A tone-setting splash page, with the essential elements of the story to come all laid out. This month it’s movies and fiery pits, and a theme of things not being what they seem. Don’t fall for it, Betty!
Setting up this issue’s conflict. Our bad guys are shown here on the skids, begging for pennies, digging in trash cans; all of this stuff is a part of the down-and-out Depression-era ambience that the original Fleischer cartoons evoke so strongly, as is the idea of a “matinÃ©e idol” as seen on page 3. None of these things are exclusive to the 1930s – we’re playing it pretty loosey-goosey with the exact time these stories are set, after all – but when you throw them all together they have an evocative period flavor.
Betty’s begging for money, too – but her intentions are entirely charitable in nature. I managed to concoct another excuse to have Betty sing and dance – that’s very much her thing, after all – but of course, conflict can never be far away (otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a story!) so Mr. Finkle has a hissy fit about it and, hey presto, we’ve got a dilemma to resolve before we’re done.
Grampy’s getting bamboozled again! It’s often said that a lot of young people today only want to be reality TV stars, as if that’s a new thing. I’m not sure it’s so very different from the star-struck youth of the 1930s dreaming of becoming movie stars. Certainly, if someone plopped a contract down in front of you and promised to make you a star, then or now, it’s something you’d at least have to think twice about. Anyway, it all turns out to be a trick, and now Lenny Lizardlips and his ghostly henchmen have the gateway to the Netherworld they’ve been after.
Reveal! Lenny Lizardlips was Scat Skellington all along! (Well, sort of.) I love the way the three ghosts look in their “Hot Stuff” costumes. A figleaf of exposition here to give this transformation some context before we throw another spanner in the works with the return of Mister Finkle…
I wracked my brains thinking up a resolution to the whole “Mephistophelean contract” problem for ages until I thought, why not fight fire with fire? If the denizens of the underworld put such great store in contracts, couldn’t they be defeated by one as well? That’s really where I got the idea of making Scat Skellington and Lenny Lizardlips one and the same – I worked backwards from that solution and set things up to make it work. Think I got away with it – just about.
An explosion. The people like a nice explosion.
The real Scat Skellington is saved! I didn’t want to do away with him completely – it’s nice having a Cab Calloway analogue knocking around – so I thought we could make Lizardlips’ impersonation just that, and have the genuine article just conveniently out of the way.
Celebratory singing and dancing around a honky-tonk piano seems to me like just about the ideal feel-good ending for this series. GisÃ¨le Lagace splendidly gives this scene the joyful ambience I was hoping for. Everybody gets a moment – even poor old Pudgy the pup, who was a bit under-used here otherwise, poor li’l fella. Plus: we get a raise and a promotion for Betty on the final page, now one step closer to her dreams of becoming a star – and hopefully giving us some new territory to explore, now that she’s a full-time performer, if there’s a follow-up series at some point in the future. Until then, that’s GisÃ¨le and me over and oop-oop-a-doop!