Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Synopsis

In this month issue of "Donald Duck (and friends)" (issue number 363), it's published new Barks, Lustig and Jippes Somewhere beyond Nowhere.

Obviously, I've read it and I like too, it's a bit different from the previous; for example, we don't see Uncle Scrooge and Hamalot McSwine becomes Hamfits McSwine and we also can admire old Huey, Dewey and Louie's mate from Barks, Herbert (Hog).

I let you read it and I don't want to spoiler - in fact - I'd like to tell you about an important document, found with the help of our friend John Lustig, also the story writer and great American comics writer (we can remember his "Last Kiss" strips).

Thanks to him, we have got his own original synopsis of "Somewhere in Nowhere", the previous story whose "Somewhere beyond Nowhere" is the remake or - as someone says - the official version.

Somewhere in Nowhere

September 1, 1996
John Lustig

Synopsis for: Donald Duck
Length: 16-24 Pages?

Possible story titles:

Donald is wearing a drab, shabby uniform as he crouches over--peering at the sidewalk through a magnifying glass. He's a "sidewalk superintendent, junior-assistant fourth class" for the McDuck Crackless Cement Company and he has to inspect every inch of sidewalk in Duckburg to make sure it's crack-free. Donald moans that he has the most boring, useless job in the world and that his career is going "nowhere fast!"

(During this time we'll see Scrooge McDuck's name on various company signs and logos as Donald passes them.)

Donald is so bored that he can't wait for people to move out of the way. He uses a board to pry up a very fat--and very surprised--woman who's sitting on a curb eating ice cream. Next he comes up behind what appears to be another woman--this time wearing a fur coat--who's also sitting on the curb. Switching angles in the next panel we can see that the "woman" is really a large, fierce-looking dog. When Donald tries to move it, the dog growls and chases him up a tree. (Donald shares a branch with a cat that has also been treed.)

For Donald, this is the last straw. After the dog finally leaves, Donald gets down and marches into Scrooge's office. Donald demands a better, more important and more exciting job. Scrooge refuses--saying that's the only job Donald is qualified for. They argue. Donald insists that he can't find a better job because Scrooge won't give him a chance--and Scrooge owns all the businesses in Duckburg. In fact, Scrooge owns all the businesses everywhere, moans Donald.

Scrooge fumes and has a clerk find someplace in the world that Scrooge doesn't have a business or own any land. A computer search turns up "Bearflanks, Alaska." Scrooge offers to send Donald to Bearflanks. If Donald can make a success of himself there then Scrooge will pay for Donald's return trip and give him a more important job. However, if Donald fails, then Donald goes back to work as a sidewalk superintendent and pays Scrooge back--out of his wages--for the cost of the trip.

At 30 cents an hour that'll take forever--give or take 60 years or so. Donald gulps, but he accepts the bet.

We cut to Donald in the plane to Bearflanks. He's brimming with hope and dreams of success. As the plane lands he's thinking that at last he's going someplace with real opportunities. A place where one man doesn't own everything. As he exits the plane, he's flabbergasted to find that one man does own almost everything in Bearflanks--Hamalot McSwine.

McSwine's name and likeness are plastered everywhere from the seedy McSwine National Bank to the McSwine Hotel. (McSwine even has his name and face plastered on the inside of every McSwine manufactured garbage can in town.)

The model of a giant popsicle sits on top of a building--the McSwine Blubbersicle Factory. On the side of the building there's a mural that shows McSwine stuffing his face with a blubbersicle. ("Hot-Peppered Blubbersicles! A whale of a treat!" "You know they're fine! They're made by McSwine!") A large man--his face obscured by his hat and muffler--is in front of the mural studying it. Donald walks over and looks at the mural as well.

"Wiltin' wallflowers!" says Donald. "This guy's got his name and mug on more walls than a politician with a staple gun! Ye gads! What a face!"

The muffled figure responds, "Yes, he is handsome--isn't he? But he's more than just a pretty face! Hamalot McSwine is Bearflank's leading citizen! The blubber king of the frozen north! The genius who invented blubbersicles! The hero who rescued this town from economic monotony! The man I admire more than anyone else in the world!"

"In other words, duck, he!" by now the muffled figure has unwrapped his face and we see that the man is, indeed, McSwine.

©2005 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Donald and McSwine soon get into a fight. McSwine jams all three flavors of blubbersicles (Unbearably Hot; Even Hotter; and Volcanic Eruption) into Donald's mouth at the same time. Then he gives Donald the boot and vows to make sure Donald will never get a job in Bearflanks.

