Donald Duck is an animated cartoon and comic book character best known for his cartoons from Walt Disney Studios. Donald is a white anthropomorphic duck with yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He usually wears a sailor shirt[?] and cap[?] — but no pants. Some people believe that Finland banned him because he has no trousers, but this is an urban legend  (http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/finland.htm).
According to the cartoon "Donald Gets Drafted" (1942), Donald's full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck. To find Donald's name in other countries, please see Disney characters' names in various languages.
Donald first appeared in the Silly Symphonies cartoon "The Wise Little Hen" on June 9, 1934 (though he is mentioned in a 1931 Disney storybook). Donald's appearance in the cartoon, as created by animator Dick Lundy[?], is similar to his modern look — the colors are the same, as is the blue sailor shirt and hat — but his features are more elongated, his body plumper, and his feet bigger. Donald's personality is not developed either; in the short, he only fills the role of the unhelpful friend from the original story. The character's voice, however, performed by voice actor Clarence "Ducky" Nash, is already present and would remain the same until Nash's death 51 years later. It was largely this semi-intelligible speech that would cement Donald's image into audiences' minds and help fuel his rise to stardom.
Bert Gillett[?], director of "The Wise Little Hen", brought Donald back in his Mickey Mouse cartoon, "The Orphan's Benefit" on August 11, 1934. Donald is one of a number of characters who are giving performances in a benefit for Mickey's Orphans[?]. Donald's act is to recite the poems "Mary Had a Little Lamb[?]" and "Little Boy Blue[?]", but every time he tries, the mischievous orphans taunt him or harass him, leading the duck to fly into a squawking fit of anger. This explosive personality would remain with Donald for decades to come.
Donald continued to be a hit with audiences. The character began appearing in most Mickey Mouse cartoons as a regular member of the ensemble with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto. Cartoons from this period, such as the 1935 cartoon "The Band Concert[?]" — in which Donald repeatedly disrupts the Mickey Mouse Orchestra's rendition of The William Tell Overture[?] by playing "Turkey in the Straw[?]" — are regularly hailed by critics as exemplary films and classics of animation. Animator Ben Sharpsteen[?] also minted the classic "Mickey, Donald, and Goofy" comedy in 1935, with the cartoon "Mickey's Service Station[?]".
Donald was redesigned in 1937 to be a bit fuller, rounder, and cuter. He also began starring in solo cartoons, the first of which was the January 9, 1937 Ben Sharpsteen cartoon, "Don Donald[?]". This short also introduced Donald's long-time love interest, Daisy Duck (here called "Donna Duck"). Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, would make their first animated appearance a year later in the April 15, 1938 film, "Donald's Nephews[?]", directed by Jack King[?] (they had been earlier introduced in the Donald Duck comic strip by Al Taliaferro , see below).
During World War II, film audiences were looking for brasher, edgier cartoon characters. It is no coincidence that the same era that saw the birth and rise of Bugs Bunny also saw Donald Duck's popularity soar. By 1949, Donald had surpassed Mickey Mouse as Disney's most popular character. Before 1941, Donald Duck had appeared in about 50 cartoons. Between 1941 and 1965, Donald would star in over 100.
Several of Donald's shorts during the war were propaganda films, Most notably "Der Fuehrer's Face[?]", released on January 1, 1943. In it, Donald plays a worker in an artillery factory in "Nutziland" (Nazi Germany).He struggles with long working hours, very small food rations, and having to salute every time he hears a military march. In the end he becomes little more than a small part in a faceless machine with no choice but to obey till he falls, suffering a nervous breakdown. Then Donald wakes up to find that his experience was in fact a nightmare. At the end of the short Donald looks to the Statue of Liberty and the American flag with renewed appreciation. "Der Fuehrer's Face" won the 1943 Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
Other notable shorts from this period include the so-called Army shorts, six films that follow Donald's life in the US Army from his drafting to his life at boot camp under sergeant Black Pete to his first actual mission as a commando having to sabotage a Japanese air base. Titles in the series include:
Donald Gets Drafted also featured Donald having a physical examination before joining the army. According to it Donald has flat feet and is unable to distinguish between the colors green and blue, which is a type of color blindness. Also in this cartoon sergeant Pete comments on Donald's lack of discipline.
