The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Raider of the Copper Hill

Raider of the Copper Hill

By 1884, the heydays of the cattle trails were coming to an end. As accurately depicted by Ken Don Rosa in the fourth of the original twelve chapters of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, the American West was becoming less wild. Fenced-off farms were taking the place of the great open-range ranches of the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.

In this volume, Scrooge quits the employ of cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie, who would go on to become mayor of Trinidad, Colorado in 1891 and later a member of President Theodore Roosevelt’s National Conservation Commission, to try his luck at silver mining.

There is little silver to be found in Montana, but the ground is rich in copper — just as demand for copper, to make electric wire, skyrockets.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark

The second of the in-between, or “B”, chapters in Keno Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark (1998) takes place immediately after young Scrooge’s first American adventure in The Buckaroo of the Badlands (1992, annotations here).

Having left the employ of the Scottish-born Montana cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie, Scrooge is shipping two Texas longhorns aboard the famous Cutty Sark to the Dutch East Indies, where he will witness the eruption of Krakatoa.

The plot came easy to Rosa. Having decided he wanted Scrooge near Krakatoa in 1883, he discovered that the greatest sport on Java, the main island in what is now Indonesia, at the time was the annual Madura Island bull race, or karapan sapi. The Cutty Sark really did make a voyage to Australia for wool in 1883. There is no record she made a side trip to Batavia (now Jakarta) that year, but, writes Rosa in Volume 8 of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library (2017), “prove that it didn’t happen, I dare ya’!”

Less easy was drawing the Cutty Sark, with its tens of thousands of square feet of sail and its ten miles of lines, in every other panel…

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Buckaroo of the Badlands

The Buckaroo of the Badlands

Much like he entered the steamboat business at the dawn of the railway era in The Master of the Mississippi (annotations here), Scrooge seeks his fortune in the American West when it was scarcely “Wild” anymore in The Buckaroo of the Badlands (1992). At age 15, Scrooge is employed by Murdo MacKenzie, the Scottish-born Montana cattle baron, and meets the later president Theodore Roosevelt (although he doesn’t know it yet).

Keno Don Rosa skillfully integrates the tidbits about Scrooge’s cowboy days Carl Barks had revealed over the years, starting with “Only a Poor Old Man,” published in the very first issue of Uncle Scrooge (1952), in which the then richest duck in the world tells Huey, Dewey and Louie he made his fortune “on the seas, and in the mines, and in the cattle wars of the old frontier.”

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Master of the Mississippi

The Master of the Mississippi

The Master of the Mississippi (1992) is the beginning of Scrooge’s American adventure.

Having worked as a cabin boy for passage across the Atlantic, the 13 year-old lad from Scotland finds his Uncle Angus “Pothole” McDuck — who also sought his fortune in the New World — down on his luck in Louisville, Kentucky. But Pothole wins a steamboat, the Dilly Dollar, in a poker match and hires his nephew as deckhand, introducing him to both a lifelong ally — Ratchet Gearloose, the grandfather of Duckburg’s eccentric inventor Gyro — and lifelong enemies: the criminal Beagle Boys.

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The Times of Scrooge McDuck: Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinies

Of Ducks, Dimes and Destinies page

Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinies (1995) is the first of the in-between chapters in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Keno Don Rosa places it before Chapter 1, calling it “Chapter 0”. It was even written and drawn before Chapter 1, but, as Rosa writes in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion (2006), which collects all the “B” chapters, it would have been “bad form” to release the two stories around the same time, since they both tell how Scrooge earned his Number One Dime. Hence Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinies wasn’t released until after the twelve chapters of The Life and Times.

The title mimics the wording and meter of “The Walrus and the Carpenter” poem in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871):

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings –“

(Rosa never drew a cover for the story, so that’s why I’m showing you the first page.)

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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 diesel-era adventures and inspired George Lucas in making Indiana Jones!

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

In the twelve-part 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 steamboat 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 prefers 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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