Sure enough all of McSwine's businesses in Bearflank kick Donald out when he goes job hunting.

Weary and discouraged, Donald ends up in the only place in town that isn't owned by McSwine--the combination general store/post office run by Sourdough Sally. She tells Donald that the town is broke and McSwine has been buying up all the businesses. Sally's store is the only hold out--but she's deeply in debt and she's going to lose the store to McSwine at the end of the week! Then McSwine will own everything and he'll be able to charge everybody whatever he likes!

The only other thing that Sally owns is a vast tract of land north of town. But the land is so wild, barren and unbelievably cold that it's considered uninhabitable. In fact, the area is called "The Great Nowhere"--because it's nowhere that anyone would ever want to go.

So Sally doesn't have much hope of selling the land. In fact, it'd take a miracle!

Just then a heavily-bearded man walks in and says he's interested in Sally's property up north. Sally's eyes light up as she eagerly asks, "You want to buy 'Nowhere?' "

"Yes!" says the man as he hands Sally an envelope. "And here's my offer! I figure it's exactly what it's worth!"

Donald looks on as Sally eagerly opens the envelope and finds...

"Nothing!" gasps Sally.

"That's right!" laughs the man as he tears off his beard and reveals himself as McSwine. "Nothing for Nowhere! No way! No how!"

McSwine chortles that Sally hasn't got a chance of selling her land! She might as well just give up and let him have the store now. He's going to end up with the store AND the land once she goes broke.

In fact, McSwine plans to eventually own all the land around here. And he's got big plans for it too. He plans to turn one of the mountains into a Mt. Rushmore-like giant sculpture of himself. It'll be the eighth wonder of the world. Tourists will flock to see it and he'll sell them a zillion blubbersicles!

This is more than Donald can stand. Before McSwine can describe this awful fantasy in more detail Donald beans McSwine with a box of blubbersicles and drives him off.

Sally is impressed and grateful. She tells Donald that she does know of one job that's available--and it's a mighty important one too--delivering mail. Nobody will take the job, though, because it's so dangerous. In addition to delivering mail in town, the mail carrier has to deliver to all those hardy loners living in the perilous wilderness around Bearflanks.

Donald takes the job and succeeds in delivering all the mail by dog sled through a combination of ingenuity, ignorance and sheer luck. (Among other things: he takes a shortcut across an untested natural ice bridge and gets across only seconds before it collapses. He rides over snowdrifts too soft to support a dog team by putting snowshoes on each dog. To save even more time he uses a slingshot to shoot packages across a crevasse to one customer on his route. He takes a shortcut through Avalanche Pass and just barely makes it out in time. Etc.)

Each day Donald's gets more reckless and makes his deliveries faster. And each day McSwine gets more upset seeing Donald being regarded as a hero as he takes mail to those people too independent to live in town and work for McSwine. In addition, many of the customers on Donald's wilderness route are giving Donald orders and checks for goods from Sally's store. If this keeps up Sally might just have enough money to pay her debt to McSwine. On the third day Donald breaks a post office record for delivering mail swiftly. Clearly, Donald is a success--but how long can he keep it up?

Meanwhile, back in Duckburg, Uncle Scrooge has begun worrying about Donald. That boy has a talent for disaster and that's mighty harsh country up there, thinks Scrooge. Can Donald survive Bearflanks? For that matter can Bearflanks survive Donald? Scrooge orders one of his clerks to check--via a McDuck weather satellite--to see if Bearflanks still exists or whether Donald has burned it down or blown it up yet.

The clerk comes back all excited. Not only do the satellite pictures show that Bearflanks is still around--it shows a large crack in the ice fields north of the town. A crack that almost always indicates pressure from a vast oil and gas reserve beneath the surface.

Scrooge finds out who owns the property (Sourdough Sally) and phones her and offers to lease the mineral rights for "The Great Nowhere" for $10 an acre. Donald is there when Sally gets the call--but never realizes that the caller is Scrooge because Sally never mentions the caller's name. Besides, Sally thinks it's really McSwine on the phone playing another cruel trick on her. Deciding to play along--and also see if the offer is for real, Sally tells her caller (Scrooge) that he'll have to pay $100 an acre and have it to her by the end of the week. An instant later, Sally hangs up the phone and looks at Donald with a look of disgust.

"Now, I know that call was a fake!" says Sally. "He agreed to pay $100 an acre for that worthless land!"

McSwine, however, is just outside Sally's window and overhears the call. Realizing that the call must be for real, he resolves to stop the check from arriving--no matter what it takes.

