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...