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Scrooge McDuck

From Academic Kids

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Scrooge McDuck, the Richest Duck in the World, by Carl Barks.

Scrooge McDuck is a comic book and cartoon fictional character, created by artist Carl Barks for The Walt Disney Company. He is likely a caricature of Andrew Carnegie.

Scrooge McDuck first appeared in the story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" in December, 1947. He was also cast as the star of the Disney animated series DuckTales, which first aired on September 11, 1987 and produced several spin-off cartoon series.

Contents

First appearance

Scrooge, maternal uncle of previously established character Donald Duck, made his first appearance in "Christmas on Bear Mountain" in December 1947. The first member of The Clan McDuck to appear, his name was based on Ebenezer Scrooge, a character from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The story's title was based on "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky (the source of a scene in Fantasia featuring Chernabog). One might note that a prototype for Scrooge McDuck actually occurred in the 1943 cartoon Spirit of '43, in which he reminds Donald to save his money for taxes to support the war (it is perhaps a literary irony that the character who most came to represent the antithesis of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's public image and economic philosophy was first introduced in support of Roosevelt).

Scrooge did not yet have his familiar characteristics. He was a bearded, bespectacled, reasonably wealthy old man, visibly leaning on his cane. He was living in isolation in a "Huge Mansion", which is said to be influenced by that present in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. Scrooge has always been a somewhat bitter character, but his misanthropic thoughts in this first story are probably less characteristic of Scrooge than of his rival Flintheart Glomgold: "Here I sit in this big lonely dump, waiting for Christmas to pass! Bah! That silly season when everybody loves everybody else! A Curse on it! Me - I'm different! Everybody hates me, and I hate everybody!"

In the story, Scrooge plans to entertain himself by inviting his nephews Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck to his mountain cabin and then scaring them out of it. This early version of Scrooge is said to have a lot in common with Simpsons character Mr. Burns.

A recurring character

Barks would later claim that he originally only intended to use Scrooge as a one-shot character, but then he decided he could prove useful in further stories. He continued to experiment with Scrooge's appearance and personality over the following four years.

His second appearance, in The Old Castle's Secret (first published in June 1948), had Scrooge recruiting his nephews to search for a family treasure back in Dismal Downs, the old castle of the Clan McDuck, built in the middle of Rannoch Moor in Scotland. "Foxy Relations" (first published in November 1948) was the first story where Scrooge is called by his title "The Richest Duck in the World".

A panel from an Uncle Scrooge comic by
A panel from an Uncle Scrooge comic by Jack Bradbury

First hints of his past

"Voodoo Hoodoo", first published in August, 1949, was the first story to hint at Scrooge's past with the introduction of two figures from it. The first was Foola Zoola, an old African sorcerer and chief of the Voodoo tribe who had cursed Scrooge, seeking revenge for the destruction of his village and the taking of his tribe's lands by Scrooge, decades ago.

Scrooge privately admitted to his nephews that he had used an army of "cut-throats" to get the tribe to abandon their lands, in order to establish a diamond-mining colony. The event was placed in 1879 during the story, but it would later be retconned to 1909 to fit with Scrooge's later-established personal history.

The second figure was Bombie the zombie, the organ of the sorcerer's curse and revenge. He had reportedly sought Scrooge for decades before reaching Duckburg ... and mistaking Donald for him. It should be noted at this point that Bombie was not really undead and Foola Zoola did not practice necromancy.

Barks, with a note of skepticism often found in his stories, explained the zombie as a living person who has never died, but has somehow gotten under the influence of a sorcerer. Although some scenes of the storie were intended as a parody of Bela Lugosi's White Zombie, the story is the first to not only focus on Scrooge's past but on the darkest aspects of his personality.

Precursors to later stories

"Trail of the Unicorn", first published in February, 1950, introduced Scrooge's private Zoo. One of his pilots had managed to photograph the last living unicorn, established on the Indian part of the Himalayas. Scrooge placed a reward for the first among competing cousins Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander who would bring to his collection of animals its most valuable addition to that date.

This was also the story which introduced his private airplane. Barks would later establish Scrooge as an experienced aviator. This had already been the case with Donald before and Flintheart later. In comparison Huey, Dewey and Louie were only depicted having taken flying lessons in "Frozen Gold" (first published in January, 1945).