Meanwhile, Scrooge has ordered his clerk to send a certified check to Sally by Special Delivery. Shortly after that Scrooge asks the clerk to check the satellite to see if it can spot anymore oil deposits. The clerk comes back a moment later all red-faced. According to the satellite pictures there are oil deposits everywhere the satellite looked.

"That's impossible!" says Scrooge.

"Yes, sir!" gulps the clerk. "There must be a crack in the satellite's camera lens!"

Scrooge is aghast. This means that the picture showing a crack near Bearflanks is probably wrong too. There's probably no oil there, either. Scrooge tries to get the certified check back, but the mail's already gone out. In fact it's being loaded right now on the next flight to Alaska. Scrooge gets a ticket and boards the plane. Scrooge figures he'll somehow get the check when the plane lands and the mail is unloaded. The only problem is that this plane doesn't land in Bearflanks. It just drops the mail by parachute. Scrooge parachutes down after the mail. Instead of landing, however, Scrooge's chute gets hung up on the giant blubbersicle on top of the blubblersicle factory and he's left dangling helplessly above the street.

A moment later Donald shows up and retrieves the mail which has landed nearby. Scrooge calls out and orders Donald to get him down and give him the mail. (Scrooge refuses to explain why he wants the mail, however.) Donald refuses. The mail is a sacred trust and must be delivered. Suspicious that Scrooge may have come all the way to Bearflanks just to sabotage his chance at success, Donald leaves him hanging for now and goes back to Sally's store.

McSwine, however, has overheard everything and realizes that Scrooge is the one who wants to buy The Great Nowhere and that his check must be in the mailbag Donald has just picked up.

Quickly donning a disguise, McSwine wraps a package and enters the post office. He demands that his package be delivered "Posthaste, Extra-Special Delivery!" Sally gasps. Nobody in the entire history of the U.S. Mail has ever been willing to pay that rate. The postage is $500 and according to postal regulations it has to be delivered before any other mail. Donald protests that he's got a Special Delivery letter here from Duckburg that'll just take two seconds to deliver.

But Sally won't listen. Rules are rules--and she always follows the rules. Donald must deliver this package first. He'll have to take the rest of the mail with him, sort it on the way and deliver it on the way back if he can. To make matters worse Donald won't have time to deliver any goods from Sally's store and so she won't get the money she needs to pay her debt. McSwine will get her store.

Where is the package going anyway, asks Donald. They look and both gasp at the address:

Sumbody B. Anybody

Third Cave From the Right

Somewhere in Nowhere

They figure it must be off in the Great Nowhere. It's hopeless, but Donald has to try and deliver it anyway.

Meanwhile McSwine has secretly replaced Donald's lead sled dog with a Nodding Nap Hound which sleeps 20 hours a day and is impossible to wake up. Donald's in such a hurry that he doesn't even notice the switch as he takes off.

McSwine chortles as Donald leaves. He's sure Donald will get lost and stranded in the wilderness. Even if Donald does survive he'll never make it back in time to deliver the check.

By now Scrooge has cut himself free and has learned where Donald and the mail are headed. He rents a dog team and sets off after Donald. McSwine misinterprets this and thinks Scrooge is going off to aid Donald. So McSwine takes off in a snowmobile to stop and sabotage both of them.

Halfway through a mountain pass the Nodding Nap Hound conks out. Unable to wake the mutt, Donald puts him in the sled and gamely struggles on.

(NOTE: I haven't worked out all the gags for this part of the story. If we're just running 16 pages then there won't be as much room for gags in which Scrooge and McSwine try to stop Donald and/or steal the mail. Carl, as you suggested in your synopsis , they can try to slow down Donald "with a series of detours and tricks such as sand in the snow." If we're going 24 pages then there will have to be more gags. I can come up with the gags, but if you have any suggestions I'd like to hear them.)

In any event, Scrooge and McSwine both try to stop Donald and steal the mail along the way, but nothing works. McSwine is also trying to stop Scrooge. Scrooge finally figures out that someone else is out there besides Donald, but he doesn't know it's McSwine or what he's up to.

At one point Scrooge and McSwine both plant dynamite to blow up an ice bridge and widen a chasm so Donald can't get across. Between the two of them they use so much dynamite that it creates a giant crack. To the surprise of both Scrooge and McSwine oil gushes up from the crack. (The air's so cold, though, that the oil freezes in mid-gusher.)

Now that he knows there's really oil here Scrooge realizes he's got to help Donald get back and deliver that check.

