Cartoon Alley : Reviews and commentary #19… Gordon Campbell

My Favourite Comic (this month) : “The Dream of a Lifetime” by Don Rosa

by Gordon Campbell

So far, Christopher Nolan’s dream inside a dream movie Inception hasn’t won any major statues in the current awards season, but Oscar time has reminded me of a bizarre story that surfaced around mid 2010, when the film was first released. A Scrooge McDuck comic called “The Dream of a Lifetime” created and drawn by Don Rosa (and published in 2002) is uncannily similar to the plot of Inception. The entire McDuck comic can be seen here :

Rosa’s comic is worth reading in its own right, but also because the parallels with the movie are so stunning. The issue is not plagiarism. Reportedly Nolan wrote an 80 page treatment of the story that became Inception back in 2001 – but the extent of what looks like spontaneous parallel invention here is really remarkable.

For years, Don Rosa has laboured under the burden of being seen as a mere extension of the great Carl Barks, who created not only Duckburg but almost all the characters (Scrooge, the nephews, Gladstone Gander, Magica de Spell, Gyro Gearloose etc) who populate it. Rosa has always been very generous about his admiration for Barks and his own faithful service to the world that Barks made. In recent years, Rosa has been getting some justified recognition of his own – particularly, as so often happens, in Scandinavia, Germany and Italy.

Early this month, I came across this recent 2010 interview with Don Rosa – who is now retired, due to a combination of frustration with the publishing system, and declining eyesight. While the German interviewer is gormless, that’s partly due to language problems. Rosa though, is fascinating, especially around the 22 minute mark when he begins to talk with feeling about his frustrations with his life in the industry. On this link, scroll down a little, and you’ll find the original English version of the interview video.

It also contains footage of some great freehand drawing by Rosa of the Duckburg characters.