Genre: humor; anthropomorphic-funny animals
Created in: 1934
- Donald Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Donald's first appearance was in The Wise Little Hen (1934), but it was his second appearance in Orphans' Benefit that introduced him as a temperamental comic foil to Mickey Mouse. Throughout the next two decades, Donald appeared in over 150 theatrical films, several of which were recognized at the Academy Awards. In the 1930s, he typically appeared as part of a comic trio with Mickey and Goofy and was given his own film series starting with Don Donald (1937). These films introduced Donald's love interest and permanent girlfriend Daisy Duck and often included his three nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
In addition to animation, Donald is well-known worldwide for his appearances in comics. Donald was most famously drawn by Al Taliaferro, Carl Barks, and Don Rosa. Barks, in particular, is credited for greatly expanding the "Donald Duck universe", the world in which Donald lives, and creating many additional characters such as Donald's rich uncle Scrooge McDuck. Donald has been a popular character in Europe, particularly in Nordic countries where his weekly magazine Donald Duck & Co was the comics publication with the highest circulation from the 1950s to 2009. In Italy, Donald is a major character in many comics, including a juvenile version named Paperino Paperotto, and a superhero alter ego known as Paperinik (Duck Avenger in the US and Superduck in the UK).
The character's first appearance in comic strip format was the 1934 Silly Symphony comic strip sequence based on the short The Wise Little Hen. For the next few years, Donald made a few more appearances in Disney-themed strips, and by 1936, he had grown to be one of the main characters in the Silly Symphony strip. Ted Osborne was the primary writer of these strips, with Al Taliaferro as his artist. Osborne and Taliaferro also introduced several members of Donald's supporting cast, including his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. A daily Donald Duck comic strip drawn by Taliaferro and written by Bob Karp began running in the United States on February 2, 1938; the Sunday strip began the following year.
In 1937, an Italian publisher named Mondadori created the first Donald Duck story intended specifically for comic books. The eighteen-page story, written by Federico Pedrocchi, is the first to feature Donald as an adventurer rather than simply a comedic character. Fleetway in England also began publishing comic book stories featuring the duck.
In 1942, Western Publishing, working with Dell, began creating original comic book stories about Donald and other Disney characters. Bob Karp worked on the earliest of these, a story called "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold".
Carl Barks soon took over the major development of the duck as both writer and illustrator. Under his pen, Donald became more adventurous, less temperamental and more eloquent. Pete was the only other major character from the Mickey Mouse comic strip to feature in Barks' new Donald Duck universe.
Barks placed Donald in the city of Duckburg, creating a host of supporting players, including Uncle Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), April, May and June (1953), Flintheart Glomgold (1956), Magica de Spell (1961), and John D. Rockerduck (1961). Many of Taliaferro's characters made the move to Barks' world as well, including Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Barks placed Donald in both domestic and adventure scenarios, and Uncle Scrooge became one of his favorite characters to pair up with Donald. Scrooge's profile increased, and by 1952, the character had a comic book of his own. At this point, Barks concentrated his major efforts on the Scrooge stories, and Donald's appearances became more focused on comedy or he was recast as Scrooge's helper, following his rich uncle around the globe.