Stingy Scrooge McDuck, owner of so much wealth he can literally swim in it, is one of Disney’s most beloved characters. Although many have wondered how he made his fortune, few know the true story. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa, is the tale of how Scrooge came to make his legendary fortune when he was young, traveling across the world in search of gold.
He visits locations ranging from the Mississippi River to the Klondike as he grows up, seeking riches wherever he goes. This cleverly-written adventure comic with excellent artwork will thrill fans of classic Disney characters.
The Life and Times… is made up of several passages in Scrooge’s life that were originally published as individual issues. These are quite short (only about 15-16 pages long), but each story is self-contained--its narrative having a clear beginning, middle, and end, and the reader does not have to worry about excessive use of “To be Continued…”, as he would in many modern comics.
Although the stories contain many humorous moments, they are written as adventure stories first and do not utilize non-sequiturs or “wacky” humor. The comedy is dependent upon the world and situations Scrooge finds himself in. The dialogue is witty and clever and the art style crisp and consistently high-quality, creating a compellingly nostalgic world for Scrooge to explore.
Although all the stories contained in this volume are quite good, some stand out as being particularly excellent. The first segment, in which a young Scrooge visits the decayed castle of his ancestors, features a memorably dour and brooding depiction of old Scotland and a wonderfully vast and creepy castle. The Klondike chapter combines breathtaking depictions of the northern wilderness and a hilariously cynical depiction of frontier life in which almost everyone is involved in attempts to swindle Scrooge out of his claim! And the sixth segment, a memorable adventure about gold mining in Africa, stands out for being the first meeting between Scrooge and his arch-nemesis, Flintheart Glomgold.
Sadly, Don Rosa’s career did not have the happy ending that Scrooge’s had. Due to Disney’s policies on comic books, he never collected royalties from any of the wonderful stories he wrote and received very low pay for all his hard work. His final message explaining his issues with the comics industry and reasons for retiring was never published in the collection it was created for, so Rosa was forced to post it to his blog.
So, when you enjoy The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck—the story of a clever, hardworking duck who conquered the world and did it all—know that on some level it is an epic of wish fulfillment, the creation of an artist who gave his work 110 percent but never received the compensation he deserved.
None of this makes Scrooge’s quest in search of riches any less compelling an experience to read. If anything, it makes it all the more reason to seek out and enjoy the thrills and laughs of Rosa’s masterpiece, in hopes that someday he will finally receive the recognition he deserves.