"The Pixilated Parrot", first published in July, 1950, introduced Scrooge's central offices as containing "three cubic acres of money" and two nameless burglars who briefly appear during the story are considered precursors of the Beagle Boys.

Change of focus

"The Magic Hourglass", first published in September, 1950, was arguably the first story to change the focus from Donald to Scrooge. During its course several themes are introduced for the character.

Donald first mentions that his uncle practically owns Duckburg, a statement that John D. Rockerduck would later put in dispute. Scrooge first hints that he wasn't born into wealth, as he remembers buying the Hourglass of the story at Morocco when he was member of a ship's crew as a cabin-boy. It is the first story where Scrooge mentions speaking another language besides his native English and reading other alphabets besides the Latin alphabet, as during it he speaks Arabic and reads the Arabic alphabet.

The later theme would be developed further in later stories. Barks and Don Rosa depicted Scrooge being fluent in Arabic, Dutch, German, Mongolian, Spanish, Maya (including the glyphs) and various dialects of the Chinese language, knowledge acquired from years of living or traveling to the various regions of the world where those languages are spoken. Later creators would depict Scrooge having at least working knowledge of several other languages. Scrooge seems to have encountered various languages over the years, having developed a natural talent at quickly learning and adequately speaking them.

Scrooge was seen here in a more positive light than in previous stories but his more villainous side is present too. Scrooge is trying to reacquire a Magic Hourglass that he gave to Donald, before finding out that it acted as a protective charm for him. To convince his nephews to return it, he pursues them throughout Morocco. Memorably during the story Scrooge interrogates Donald by having him tied up and tickled with a feather for as long as he doesn't provide his uncle information on the location of the Hourglass. Scrooge finally manages to retrieve it, exchanging it with a flask of water as he had found his nephews exhausted, left in the desert with no supplies. As he explains, he intended to give them a higher offer but he just could not resist having somebody at his mercy without taking advantage of it.

Final developments

"A Financial Fable", first published in March, 1951, had Scrooge delivering Donald some lessons in productivity as the source of wealth and on the laws of supply and demand. Perhaps more importantly, it was also the first story where Scrooge observes how diligent and industrious Huey, Louie and Dewey are, making them more similar to himself rather than to Donald. The latter works hard on occasion but given the choice proves to be a shirker. The nephews first side with Scrooge rather than Donald in this story. The bond between grand-uncle and grandnephews would strengthen later.

"Terror of the Beagle Boys", first published in November, 1951, introduced the readers to the Beagle Boys although Scrooge seems to be already familiar with them. "The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill", introduced Scrooge's Money Bin, built on Killmotor Hill in the center of Duckburg.

By this point Scrooge had been familiar to readers and other Disney writers and artists, both in the USA and Europe, had started using him in their own stories. Western Publishing started thinking about using Scrooge as a protagonist rather than a supporting character. "Uncle Scrooge #1", featuring the story "Only a Poor Old Man", was published in March, 1952. Along with Back to the Klondike, first published a year later in March, 1953, the two stories largely defined the character, his past, his beliefs, his motivation and the way he thinks, feels and acts.

From then on Barks produced most of his longer stories in "Uncle Scrooge" with Scrooge as their star and focusing in adventure, while his ten-pagers continued to feature Donald as their star and focused on comedy. Scrooge became the central figure of the stories while Donald and their nephews were cast as "Scrooge's Helpers", hired helping-hands who followed Scrooge around the world. This change of focus from Donald to Scrooge was also reflected in stories by other contemporary creators. Since then Scrooge remains the central figure of their "Universe", coining the term Scrooge McDuck Universe.

Personal history

More details are constantly added to this character's biography by many different creators. A general timeline has been established of the more important "facts" in his life. Please note this tentative timeline is in serious disharmony with the Duck Tales cartoon. Much of the technology displayed in the cartoon series is simply non-existent when working within this timeline.

