WSJ says Donald Duck is the “Jerry Lewis” of Germany!

It’s rare when Disney comics get a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, so today’s piece on the popularity of The Donald (Duck, that is) is long overdue. Disney’s comics are indeed more popular in Europe, and the standard characters (aka Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto) are more well known today to children internationally than they are here in the USA. Susan Bernofsky does a good job explaining why Deutschland digs the Duck.


  • Keith Bryant

    It’s about time that “The Duck” gets a little respect! With his 75th birthday next month, I wonder if the Germans have anything special planned?

  • http://www.onanimation.com Dan Caylor

    I remember showing that cartoon to a friend of mine. Someone not into animation. He freaked out and got upset that Donald was throwing up Heil Hitlers like that. He was so relieved with the ending. Talk about emotional reaction. ;)

  • Iritscen

    *idly wonders if the blogger realizes how offended many Germans would be by that picture being used on a general news item about Germany*

  • http://twitter.com/captarschkarte CJ Holden

    Being a German myself, I feel pretty offended by the use of the picture of Nazi-Donald for this article. The picture itself is pretty amusing, but come on! Why do some people always have to pull the Nazi card when they are talking about Germany, even when it’s just about why the Germans love Donald Duck so much?

  • Marc Baker

    It’s an absolute outrage that Mickey, and friends, (especially the Duck family) are nearly unrecognizable in this country, yet everyone, and their brother knows who Miley Cyrus is! (Thank you, ‘Girly Channel!)

  • NicKramer

    It’s about time that “The Duck” gets a little respect! With his 75th birthday next month, I wonder if the Germans have anything special planned?

    I doubt it, as Gemstone is in very serious finacial trouble and the Disney line is in limbo.

  • Jeff

    I think the image is appropriate if you actually read the article.

    I tried to read it, but it seems to stop in mid-sentence:
    “Not all of Dr. Fuch’s innovations went over well. In one translation that wa [sic]“

  • Saturnome

    With importation of French mags like Mickey Parade, Picsou Magazine, Super Picsou Géant and others, Disney characters were popular with kids around Quebec, in the 90s. We may not had the particular translation of Germany, but Picsou Magazine took such care in introducing historical facts about Carl Barks! For all this I think that in France Scrooge McDuck may be even more popular than Donald Duck.
    I guess we’re in a special place here, since there’s also the Hannah Montana thing floating around, but to a lesser degree.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I guess the subtext of that article is that they don’t have to dumb-down their entertainment in Germany like we do here.

    It’s surprising to find out that Disney doesn’t tightly control the translations. I wonder if the German publisher could get that same contract today?

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com Tom

    Out of all of the standard Disney icons in the corporate pantheon, Don is by far my favorite. It surprises me that there are so few Donald products available these days. The Mouse is ubiquitous and yet he gives us nothing. NOTHING!

  • Pedro Nakama

    Hey Disney…
    How about some new Donald Duck cartoons from that new shorts division you created!

  • Trond M.

    “I doubt it, as Gemstone is in very serious finacial trouble and the Disney line is in limbo.”

    Not to worry. Gemstone has nothing to do with the European releases (Egmont has the publishing rights in Scandinavia, and I believe Germany too), so I’m sure Donald’s 75th anniversary will get the attention it deserves.

    Here in Norway, the Donald Duck Magazine has a circulation of 111000 copies every week – almost 6 million in a year. That’s not bad for a country with less than 5 million people.

  • http://Mr.FunsBlog Floyd Norman

    Disney make cartoons? You gotta be kidding!

  • Dave F

    Oswald Rabbit tried to raise his pre-Mickey head a few years ago, but the Mouse must have taken care of his fuzzy tail. Only room for one global corporate icon and he prefers cheese.

  • Marc Baker

    ‘Hey Disney…How about some new Donald Duck cartoons from that new shorts division you created!’

    At this rate, Disney would probably use that ‘shorts’ devision to make new ‘Hanna Montana’ shorts over new ‘Donald Duck’ shorts.

  • Inkan1969

    I am really astounded by European Disney comics. How were the European writers and artists able to get the artistic freedom to be so creative with Disney corporation characters. The Disney comic output is like a parallel world compared to most Disney U.S. output.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > I am really astounded by European Disney comics. How were the European writers and artists able to get the artistic freedom to be so creative with Disney corporation characters. The Disney comic output is like a parallel world compared to most Disney U.S. output.

    We can only sit back and be jealous and sad about it.

  • Bernhard C. Moffitt

    At Keith Bryant:

    If it’s anything like the celebration of Donald’s 50th anniversary back in the 90s (I think it was the 50th year since Donald arrived in Germany), then it will be something really neat.

    I am not at all surprised by how cultured Donald comes across in German comics. I grew up in Austria during most of the 90s, and we always got Disney comics. Often they would do takes on classical literature with the Duck clan and others acting out the different roles.