Many of Donald's films made after the war recast the duck as the brunt of some other character's pestering. Donald is repeatedly attacked, harassed, and ridiculed by his nephews, by the chipmunks Chip 'n Dale, or by other one-shot characters such as a bear or a colony of ants. In effect, the Disney artists had reversed the classic "screwball" scenario perfected by Walter Lantz and others in which the main character is the instigator of these harassing behaviors, rather than the butt of them. However, by turning the tables, Donald's aggressors come off to some as sadistic or cruel, and some critics have found the films unfunny as a result.
The post-war Donald also starred in educational films[?], such as "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land[?]" (1959), and made cameos in various Disney projects, such as The Reluctant Dragon[?] (1941) and the Disneyland television show (1959).
Donald may well have made his first printed appearance in "Mickey Mouse Annual" of 1931, a giveaway publication that included the poem "More HooZoo", which listed all of Mickey's barnyard animal friends (most of Disney's major characters developed out of this barnyard scenario). Among them was a duckling named Donald Duck. Besides the name, however, there is little similarity between this character and the one introduced in "The Wise Little Hen" if 1934. The book was drawn by Wilfred Haughton[?].
The Donald of "The Wise Little Hen" made his printed debut in the newspaper comic strip adaptation of that cartoon. It was released between September 16 and December 16, 1934 in the Silly Symphonies Sunday pages by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro. ON February 10, 1935, Donald appeared in the Mickey Mouse daily strip by Ted Osborne and Floyd Gottfredson.
A supporting character in Mickey's strip, Donald came to dominate the Silly Symphonies strips between August 30, 1936 and December 12, 1937. At the time, Ted Osborne was credited as writer and Al Taliaferro as artist and inker. Later studies of their work, however, show that Taliaferro probably contributed plot ideas and gags as well. The duo turned Donald from a countryman to a city dweller. They also introduced the first members of The Duck family other than Donald himself, namely Donald's identical triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, who debuted on October 17, 1937. The sons of his "cousin" Della Duck (his sister in the animated shorts), the triplets were sent to spend some time with him as guests while their father recovered at the hospital from their latest prank. Nevertheless, Donald ended up serving as their adoptive parent.
At this time the first Donald Duck story which was originally created for a comic book made its appearance. Disney had licensed the Italian publishing house Mondadori[?] to create stories, with the Disney characters as their stars. The first of them starring Donald, under his Italian name "Paolino Paperino", was "Paolino Paperino e il mistero di Marte" (later reprinted in the USA as "The Mystery of Mars") by Federico Pedrocchi[?], first published on December 30, 1937. The story was only 18 pages long and crude by later standards, but it is credited as the first to feature Donald in an adventuring rather than a comedic role. It is also the first of many to depict Donald as a space traveller, in this case travelling to Mars (See Mars in fiction).
Back in the USA, Donald finally became the star of his own newspaper comic strip. The Donald Duck daily strip started on February 2, 1938, and the Donald Duck Sunday page began December 10, 1939. Both were drawn by Taliaferro, this time co-operating with writer Bob Carp[?]. Like before, Taliaferro continued to contribute plot ideas and gags, and some studies credit Taliaferro with most of the ideas that would turn his run of the strip into a so-called "classic". He continued to work at the daily strip until October 10, 1968 and at the Sunday page until February 16, 1969.
Among other things, Taliaferro made several additions to Donald's supporting cast. Bolivar, Donald's pet St. Bernard[?] first appeared in the strip on March 17, 1938, following his only animated appearance in "Alpine Climbers[?]" (July 25, 1936). Donald's second cousin Gus Goose, the son of Aunt Fanny Coot, made his first appearance on May 9, 1938 (he would make the leap to animation a year later in 1939's "Donald's Cousin Gus[?]"). Daisy Duck first appeared on the strip on November 4, 1940, following her first proper animated appearance in "Mr. Duck Steps Out[?]", first released on June 7, 1940. Donald's paternal grandmother "Elviry" (Elvira Coot, usually just called Grandma Duck) first appeared in a portrait on August 11, 1940 and in person on September 28, 1943. The first member of the Coot Kin to appear. Taliaferro also reintroduced Donna Duck as a separate character from Daisy. The old flame of Donald rivaled Daisy for his affections between August 7 - August 18, 1951, before leaving him for another man. Though he did not not create most of those characters, Taliaferro is credited with the development of their personalities as well as Donald's own personality. It has been said that Taliaferro set the foundations for the later development of the character under Carl Barks and his successors.
