Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Donald Duck

Probably the most popular Disney animated creation, and the one who has made the most appearances, although, for studio-determined reasons, he has not achieved the same iconic status (see Icons) as Mickey Mouse. He first appeared as a supporting character in the short The Wise Little Hen (1934), and essentially stole the show. In at least 173 movie appearances since then his character has developed from that of an incomprehensibly spluttering crosspatch whose sole joke was his pyrotechnical loss of temper, through being a Trickster whose tricks always backfired, to become a figure of affection, although still as always volatile. His beloved Daisy has, surprisingly, made only 15 screen appearances, the first – where she was called Donna Duck – in Don Donald (1937). His nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie made their debut in Donald's Nephews (1938), but their greater significance came when Carl Barks teamed them with Scrooge McDuck in his comics, whence they returned – with Scrooge – to the screen in the form of the tv series DuckTales (from 1987) and an Animated Movie, Ducktales: The Movie – Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990). DD can be seen as an Underlier in many fantasy texts where short-fused characters prove to have hearts of gold; because of the age-group of modern fantasy writers, one is tempted to regard the DD shorts as a sort of Taproot Text, to be drawn upon consciously or unconsciously. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.