|Location of Publication||Prescott, AZ|
|Notes||Barks' commentaries: |
Clean air, clean water, clean environment. We think of those things as part of our birthright. They once were long ago, before we overran them with our brand of civilization. Now, what have we got? Air so polluted that we have to grind it before it will filter through our gas masks. Water so undrinkable that it is safer to die of thirst. Environment so littered that we cannot see the ground, and ground so caustic with chemical spills that it eats through the soles of our shoes. And quiet - who knows what that is, anymore?
So we dream that somewhere in the boondocks we can find a place that is still as clean as nature intended it to be? But if we find such a place, would it be safe to move in?
Uncle Scrooge tries it in this tale of the oxygen belt and finds that his kind and our kind are mighty darned unwelcome...
Land of the Pygmy Indians is a story that I got started on from the environmentalists who were rattling on about the foul air of the cities. And Uncle Scrooge had factories with their pollution. So I had him get affected by the smoke and the noise, just like the other people. He decided to go into areas of clean air, where there was clean water and everything was pure, simple and quiet. To get him out there was only the first step. There had to be funny business resulting from his move. The fact that the old guy can't go anywhere without getting involved in finding gold or silver, that was a good gimmick for causing comic problems. Uncle Scrooge takes his problems with him wherever he goes, so when he got there, he just about messed up paradise.
Then I had to have something for the other ducks to do when they got there. That's where I got the idea of Donald having to catch a king sturgeon. I figured on that being my climax. I went back from that to building up to how Donald got into the problem of having to catch that fish. I began coming up with the idea of Pygmy Indians out in the brush and grass. I suddenly realized that I was duplicating a plot line I had used years ago - the Gneezles in "Mystery of the Swamp." That gave me pause for a while, but I realized that only the plot line was similar; all other elements were breaking new ground. Besides, the Pygmy Indians were more believable and interesting than the Gneezles, so I went ahead with the story and let the gags fall where they might.
Then I came up with having the pygmies talk in the language of Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha. About the 8th grade, I had to read and recite it in school. I thought it was a very tiresome way of telling a story back then, but the meter lends itself very well to the conversations of the pygmies when they talk about what they're going to do. It gives the story a special flavor. The dialogue took longer to write than normal - it practically had to be timed with a metronome. I'd come up with the gist of what they wanted to say, then try to figure out a way to express it in Longfellow's meter.
I recalled that Hiawatha was able to talk with animals, so that was good for the pygmies. They could even talk to fishes in little bubbles. It gave a good reason for Donald to have to catch that big sturgeon, which he was going to have to do regardless of what the rest of the story was about, because that was about the only big climax action gag I had.
The fat real estate shark was like real ones that I wanted to take a poke at. You get up on the edges of the beautiful forests, and their offices are all over, wanting to sell you a patch of paradise.