JOURNEY TO RAMASHANKA
This story with Woody Woodpecker proved to become a landmark for me in
my funny animal career. Little did I know it at the time, but the invention
of the country Ramashanka with the black woodpeckers was a contribution
to my universe that lingered longer than my occupation with Woody Woodpecker.
Ramashanka also includces the island with my famous Fountain of Youth
from “The big Sneeze”, and those geographical sites reappear,
when I need the use of a reference to development countries in my stories.
The latest reference is to the prophet Mumbo Jumbo, holy guru for the
Rama Shan religion, and hell breaks loose, when a person from our culture
happens to make a drawing of that profet. That profet is not to be
depicted, mind you! So it causes a lot of hullabaloo between eastern
and western cultures... This story might very well be out, when you
read this, and Rama Shan knows, what disasterous effect that innocent
fairy tale may cause...
I did not know a culture clash from drawing a humerous charicature of
a highly regarded religious potentate would take place 25 years later,
when I introduced Ramashanka as a mere vacation resort back in 1985.
Compared to the former albums in this series you can notice a division
of the story into four chapters. The reasons for that were, that it was
originally used for monthly installments in the coprinted scandinavian
Woody Woodpecker magazines, but it had to be executed shrewdly, so it
looked to be separate stories. That was actually what I was assigned
to produce, but I tried to bend those rules realizing, that a long term
value would benefit from a continuation over more chapters.
The coloring in this story is technical but with some digital additions
and retouch. “Digitally enhanced” as they call it these days.
The actual colors originally done for the magazine version were separated
by hand and consisted of masks in different percentages of grey made
on overlays and the final colors were only seen, when the pages appeared
from the printing presses. I do not think proofs were made to control
the coloring, but the staff of ladies producing these bundles of overlays
were very experienced doing this, so they seldom failed. And if they
did noone would raise a brow, since this was only cheap magazines. They
did however give my frogcharacter a green color in the magazineversion,
so I respectfully had to urge them to correct that when the album version
was put into production. In Holland this story did not appear as a softcolor
album, but it was put together and issued as a oneshot magazine. In a
way I appreciated this limited range of colors, since it referred to
the oldfashioned and unpretentious way of presenting comics. Back then
things did not have to look slick and glossy to impress the critical
eye of the sophisticated reader. You were aware, that here it was the
basic storytelling values being the center of attention, and that pleased
me quite a lot, since I had always had some difficulty living up to slick
presentation and smart pictorial effects.
On page 6, panel 6, there is a funny detail. You’ll find that picture
with chairman Siegel running over the crosswalk also as panel 2 on page
26 of “The Gnuffs move In”. These two stories were published
alternately as chapters in the Woody Woodpecker magazine, and I wanted
to suggest, that the stories took place at the same time in the same
town, Pecktown. You will have to bear with the fact, that the coloring
has come out differently.
The reason for making this and the following album as comic book reprints
were of course to cash in on the magazine pre-publishing, which was a
bit more profitable than the album publication. I did not realize it
at the time, but within the next couple of years even the magazine publishing
was to be regarded as unprofitable, but I stayed on till the end and
had a couple of exciting years, where I felt like Carl Barks must have
felt, when he was allowed to design and expand the scope of the Duckburg
universe. And my job with the Woodpecker was in a way more rewarding
for me than working with the ducks, which I did simultaneusly. With the
ducks I had to fullfill some prehand expectations and standards set up
by Disney and Barks, but with the Woodpecker my hands were free. I could
do precisely what I wanted to do, and I loved it!
In the scandinavian version of this story the inhabitants of Ramashanka
are black Woodpeckers, a species we do actually have in our part of the
world. So I asked Dwight R. Decker, if these fowls could not just be
called “blackpeckers”. He was reluctant to accept that, and
when interrogating him more thoroughly, he quoted a reference to a danish
dictionary, where I was confronted with a number of slang expressions
for the male reproductive organ...