  • 1867 Scrooge was born in Glasgow, Scotland to Fergus McDuck and Downy O'Drake. He had an older half-brother, Rumpus McFowl. He would have two younger sisters, namely Matilda McDuck and Hortense McDuck, and a younger half-brother named Gideon McDuck.
  • 1877 Scrooge becomes a shoe-polisher but his first customer fools him and pays him with an American dime. He keeps the dime he can't spend as his symbol of success.
  • 1880 Scrooge emigrates to the United States. He first meets his uncle, Mississippi riverboater Angus "Pothole" McDuck and the Beagle Boys, a family of outlaws that remain his enemies for the rest of his life.
  • 1882 His uncle retires and leaves his riverboat, named Dilly Dollar, to Scrooge. The Beagle Boys destroy the riverboat in an act of revenge. Scrooge decides to try his luck in the West and later in the year gets hired as a cowboy by cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie (an actual historical figure, one of the many that Scrooge met).
  • 1883 Scrooge becomes a miner searching for silver and copper.
  • 1885 Scrooge's father calls his son back to Scotland on an important family matter. Just a week before he leaves he meets and befriends the millionaire Howard Rockerduck, who had became rich in the California gold rush of 1849. He also meets Howard's seven year-old spoiled son John Rockerduck. (He will grow to become the Third Richest Duck in the world and one of Scrooge's main rivals.)
  • 1886-1889 Scrooge searches for gold in South Africa. During his first year there he saves the life of a duck about his age named Flintheart Glomgold. A little later they become bitter enemies. They remain enemies for the rest of their lives. Glomgold later became the Second Richest Duck in the World.
  • 1889-1893 Scrooge returns to the United States to search for gold. He meets many famous historical figures but his search fails.
  • 1893-1896 Scrooge goes to Australia to search for gold but his search again fails.
  • 1896-1899 Scrooge searches for gold in the Klondike. During his years there he meets the saloon owner, singer and occasional thief "Glittering" Goldie O'Gilt. He continues to have a love/hate relationship with her for the rest of their life. His search for gold succeeds.
  • 1897 Scrooge's mother Downy O'Drake dies, aged 57, in the Duckenburgh, Dismal Downs.
  • 1899-1902 Scrooge becomes a millionaire and buys a bank. He starts building a small financial empire; by 1902 he has become a billionaire.
  • 1902 Scrooge returns to Scotland to get his sisters Matilda McDuck and Hortense McDuck with him.
  • 1902 Scrooge's father Fergus McDuck dies, aged 67, in the Duckenburgh, Dismal Downs. Scrooge's mother and one of his two uncles, Angus "Pothole" McDuck (deceased in 1901, aged 72), had already died. Otherwise, the three youths are the last of the clan McDucks. Scrooge settles in the small village of Duckburg, Calisota, U.S.A, which he chose as his homebase.
  • 1909-1930 While his sisters remain in Duckburg and run his empire Scrooge travels the world expanding his empire in every continent.
  • 1930 Scrooge becomes the richest duck in the world but a fight with his family leaves him with no contact with them for the following seventeen years. Note that during this year he met his ten-year-old nephew Donald Fauntleroy Duck and his nephew's twin sister Della Thelma Duck for the first time. He also met Brigitta McBridge a woman who fell in love with him. They continued to have a love/hate relationship for the rest of their lives.
  • 1942 Scrooge feels depressed and tired and decides to retire.
  • 1947 Scrooge meets his nephew Donald Duck again and his grandnephews, Della's children, Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck. He decides to become active again and soon a circle of activities whirl around him as he attracts the attention of relatives, old and new enemies and friends.
  • 1953 Scrooges uncle Jake McDuck dies, aged 121, in Glasgow, Scotland. According to Carl Barks (1901-2000), Jake McDuck was the oldest ever member of the Duck/McDuck family.
  • 1961 Scrooge meets the Italian sorceress Magica De Spell for the first time, as she is constantly attempting to steal Scrooge's Number One Dime for melting it to an amulet.
  • 1967 After a life of adventure Scrooge McDuck dies aged 100, according to Don Rosa's unofficial timelines (sometimes Rosa does not trust his timeline).

Personality traits

Scrooge is arguably the richest duck in the world, rivalled by Flintheart Glomgold, John D. Rockerduck and, less prominent, the maharadja of Howdoyoustan, having worked his way up the financial ladder from humble immigrant roots to fantasticillionaire status. He keeps his wealth in a massive money bin overlooking the city of Duckburg. A shrewd businessman and noted tightwad, his hobbies include diving into his money like a dolphin, burrowing through it like a gopher, and throwing coins into the air to feel them fall upon his skull. He is also the richest member of The Billionaires Club of Duckburg, a society which includes the most successful businessmen of the world and allows them to keep connections to each other. Glomgold and Rockerduck are also influential members of the Club.