Donald had already been familiar to the American reading public through his newspaper comic strip by 1942. Then Disney licensed Western Publishing to create original comic book stories, with Disney characters as their stars. But the first American Donald Duck story originaly created for a comic book was created by Studio-employed artists. More specificaly it was "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold", first published on October, 1942. The plot for the story had been originaly suggested by Harry Reeves[?] and Homer Brightman[?] for a cartoon that never reached production. The notes for the cartoon were given to Bob Karp, who had been assigned to write Western's script. As intended, he used it as the basis for his story. Then it was given to Carl Barks and Jack Hannah to illustrate. Each of them drew half of the story's 64 pages. More specificaly Barks drew pages #1, 2, 5, 12-40, Hannah drew pages #3, 4, 6-11, 41-64. The story places Donald and his nephews on a treasure hunt for the lost treasure of Henry Morgan and it manages to combine elements of humor and adventure with dramatic moments and mystery rather well. Though it is an early drawing effort by Barks, his attention to detail is already visible. The script demanded him to draw a Harbor and a sailing ship. Barks decided to use issues of National Geographic, which he collected, as reference sources. The result was a largely accurate depiction of his subjects. Probably as a result of every person contributing in the story's creation being more familiar with the standards of cartoons shorts and/or newspaper comic strips, rather than those of comic books, the story had very few dialogue scenes. The story is considered significant as both the first Donald story drawn by Barks for a comic book and the first to involve Donald in a treasure hunting expedition. Barks would later use the treasure-hunting theme in many of his own stories.
It should be noted that until this point the developement of both the animated and the comic strip version of Donald was the result of a combined effort by a number of different creators, rather than a single one. And it can be said that the comic version had already diverged from the animated one in a number of ways, as was already the case with Mickey at the time.
But the comic book version of Donald was mainly developed by Carl Barks beginning in 1943. Barks largely did away with Donald's animated persona as a loafing, lazy hothead whose main quality is his hardly understandable quacking. To make him suitable for a comic-book story, Barks redefined his personality, gave him articulated speech, and shaded emotions. To give Donald a world to live in, Barks developed the city of Duckburg in the American state of Calisota. Barks also chose not to feature other prominent Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse or Goofy (who apparently live in a different town) in order to focus on Duckburg citizens like the richest duck in the world, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, lucky cousin Gladstone Gander, and the peculiar inventor Gyro Gearloose. In the comics, Donald lives in a house in Duckburg with Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck.
Much of this scenario would resurface in the 1987 TV series DuckTales. In that cartoon, however, Donald works and lives as a sailor on an aircraft carrier, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie live with Uncle Scrooge instead.
In more detail, Barks had quit working at the Studio and had found employment at Western Publishing with a starting pay of twelve dollars and fifty cents per page. According to a later interview by Barks, the company originally expected him to illustrate stories based on the scripts of others. They had sent him a script along with the following note:"Here is a 10-page story for Donald Duck. Hope that you like it. You are to stage it, of course. And if you see that it can be strengthened, or that it deviates from Donald either in narration or action, please make the improvements.". Wanting to script his own stories, Barks started working on the script provided, freely changing whatever he wished. When he had finished with it, very little of the original remained. The story was The Victory Garden, first published in April, 1943. Barks had made his point by improving the original script beyond what had been expected of him. From then on Barks both scripted and illustrated his stories.
