The Walt Disney Company’s parody “Scrooge McDuck and the Old Man and the Sea” is further proof there is only step from the sublime to the ridiculous. This Disney comic book (see cover art below), which initially appeared in 1987, contains 22 pages and over 100 panels of illustrations, is set in a fictional island called Tuba, and features such classic Disney characters as Donald Duck, his nephews, and their wealthy uncle Scrooge McDuck as well as a new character named Acciuga. This comic book was written and illustrated by the great Italian cartoon artist Guido Scala (b. 1936; d. 2001), one of Disney’s most famous cartoon artists. (Scala’s drew and wrote over 460 comics for Disney during a span of 35 years; here is a short bio.) Scala’s cartoon version of “Old Man and the Sea” is only loosely based on Hemingway’s Cuban fisherman story. Nevertheless, although Scala’s story bears little similarity to Hemingway’s novella, both stories share one significant feature in common: tourists.
Tourists play a large role in Guido Scala’s comic book story, which begins with the character Acciuga (pictured below), who is having trouble selling toys to the tourists who visit the island.
After a flash of inspiration, Acciuga comes up with a new idea: he decides to organize a fishing competition on the main pier of Tuba. The tourists flock to his fishing competition, but then flee the island in droves when a large shark crashes into the pier and scares them away. That’s when Acciuga calls Scrooge McDuck to help him capture the shark and bring back the tourists to Tuba. Here is where Scala’s story takes a Hemingwayesque turn. Scrooge McDuck walks to the edge of the pier and captures the shark with a piece of rope but then is dragged far out to sea by the shark. Donald Duck, his nephews, and Acciuga go aboard a small skiff in search of Scrooge McDuck. They find him amid the ruins of an old lighthouse and then set sail for Tuba. On the return voyage the skiff capsizes during a storm but the shark rescues them and returns them to Tuba. The shark is tamed and becomes a major tourist attraction on the Island of Tuba.
By comparison, tourists play a small but significant role at the end of Hemingway’s story. After Santiago has returned to the village with the carcass of his great marlin blue, a tourist couple, patrons at La Terraza, mistake the skeleton of Santiago’s marlin for that of a shark. They thus confuse the noble prey with a treacherous predator. The tourists in Hemingway’s novella, sipping cocktails and enjoying the sea breeze and sunshine of Cuba, thus represent corruption, ignorance, and. They are oblivious to Santiago’s hard life and his heroic three-day ordeal.