The Crocodile Collector
1988, at the beginning of his duck-career, Don Rosa was asked by Gladstone to make a story based on a cover by Carl Barks. The joke in original cover implied that Donald was going to skin the poor crocodile in order to make a purse out of it. Animal-loving Don didn't like the it, and he came up with an idea of Donald looking for a specific pattern from the crocodile's back.
This was the first time Don did historical research for his duck-story. He enjoyed it immensely. He found out that crocodiles were worshiped in ancient Egypt. According to legend, in the lost temple of Nile's crocodile-god Sobek, there were crocodile mummies that were adorned with golden rings. This fit perfectly to what Don had in mind. Donald would be looking for a Sebek's hieroglyph in the crocodile's back.
Story starts when Donald, Daisy and nephews are on a picnic. Daisy finds from a fleamarket a purse made of crocodile skin that has a strange pattern on it. Nephews buy old Super Snooper comics (reference to Barks-story). Then ducks proceed to $crooge's zoo, that is full oddities and rarities as well as references to Barks-stories. $crooge is upset because his zoo doesn't have the rarest animal in world: a type of crocodile that hasn't be seen since the days of imperial Rome. As it happens, those crocodiles can be identified by the strange markings in their back - Daisy's purse has that very marking! $crooge hires Donald and the boys to find a specimen for him.
Ducks fly to Cairo, where they try to locate the dwelling places of those holy animals. Famous land-marks are shown:
In the first panel of the fourth page you can see the pyramids of Giza and the famous sphinx. These three pyramids were built at the beginning of the Old Kingdom (2665-2155 B.C.). These belonged to pharaohs Khufu (Cheops), Khafre and Menkaure. On the fifth panel ducks drive past the pharaoh Snefrus pyramid (its the first known attempt to build a pyramid)
A new clue sets the ducks on a journey up the Nile, towards the Khartuom in Sudan. The beautiful building that we see in the fifth panel of the page 8 is the temple of Hathor. It was built by the pharaoh Ramses (1279-1213 B.C.) to his wife. Hathor was the goddess of love and music.
From Khartoum the ducks proceed to
Lake Victoria in Uganda. And on they go: following another clue, they take a
riverboat to Lake Kagera. Don had copied the boat from the Humphey Bogart/Katherine
Hepburn movie The African Queen (1951). Nowadays the same boat
is a tourist attraction in Key Largo.
Finally, in Ruanda, at the springhead of river Nile, the ducks find the lost Temple of Sobek. Look at the left column in lower panel of the page 13: this time Carl Barks' face in among the hieroglyphs! Upper hieroglyphs in the same column really stand for crocodile temple, Don really has done his research! In the second panel of the page 14 you can find a hidden Mickey. There's that Carl Barks face again in the third panel of the same page. The ducks are about the get eaten by crocodiles, but find an escape route just in time. In the underground labyrinth they find crocodile-mummies, with their golden trinkets. Now the ducks can return happily to Duckgburg with a gold treasure and an egg of a holy crocodile.
Kai Saarto (c) 2002
P.S. D.U.C.K.-dedication can be found among the flowers in the first panel.