His production during that year seems to be at the pace he would follow for much of the following decade. Eight 10-pagers to be published in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, published in a monthly basis, and one longer story for the sporadically published "Donald Duck". In this case the story was "The Mummy's Ring", 28-pages long, first published in September, 1943 . The shorter stories would usualy focus on Donald's everyday life and on comedy, while the longer ones were usually adventure stories set in exotic locales. The later would often contain more dramatic elements and darker themes, and would place Donald and his nephews into dangerous and often near-fatal situations. To add realism to his illustration of those stories' settings, Barks would still seek reference sources. The magazine National Geographic would usually provide most of the material he needed.
In both cases the stories presented Donald's personality as having multiple aspects which would surface according to circumstance. Or as Barks would say later:" He was sometimes a villain, and he was often a real good guy and at all times he was just a blundering person like the average human being". Adding another note of realism was the fact that Donald could end up being either the victor or the loser in his stories. And often even his victories were hollow. This gave a sense of realism to Donald's character and the characters and situations around him.
His nephews accompanied him in those stories and Barks also gave many aspects to their personalities. In some cases they acted as the mischievous brats Taliaferro had introduced, often antagonizing their uncle. In some cases they got in trouble and Donald would have to save them. But in others they proved remarkably resourceful and inventive, often helping their uncle out of a difficult situation. Sometimes they would appear to have developed a deeper understanding of things and level of maturity than their uncle.
The first recurring character that Barks would introduce was Donald's next-door Neighbor Jones. He was mentioned by name and made a cameo in "Good Deeds", first published in July, 1943. He was mentioned as a neighbor that Donald likes to harass, but more as a form of teasing than anything more serious. Then he made his first full appearance in "Good Neighbors", first published in November 11, 1943. There Donald and he appear to have agreed to a truce. But when they misinterpret a number of chance events to be cover attacks by their respective neighbor, they resume their fighting with renewed determination. In the process of their backyard warfare, they almost managed to destroy each others houses. The Nephews, who had enough of this fighting, reported it to the houses' owners. The two neighbors had to find new houses to rent. But to their disappointment, they found themselves as next-door neigbours. The fighting, not surprisingly, continues. Jones seems always to be in a bad mood and Donald just serves to make him angry. The two irrational and easily irritated neigbbors would serve as the focus of a number of 10-pagers.
The next two recurring characters to be introduced by Barks were arguably more significant. Donald's maternal uncle Scrooge McDuck made his first appearance in "Christmas on Bear Mountain", first published on December, 1947. The first member of The Clan McDuck to appear. His name was based on Ebenezer Scrooge, another fictional character from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The story's title was based on "A Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky, presumably more known from a scene of Fantasia featuring Chernabog. Scrooge's first appearance was almost immediately followed by that of Donald's first cousin Gladstone Gander in "Wintertime Wager", first published on January, 1948. In fact this is acknowledged in the stories' internal chronology. The first story occurs at December 24, 1947 and has a scene occurring on the night of December 25, 1947. The second occurs on the morning of December 25, 1947.
Both characters didn't yet have their familiar characteristics. Gladstone was presented as a rather arrogant cousin that had a claim on Donald's house. More specifically, in Summer he had gotten Donald to agree to a wager. On Christmas he had to either swim in a lake near his house or to pass this house to Gladstone. Gladstone does not yet lay claim to the title of "The Luckiest Duck In the World". Daisy, who saves Donald from losing his house, still seems to have no interest in Gladstone. Their love triangle hadn't formed yet. As for Scrooge, he was a bearded, bespectacled, reasonably wealthy old man who is visibly leaning on his cane. He was living in isolation in a "Huge Mansion", which is said to be influenced by that present in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. Even his introductory thought panels would be today recognized as more characteristic for Flintheart Glomgold, instead of Scrooge.
Scrooge is thinking the following: "Here I sit in this big lonely dump, waiting for Christmas to pass! Bah! That silly season when everybody loves everybody else! A Curse on it! Me - I'm different! Everybody hates me, and I hate everybody!". In later stories Scrooge is still a character that expresses a sense of bitterness, but these particular words seem to indicate misanthropy. Concerning his sense of humor, he plans to entertain himself by inviting his nephews to his mountain cabin and then scaring them out of it. This early version of Scrooge is said to have more in common with Charles Montgomery Burns, than with his later and more developed one.
