Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Classics - Walt Disney's Donald in Mathmagic Land

Since I had two older brothers, when I was a kid, comic books were always around the house.

I have no idea which comic might have been the first one I read, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a cartoon-based character like Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner, or one of the Disney characters.

The problem with those issues is that they didn't have specific covers (they were all generic and had nothing to do with the stories within) or issue numbers on the cover, so I only have vague memories of which issues I read.

This comic is one of the rare exceptions. I always like Donald Duck best of all the Disney cartoon characters (sorry, Mickey), though I don't remember which issues I read - with one exception. This one I distinctly remember reading. (Which is something of a surprise, since it wasn't created by the "Good Duck Artist" - Carl Barks.)

Walt Disney's Donald in Mathmagic Land was originally published in 1959 (according to the indicia), but this isn't the original issue I read. My copy had long ago vanished, so I picked up this one several years back at a comics convention (for the princely sum of three bucks).

The comic tackles the difficult task of making mathematics interesting and fun - and amazingly, it succeeds!

(By the way, I'm not sure if the comic was created before or after the animated version, though I assume the cartoon came first. Both were released in 1959, but the animated film would take longer to create.)

After being tricked out of money by Uncle Scrooge McDuck, Donald realizes he needs to learn more about math, and courtesy of an extended dream sequence, he gets the grand tour, and learns about the origins of numbers and the beginnings of geometry and algebra.

It manages to keep a sometimes-difficult subject interesting and accessible - I remember reading it over and over as a kid!

I wonder how many engineers and scientists got their first spark of inspiration from this comic? (I almost went into engineering myself, until I was scared off in college by a Calculus III class.)

It was a precursor of the Schoolhouse Rocks videos that ABC-TV ran during Saturday morning cartoons.

Education and entertainment wrapped in one package - it's a concept that's now as common as a walk down Sesame Street!

Grade: A


No comments: