Christmas on Bear Mountain
|"Christmas on Bear Mountain"|
Christmas on Bear Mountain comic book cover. Cover art by an unknown artist, probably Dan Gormley.
|Story code||W OS 223-02|
|Layout||4 rows per page|
Huey, Dewey and Louie
Scrooge McDuck (debut)
|First publication||Four Color Comics #178
"Christmas on Bear Mountain" (1947) is a Donald Duck story by Carl Barks, first published in Dell Comics Four Color Comics #178. It was the first appearance of Scrooge McDuck. The story was the inspiration for a lot of future Scrooge stories.
Scrooge did not yet have his familiar characteristics in his first comic story. In "Christmas on Bear Mountain", Scrooge was a bearded, bespectacled, reasonably 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!"
As usual, Donald doesn't have enough money to celebrate Christmas with his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. But, they are unexpectedly invited by his uncle Scrooge to his chalet on the Bear Mountain. The misanthropic rich duck wants to stifle his boredom this Christmas by testing his nephew's courage, 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.
This story later inspired The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Part 12 by Don Rosa. In Rosa's story, that 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 Bark's story), Huey, Dewey and Louie are first officially introduced to their uncle Scrooge. Donald, however, makes references to a previous encounter between him and Scrooge. Rosa's story shows Scrooge being well-known to everybody in Duckburg and it could be said Donald and the nephews hoped (with little to no enthusiasm) their stingy uncle to remember them. One detail in Rosa's story that does not fit in Christmas on Bear Mountain is Scrooge's appearance. However, this error was intentionally made as Rosa wanted to maintain Scrooge's more well-known appearance.
In this story Scrooge was mostly a caricature of his namesake Ebeneezer Scrooge. It was not until his second appearance that he gained a toehold in The Disney Ducks Universe.
Daniel Branca wrote a sequel to the story titled Return to Bear Mountain in Donald Duck Adventures #32-33 <Disney Comics Series>
When Barks first wrote this story he had no idea that Scrooge was going to be a popular character.