In the following years both characters would become prominent members of Donald's supporting cast. In Gladstone's case, he soon started to rival his cousin in a number of personal wagers and organized contests. His incredible luck was introduced in "Race to the South Seas", first published in 1949. This story also was the first to present Donald and Gladstone trying to win Scrooge's favor in order for one of them to become his heir. They both claim to be Scrooge's closest living relative, as Donald is the son of Scrooge's sister and Gladstone is the son of Scrooge's sister's sister-in-law. Scrooge would later expess his doubts that the latter constitutes an actual familial relationship. Gladstone would also rival his cousin in a treasure hunt in "Luck of the North", first published in December,1949. The later story is still considered as one of his strongest appearances. It is one of the rare occassions where his luck is combined with conscious efforts on his part and he proves to be a rather competent and resourceful adventurer in his own right. Gladstone soon also became Donald's rival for Daisy's affections. The love-triangle of Donald, Daisy and Gladstone would became an on-going theme for the following decades. Daisy actually dates both cousins and is said to have them both wrapped around her little finger.
While Gladstone's development and establishment seemed to take about a year after his appearance, Barks continued to experiment with Scrooge's appearance and personality for the following four years. Barks would later claim that he originally only intended to use Scrooge as a one-shot character, but then he decided he could prove useful in further stories. His second appearance in The Old Castle's Secret, first published in June, 1948, had Scrooge recruiting his nephews to search for a family treasure back in Dismal Downs, the old castle of the Clan McDuck, built in the middle of a swamp in Scotland. "Foxy Relations", first published in November, 1948, was the first story where Scrooge is called by his title "The Richest Duck in the World".
"Voodoo Hoodoo", first published in August, 1949, was the first storie to hint at Scrooge's past with the introduction of two figures from it. Foola Zoola, an old African sorcerer and chief of the Voodoo tribe and Bombie the zombie. The first has cursed Scrooge and seeks revenge for the destruction of his village and the taking of his tribe's lands by Scrooge, decades ago. Scrooge admits to his nephews that he had used an army of "cut-throats" to get the tribe to abandon their lands, in order to establish a diamond-mining colony. The event was placed in 1879 during the story, but it would later be retconned to 1909 to fit with Scrooge's later-established personal history. The second figure is the organ of the sorcerer's curse and revenge. He has sought Scrooge for decades before reaching Duckburg ... and mistaking Donald for him. It should be noted at this point that Bombie isn't really undead and Foola Zoola doesn't practice necromancy. Barks, with a note of skepticism often found in his stories, explained the zombie as a living person who has never died, but has somehow gotten under the influence of a sorcerer. Although some scenes of the storie were intended as a parody of Bela Lugosi's White Zombie, the story is the first to not only focus on Scrooge's past but on the darkest aspects of his personality.
"Trail of the Unicorn", first published in February, 1950, introduced Scrooge's private Zoo and had Donald and Gladstone competing for a reward Scrooge placed for the first of them who would bring to his collection of animals its most valuable addition to that date. Namely the last living unicorn that one of Scrooge's pilots had managed to photograph on the Indian part of the Himalayas. This was also the story which introduced Scrooge's private plane. "The Pixilated Parrot", first published in July, 1950, introduced Scrooge's central offices as containing "three cubic acres of money" and two nameless burglars who briefly appear during the story are considered precursors of the Beagle Boys.
"The Magic Hourglass", first published in September, 1950, had Scrooge becoming the focus of the story. During its course several themes are introduced for the character. Donald first mentions that his uncle practically owns Duckburg, a statement that John D. Rockerduck would later put in dispute. Scrooge first hints that he wasn't born into wealth, as he remembers buying the Hourglass of the story at Morocco when he was member of a ship's crew as a cabin-boy. It is the first story where Scrooge mentions speaking another language besides his native English and reading other alphabets besides the Latin alphabet, as during it he speaks Arabic and reads the Arabic alphabet. This theme would be developed in later stories to having Scrooge being able to speak many languages and also read and write in some of them. This would later be explained with Scrooge having a natural talent at being able to quickly learn the various languages he comes into contact with during his adventures and to adopt them as his own. Scrooge is seen here in a more positive light than in previous stories but his more villainous side is present too. Scrooge is trying to reacquire a Magic Hourglass that he gave to Donald, before finding out that it acted as a protective charm for him. To convince his nephews to return it, he pursues them throughout Morocco. Memorably during the story Scrooge interrogates Donald by having him tied up and tickled with a feather for as long as he doesn't provide his uncle information on the location of the Hourglass. Scrooge finaly manages to retrieve it, excanging it with a flask of water as he had found his nephews exhausted, left in the desert with no supplies. As he explains, he intended to give them a higher offer but he just could not resist having somebody at his mercy without taking advantage of it.
