The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Last of the Clan McDuck

The Last of the Clan McDuck

If you’re not familiar with the comics of Uncle Scrooge, you’re missing out. The treasure hunts of the globe-trotting “richest duck in the world” draw inspiration from steam- and dieselpunk-era adventures and in turn inspired George Lucas in creating Indiana Jones!

Carl Barks, Scrooge’s creator and widely regarded as the best Duck artist of all time, never consciously established a biography for Scrooge, but he did reveal tidbits about the old miser’s younger years through dozens of stories.

In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Keno Ron Rosa masterfully weaves together every detail Barks revealed about Scrooge’s past with real-world history, from the heydays of the Mississippi riverboat to the Klondike Gold Rush. It’s that real-world history we’re going to explore. Hence the emphasis on the “times” of Scrooge McDuck.

The twelve chapters of The Life and Times are best read in order. They form a narrative whole, from Scrooge’s rise to his fall to his redemption. Eight additional “untold tales” (Don Rosa preferred the term “B chapters”) are mostly pure adventure stories and best read after. For our purposes, however, a chronological order makes sense.

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Guillem Pongiluppi artwork

Reichbusters: Projekt Vril Art

Reichbusters: Projekt Vril is cooperative action-adventure board game by Mythic Games set in late 1944. The Nazis have discovered a mysterious energy source known as vril that could change the outcome of the war. An elite team of over-the-top Allied operatives, called the Reichbusters, are sent in to eradicate this new threat before it is too late.

The art is by Guillem H. Pongiluppi from Barcelona, Spain.

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Hunters

Hunters

Reviews of Hunters, which is streaming on Amazon Prime, are all over the place. Some praise it as a “bold experiment” that is “visually ostentatious.” Others lament its “cartoonish tone and historical fabrications.”

Much of the criticism centers on the series making up stories about the Holocaust and showing Jews murdering war criminals in cold blood. The director of the USC Shoah Foundation, Stephen D. Smith, has gone so far as to ask Amazon not to renew the show for a second season.

In fairness, Hunters does grapple with the revenge-or-justice question. Famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal even makes an appearance (played by Judd Hirsch) to argue with Al Pacino’s character, Meyer Offerman, about the morality of killing (former) Nazis. The story arc of Offerman’s protégé, Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman), is all about deciding when, if ever, it is right to kill.

As for the show’s “cartoonish tone”, what the critics miss is that Hunters is pulp. Which is why I’m categorizing this review as dieselpunk, despite the series taking place in the 1970s.

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Tom Kidd artwork

The Art of Tom Kidd

I hate to play favorites with the artists I feature here, but Tom Kidd’s is the sort of stuff that got me into steampunk. Not only are his paintings beautiful in their own right; they have a richness in detail that makes each a little exploration into a totally different world.

Kidd illustrated editions of The Three Musketeers (1998) and The War of the Worlds (2001) and is working on his own book titled Gnemo: Airships, Adventure, Exploration.

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Yakov Chernikhov artwork

The Art of Yakov Chernikhov

Yakov Chernikhov

Yakov Chernikhov (1889-1951) was a Russian constructivist architect and graphic designer, born in what is now Ukraine.

He set out his ideas in a number of books published in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but his (for the time) unconventional style did not win him many friends and favors under Joseph Stalin.

His later work, of which examples are shown below, was closer to the Stalinist Empire style — but they don’t exactly suggest he thought life in the Soviet Union was a happy one.

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Professor Elemental

Maybe Steampunk Is Becoming Too Political After All?

When I argued we should avoid letting our real-world political differences kill steampunk, I was accused of tone policing, caring only about white and straight people (I’m gay), hating on steampunk that doesn’t put straight, white, wealthy imperialism at the forefront, prioritizing the hurt feelings of those who want to oppress others; I was called naive, a racist, the son of skinheads and a complete and utter jackass. (This coming from the sort of people who insist they’re trying to make steampunk a “safe space” for “diverse” points-of-view.)

Steampunk performer Professor Elemental wrote an op-ed for The Steampunk Explorer arguing I was freaking out for no reason and steampunk was doing “better than ever.” Bill Bodden wrote an opinionated blog post, in which he dismissed me as an opinionated blogger and insisted that “new enthusiasts are coming in all the time.” Cora Buhlert argued that if steampunk is changing, that’s a good thing, “because the static genres are the ones that are close to death.”

Yet here we are, one year later, and the same Professor Elemental reports that steampunks are leaving the scene because of political rifts. He speaks from an UK experience, where Brexit has sorted people into opposing camps. The divisiveness and polarization is even worse in the United States.

Elemental’s advice?

  • Don’t walk away from steampunk or exclude people just because of the odd wrong opinion.
  • People who disagree with you are not deserving of hate.
  • Steampunk is and should be for (almost) everyone. If we want our little subculture to thrive, we need to work hard to bring people together wherever we can. (Excluding actual bigots.)

I suppose I should know better than to expect Elemental to be canceled for suggesting anything so outrageous. Let’s hope his appeal will be taken more seriously than mine.

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