    The fact is that with Donald and his cast of characters, they simply are treated better over in Europe. There isn’t the need or desire to dumb things down like there is over here in the States, which leads to Donald, who is still very much an everyman, being actually a rather sharp and intelligent character.

    One example of this is that over in Europe, Donald has a super hero identity that I grew up knowing as Phantomias (PK Duck over here in the States). As the stories and identity developed, Donald showed that he could almost be Batman’s equal in deductive reasoning and planning, using technology from Gyro Gearloose (Daniel Duesentrib)and detective work to solve cases.

    All in all, while the American Donald is enjoyable to watch, the European Donald is still far more intellectually entertaining. The only time I have ever seen the American Donald come close to his European self was when Don Rosa did his Donald and Scrooge comics, but sadly we’ll never see Disney portray those versions in film.

  • Jason

    After all these years, Donald is still a tremendously funny character. He has poignancy as well. All those toonsters out there who’ve inflicted hapless viewers with loud obnoxious self-centered male characters (*cough cough* Seth McFarlane *cough* Butch Hartman *hurl*) could learn a thing or two from the Duck. He’s got hidden depths, he’s not out to annoy anyone, and his frustration with life is easily to identify with. He’s the only Disney character who’s comedically equal to anyone from the Looney Tunes gang. Yes, I’m gonna come out and say it: Donald Duck is funnier than Daffy. WAK!!!

  • David Breneman

    I read the article this morning before I saw it mentioned here, and a big part of Donald’s popularity is the literate and erudite way the comics are translated into German. The translators take a lot of liberties. all of which seem to be improvements to the original material. So I’ve gone to amazon.de and ordered a couple Donald anthologies. Hoffentlich, mein “touristisches Deutsch” ist gut genug, daß ich sie leicht lesen kann. :-)

  • David Breneman

    …And, yeah, the picture chosen to illustrate this article is insensitive and offensive.

  • Simon

    Of course, nobody ever mentions (or even knows) that most Disney comics sold in Europe are produced in Italy, and Donald & Mickey are probably even more appreciated there.

    Heck, even Mussolini was a fan of Mickey Mouse. It was one of the few foreign characters that he didn’t ban during his dictatorship because he enjoyed the stories.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    Why put the ‘Der Fuhrer’s Face’ scene over the article about Donald’s popularity in Germany? The Germans are trying to forget that nightmarish part of their history that more-or-less demonized Germany to the rest of the world seemingly forever. You wouldn’t put
    a scene from ‘Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips’ over an article mentioning
    Bugs’ popularity in Japan,so why the degrading card for Germany’s love for Donald?

  • http://debbiessketchbook.blogspot.com/ Debbie

    This new illustration (also from the same Donald Duck short) isn’t that much better than the one with Donald reading “Mein Kampf”…Why not just post a German language Donald Duck comic cover or panel rather than dredge up WWII era stereotypes?

  • Donald Benson

    A sad note is that Gemstone, the current American publisher of Disney comics (reprints of both American and European material) has reportedly let go of its license after stopping publication some months back.

    Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse are essentially different critters in the comic books. Carl Barks put Donald and his Uncle Scrooge among the top adventure heroes, funny animals or not. And other writers and artists presented Donald, Mickey and even Goofy in epics as well as more traditional funny stories. But Gemstone, like Gladstone before it, never managed to reach beyond a niche audience.

    They did turn out some very nice trade paperbacks. I’d recommend these: Gemstone’s two “Best of Duck Tales” (essential Carl Barks stories that were adapted for the TV show) and the two volumes of “Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” (Don Rosa’s funny and often brilliant riffs on the Barks universe, following Scrooge from childhood to the moment he steps into Donald Duck’s life). They’re still on the shelves in many comic shops at cover price.

  • http://www.rhodesinternational.com protogenes

    “Why put the ‘Der Fuhrer’s Face’ scene over the article about Donald’s popularity in Germany?”

    Maybe to point out the delicious irony. Donald didn’t seem to be a big fan of Germany.

  • David Breneman

    Yet another Nazi image. How wonderfully modern and enlightened. I guess all Germans are Nazis. By the same token, all Americans are slave owners. All Chinese are opium addicts. All blacks are lazy (except the ones that tap dance). All Irishmen are drunks. All Russians are communists. All Japanese have buck teeth and Coke-bottle glasses. All Mexicans are bandits. And all cartoonists promote these negative stereotypes, right? All of them.

  • David Breneman

    Here’s a link to the image the Wall Street Journal used in the article:

    http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-DS827_DieDuc_D_20090522192837.jpg

    Donald is saying “Look, kids – such a magnificent piece of germanic goldsmithery! What a shame that I must destroy it.” (In the story, whoever wears the helmet turns into a tyrant.)

