Okay so obviously Donald Duck represents humanity, human values, the american life, etc. But sometimes in Barks' Donald Duck he seems to be really just a human. Where it had me thinking that he's drawn as a duck sure, but maybe only because of his last name being "Duck", or to comment on his personality. A good example of this in comics is Spiegelman's Maus, where the characters are obviously humans but drawn as mice to express their place in the world. But they don't go on to do mouse things like live in a hole in the wall or eat cheese..
I bring two panels that had me thinking about this idea
This one that was in the latest fantagraphics collection "Terror of the Beagle Boys", donald is in a world of normal looking humans and his duckness is never brought up once. Has me believing that his duckness is something the artist to create an expression of who donald duck is. But in the "reality" that the story takes place in, in the "real" universe of donald duck he is actually a human, but he's just not draw as one. If that makes any sense...
I forget the story/collection this is in, but this is another panel I took a photo of, where donald just refers to himself as a human being.
Anyways, curious as to what some long time donald readers think about this, or maybe there has been explanations before that I've yet to see. I read all these comics, but never have any friends who care, glad to be a part of this forum!
Carl Barks has said that he saw the Ducks as caricatured human beings. The earliest Scrooge appearances have McDuck being called "the world's richest MAN". Yet, Donald is very much a duck visually, and especially in the longer four-color issues, he and his nephews stand out, often as the only ducks in a story. Donald lives in a world where one can be both a duck and a human being at the same time. It's a cartoon fantasy world where such things are normal.
Hey 1875dime, welcome to the forum! This is certainly an entrance! (We have a welcome section where you can introduce yourself, by the way.)
Your question got me thinking: what is the definition of a human, anyway? Are we talking physically human (like those women in the first panel), or cognitively human (as opposed to animals, like in Barks' Think Box Bollix)? The dictionary got me nowhere, it just referred to humans as people and vice-versa, and the etymological root of the word goes back to earth-beings (as opposed to gods). (For etymology nerds like me, I'll lay out Etymonline's explanation: human, originally an adjective, comes from the Latin humanus via the Old/Middle French humain. The Germanic/Old English version, guma, is no longer in use but survives in (bride)groom. Humanus, the possessive form of man, also meant what we would consider today as humane and refined. Ultimately, the word finds its origins in the theoretical Proto-Indo European language's root form that would have been pronounced roughly as *(dh)ghomon-, meaning earthling or earth-being.)
I believe Donald Duck is a person. He's not a talking frog (neither singing nor prince) or something like that; he is obviously accepted as a legal person in Duckburg as much as the dognoses are. Years of reading Disney comics during my formative years have made me blind to Donald's appearance, in that I feel he doesn't look out of place at all around 'real humans'. Ever since Roger Rabbit (is that right?), there's been this strain of thought that separates people and 'Toons, but I think that's ridiculous. That's obviously not how it worked back in the Golden Age of Animation. In the Latin America features of the 40s, where Donald walked amongst filmed people, nobody batted (bat?) an eye.
To me, Donald Duck's shape is not metaphorical, in the way Artie Spiegelman is in Maus. He is a duck. He looks like one, therefore he is one.
I've always looked at the comics in a directly physically representative way. There is of course also the matter of anatomy that comes up from time to time, but I don't really believe that anatomy exists in the comics. Any anatomical drawings are clearly in jest and physically impossible (unlike, say, Thomson and Thompson in Tintin's Race to the Moon) and there's clearly no such thing as blood (or any other body fluids apart from sweat, actually), and Disney being Disney there'll never be any. And I'm fine with that, let's be clear. Some things are simply abstracted away in fiction. Here, those are on the inside rather than on the outside.
So yes, to me Donald is a human: not anatomically, because there's no such thing, but in every other sense of the word he is human.
Barks' characters are all Human, having the full range of Human emotions and motivations. Only, they are exaggerated in their characteristics. I don't feel that the Duck universe characters in the Italian stories act like humans. For my own stories, I consider all the characters human, and almost all the things that happen come from experiences I've had in my own life, and characters are based on people I've met.
Post by Scrooge MacDuck on Aug 29, 2016 9:09:16 GMT
Like That Duckfan said, the whole matter is how you define human. I don't think that anthropomorphic animals in Disney comics are just caricatures of characters who are really Homo Sapeins; to me, this is really a universe where all sorts of sentient species exist. But again, this isn't The Looney Tunes or even Zootopia either: the characters are human in the sense that they are all civilized, sentient beings living in a single society, where the fact that they are of different species isn't relevant to how they're going to be treated and how they're going to act.
