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Friday, 12 February 2016

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: "The Wreck-hunter of the Carribeans"

Does this title sound familiar to you ? If it does… forget about it, you're mistaken, for this is a story that doesn't exist, even though it should and was supposed to. 

More exactly, it was apparently planned to be the 11B chapter of Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. I don't know if there were serious plans, but Don Rosa clearly had something in mind. The plot would center around Scrooge looking for treasure maps and sunken treasures in the Caribbean. The idea comes from Barks's Only a poor old man…, where Scrooge briefly remembers this period and we get a panel of flashback of it.

Don Rosa, when collecting Barksian facts, based some of his chapters on those one-panel flashbacks in Only a poor old man: his King of the Klondike is as much based on the single panel of Only a poor old man than on the flashback Back to the Klondike, which would only become a more prominent influence on the later Hearts of the Yukon and Prisoner of White Agony Creek, the whole Copper Hill chapter is based on another panel, and a dialogue about Mongolia gave him the impulse to do the 2-3 pages sequence in chapter 11 where Scrooge discovers for the first time his ability to swim in money. The "searching for wrecks" business got mentioned, sure… but in a single panel of the 11th chapter:

And not even an original one at that; he's basically just copying Barks's own flashback panel, so we hardly learn anything about his adventures back then, aside from the fact that this period lasted one whole year (which we learn from the narration box that I cut here because since this is scanned from a French reprint it was in French and you'd have gotten confused for no reason when it's totally besides the point). But then, it's just one of the many events he had to include in the 11th chapter; it's only one of the many potentially chapter-length flashbacks that only managed to get a quick mention. So why am I especially concerned about that one ?

Well, flash forward to the 12th chapter's beautiful conclusion page:

Again ! All the other think bubbles are callbacks to the most glorious moments of each chapter, and Don Rosa just stuck than one around. Sure, you could say it's meant to represent Chapter 11, but it's not especially notable or representative of its plot. The "searching for wrecks" seems to have been its own independent thing the whole time, and Rosa just didn't get the opportunity to write that particular story even though he was wanting to. Why ? Probably a lack of inspiration, because…

…he'd already written a shipwreck-hunting story, and when combined with The Horseradish Story, it probably made Rosa think that there was nothing new to be written about Scrooge hunting sunken treasure without seeming redundant.


  1. I love this blog post! Most Duck fans consider a story about the partents of Huey, Dewey, and Louie the Holy Grail of Duck comics, but my personal Holy Grail of Duck comics is a chapter 11B of the Life of Scrooge saga. I have been obsessed with this imaginary chapter 11B for over a decade and I promised myself that one day I will write it, if nobody else will.

    Why do I think this is an important story to tell? Because Scrooge in this time period (1930 to 1947) is a Scrooge we haven't really seen before. Lonely and unlikeable, he would be pretty much the bad guy in this story. Having said all this, my chapter 11B would not be about Scrooge looking for treasures in the Caribbean. Why? For two reasons: as you’ve said, we have already seen many shipwreck-hunting stories. Also, the story you proposed would take place BEFORE the end of chapter 11. I believe the whole point of a chapter 11B would be to tell a story of Scrooge AFTER his sisters and his whole family left him.

    So what would my chapter 11B be about? Well, I am not exactly sure yet, but here is what I do know: it would start in 1930 and end in 1942 (the year Scrooge retired). WW2 would not be explicitly mentioned, but it would be alluded to. Scrooge would be as unlikeable as he was during the second half of chapter 11, but there would be glimpses of the Scrooge we know and love from the earlier chapters. Also, the story wouldn’t have a clearly defined good guy and a bad guy, but Scrooge would act as the bad guy for a significant portion of the story.

    As for the Caribbean wreck-hunter story, I believe that one could write a whole series based on that story and other adventures of Scrooge we have seen glimpses of in chapter 11. I mean that chapter is basically a whole series of adventures condensed into one story.

    Btw, another Life of Scrooge story I have always believed should be told is one about how Scrooge became a businessman after the Klondike chapters, as this is a very interesting period in Scrooge’s life. We have already seen glipses of this imaginary chapter 8D on the first few pages of chapter 9, but I really think period deserves its own story.

    1. Thank you for your long comment! A story about the embittered, “evil” Scrooge would be interesting, although Don Rosa explicitly said that he would not write any such story (but then again, there has been a 1B chapter by other authors published recently, so…).

      It is very true that Chapter 11 could be the basis of a new series. It could really lead somewhere.

      As for “Chapter 8D”… As trivia, it's already the unofficial number of "Last Sled to Dawson“'s flashback. But mostly, I think this should be left untreated, because there is a TON of stories by other authors with a flashback Scrooge in the Klondike, and my headcanon to explain their place in Rosa's continuity has always been that it happened sometime around there. Then again, a story about only the business part, that wouldn't technically contradict the possibility of the events by other authors appearing “in-between”… that could work.

    2. Yes, Don Rosa has said on several occasions that he would find a chapter 11B pointless and too depressing. I couldn't disagree with him more! Yes, it would be somewhat sad to see "evil" Scrooge in a whole story, but I am convinced that it can be done in a tasteful and even somewhat humorous way.

      As for chapter 8d (or 8e), my version would start right after Scrooge buries his gold and leaves White Agony Valley for good, so it would take place after all the Klondike stories, but before Scrooge arrives back to Scotland in chapter 9. So this story would basically be a more detailed version of what we see between page 2, panel 4 and page 3, panel 3 of chapter 9.