Donald and Fethry in “Mountain Magic”

Al Hubbard truly was an underrated comics craftsman whose artwork is one of the richest rewards of scouring pages of classic animation studio-licensed comic books. So many of his colleagues (all of them former animation artists, too) fizzled out in the ’50s after years of the Western Publishing editorial office’s iron fist. Yet Hubbard’s compositions and staging remained complex and his poses warm and charming until the very end.

This little 8-pager drawn by Hubbard was produced in 1965 for the Disney Studio program (a.k.a. “the S-coded stories”). That output, until very recently, was almost exclusively published outside America, and rarely in English. This one was written by Dick Kinney, whose specialty was obnoxious, destructive characters in the cartoons he wrote for Disney and Lantz. The mixture of the genteel Hubbard and the raw Kinney gave birth to Fethry Duck, and longtime readers know all about my love for (and professional relationship with) this strange character.

One other Kinney/Hubbard creation was Hard Haid Moe, a trigger-happy hillbilly Donald and Fethry encounter on one of the latter’s obsessive misadventures. Described by fellow Disney comics scribe Joe Torcivia as an unpleasant mixture of Yosemite Sam and Snuffy Smith, Moe is clearly Kinney’s addition to the glorification of redneck culture that was a staple of mid-’60s primetime television (The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction). But why create that kind of character for a market where those shows don’t air?

I’m certainly not ungrateful Moe did come into existence—even if Joe and most other American Disney comic readers are. (The character is actually wildly popular in Italy and especially Brazil, where he had his own comic.) As this story plainly illustrates, it’s one of the unholiest dynamics to ever grace a licensed funny animal comic: the most obnoxious aspects of the opposite ends of the political spectrum trying to top each other. I mean, what could be funnier than a liberal obsessive who must seek life’s answers in every corner of the earth, and thus makes it a life goal to become bosom companions with a trigger-happy, white trash hillbilly that actively tries to shoot him?

Well, enough Fethry-like blabbering. Enjoy “Mountain Magic”, as it originally appeared in Australia’s Disney Giant #354 (1965).

 

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One Response to Donald and Fethry in “Mountain Magic”

  1. This story was printed in the USA in “Wonderful World of Disney” Magazine which was available only at Gulf gas stations. The story appeared in the very first issue which came out in 1968. It was billed (no pun intended) as a Fethry Duck story, even though Fethry was not a regular comics character in the US at that time. It was my first encounter of the character, and that probably held true for most of the young readers of the magazine at the time. (The Disney anthology TV series was still titled “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” even though Disney had been gone for two years. One of the regular features of the magazine was a listing of highlights of the show for the coming months.)

    I agree that the work of Al Hubbard is a very rich reward, indeed.

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