Meanwhile McSwine's sled has been wrecked in the explosion and so he steals Scrooge's dog team and sled. McSwine takes off chortling evilly. He figures that Donald's overworked dog team can't go on much longer. Donald and Scrooge will be stranded.

Scrooge wants to help Donald get back to Bearflanks, but Donald stubbornly refuses to turn back until he finds someone he can deliver the package to. "There must be somebody somewhere in Nowhere!" insists Donald.

Finally, they spot a cave. Blurry-eyed from cold and exhaustion Donald stumbles into the cave. In the dark he doesn't realize that the cave's inhabitant isn't a fur-coated hermit, but a bear. The curious bear sniffs the package and eats it. Unfortunately, McSwine put Hot-Peppered Blubbersicles in the package. Enraged by the spicy hot taste the bear angrily runs off to get Donald. Meanwhile Donald has had time to get back to the sled. He and Scrooge have put the Nodding Nap Hound back into harness and are trying to wake him up. Yells of "Mush" fail to stir him. Finally Donald gives one more determined try--yelling "Mush" louder than ever before. The Nap Hound's only response is to lazily flicker one eye open. At this moment the bear comes charging into view and the Hound takes off--pulling the sled at record speed as Donald and Scrooge desperately try to hang on.

The Hound jumps a chasm--leaving the bear behind--and keeps going and going. Eventually the Hound and the other dogs are exhausted. Donald and Scrooge load them into the sled and pull it themselves. Scrooge is a tough old bird, but he can't keep up the pace and eventually it's left to Donald to pull all of them along.

Finally Donald pulls the sled to the crest of the steep mountain that overlooks Bearflanks. Too exhausted to go on, he collapses. The sled tips forward and slides with ever-increasing speed down the slope. (Donald is in front of the sled and is scooped up into the sled by its momentum.) The sled ends up crashing into Sally's store just seconds before Sally's debt deadline. McSwine--who was in the store ready to take possession--is knocked off his feet by the crash and ends up wedged into a barrel.

Donald delivers the check to Sally and she's overjoyed. She's got enough money now to build a whole shopping center if she wants. And Scrooge's oil fields will provide plenty of work for people. Bearflanks is saved. And since McSwine tried to tamper with the U.S. Mail she's going to have him arrested.

"And as for you, Donald," she adds as Donald smiles broadly awaiting the lavish praise that he knows is coming, "you're fired!"

Sally says she's sorry, but rules are rules. In addition to destroying U.S. Postal property during the crash, Donald set a new record for being late delivering the mail. (NOTE: Carl, I can easily put in that nice gag you suggested about the Widow Dish not getting her TV Guide and missing the final episode of her soap opera. And I can also show other residents complaining about not getting their mail. I'm a little concerned though that if we show Dish and the others complaining that it'll draw out the story's conclusion too much. Let me know what you think.)

Donald can't believe it. After all this...he's still a failure.

Scrooge says never mind. Donald's a success to him and he's going to give Donald a great new job. Rather than depend on high-tech gadgets to find oil and other resources, Scrooge is going to make Donald his new President and Senior Field Operative in Charge of Exploration and Development. Donald will be traveling to the most remote corners of the world looking for oil and other resources that Scrooge can exploit. It'll be dangerous, glamorous and exciting--just the kind of job Donald told him he wanted.

Donald's response, however, is that "there's only one job" he wants right now!

We cut back to Duckburg where Donald is once again inspecting sidewalks. Elevated to the rank of "first class inspector" instead of being a mere "junior-assistant fourth class," Donald now wears a snazzy uniform and smiles as he inspects the sidewalk. "Phooey to danger and glamour!" says Donald. "This job's perfect for me now and I've got all the excitement I want right here!"

Just then Donald comes across the same vicious dog that chased him at the beginning of the story. The dog growls. Donald glares and screams, "Mush!" at the startled dog. In the next panel we see the dog up a tree--and the cat from the start of the story looking up at him--as Donald happily inspects the sidewalk below. "Of course," says Donald smugly, "learning a trick or two does help!"


When I asked John to comment it, he told me:

<< I want to make it clear, though, that this version of the story is similar in many ways to the first version of "Somewhere", but contains more plot elements and would have been even longer than the 28-page story: "Somewhere in Nowhere."

It bears little resemblance to the new, 12-page version of the story: "Somewhere Beyond Nowhere." >>

Thank you for have following us also this time! Bye!


Images are © Disney and Lustig (Last Kiss one)

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