Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All Has Been Peaceful

We've now had the pleasure of viewing Walt Kelly's The Adventures of Peter Wheat, from the beginning—with issues one, two and three—and I would dearly love to continue in consecutive order. But rather than wait an indeterminate amount of time until we can locate the next issue, I think we can handle a bit of jumping around.

OtherEric has continued to share his quest's rare bounty with us and has come up with issue #14, which came to him in pretty poor shape—barely clinging to life. His Digital Comic Museum colleague, Yoc, did a terrific job of resurrecting the scans to an enjoyable state. I added a few more touches and — whoosh — we rejoin the Wheat Field epic, already in progress.

Thank you OtherEric and Yoc!


  1. It's not possible for me to praise the work Yoc and Thom have done to make this issue look good. Other than the fact it actually had the last two pages, this one was originally even slightly worse off than the #10; and you saw what the unedited page of that looked like. This is a thrill to me; despite being the owner of the book that was originally scanned this is practically new material to me, showing something close to what Kelly originally created. Thank you both!

    As to the story itself, I don't know what to say other than what you can see for yourself. Exciting, amusing, beautifully drawn. I've mentioned how impressed I am by Kelly's silent fight scenes in the series; this one is amazing as usual.

    I'm just sorry we don't have the follow-up issues; going by a brief list of issue summaries Thom found this appears to be the beginning of a five issue, 80 page epic! Here's hoping some more of it turns up soon.

  2. Praise ENOUGH, I mean. I can praise it, in fact I think that's what I was doing!

    That's what I get for posting tired. :-)

  3. That's what I was HOPING you meant, but ya jes' never know...

  4. more kelly-more peter wheat-thanks again--charlie

  5. So I take it that the Grand Wizard, though reported by earlier narration to be Dragonel's father, was one of her subjects and is now to be counted as an usurper.

    Dragonel seems to have been following a common arc for beautiful and powerful villainess characters.

  6. To what extent I can track the story with several missing issues- assuming Kelly even established this clearly- is that the Hornets have a matriarchal line of succession. Possibly by association with a "Queen Bee", even if I have no idea if hornets are the same way. So presumably the Wizard's Wife/ Dragonel's Mom passed away and the leadership passed to Dragonel. So yes to your first statement, but there's no contradiction there.

    Yes, Dragonel's arc is not uncommon, as you say. I just think from what I've seen of it that Kelly did a really good job with it. I also think Kelly started from a slightly unusual position; Dragonel is shown (particularly in issue 3) to have been acting from good motives from the start. I would argue that she even holds the moral high ground; the wheat people want to expand into the Hornet's territory and justify it by saying there's "room for all" Not exactly the height of nobility from the Peter & gang!

  7. Eric— While I would agree that “You have more than enough so I can take some of yours!” is indeed a poor moral claim, the internal morality (if any) of a story determines who is the literary villain and who is hero. I grant that there is in inference on my part in associating the internal morality of the story with Peter and not with Dragonel, but the series is named for Peter, and Dragonel seems to have been made to reconsider her position.

    Literary villains who proceed from values that aren't sociopathic are of course far more interesting that those who do. And occasionally such villains win-over not only a share of the audience but even the author.

  8. Daniel—THAT's the sort of post-story analysis I've been hoping for all this Kelly stuff. Thank you!

  9. Very true, Daniel. I just think Kelly was, even from these earliest issues, including a surprising level of ambiguity and sophistication for a kid's giveaway comic. I think Kelly was planning much of Dragonel's arc from the beginning. I also feel Kelly was quite intentionally trying to do a "classic" adventure strip in his Peter Wheat work, so starting with a common character arc like you say and then tweaking it would fit right in.

    I think I need to talk about Thom about posting the reprint of issue #9 in some form. Part of me doesn't want to because a) the recoloring and reconstruction is not Public Domain, and b)it looks lousy. But in terms of story it's a key issue in Dragonel's arc. We do have a much better but heavily abridged reprint of the story in the 4-in-1 Fun Pac, though...

    Thom, I'll e-mail you in a day or two with a couple of ideas.

  10. The arc here is common because it is logical and otherwise compelling.

    The arc is logical because, given that the internal morality is sound and the character is rational, she will be drawn to that morality. (In some cases, conversion is used as if proof of whatever morality informs a story.)

    The arc is compelling for a further couple of reasons. First, the character is attractive in multiple ways, and the arc moves us towards a resolution of the conflict entailed in that attraction. Second, we come from a culture in which redemption is a deeply important theme, and in this arc a character moves to or towards redemption.

    I don't know how much it might have bearing on the reconstruction of issue #9, but American copyright law has the fascinating aspect that fidelity itself is not subject to copyright. (The point came to the fore when Corel repackaged and redistributed careful reproductions by another firm of works in the public domain, without license by that other firm.) Strip-out anything truly original to a reconstruction of a work in the public domain, and you have a work in the public domain.

  11. Like I said, I'll talk with Thom about our options. One issue with the reprint is it so poor that it has a log of originality!

  12. LOT of originality! LOT!

    Sigh, this isn't my week...

  13. Let he who is without typos throw the first cavil.