Tuesday, December 03, 2019

“Why, It’s Old Fezziwig!” | Marvel Classic Comics #36 (1978)



Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Marvel gives two pages to Fezziwig's party in its adaptation. Weirdly (for Christmas Carol adaptations), Fezziwig appears to be just a normal, everyday businessman. He wears no wig of any kind, isn't even fat, and his desk is just the normal kind.

Dick Wilkins is named and Scrooge observes, "Look -- look what a good friend he was to me!" It's an odd exclamation, because at that moment Dick isn't really doing anything other than standing with Scrooge and receiving instructions from Fezziwig. But that doesn't really matter. Scrooge is feeling the emotion of his old friendship and it doesn't have to be because he's actually witnessing a particular act at the moment. Just seeing Young Scrooge and Dick together again is enough to trigger the memory.

Which makes me wonder now whatever happened to Dick. I don't think Dickens ever says and I've never thought about it before. Maybe he's dead by Scrooge's present?

Fezziwig instructs Scrooge and Dick to "have the shutters up" and "clear the room." We don't get to see them putting up the removable shutters, but there's a panel of them scooting desks and chairs away to make room for the food tables and dancing that will replace them.

As a crowd of people enter the room (the fiddler among them), a caption box lets us know about the guests. It mentions Fezziwig's three daughters and their "followers." The text also says that the other guests are made up of Fezziwig's other employees, both from the warehouse and in his household. There's no mention of anyone that makes Fezziwig sound like he's especially compassionate towards outsiders, though. He's very kind and generous towards his guests, but they're all already his people. Belle is not one of them either, but that's a) true to Dickens, and b) to be expected from a version that's already condensed for space.

So far Marvel's Scrooge has appeared to be seriously mentally ill. He had extreme mood swings and hallucinations in the opening scenes, but I found even more evidence at the schoolhouse flashback. That flashback may have been more therapeutic than I realized (in conjunction with the Ghost's possibly putting a healing touch on Scrooge's head), because Scrooge seems better at Fezziwig's. He enjoys watching the party and he defends Fezziwig's kindness when the Ghost facetiously questions it. And he looks appropriately remorseful when Fezziwig's kindness makes Scrooge think about his own treatment of Bob Cratchit. This is the first time I've actually felt any kind of hope for this Scrooge. I wonder if it'll continue to get better. Since most of my reading is based on trying to make sense of inconsistent art - which is a problem I doubt improves as the story progresses - I'm fearful that we're going to get a relapse at some point. Fingers crossed.

There's no scene of Young Scrooge and Dick praising Fezziwig after the party. As with the Classics Illustrated version, Old Scrooge's defense to the Ghost takes place during the party itself and then the Ghost whisks them both away to the next scene.

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