anon gave me a challenge; asked for a bit of Carl Barks with nice-guy-Gladstone but then I remember this part of A Christmas for Shacktown (W OS 367-02), which is a sweet holiday classic where the ducks are trying to raise twenty-five dollars to get the kids in the poor part of town a toy train!
Once upon a time a duck named Duckerman was waddling to his pond. Another duck bumped into him and quacked softly. “Sorry, sir!” He quickly apologized.
Duckerman shook his head. “No worries!” He quacked, “Im going to the pond.”
“I am as well. Im Dacklyn.” Duckerman shook his wing. “Im Duckerman. Go together?” Dacklyn quacked happily and nodded.
Duckerman and Dacklyn waddled together over to the pond. The boys saw many other ducks and swans and geese having baths in the pond.
Dacklyn shaked his rear excitedly. “So many friends!” He waddled quickly to the pond, Duckerman laughing and following.
Duckerman noticed a small swan crying in the distance. “Are you okay?” He asked the swan. The swan sniffled and shook their head. “No sir, the other swans dont like me.”
The swan started crying once again. “Oh, dont cry! Of course they like you. Why do you think that?” Duckerman put his wing around them. “They- They say im ugly and weird!” The swan cried harder. “Whys that?” Duckerman was concerned.
“They ask me if im a boy or a girl…but im neither! They say thats weird..” The swan frowned. “Whats your name? Im Duckerman.” Duckerman smiled. “Star.” The small swan sniffed. “Thats a nice name. Why dont we go to the other swans together? I can help.”
Star nodded and followed Duckerman. “Excuse me.” Duckerman cleared his throat and straightened his feathers to the group of swans in the pond.
Duckerman sat down and so did Star. “Come and sit.” All the small swans sat around the two birds, curious to hear what they had to say.
Duckerman thought for a moment before speaking. “Star, here, is a little different than what youre probably used to, right? Youre used to boy and girl swans.” All the small swans nodded.
He continued slowly. “Sometimes, birds arent boys or girls. Or maybe theyre both! Boy, girl, neither, both, a little bit boy and a little girl, etc etc. The only thing thats different about Star here, is that they use they/them pronouns.”
“Theyre the same as you. Theyre a small swan who just wants friends. Star feels very very upset because you make fun of them and thags not nice. What if someone picked on you for being a boy?” The small swans frowned and looked at their wings.
One of the swans spoke up. “Star, im sorry. I just dont understand. Its different and i didnt know what it..really was. I can try to understand, though! Im sammi and im a boy!” Sammi smiled. Another swan smiled and flapped their wings. “Im sara and Im a girl! But youre just Star and i think thats cool.”
Star smiled wide and proud. Duckerman stood up and let the swans play ad he waddled off to find Dacklyn. “I heard what you did over there. You know…I used to be a girl.” He smiled. Duckerman never felt happier in his life.
The Day of Story and Song was the day the world nearly ended. It was the day that everyone in the world simultaneously remembered wars of years passed and loved ones long lost and forgotten. Even for those who never knew these people or lived through these wars, they learned everything about them. They heard countless beautiful songs, saw so many incredible works of art, and heard stories beyond their imaginations.
They also learned of a group of seven researchers and explorers and–as they’re known now–heroes who traveled through time and space to a hundred impossible worlds. They were lands inhabited by huge animals, living robots, mushroom monsters. Endless beaches, forests, deserts. Worlds filled with prosperous life to worlds devoid of any. But more important than these worlds were the ones who traveled between them.
The twins, the lover, the protector, the peacemaker, the lonely journal keeper, and the wordless one. The people learned everything about them but their names. How they lived, and loved, and died, and lived and died again and again for a hundred years while they struggled to run from the horrible entity that pursued them.
This entity the people learned of, too. The Hunger. How it hunted and killed these heroes over and over in its mad chase for the light of creation, devouring every world in its path on the way. They learned what it was, how it worked, and they learned of the man in charge: John.
Even with all of this knowledge though, what could the people do but fend the foes they could now see off? The people would only be able to persist for so long against these worlds’ worth of assailants. They had no choice but to put their faith and life into the hands of these seven heroes they now knew as well as if they had known them their whole lives and then some. They put their faith into the heroes and held off their coming deaths for as long as they had to until the heroes came through.
And in the years to pass, the story of these heroes, of this day, of the art, and music, and countless impossible worlds they learned all about is passed on between generations so that everyone who wasn’t there that day to remember would learn.
And of all the things they remembered and learned, the last and maybe most peculiar was the image of a small, crudely but lovingly carved wooden duck.
holy smokes, it took a bit of digging to find them but you’re completely right! it basically outright says that the helmet turns folk nasty in The Golden Helmet (W OS 408-02), and even if Gladstone’s a bit of a pill in the Lost Charts of Columbus (D 94144) you couldn’t say that his behaviour is out of his usual character- and he clearly doesn’t care about owning everybody or making them do what he wants like the others. Maybe he does have an immunity to curses!
In which case, kind of makes me think my answer to this question-
might be that it’s a good thing that Scrooge has got a relative like Gladstone knocking about, just in case… ( though I think he’s been hoarding things like that for a looong time in the comics, so)