THE BIG SNEEZE
This contribution is actually my one and only long adventure story with
the ducks. Today I look back upon it with mixed feelings.
In the mid-seventies I realized, that it was too difficult for me to
make a career in the field of newspaper strips. I had executed a valiant
effort with my “Zenit” strip drawn in a realistic contemporary
style aimed at an international audience. To gain access to that field
of comics was evidently impossible for me. Episodes from that series
can be seen at the “Sejd Special” entry at this site.
Instead I turned my ambition to another genre. I had already a profound
fondness for the Carl Barks storytelling. So on my own initiative I executed
an adventure story in that tradition, “The big Sneeze”, inspired
particularly by “No such Varmint”. I then showed it to the
danish Disney licenceholders at Gutenberghus. However they were not interested
in financing adventure epics. For the costs of such a long story they
could produce 4-5 short stories for the magazine, and they preferred
that. And I was invited to test out in that formula of 5-7 page fillers.
I then asked, if I was allowed to change the characters, so I could get
the story published somewhere else, and I was granted that permission
by editor Curt Smed. I changed the design into geese instead of ducks
and got it published. However, Interpresse had placed a fatal “Number
one” on the top of the cover, and that naturally worried the top
brass at Gutenberghus. One thing is to see a one-shot of that nature,
another matter indeed is to expect a number of stories with a character,
who even borrowed his name from other scandinavian versions of duckburg
characters. There was never ment to be more comics with these waterfowls,
but of course Disney would think so by seeing that fatal numbering.
Disney naturally stopped Interpresse from doing more issues, which was
never intended anyway, but a traumatic sideeffect was, that I became
a persona non gratae at Gutenberghus. That only bothered me for some
months however, since I soon after came to do duckstories for the dutch
branch of Disney Comics together with Daan Jippes instead, an overall
improvement for me.
At some point I was paid twice for a tenpage duckstory at Oberon, and
instead of doing a new story without pay, the editor accepted to make
a printing of “The big Sneeze” in black and white in a big
bumper album, “Groot Vakantieboek”. I demanded however, that
it was only this single publishing, since I was actually not paid the
regular price for the 31 page story, but only what was the fee for 10
pages. Faithful editor Thom Roep stayed loyal to that deal and the story
has to my knowledge not been published elsewhere since then.
Later when needing material for my running production for the Woody Woodpecker
magazine, I expanded and redrew the story with the Woodpecker, and finally
I made it with the Gnuffs for Kim Thompson, when he edited the “Critters” magazine
from Fantagraphics. That version became the now official long version
of the story, and you can see it now on my homepage this year. Here the
english language also is less pidgin like, since the dialogue was translated
by Dwight Decker. You have an easy opportunity to compare the two versions
Actually it is only natural, that the final place of that story becomes
the Gnuff universe, since it also features the first of my dragon creations,
Gargantua. In the duck version the dragon still bears some resemblance
to my inspiration for that design. In my colleague Claus Deleurans alldanish
comic strip “Thorfinn” there is a dragon or maybe a snake,
who looks a bit like the old Gargantua, so the design there can also
be seen as a tip of the hat to that excellent fellow comics artist.
Elsewhere on this site there is a fan drawing of Gargantua. It is made
by my old studio mate Stefan Fjeldmark, who later shifted medium and
made it big within animation at the A-film Studio.