This is one of my all-time favorite comics stories. I’ve often alluded to it in conversation as “It’s like, you know, that story where Gyro Gearloose builds a house for a picnic?” Very few people get the reference. In fact I am the only one. But It’s a couple of things: a fine example of Carl Barks at his 1957 form — sure fluid art with the joke extended visually to its fullest extent, and a tight plot based on human folly — all executed with a seeming effortlessness. It’s also a fine example of the Gyro story — a well-intentioned dullard whose high intelligence is unencumbered by any sign of wisdom (he’d outsourced that to Helper, his little lightbulb-headed robot.)
Gyro Gearloose and Helper call into the category of foolish leader and the sidekick who saves him — Wallace and Gromit, or Green Hornet and Kato in the recent film. “Picnic” takes that basic dynamic and adds in another universal human truth: how the solution is often worse then the problem; and how losing sight of the goal can take you in the exact opposite direction.