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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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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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!
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 preferred the term “B chapters”) are mostly pure adventure stories and best read after. For our purposes, however, a chronological order makes sense.
Continue reading “The Times of Scrooge McDuck: The Last of the Clan McDuck”