There’s something decidedly comforting about reading old Disney comic strips, as they’re reliably funny, relatable, and finely crafted. These latest collections add a rare aspect: they’re also educational. The reason for that is the timeframe these strips were originally released, smack dab in the waning years of World War II. While they’re not ostensibly war books, there’s no escaping its influence throughout these pages.
Although Donald didn’t go to war in the comic strip (flat feet), its impact is felt throughout this run, as he frequently deals with the domestic hardships endured by U.S. civilians. Among those travails are gas rationing, car tire sales prioritization, scrap metal collections, and even meatless days of the week. Apparently I’m no student of WWII, because all of those very real troubles were news to me, and clearly demonstrated the willing self-sacrifice of the American public to ensure our military success, and by extension, the survival of our country as a whole. That led me to imagine today’s entitled society being asked to assist with even one of those items and the firestorm it would cause, marking these as remarkably thought-provoking and educational books.
Social commentary aside, the strips are uniformly superb, with brilliant artwork by master Disney artist Al Taliaferro and amusing gags by his long-time collaborator Bob Karp. Special commendation is due for the remastered “color re-creation” credited to Digikore Studios in the Sunday collection, as the vivid and precise palette is not only far superior to the original newsprint publications but also to the too-orange yellows in Donald’s current classic comic book collections by Fantagraphics.
When Donald isn’t tightening his belt for the war effort, he’s up to his usual shenanigans with his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, as well as his ongoing bungled romantic attempts with close neighbor Daisy. Donald doesn’t have a steady job, instead scrambling for pay in an endless variety of amusing temporary professions including fortune teller, sculptor, pet shop owner, and barber, with predictably unsuccessful results in each attempt. For the most part, the strips are self-contained gags that can be read in any order, with the only memorable story arc occurring when his nephews are paid a visit by their dorky cousin “Sock”, short for Socrates M. Gosling, who dropped in for less than two months and never again appeared.
As usual with IDW’s Library of American Comics releases, the production values of the books are top notch, with meticulously clean artwork scanned and mastered from Disney’s vaults and printed on heavy acid-free paper bound in sturdy hardcovers sure to preserve these volumes for many decades to come. Any fan with even a passing interest in Duck comics is assured a fantastic experience with either or both of these winning books.