  • shouldbeworking

    I love Donald as a character in both media but

    “He’s the only Disney character who’s comedically equal to anyone from the Looney Tunes gang. Yes, I’m gonna come out and say it: Donald Duck is funnier than Daffy. WAK!!!” ? (Jason)

    Have to disagree. Goofy’s the only DIsney character to hold his own against WB troops…..sometimes…but more than the mouse or duck.

    Disney Characters whether published by the States or Internationally were always more entertaining than the films. But they’re different media. If those stories were made into films it would be a total yakfest…I guess like ducktales. And how would the film-going public react to a heat-packing mouse solving crimes?

    As for the illustration, I took it as irony, not to paint a present-day people with an insulting stereotype. Forget the past? I think we should all remember the past as horrific as it was, not only to prevent it from happening again but as a reminder of the frailties we have as humans to be led astray and turn aginast one another.

  • http://happyaccidents-janne.blogspot.com/ Janne K

    I have to mention also that no other country in the world is more into Disney -comics than Finland.

    Over million people read the Donald Duck (Aku Ankka)- magazine every week. When compared to the population of little over 5 million it tells that the magazine has been and still is more of an institution than just a kids magazine.

    Somehow the tragical/comical, ill-tempered but soft hearted character of Donald struck a chord with the hearts of the finns, right from the start.

    The translations have always been of high quality, advancing the mere straighforward translation from english to finnish to worldplay and linguistic gags. The university actually awarded the magazine for that at some point. The magazine has had some impact on the language that kids or now adults use. Countless studies and papers have been written on the subject.

    The 8000page Collector’s Edition that they mention in the article, probably refers to the Complete Carl Barks -library that is been published in Finland too and sold out quite fast. My critique to that series of books is that they are in color and not black and white like the original Carl Barks library. Good thing is that it contains also every censored page and a wealth of articles.

    Indeed, in Europe, the Disney -comics have more than meets the eye and will leave an actual “Legacy” (the word Disney so eagerly tends to stamp everywhere).

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Indeed, in Europe, the Disney -comics have more than meets the eye and will leave an actual “Legacy” (the word Disney so eagerly tends to stamp everywhere).

    If only we understood that! It’s hard to say you’re a fan of this over here when you know you’re the only one who might actually enjoy it fully. Things are so niche over here it’s sad.

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/you-skinny-hebrew-live/id352134363?i=352134391&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 Rememberthe70s

    “You Skinny Hebrew”
    By: Dean Dino Martin
    Never before Available to the General Public
    (A 1953 humorous & satirical birthday tribute song from Dean Martin to Jerry Lewis)

    Dean Martin (June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995), born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio to Italian immigrant parents, Gaetano and Angela Crocetti.

    Martin and Lewis’ official debut together occurred at Atlantic City’s 500 Club on July 24, 1946 and they were not well received.. More than a few people dubbed them “The Organ Grinder and the Monkey”.

    Lewis and Martin agreed to “go for broke”, to throw out the pre-scripted gags and to improvise. Dean sang and Jerry came out dressed as a busboy, dropping plates and making a shambles of both Martin’s performance and the club’s sense of decorum until Lewis was chased from the room as Martin pelted him with breadrolls. They did slapstick, reeled off old vaudeville jokes, and did whatever else popped into their heads at the moment. This time, the audience doubled over in laughter. This success led to a series of well-paying engagements on the Eastern seaboard, culminating in a triumphant run at New York’s Copacabana.

    The act broke up in 1956, 10 years to the day from the first official teaming.

    Dino made a public reconciliation with Jerry Lewis on Lewis’ Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon in 1976. Frank Sinatra shocked Lewis and the world by bringing Martin out on stage. As Martin and Lewis embraced, the audience erupted in cheers and the phone banks lit up, resulting in one of the telethon’s most profitable years. Lewis reported the event was one of the three most memorable of his life. Lewis brought down the house when he quipped, “So, you working?” Martin, playing drunk, replied that he was “at the Meggum” – this reference to the MGM Grand Hotel convulsed Lewis. This, along with the death of Martin’s son Dean Paul Martin a few years later, helped to bring the two men together. They maintained a quiet friendship but only performed together again once, in 1989, on Dean’s 72nd birthday.

    Martin died of acute respiratory failure at his home on Christmas morning 1995, at the age of 78.

    “You Skinny Hebrew”
    By: Dean Dino Martin
    Never before Available to the General Public
    (A 1953 humorous & satirical birthday tribute song from Dean Martin to Jerry Lewis)

    If you go to the Apple iTunes Store and type “You Skinny Hebrew” in the search line, you will see the Dino to Jerry song.

    You can also click on this link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/you-skinny-hebrew-live/id352134363?i=352134391&ign-mpt=uo%3D4