Thursday, December 8, 2011

Unified Duck Theory


If I were Don Rosa, here’s how I’d tackle the Life and Times of Donald Duck:

Donald Duck, orphaned at an early age, spent his boyhood on Grandma Duck’s farm just up the road from Mouseton.  Donald looked up to the older kids in town and followed them on their schemes and adventures.  His fear of abandonment, mistrust of authority, and severe anger issues made young Donald something of a nuisance to Mickey, Dippy and the gang, but they allowed him to tag along because they felt sorry for the little guy.  Poor kid couldn’t even express himself intelligibly, so why make things worse for him?  Young Donald also spent a lot of time playing in an abandoned houseboat docked in Mouseton, dreaming of one day joining the Navy, his blue sailor suit a testament to his dreams of travel and adventure.

As a young man, Donald set his sights on the big city.  He scraped up enough cash to rent an apartment in Duckburg and struck out to join the workforce.  Like many young people with a limited education, Donald had a hard time getting started in a career.  He tried his hand at a number of jobs, including fireman, museum guard, and street sweeper, but found himself ill-suited for almost everything he tried.    Speak slower, Mister Duck.  You’re just too angry, Mister Duck.  Frustrated by his lack of financial success, Donald ignored the frequently-dropped hints of wedding bells from his long-suffering girlfriend, Daisy.  Just when he was gathering up the courage to quit the rat race altogether and enlist, the unexpected occurred:  his deadbeat sister entrusted Donald to become guardian to her triplets, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.   Suddenly Donald found himself saddled with the responsibilities of a much older Duck.  Putting his dreams on hold, Donald moved to the suburbs and devoted himself to providing for his newfound family.

The Angry Young Man

One Christmas, Donald and the boys reconnected with their long-lost rich old Uncle Scrooge McDuck.  The old miser took pity on the boys, and sensing his aversion to charity, appointed Donald an all-purpose employee of McDuck Industries.  Donald and the boys soon found themselves accompanying Scrooge on treasure hunts and archaeological digs, spanning the globe in search of fortune.  Donald’s suppressed thirst for adventure and excitement was awakened anew as he threw himself into his new role of bodyguard/sidekick/pilot/driver/comic relief for the old man.  While he had personally never been happier, as a parent Don felt somewhat conflicted.  His boys were getting a world-class education and experiencing the best that life had to offer, but at the end of the day they had to return to their drab old suburban existence.  Surely the boys would be better off living with the old man; they would provide companionship to Scrooge during his twilight years, while in turn the boys would experience luxury and comfort far beyond anything he could give them.   It was settled.  Donald would leave the boys in the care of Uncle Scrooge, while he fulfilled his childhood dream and shipped out with the Navy.


The boys and Uncle Scrooge continued having adventures while Donald went on to a long and distinguished Naval career.  Donald even joined his childhood pal Mickey Mouse in filming wartime propaganda for bigshot Hollywood director Walt Disney.  Donald retired with his military pension and moved back to Duckburg, where he lived the remainder of his days surrounded by friends and family.  And also he was a superhero.



  1. Apparently an eyebrow rising theory documenting Donald's ups and downs of his childhood and numerous career changes. Interesting!

  2. Did he ever inherited fom Mr McDuck? How was his relationship with Gyro Gearloose? And Gladstone Gander, was he as lucky as it was suggested he was? When did Donald Duck passed away? How well attended was his funeral?

  3. Hmm, you raise some good questions, Oscar!

  4. I love how, when I thought you'd have to go from Ducktales to the horrible Quack Pack, you end it with Paperinik. Props to you!

    A serious attempt at combining the cartoons' Donald with the comics' one would be a very interesting experiment.

  5. Thanks Richie! I've never actually seen Quack Pack... was it really that bad?

  6. If I ever meet Rosa at a convention, I should ask him if, in his "cannon", Donald ever served in WWII, what with the stories being 50s-set and all.

  7. That's a good question. I remember reading somewhere that he didn't like the cartoons (except for Three Caballeros) but that doesn't mean he couldn't use some of them.

  8. Hey Erik! I watched Quack Pack religiously when I was a kid, but that was exclusively due my love of all things Donald. Judging it with an objective eye, it's seriously flawed, trading off characterizations, charm and depth for the sake of cheap gags.

    It becomes downright disappointing once you find out it started as a sequel to DuckTales, with Donald coming back from the Navy and takin' the nephews back with him, rebuilding his relationship with Daisy and learning how to take over the McDuck empire. It would have adapted Barks' Donald epics much like DuckTales did for Uncle Scrooge tales. What I wouldn't give for such a show.