Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Walter R. Brooks, Freddy the Pilot (1952)

So the story is here that SOMEONE is trying to sabotage Mr. Boomschmidt's circus, by sending an airplane to shows to drop flour all over the audience and freak everyone out so they demand refunds.  That “someone” is one Watson P. Condiment, who wants to drive the circus out of business so that its star equestrienne, Mademoiselle Rose, will be forced by penury to marry him.  Naturally, Freddy himself decides to take to the skies to foil this plot.  And then in the end, Rose and Mr. Boomschmidt get married instead, so that's nice.

WOO BOY.  That plot summary does not even come close to describing the experience of reading this book.  So: what does this Condiment character do, exactly?  Well, he's a publisher.  What does he publish?  Comic books.  And holy shit does Walter R. Brooks HATE HATE HATE comic books.

“Comics!” Freddy interrupted.  “Baby stuff!  No self-respecting animal over two years old looks at that trash.  Oh, go away and quit bothering me.  Take your hollow head somewhere else.”

Realizing that he sounds like a douchebag, Freddy softens his stance:

“I beg your pardon, Sniffy.  I don't really mean that, of course.  It's just that I think these comics are foolish.  I don't see how anybody can look at them when there are so many books around that are more interesting.”

The main point of comparison made with comic books is this generic-ass-sounding Robin Hood book that Freddy reads, and lends out to make everyone realize how much better real books are than comics.

“Well, you see, Freddy,” Sniffy said, “maybe you're right about the comics.  That Robin Hood book you lent me—golly, that's some book!  Why, all those adventures and things, they might have happened.  Oh, the comics are kind of fun, but you know nothing like that ever really happened.

Uh huh.  You just have to want to think that there's an element of self-deprecating irony in this, given that, in addition to this silly thing about realism very obviously being a post-hoc justification for a preexisting animosity, need I point out that Brooks himself is writing a series of books about talking animals? But if there's any such, it sure wasn't apparent to me.  Still, GODDAMN, man:

Sniffy listened for a second.  “Sounds like guns,” he said.  “Maybe there's a battle.  Maybe the Martians have landed!”

“Oh, golly, you and your comics!” said Freddy.

HA HA YES MARTIANS THAT'S A SILLY IDEA!  I mean, to give you an idea, think how ridiculous it would be if there were a book in this series called Freddy and the Men from Mars!  Just imagine!

Seriously, this shit is unrelenting, and it really interferes with one's enjoyment of the book.  Freddy kind of comes across as a humorless, condescending prick, which is something I never hoped to have to say.

Even beyond that, though, I feel like the book would be a bid subpar.  The series feels like it's becoming kind of unmoored from its usual more or less grounded level of mimesis with the whole flying thing (and Mr. Bean buys Freddy a plane, just like that!).  There's this scene with a bunch of army brass at the farm wanting to see a bomb sight that the returning Uncle Ben had built, and it's just kind of...dumb, in a way the series hasn't traditionally been.  This, of course, is the last book before the science fiction stuff starts, so maybe it's unsurprising, but I mostly found it a bit blah.  Also, Freddy does what strikes me as a vaguely racist impression of a Spanish señiorita to trick Condiment (because “people who read comics will believe almost anything”—okay, Brooks, calm down).

Still, in the interest of positivity, there are few okay things.  Such as: 

“There are a couple of instructors over at the flying field,” he said.  “Jimmy Witherspoon has been taking lessons.  They let him fly solo after he had just eight hours of instruction.  I'm just as smart as Jimmy.”  

Jimmy the pilot!  Also: “Alligators are seldom very experienced in affairs of the heart.”  Fair enough!  Also, Bertram is even mentioned at one point (because of Uncle Ben's return), which MAN ALIVE.


Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...

I like to belive there is a alternative universe where in retaliation Carl Barks made an Uncle Scrooge story where at the very end arrested Beagle Boys laments:

"Ohhhh! If only we didn't read books as kids we woudn't be so stupid as well we woudn't turn to life of crime!"
"Ha! Everybody with half of brain knows that books and novels are bunch of horsradish and rubbish! That's why I only read comics! They are the REAL DEAL!" replies Scrooge as he winks at the reader and thumbs up.

On press conference for the new Uncle Scrooge comic Carl Barks comfirm that this was in fact his "TAKE THAT!" to Brooks and that the "co-called quality" of his work convinced Barks to never read any book ever agian, especialy if it's staring Freedy the pig. Brooks was so furious he started work on his new novel "Freddy demolishes Bark's ugly apartment, as he is out of town, propably reading stupid comis" and the circle of hate continue :(

3:23 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

This is excellent. Maybe we could make it into a movie?

3:59 AM  
Blogger Pan Miluś pontificated to the effect that...


I can already see the climax: So Barks finaly goes for ultimate sceam and seend his goons to get some dirt on Brooks, but all they can get are nude photos of him during a "Eyes wide shut" style orgy. So Barks take one of the photos and photo-shop a comic book into Brooks hands and hang them all over the town. Brooks asumes his carrier is ruined since every one thinks he is a hypocrite now and vanishes from public eye forever until three weeks later whne Barks is woken form his late night sleep by knock on his window and opens his eyes just to witness Brooks standing the corner of the room in a Freedy the pig mask holding an axe!
- Time to end this game my good Duckman! - he says with a voice showing both laughing and crying at the same time - I kneew should I had finish you of when I had chance back in Monte Carlo!
- We all learn from out mistakes you dirty bookreader! - reply Barks and pull out his trusty gun from under his trusty pillow and shut but Brooks do avoids the bullets by doing bunch of backflip.
And so they rush toward each other in a rage
- Comics are for stupid people! - Brooks shouts his battle cry
- Fuck books! - Barks yells his current catchphrase
and then two clash and have an epic battle I can't possibly describe at the moment, but it would end with them becoming good friends at the end. Brooks promises to explore the world of comics, and Barks makes a decission to give books a try and a single dove flies into the sunset.


8:15 PM  

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