"A Financial Fable", first published in March, 1951, had Scrooge delivering his nephew some lessons in productivity as the source of wealth and on the laws of supply and demand. It was also the first story where Scrooge observes that Huey, Louie and Dewey are more similar to him, rather than to Donald. "Terror of the Beagle Boys", first published in November, 1951, introduced the readers to the Beagle Boys although Scrooge seems to be already familiar with them. "The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill", intoduced Scrooge's Money Bin, built on Killmotor Hill in the center of Duckburg. By this point Scrooge had been familiar to readers and other Disney writers and artists, both in the USA and Europe, had started using him in their own stories. Western Publishing started thinking about using Scrooge as a protagonist rather than a supporting character. "Uncle Scrooge #1", featuring the story "Only a Poor Old Man", was published in March, 1952. Along with Back to the Klondike, first published a year later in March, 1953, the two stories largely defined the character, his past, his beliefs, his motivation and the way he thinks, feels and acts.
From then on Barks produced most of his longer stories in "Uncle Scrooge" with Scrooge as their star and focusing in adventure, while his ten-pagers continued to feature Donald as their star and focused on comedy. Scrooge became the central figure of the stories while Donald and their nephews were cast as "Scrooge's Helpers", hired helping-hands who followed Scrooge around the world. This change of focus from Donald to Scrooge was also reflected in stories by other contemporary creators. Since then Scrooge remains the central figure of his "Universe", coining the term Scrooge McDuck Universe.
According to Disney comics author Don Rosa, Donald was born somewhere around 1920—however, this is not an official year of birth. According to Carl Barks' Donald Duck family tree (later developed and re-built by Don Rosa for the Danish publishing house Egmont), Donald's parents are Hortense McDuck and Quackmore Duck. Donald's sister is named Della Thelma Duck, but neither she nor Donald's parents appear in the cartoons or comics except for special cases, like The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. According to Rosa, Donald and Della are twins.
On another note Taliaferro also introduced Donald's car. Namely his "1934 Belchfire Runabout" which made its first appearance on July 1, 1938. Donald is said to have constructed it himself from spare parts of various sources. It is recognizable by its licence plate number "313". Though Donald briefly drove other cars both in Taliaferro's strip and in later stories, this car would stay with Donald throughout the following decades. The car's constant break-downs and need of repairs is often used as a source of humor. Immediately recognizable by readers , it seems to have become as much a trademark of Donald as his sailor shirt and cap. His alias Superduck on the other side has the 313 equipped with a lot of high tech gadgets by Gyro Gearloose to combat crime.
In 1969, many children complained to the publishers of the Italian version of the Donald Duck comics Mondadori[?] that Donald was always the loser in their stories. Writer Guido Martina[?] and artist Giovan Battista Carpi[?] responded by giving Donald a superhero alias named Paperinik ("Superduck"), which they introduced in the two-part, 60-page story "Paperinik il diabolico vendicatore" ("Superduck the Diabolical Vindicator") released between June 8 and June 15, 1969.
While Donald's cartoons enjoy vast popularity in the United States and around the world, his weekly and monthly comic books enjoy their greatest popularity in many European countries, notably Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Most of them are produced and published by the Italian branch of the Walt Disney Company in Italy and by Egmont in Denmark.
According to the Inducks which is a database about Disney comics worldwide, American, Italian and Danish stories have been reprinted in the following countries. In most of them publications continue.: