It’s interesting comparing the general personalities of fictional ducks with other animals. If mice are often clever and resourceful, and dogs are funny and loyal, then writers have often seen ducks as grumpy and petulant. Here are some of our favourites…
In Porky's Duck Hunt an unnamed duck gave audiences something new in an animated animal character, an “assertive, completely unrestrained, combative protagonist”.
Since this first appearance in 1937, the belligerent Daffy has captured the imagination and affection of viewers everywhere – his lisping, bombastic belligerence making him more famous than his original hunter. In 2002 TV Guide ranked him 14th in a list of top 50 greatest cartoon characters, with Bugs Bunny being the only other animated animal in front of him. It would have seriously rankled Daffy had he ever found out Bugs was ahead of him.
For a short shining moment back in the 1970s the phenomenon of disco music shone bright and loud into the early hours of every weekend. For many, disco was life.
One of disco’s highlights (or lowlights, depending on who you ask) was the novelty song Disco Duck, about what it means to ‘get up and get down’ like a duck. According to Rick Dees, the song’s writer and performer, “it took one day to write the song, but three months to convince anyone to perform it.” Dees and his bad reached the giddy heights in October 1976 when, for one glorious week, Disco Duck reigned as the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 (and number 7 here in New Zealand). Disco will never die, and neither will Disco Duck.
Donald Fauntleroy Duck is described as impatient, immature, and arrogant. Vain and prone to fits of anger, he’s also pessimistic, insecure, and aggressive. With such horrible character flaws, it may seem odd this bow-tie-wearing Disney character has proven so popular since first appearing in 1934.
However, it is precisely these flaws that resonate. Donald generally starts off each day in a happy mood before things turn sour. Maybe, next to the seeming perfection of Mickey Mouse, we recognise the altogether more human traits of this irascible fowl and, for better or worse, feel that the duck represents us better than the mouse.
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck was first published in 1908. The Beatrix Potter classic follows the plight of farmyard duck looking for a quiet place to lay her eggs, before coming under the influence of a “conniving foxy-whiskered gentleman".
Potter implied the tale was a revision of Little Red Riding Hood, with the charming fox seeking to dupe Jemima into giving up her eggs before being killed and roasted for his dinner. It’s a tense read. After such a challenging time we’re sure Jemima would have loved a feed of Lucky Duck.
Howard the Duck
A cult comic book character that first appeared in print in 1973 and then on film (in a truly, truly awful 1986 film), Howard has been made appearances recently in both Guardians of the Galaxy and the animated What If show.
We really like that this duck can hold his own amongst thunder gods and infinity stones, despite having no superpowers (except for expertise in the martial arts of Quack-Fu). Also, given that he’s a Marvel ‘property’, what are the chances we’ll see the dramatic reveal of Howard as the big villain in Phase Nine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Rubber Duckie. Because as Ernie put it so succinctly a good rubber duckie really does “make bath times so much fun”.
Count Duckula. The British animated series was a spin-off from Danger Mouse, with Count Duckula (a resurrected vampire duck who prefers carrots over blood) searching for money and fame over an incredible 65 episodes, a comic, audiobook and Commodore 64 game. What’s crazier still – it’s not even the only vampire-based duck cartoon – there’s also 1979’s Quacula!
Duckman. You may not have heard of this private detective as the cult animated sitcom running from 1994 to 1997 without ever troubling The Simpsons for ratings. Voiced by Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, Eric Tiberius Duckman shares much of the neurosis and barely repressed rage of George Constanza, except with more ‘fowl-mouthed’, lewd and egocentric behaviour.
Louie Duck. Why not Daisy, Scrooge, or his brothers Huey or Dewey you ask? It’s simple – we like green, and that’s the colour hat that Louie wears.