) which here serve to codify a "new" genre like science fiction which in those years was crystallizing into its modern form. In this sense, incommunicability, or rather a macaronic communicability, constitutes a simple, direct and easily understandable way even to the youngest readers to represent the incredible encounter between ducks and aliens who, after all, are not so different, so much so that attack the precious coins of Uncle Scrooge.

Donald Duck and the Interplanetary Rocket, Luciano Bottaro and the mastery of style

Many of the reflections on Carlo Chendi's work can be applied in the same but different way for the great work on pencils by Luciano Bottaro. In the first part of the volume, the influence of Carl Barks and Al Taliaferro is evident: Bottaro's ducks are expressive but nervous and exaggerated in their reactions. The construction of the table is also very classic and tidy with the 3 × 2 scheme that is repeated although not rigidly but in a fairly self-evident way.

Although he is strongly inserted in the tradition that preceded him, Bottaro is well recognizable . His trait is decisive, his confident and sinuous line offering now classic interpretations of the characters but extremely dynamic at the time. However, when he turns more decisively towards science fiction, Bottaro shows an unprecedented personality by implementing some unusual elements both in the design of the characters and in the environments. The most striking example is certainly the worm in the asteroid which recalls some illustrations of certain Russian and Art Nouveau avant-gardes.

A love for impressionism also emerges in the representation of space (a solution that will be resumed about a decade later also in American comics) while the design of the jovial ones is grotesque but at the same time good-naturedly "inoffensive" emphasizing, thanks to the union of curved and broken lines in an unlikely anatomy, the sense of curiosity that distinguishes them and that is transmitted to the reader. The alien landscapes are dreamlike while the cities are familiar but in any case "confused" in a tangle of lines and almost abstract geometric solutions.

The master is then exalted when he has to alter the aspect of Rebus of which the characteristic remains crested helmet. The Saturnians become clumsy and square figures, almost self-propelled parallelepipeds, in which the designer's desire to reread the military aesthetics of totalitarian regimes in a funny and satirical way is evident. Here too Bottaro has an intuition that will make school (see PKNA), that is to make the main antagonist disproportionate, and therefore threatening, who, albeit with a conciliatory attitude, aims to conquer the galaxy.

In the second part of the volume the construction of the panel becomes more irregular not so much in the scheme, almost fixed to facilitate reading, but in the geometry of the less regular squares. There is also a greater use of the double horizontal which and even some quadruple which inevitably expands, visually, the scope of the narrative.

The volume

Panini Disney packs a large hardcover volume size, 20.5 × 28 cm, which allows you to fully appreciate Bottaro's tables, in this sense the graphic rendering is good with a very minimal "restoration" work that also leaves some imperfections still in sight, not making history lose that touch a little vintage but also a little "out of time" which is well suited to this classic. It should also be noted that the volume has an unpublished cover signed by Enrico Faccini.

In the 88 pages of which the volume is composed, in addition to the complete saga, there is also a substantial section of extras and editorials composed of a preface signed by Vito Notarnicola, the biographies of the authors, two interviews carried out in Chendi and Faccini and a small retrospective on Bottaro's career.

Powered by Blogger.