Reprinting here my comment on this topic from DCF:
Well, I'd say that Barks did and didn't consider them to be ducks. Certainly he made them thoroughly human in their motivations and concerns and activities. They are never motivated by any aspect of a small-"d" duck's existence. He also often had characters refer to them as humans. In "Statuesque Spendthrifts" the question is whether Scrooge is the richest "man" in the world (though in "The Second Richest Duck," where he's competing with another duck, it's phrased as who is the richest duck!). In "The Screaming Cowboy," the hermit blames the avalanches on "the man who wrote that song." (True, he doesn't know then that it was Donald...but the reader does, and thinks of Donald as "the man"--the reader doesn't think, "No, it wasn't a man who wrote it, it was a duck!") Those are just two examples from the first volume of WDCS stories I happened to pick up. While the Duck/McDucks often refer to themselves as ducks, it's easy in context to read that as similar to a familial or clan identity, not as an entirely separate species from the dog-nosed (and sometimes dog-eared) humans. In any case, it's clear that the dognoses, the ducks, and the speaking chickens/geese/etc. are all *people* with human motivations and life patterns.
It's true that Barks consistently presented the ducks as having come from eggs (as in "That's No Fable!"), and Rosa differs from him on that point, since Rosa finds that notion quite off-putting. But I'd agree with Rosa that Barks's ducks overall are more "humans who happen to look like ducks" than they are ducks. They live in people-houses in people-towns, they eat people-food, they have jobs or go to school, they have dogs or cats as pets. They are not hunted by dognosed duck-hunters. They need planes to fly! Daffy Duck retains more duck-nature than do Donald & Co. Bugs has more rabbit-nature (living in a hole in the ground, eating carrots--the Ducks prefer hamburgers and turkey dinners!). Even Kermit has more frog-nature, having grown up in a swamp with other frogs.
Post by Scrooge MacDuck on Aug 29, 2016 22:40:08 GMT
Once again, I think Disney ducks are not literally human carticatures, but are pretty much to normal ducks what we are to apes. Would we laugh at the idea of living naked in trees and eating bananas? Sure. Would we deny our ancestors were apes? With few exceptions, no.
Sometimes i feel that Barks has anthropomorphized Disney's universe too much. Those characters were not originally meant to be humans. They were meant to be gag sources, that's why they were drawn as animals. Nowadays, them being animals offers essentially nothing. Barkses or Rosa's stories would be exactly the same if the roles were played by human actors dressed in Scrooge's or Donald's clothes.
I don't feel that the Duck universe characters in the Italian stories act like humans.
The characters in most of The Italian-produced stories I'ved read are generally much more energetic (like they're on large overdoses of Speed, and they also seem to be less full-rounded as characters. Barks' main characters, like Donald, Scrooge and Huey, Dewey and Louie, show the full range of human emotions and actions, including acting prudent and reckless, smart and stupid, being mean or nice, uncaring or empathetic, being the hero or the villain, or the "goat". In Italian stories, they seem to be not only a lot more exaggerated, but also more stereotyped.
Very interesting. It's certainly a different genre. I feel like Italian comics have become more mature in recent years, but that's probably an overall general trend. 1950s Bottaro comics are much more wacky than 1960s Scarpa comics, which in turn are more cartoony than 1970s De Vita comics, 1980s Cavazzano comics, and so on, and so forth.
I can definitely see what you're saying, Rob, and I agree to a certain extent with Barks but I'm afraid I would choose a Scarpa comic over a Vicar comic (for example) any day. I just like the Italian style better. Modern stories especially (post-Cavazzano, in as far as I know anything about that sort of thing), are very good at mixing the pratfalls with more serious moments. There are some great examples of that in the DoubleDuck comics. (I would argue, and I know this is probably a minority position, that the English translation often detracts from Italian stories -- going by what I've read in recent IDW comics -- but that's a discussion for another day.) Barks was indeed a master at making his ducks human and his stories brilliantly comic regardless. But, I can't help but say that many who followed in his footsteps and who didn't have that spark, made Duckburg a much more conventional and much more boring place than it should ever be. (Especially in some, not all, 1980s Danish-produced stories.) It might just be the style of artwork. I don't know.
In that sense, I prefer the Italian school above the Danish school at the moment.
And on the original topic of this thread...somehow we ended up addressing it on another thread entirely. For Barks' view on the Ducks as human beings who just happen to look like ducks, see Carl Barks: Conversations (ed. Donald Ault), references in index under "Ducks, as human beings." For instance, "I guess I always felt they were human beings, just humans with ducks' bodies. All their problems were the same as humans had. I guess that I humanized them." (p. 83)