Donald Duck’s impact on culture and society

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In my last posting, I noted my long time fascination with the comic book adventures of Donald Duck and his family populated by Huey, Dewie, Louie, Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose and Gladstone Gander.  I had always sensed them as more then simply popular culture so was thrilled to be sent an artice entitled:  “5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck (Seriously).”

So, you better take a seat because you will probably be knocked over in amazement:

Donald Duck inspired Manga. 

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It seems that the father of Manga, Osamu Tezuka, acknowledged “…that he owes absolutely all…to none other than Scrooge McDuck. Tezuka's entire artistic style — including such trademarks as the overly large, cutesy eyes and small mouths — can still be seen today as defining aspects of Japanese animation. His work became the basis for all manga, ever, and Tezuka has confirmed that the basis for his work was… Scrooge McDuck.”

Donald Duck discovered a new molecule 20 years before modern science did

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Have you ever heard of Duckmite?  It’s the new molecule that Donald came up with in 1944.  Duckmite, it turns out, is…”considered the first published work depicting a new carbene called Methylene.”  In fact, the Donald Duck comic book it appeared in was referenced in scientific journals.

Raising sunken ships with ping pong balls

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To me, the most amazing adventure of all was when Donald came up with a way to raise a sunken ship by pumping ping pong balls into its interior. It appears that a Danish inventor, Karl Kroyes, also came up with a novel way to raise a sunken ship off the coast of Kuwait in 1964.  He used 24 million ping pong balls to successfully raise the ship (I wonder what that did to world ping pong ball prices).

When he went to get a patent, “…he was told by the Dutch patent office [that] in 1949, 15 years before Kroyer, Carl Barks wrote a story called The Sunken Yacht that showed Donald Duck desperately trying to find a cheap way to raise Uncle Scrooge's sunken ship from the bottom of the ocean. His nephews' solution was to lower a hose from the surface, then pump it full of ping pong balls.”

Uncle Scrooge was the inspiration for Indiana Jones

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Yes, it’s true.  It seems that Spielberg admits that the opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by not one but two Donald Duck comic books.  Here is how the article puts it:

“One of its most iconic sequences is … where Indy invades a temple, steals a treasure and outruns a giant boulder…Spielberg and Lucas was separately inspired by two different Scrooge McDuck comics to write two different parts of that scene. Spielberg has openly admitted that both the idol Indy is stealing and the boulder that chases him afterward came from the 1954 Uncle Scrooge comic The Seven Cities of Cibola, written and drawn by seminal Duck artist Carl Barks.

Donald Duck inspired the movie “Inception”

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In 2002, Uncle Scrooge’s dream was invaded by the infamous Beagle Boys gang who immediately had difficulty telling dream from reality.  Donald Duck has to invade Uncle Scrooge’s dream as well in order to save him.  Uncle Scrooge then began jumping from dream to dream in order to escape.  If you think this all sounds familiar, spend some time with the article and you will see the movie and the comic have plenty more in common.

I hope you will agree that the Donald Duck comics were inspired and that if they deserve this kind of close scrutiny, don’t’ toys as well?  Tell me what you think.

One thought

  1. Thanks, Richard. This is great. I particularly like how, in many of your posts, you track the influence of toys throughout culture in science, film, technology, etc. And yes, I agree that toys deserve close scrutiny. I wonder if anyone is doing any thesis work or scholarship on what toys tell us about our culture and values. Do you know?

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