The world’s most famous, and likely most irritable, waterfowl marks a major milestone today as Donald Duck turns 75.
The “feathered anti-hero,” as Agence France-Presse describes him, debuted on this day in 1934 in Walt Disney’s “The Wise Little Hen,” an animated short that also featured his pal Peter Pig in a retelling of the well-known story.
Although Peter never caught on, Donald rose to worldwide fame, starring in more than 150 cartoons and numerous feature films. But, as the Disney Comics Worldwide blog notes, most important may be Donald’s thousands of comic books.
The character first appeared in print in September 1934 in a serialized comic-strip adaptation of “The Wise Little Hen.” He appeared in several strips over the next decade, but it was under the legendary Carl Barks that Donald became a comic-book star.
“It was famous comic book artist Carl Barks, nicknamed The Duck Man, who gave Donald a place to live (Duckburg), an extended family (Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander), friends (Gyro Gearloose) and foes (The Beagle Boys),” writes Arthur at the DCW blog. “Barks’ impressive body of work, over 500 duck stories, are still reprinted in weekly and monthly comic books around the world. They form the basis of Donald’s huge popularity in countries like Denmark, Finland, Germany and Italy — and his work has inspired new artists to create new comic stories in Barks’ tradition.”
It’s in Europe that Donald Duck remains a superstar; The Wall Street Germany last month dubbed him “the Jerry Lewis of Germany.”