Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Donald’s Happiest Adventures | Review
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Donald’s Happiest Adventures
Writer: Lewis Trondheim
Artist: Nicolas Kéramidas
Donald Duck is called to his Uncle Scrooge’s money bin and is about to be assigned another dangerous treasure hunt with which to help further fill it with money, when he opines that what Scrooge is really looking for isn’t more loot, but true happiness. Him and his big beak. The next thing he knows, he’s being assigned his most impossible quest yet: Go find out the true meaning of happiness and report back to Scrooge with his findings.
Thus kicks off Donald’s Happiest Adventures, the work of French cartoonists Lewis Trondheim and Nicolas Kéramidas and a sequel of sorts to their 2017 Mickey’s Craziest Adventures.
Donald goes about his search by asking everyone he knows who seems to be happy what makes them so, from his perpetually lucky rival Gladstone Gander to Grandma Duck in her pastoral paradise to his Uncle Ludwig Von Drake, who claims to know just about everything. A lot of Disney comics characters actually appear within this whirlwind 48-page story, from major ones like Mickey Mouse himself and his archenemy Black Pete to more minor ones, like Dr. Einmug and the dictatorial President of Brutopia.
Donald travels the world, at one point seeking out the sort of mountaintop wisemen that cartoon characters often seek for wisdom, and finding advice in unlikely places, like from a traveling hobo, or even coming out of his own mouth, as when he tries to calm a little boy who’s jealous of another’s more elaborate sand castle.
The entire book, with a wild plot that might find Donald in the snowy Himalayas on one page and lying on a beach on the next, is something of a meditation on happiness, with Donald finding no true, one answer, but about a dozen or so possible answers. Although none of these are the sort that would satisfy his greedy Uncle Scrooge… especially not “give more than you receive,” for example.
The closest he probably comes is an answer Einmug offers at one point: “There is a famous quote by an old French poet…’You can tell happiness by der sound it makes slamming der door.'” Indeed, though Donald ends up right where he began his adventure, reading a book in an easy chair with a slice of cake, he’s doing it with a smile on his face the second time around…after all, he doesn’t have to wander the world looking for the secret of happiness anymore.
As with Mickey’s Craziest Adventures, the cartoonists have a sort of cover story explaining the existence of their book. With Mickey’s, the introduction claimed that they found an old, forgotten 1960s Disney comics serial at a garage sale. Here, they find Donald’s at a flea market, and unlike Mickey’s, it was a complete run, meaning there were no missing chapters (there were missing issues in Mickey’s, the story went, which added to the craziness of the adventure, as transitions from scenes would sometimes make no real narrative sense).
One may doubt this story, of course. After all, despite the retro coloring of the art, it doesn’t look a whole lot like 1960s Disney comics, but rather modern cartooning. The introduction has an answer for that too: “We reply that it is vital to preserve one’s childlike sense of fun.” And it is a fun adventure, so far be it from me to question that cover story.
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About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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