Keeping all one's money out of circulation is not the best investment strategy. This was addressed in the short cartoon "Scrooge McDuck and Money", first released on March 23, 1967. There Scrooge stated to his nephews that the money in his bin is but a percentage of his total wealth. The rest is generally known to be invested in a worldwide financial empire. Comic books have stated that the money bin contains currency of personal significance to Scrooge, including the first dime he ever earned, aka his Number One Dime.

Both as a businessman and as a treasure hunter Scrooge is noted for his need to set new goals in addition to those he has already achieved and face new challenges in addition to those he has already successfully faced. As Carl Barks described his character, for Scrooge there is "Always Another Rainbow". The later phrase provided the title for one of Barks' better known paintings depicting Scrooge. Periods of inactivity between adventures and lack of serious challenges tend to be depressing for him after a while. Some stories depict this phase to have negative effects on his health. In extended periods of them which include his retirement between 1942 and 1947, Scrooge is depicted as even suffering from symptoms of Clinical depression.

Education

Scrooge is not formally educated, as he quit school at an early age. However he has a sharp mind and is always ready to learn new skills.

Due to his secondary occupation as a treasure hunter, Scrooge has become something of a scholar and an amateur archaeologist. Starting with Barks several creators of his stories have explained how Scrooge becomes aware of the treasures he decides to pursue. This often involves periods of conducting research in various written sources in search of passages that might lead him to a treasure. Often he decides to investigate for the possible historical truth behind old legends or discovers obscure references to the activities of ancient conquerors, explorers and military leaders that he considers interesting enough to begin a new treasure hunting expedition.

As a result of his researches, Scrooge has collected an extensive personal library which includes many rare written sources. In Barks' and Rosa's stories among the prized pieces of this library is an almost complete collection of Spanish and Dutch naval logs of the 16th and 17th centuries. Their references to the fates of other ships have often allowed Scrooge to locate sunken ships and recover their treasures from their underwater graves. Mostly self-taught as he is, Scrooge is a firm believer in the saying "Knowledge is Power".

Morality and beliefs

As a businessman Scrooge often resorts to ruthless tactics and deception. He seems to have gained significant experience in manipulating people and events towards his own ends. Most often in stories by Guido Martina and occasionally by others, Scrooge is noted for his cynicism, especially towards ideas of morality when it comes to business and the pursuit of set goals. This has been noted by some as not being part of Barks' original depiction of the character but it has since come to be accepted as a valid interpretation of his way of thinking.

However Scrooge does seem to have a personal sense of honesty that offers him an amount of self-control. As a result Scrooge can often be seen contemplating his course of action, while divided between adopting a ruthless pursuit of his current goal and using tactics which he considers more honest. In times he can sacrifice this goal in order to remain within the limits of this sense of honesty. Several fans of the character have come to consider these depictions of him as adding to the depth of his personality, because based on the decisions he takes Scrooge can be both the hero and the villain of his stories. This is one thing he has in common with his nephew Donald Duck and a main difference they have with the generally ethical Mickey Mouse.

Scrooge has a fairly nasty temper and rarely hesitates to use violence against those who provoke his anger. But he is strictly against using lethal force. On occasion he has even saved the lives of enemies who had threatened his own life but were in danger of losing theirs. According to his explanation this is in order to save himself of feeling guilt over their deaths. He certainly awaits no gratitude from them. He has expressed his belief that only in fairy tales do bad people turn good and that he is old enough to not believe in fairy tales.

Encounters with real people

In several Don Rosa stories, Scrooge McDuck encounters historical people. Most notable is Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt and Scrooge meet each other (at least) three times. In Dakota in 1883, in 1902 in Duckburg and in Panama in 1906.

Other historical people who met Scrooge:

Furthermore Don Rosa often hides images of himself, Carl Barks or friends in his stories.


Preceded by:
Fergus McDuck
Important members of the Clan McDuck
Succeeded by:
Uncertain. Heirs apparent were
Huebert, Deuteronomy and Louis Duck

Template:End box

See also

Template:Wikiquote

External links

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