Walt Disney’s High Jinks on the Matterhorn and The Rain God of Uxmal

By Adolf Kabatek and the Gutenberghus Group, translated by Anne Kilborn (London Editions)
ISBNs: 7235-95038 and 7235-9502X

Scrooge McDuck premiered in the Donald Duck tale ‘Christmas on Bear Mountain’ (Four Colour Comics #178 December 1947) as a disposable foil to move along simple tales of Seasonal woe and joy. The old miser was crusty, energetic, menacing, money-mad and yet oddly lovable – and thus far too potentially valuable to be misspent or thrown away. Undoubtedly, the greatest cartoon creation of the legendary and magnificent story showman Carl Barks, the Downy Dodecadillionaire returned often and eventually expanded to fill all available space in the tales from Duckburg.

The comicbook stories and newspaper strips of the Disney studios quickly travelled around the world and were particularly loved and venerated in Europe where Italy, Germany, Britain and especially the Scandinavian countries made them all their own; with supplemental new adventures and frolics that surpassed the efforts of all but Carl Barks himself.

As Disney US gradually downsized their own comics output, eventually even Barks himself and latter-day American giants like Don Rosa were producing new material for the continental Disney Comics of the Gutenberghus Group.

By the 1980s Disney’s once-prodigious presence on the British comics scene had dwindled to almost nothing and latest license holder London Editions began releasing collected albums in the European manner and using all-European talent, and these two oversized, 48 page books (288mm x 218mm) were first released in Germany in 1983.

High Jinks on the Matterhorn opens with an ailing Money-mad Mallard diagnosed with “Cupiditas Pecuniae” and in desperate need of a break away from the pressure of his all-consuming financial empire. Donald and the ever-helpful nephews take him on a restful jaunt to Switzerland, but as soon as the restless octogenarian smells a fresh opportunity to make money the be-feathered brood are plunged into a breakneck scheme involving unlimited cheese production, super-milk and a frantic race up the mighty Mount Matterhorn in search of a legendary super-food for cows…

Bold, fast-paced, visually spectacular and hilariously funny, this worthy successor to the inventive satirical lunacy of Barks is full of all-ages thrills and creamy cartoon goodness.

These volumes come with an educational feature at the back and the space here is occupied with comprehensive and enticing history of the mountain and the men who first conquered it.

The Rain God of Uxmal returns to classic adventuring as Donald and the boys go in search of Uncle Scrooge after catching a conman who has sold the elderly entrepreneur a non-existent palatial holiday-home in Mexico…

Enlisting the aid of eccentric inventor Gyro Gearloose the would-be rescuers head South in an outrageous, off-beat flying car, but by the time they reach Mexico Scrooge has already stumbled into an incredible situation. The crusty capitalist had been abducted and adopted by a lost tribe of supposedly extinct Mayans and taken to their hidden city of Uxmal. Apparently Scrooge was the spitting image of their ancient god Quaxc-Quaxc and expected to bring rain to the drought-parched hidden kingdom…

After a remarkable journey and some scarily close calls, Donald and Co. turn up in the very nick of time, but seem destined to fail in their rescue bid until mysterious providence takes a terrifying hand in the proceedings…

This is an exciting, exotic and eye-popping romp in the wholesome blockbusting Barks manner: blending wit, history, madcap invention, plucky bravado and sheer wide-eyed wonder into a rollicking rollercoaster ride for readers of every age and vintage.

This volume also describes in fascinating detail the secrets of the real lost city of Uxmal.

Whatever your opinions on the corporate mega-colossus that is Disney today, the quality of the material derived from “The House that Walt Built” is undeniable and no fan of comics and old-fashioned fun should avoid any opportunity to revel in the magic – preferably over and over again…
© 1983, 1985 Walt Disney Productions.