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Il blog è ancora giovane, ma ha già le sue belle (e brave) esclusive.

Come bisbigliato in qualche post dei giorni scorsi, il collezionista e fan di fumetto, disegni animati, illustrazione (e quant’altro) Willy (o “Willi”) Brignone, la bellezza di cinque anni fa aveva intervistato Don Rosa. Era accaduto per una pubblicazione che avevo l’onore (ma soprattutto l’onere, e anche l’orrore, come mi sarei ben presto accorto) di dirigere: la fantomatica edizione italiana della prestigiosa rivista di approfondimento e critica “The Comics Journal”.
Ebbene, dopo tutto questo tempo di distanza, Willi ci ha concesso la pubblicazione della stessa, con un suo corredo di commenti, qui nel nostro umile blog.

Ve la posto in inglese, e poi ve la centellino in italiano, con altrettante immagini del Maestro del Kentucky (come questa, scattata a Pistoia un paio di anni fa, durante una cena fra amici, dopo la conferenza alla Fumetteria “Joker Comics”).
Eccola, che arriva!

I often read the Disney Comics mailing list without the necessary attention; but I was astonished by a Don Rosa’s assertion:
“Gus and Jaq are mice, Mickey is a human. Sooner you should worry about creatures who live their lives in close proximity to one another, like Goofy and Pluto, or Grandma Duck and the ducks waddling around in her barnyard. What’s that all about?
“But what’s more amusing to do, and which we’ve done on here from time to time, is try to count the number of different types of characters there are in Disney comics. An incomplete list would include normal animals (the squirrels in the background trees, the fish in the water), normal animals that have high intelligence (Pluto), normal animals with super-intelligence and the ability to think and speak, at least to other animals (Chip n’ Dale, Scamp), animals who wear clothes and live in houses but otherwise act like normal animals and eat each other (Big Bad Wolf, 3 Pigs), characters drawn in some ways as animals but which are clearly otherwise completely human (Donald, Mickey, etc.), Barksian Duckburg people that are totally human but grudgingly given round black noses on an otherwise completely human body to satisfy ancient style-book customs, and normal humans with normal noses. And there are more categories in between all those – I recall someone once came up with about 15 or so, perhaps also counting the animation characters.”

I was interested by this subject; I decided to contact the new star of the Disney artists, knowing his feeling with his fans. Even if he was working on the “official” 50th anniversary story for Gyro Gearloose titled “Gyro’s First Invention”, Don Rosa kindly answered to the following interview:

W: I read Disney comics since I was a child, and I always thought the Ducks were human because in Italian Disney magazines the Ducks are always presented simply like ducks…

D: What do you mean? I don’t understand how this could be true. I see the Italian comics and I see that Donald is living like a human, talking like a human, dressing like a human, acting like a human, behaving in ALL ways like a human. I don’t see him pecking the ground for corn or stripping off his clothes and swimming like a duck in a pond or having wings to fly with rather than human arms. If he’s “presented as a duck”, why is he not doing any of these things? I don’t understand what you’re saying. He’s presented as a human.

W: I mean they always refers to the Ducks as “the ducks”. For instance they call $crooge “the old duck”; or Donald, whose Italian name would be Paolino Paperino (=Little Paul Little Duck) is always called Paperino, as Paperino was his first name and not his family name, actually producing a misunderstanding because his duck’s face. I was saying – any reference on comic books was about ducks, and no problem if they were talking animals, because they were in comic books…

D: That’s not how I saw it at all. Bugs Bunny comics were about a rabbit who lived in a hole in the ground and stole carrots from a farmer. Daffy Duck was a flying bird who flew south for the winter and was hunted by duck hunters. And both of these characters had silly personalities and were butt-naked.
Donald (and Mickey Mouse) wore clothes, lived in real houses, had normal jobs, had very real and sensible personalities. They had responsibilities and lived in a community of what seemed to me were real humans. I thought the way that a cartoonist drew humans was with a round black nose. But they were obviously not supposed to be dogs — Scamp was a dog, he acted like a dog, ate bones, lived in a doghouse. Donald had nothing about him that suggested he was a duck. So, I knew that this was simply a cartoonist’s caricature of a normal human being, whereas Bugs Bunny was a caricature of a (talking) rabbit. I never worried about it — I knew Donald and $crooge were people. The fact that they were drawn strangely never bothered me. Human beings don’t have noses as big as Asterix or bellies as big as Obelix, and they don’t look like Tintin, but that doesn’t upset readers, either.

W: It is a little like with the characters in Bone by Jeff Smith (Do you know Bone? Do you appreciate it?): what the hell are the Bone cousins? For sure they are not bones; but who care if they are human or what they are?

D: That’s a totally different situation. I know they are not human because they are not depicted as humans living as normal people in normal houses with normal jobs and responsibilities and problems. They are fantasy beings. My stories deal strictly with a Donald Duck Universe where no other characters exist except Barks Duckburg characters… and it is not a “fantasy universe” in the fairy tale sense… my version of it is overly serious, based on the real history and geography of the real world. It is a fantasy world in the same sense that the world of Asterix seems to be a past era of the world we live in, except there is a Gaul with an impossibly tremendous nose and another with an impossibly huge gut, and many other historical personages drawn in caricature fashion. In my interpretation of the Duck Universe there are people who also are drawn as caricatures, but they are still human beings, not ducks or dogs or pigs, and still live in the normal world (well, hopefully maybe a bit funnier than normal). Remember this Duckburg world is not a “Disney World”… it was created by Dell and by Barks. Barks originally wanted to place Donald in a world of realistically drawn humans, but was finally ordered by his editors to back off from that. So he started using humans with round black noses and saying they were “dogs”. I would imagine these Barks dog-humans looked very weird in 1948, but I grew up with them to such an extent that I thought that’s how you were supposed to draw humans. I never for a moment thought those were dogs — I thought that cartoonists drew humans with those black snoots — and all my old comic books that I drew when I was 7-14 years old were all about humans with round black noses.

W: Is there any Bark’s story or interview, in wich he says “Ducks are human”?

D: Yes, but I can’t find it for you offhand. He said that his Ducks were “caricatures of human beings”. He wanted to be doing comics about humans like the ones he grew up with in the newspapers. You saw how he originally made all other characters in the stories into real-life humans until the editors said that they wanted only animal-people. So Barks started drawing characters which were totally human except they had dog ears and noses, and after a while he gave them human ears. He even gave the Duck characters that he created in later years human feet and human ears.
But when Walt Disney (with his staff) was creating Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck – was he thinking about funny animals or real people?

D: I don’t know. I consider the Barks comic book Donald Duck to be a totally different character than the one used by Walt Disney. Disney treated (treats) his Donald as simply an actor who fills different roles in different short animated slapstick cartoons. It is not a fully developed character with a complex personality (other than just being a hothead) and a history and a background and an extended family. Disney’s original version is a trivial character made for throwing walnuts at Chip and Dale. That’s why Barks had to create something new and better when the job was given to him to tell interesting stories using the licensed name “Donald Duck” on the main character. But still, you cause me to think about it: Disney’s later cartoons do not show Donald naked, swimming in a pond, flying through the air, quacking at duck hunters — they depict him as a human. Disney’s cartoons of Pluto and Chip n’ Dale show them as animals. Disney’s FIRST, and ONLY the first, use of Donald in “Wise Little Hen” clearly treated him as a “funny animal” living on a farm pond with wings as arms and eating corn in a field. But the very next use of the character realized the limitations of that, and immediately turned Donald into a “human caricature” from then on.

Fine della prima parte!