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Christmas on Bear Mountain

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WDC&S 608

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #608, which contained a reprint of the story, featured this cover artwork based off of Scrooge's introductory scene.

Christmas on Bear Mountain (1947) is a Donald Duck comic by Carl Barks, first published in Dell Comics Four Color Comics #178. It marked the first appearance of Scrooge McDuck, and formed a source of inspiration for a lot of future Scrooge comics.

The story's title is based on Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky (the source of a scene in Fantasia featuring Chernabog).

Scrooge did not yet have his familiar characteristics in his first comic story. In Christmas on Bear Mountain, Scrooge was a bearded, bespectacled, wealthy old man, visibly leaning on his cane. He was living in isolation in a huge mansion, which is said to be influenced by Xanadu from Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. Scrooge has always been a somewhat bitter character, but his misanthropic thoughts in this first story are probably less characteristic of Scrooge than those of his rival Flintheart Glomgold:

Here I sit in this big lonely dump, waiting for Christmas to pass! Bah! That silly season when everybody loves everybody else! A curse on it! Me—I'm different! Everybody hates me, and I hate everybody!

Barks originally intended this story to be Scrooge's only appearance, but re-used the character in The Old Castle's Secret (1948), which set the tone for many more uncle Scrooge comics to come.

Synopsis

As usual, Donald doesn't have enough money to celebrate Christmas with his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. However, they are unexpectedly invited by their old uncle Scrooge to his chalet on the Bear Mountain. The misanthropic rich duck wants to test his nephew's bravery, and plans to dress up as a bear. But a bear cub sneaks in the cabin as the Ducks get a Christmas tree. Eventually the mother comes looking for the cub, and scare the Ducks out of the cabin. The bears eat the food in the house and the mother bear falls asleep in front of the fireplace.

The Ducks make a plan to get the bears out of the cabin, and Donald has to tie the legs of the mother bear together while Huey, Dewey and Louie catch the cub. Donald fails to tie the feet of the bear together and faints on an arm of the bear, giving an impression that he fell asleep on the bear.

Meanwhile Scrooge comes in and finds the boys chasing the cub, thinking that they are fearless. Then he finds Donald asleep with the bear, and Scrooge thinks he's purposely sleeping with the bear and thinks that Donald doesn't know the meaning of fear. Scrooge retreats unnoticed and returns the next day to spend Christmas Dinner in his mansion with his nephews.

Sequels

Daniel Branca

Daniel Branca created a sequel to the story titled Return to Bear Mountain, first published in 1987.

Don Rosa

This story later inspired The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck - Part 12: The Richest Duck in the World, by Don Rosa. In Rosa's story, which takes place in the day right after the Christmas Eve on Bear Mountain but before the dinner at Scrooge's mansion (that takes place on the last page of Barks' story), Huey, Dewey and Louie are first officially introduced to their uncle Scrooge. Donald, however, makes references to a previous encounter between he and Scrooge (seen in the preceding chapter, The Empire-Builder from Calisota). Rosa's story shows Scrooge being well-known to everybody in Duckburg.

Tito Faraci

Italian Disney comic artist Tito Faraci created another sequel to the story, titled Zio Paperone in... Un altro Natale su Monte Orso (Another Christmas on Bear Mountain).

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