Sunday, June 9, 2024

Happy 90th Birthday, Donald Duck!

Today, pals, is the 90th anniversary of the first appearance of Donald Duck.

Here at The Signal Watch, we have an affection for the duck in the sailor suit and with the speech impediment.   To us, Disney's "Mickey and Friends" characters work because they're different aspects of "the everyman".  Mickey is the spunky, energetic underdog we may see ourselves at in our youth - and, in some appearances, the center of gravity holding chaos together.  But Donald is us just trying to get through the day with its infinite frustrations and what we know we're like when we aren't handling our challenges with grace.  He can also be a tad vain, and would love to be the star, but, you know... Donald be Donald sometimes.

He first showed up in the short "The Wise Little Hen".

The funny thing is that these characters have been around so long, and can be interpreted through so many lenses, I keep the Donald of "Mr. Duck Steps Out" in my head right alongside the gag/ joke character and adventuresome Donald of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.  While also knowing one of my favorite Donald bits is his agent of chaos in "The Band Concert" (apologies for the short clips.  YouTube doesn't carry the full cartoons.) 

I think most folks in the US are aware that Donald Duck appeared in comic books - most folks of a certain age can recall spinner-racks with Disney characters included.  But what most only caught a glimpse of was the work of Carl Barks and Don Rosa that Disney has turned into Ducktales.  

Those comics have a huge following in Europe, but in the US were seen as just for small kids, which... they're classic all-ages stuff, and anyone could pick those comics up and enjoy them.  

For his birthday, Disney put out a few Donald videos, including a new short in the classic style.

My earliest memory of Donald Duck was a bath toy my grandparents, who were from Finland, picked up in Finland during a visit.*  At least that's the story I was given.  But, yeah, Donald and I shared a tub back in the last 70's.  But like most cartoon characters I still have an affection for, he was always just there.  

Disney shorts were probably on TV back then, but a rarity.  I do remember them playing on The Disney Channel in the early days.  It's almost impossible to explain to today's youth that Disney material was oddly hard to access as Disney had held onto their cartoons, keeping them in the vault unless they wanted a specific presentation.

Still, one perseveres.  I've managed to see most of the Donald shorts over the years, and I've got a lot of collections of Donald comics.  I've even found common ground with a few pals over the years via Donald (heya Stuart and Nathan!).

What I haven't done is gotten my pic with Donald at a Disney Park.  One day!

But Jamie did beat me to this by a few years...

Jamie and Dug meeting our duck a few years back

Here's to Donald and his next 90, and all the places he'll appear.

*I found an ebay listing for a toy that most resembles how I remember the Donald toy appearing, and it's listed as Russian, which is curious as Finland and Russia certainly share a border.

I even remember him being yellow

1 comment:

JAL said...