Why does Magica DeSpell want Scrooge´s Dime ?

Originally written for DCML by Don Rosa, used with permission
Edited by Jesse Rintanen


If you've read almost any of my Magica stories, at least if your translators have not scrapped my dialogue for something else, I always make a point of explaining and reaffirming why Magica, according to Carl Barks' original stories, wants that Dime.

Actually, Barks developed her modus-operandi slowly over her fairly short original career, and certain aspects were already disappearing by the time he stopped using her. I pick a version that is about 3-stories into the Barks canon...

In the original Magica tale "The Midas Touch", even though she is referred to as a sorceress, she exhibits absolutely NO magic powers or the use of magic wands, etc. The only weapon she has is her "FOOF" bombs which could be a very ordinary concoction. Barks, for some reason, seemed to really disdain the use of a character with occult powers... his previous uses of witches ("Trick or Treat" and "Golden Xmas Tree") were assigned to him by his editor, not by his choice. In "Midas Touch", Magica claims, in a seemingly purely scientific manner, that she has found that if she gathers up coins owned by the world's richest men and melts them in the fires of Mt. Vesuvius, she will be able to create an amulet which will give her the Midas Touch (ability to create gold at will). There is no indication of magic in this story, but it's more like alchemy, which would be how I still prefer to view her abilities or arcane knowledge. Anyway, she was well on her way in doing this, peacefully and legally buying up coins from tycoons, when she learned of how $crooge has always kept his first coin he ever earned as a souvenir. Magica reasoned that if she had that single coin, owned and held the longest by the world's very richest man, she would not need any other coins and she'd also be certain that her spell would work. That coin would have maximum power because of the power that has rubbed off on it from being owned and handled for decades by $crooge. (Note that this is quite the opposite of the "Lucky Dime" error... it's not that the Dime has given $crooge special powers, it's that $crooge has given the Dime special powers! BIG difference!) She offered to buy the coin, but $crooge naturally declined.

As a matter of fact, he accidentally sells her the Dime, then gets it back, and Magica then decides she liked the original deal. Does this mean that the Dime has been Magica's legal property all these years? And $crooge is unjustly withholding it? Hm. In Magica's second story "The Unsafe Safe", she is still after the Dime, but she still uses NO magic powers. She has a "zap ray" that she claims to have "perfected" which is a purely mechanical device that she hides up her sleeve with a battery pack. She seems to be losing ground as a sorceress rather than gaining it.

In her third story "Oddball Odyssey", she still has no magic powers, but in this story we see for the first time that she discovers a cache of ancient wands and spells belonging to Circe, and because Magica is a student of sorcery, she says she knows how to translate the ancient words that describe how she (or anyone) can use Circe's goodies. She uses these items for the next few stories, referring to her discovery of Circe's storeroom -- perhaps this is the main batch of magical items she has always used? Anyway, it's also in this story that Barks begins to simplify Magica's story about why she wants the Dime, just to save space -- Magica now begins to imply that the Dime by itself is an amulet to make her rich... the melting in Mt. Vesuvius is not referred to... it's becoming a Hitchcockian McGuffin.

So... the Magica we see in this third story is pretty much the one I use. A normal person who uses her knowledge of ancient languages and alchemy to utilize magical "tools" she discovers or perhaps buys.

Later Barks Magica stories began to drift into other areas... she often is not even interested in the Dime any longer, but $crooge is crossing paths with her in pursuit of some other magical item that she wants to use to make herself rich, such as Aladdin's flying carpet, or some golden feathers she needs in a potion. And I think that would be a nice way to use her in a future $crooge story... but I think that readers have been conditioned with this lust she has to get that Dime that they might be puzzled or disappointed that the Dime is not part of the story... and that's okay, too.