On the one hand, the world is once again on the brink of nuclear annihilation. On the other hand, tomorrow is the premiere of the first episode of DuckTales in 27 years, so things can’t actually be that bad.
I need you guys to understand something. This new DuckTales series, which I haven’t watched yet as I write this, has me excited. Like… really excited. I’m talking The Force Awakens levels of excited. Wonder Woman levels of excited. The McRib is back levels of excited.
Because DuckTales isn’t just a cartoon for me, not really. It’s not even just a great cartoon, one of the best of the 80s, with the catchiest theme song ever written in the history of music. DuckTales is special to me in a way very few cartoons are.
The original DuckTales premiered in 1987, when I was about to turn ten years old, and I watched it, like every other child in America. I liked it. I enjoyed it. It was a fun show, with lots of adventure on top of the humor. Scrooge and his nephews went out and found lost cities of gold and plunged the depths of the oceans. They encountered a spacecraft full of miniscule alien ducks and a subterranean race of creatures that looked like nothing more than rubber balls with arms and a face. It was glorious. But I was at an odd age, one where I started to feel like I was a little too old for certain things (this was not a stage that lasted very long for me, but there it was nonetheless), among them, Disney comics. I was into comic books by then, big-time, but my reading time was devoted to things like Spider-Man, Green Lantern, and a mysterious superhero group that has been lost to time called the Fantastic Four. I was ten. Nearly a teenager. Who had time for comics with a bunch of ducks?
I was a moron, is what I’m getting at.
But even so, I watched DuckTales. And oddly enough, parts of it seemed… familiar.
I got older and I got over myself, which is something that a lot of people never figure out how to do. I realized the notion of “outgrowing” something that is legitimately good is ridiculous, and I found my way back to Disney comics. Specifically, I found myself reading more and more of the works of Carl Barks. Barks, a one-time animator at Disney, really made his mark when he switched to comic books. It was there that he created Scrooge McDuck and made him a globe-trotting adventurer, one who found lost cities and sunken continents, tiny aliens from outer space… and… underground dwellers who looked like rubber balls?
Holy crap. DuckTales had pillaged Barks shamelessly.
I wasn’t bitter, though. Far from it. Realizing that the show I watched as a child had drawn so heavily from the Disney comics somehow made me appreciate both of them even more. And if Barks wasn’t enough, I soon discovered his spiritual successor Don Rosa. Not only did Rosa continue telling Scrooge and Donald stories in the vein that Barks had for decades, but he was writing and drawing beautiful sequels to those stories. Then, in a work that I maintain is not just the masterwork of Disney comics, but one of the finest comic book stories of all time, Rosa wove together all of Barks’s classic Scrooge stories into an outstanding, comprehensive history: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
(Side note: If the people at Disney have a brain in their heads, they’ll lock in David Tennant to star in a big-screen adaptation of Life and Times RIGHT THE HELL NOW.)
Barks and Rosa, to me, are up there with the likes of Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, and Jim Henson. They are creators who prove that you can do something magnificent that truly belongs to all ages. Work intended for children doesn’t have to be tedious and boring for adults. Stories that thrill an adult don’t have to include elements that make them inappropriate for children. These creators are among the finest of those who make work that sincerely belongs to everyone.
And now DuckTales is coming back, and if everything I’ve seen is to be believed, the new series seems to draw even more from Barks’s Scrooge than the old one did.
There’s one other reason I’m ecstatic about this new DuckTales, and it may be the most important one.
He’s supposed to arrive some time next month.
I’m going to be a father, something that (if I’m going to be honest) I never thought was going to happen. And not only is it happening, but it’s happening right now, just as one of the greatest things of my childhood is returning to the world. I’m going to have a son, and I’m going to have a new DuckTales series to share with him.
And after the year Erin and I have had, that little bit of joy is almost enough to make me burst.
The premiere of the new series plays all day on August 12 on Disney XD, or on the Disney XD and ABC apps for free. So that’s where you’ll find me for a while: riding a hurricane into the quaint little town of Duckberg, racing giant robots, seeking treasure, chasing crooked Beagles. And a little down the line, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with an armored accountant and the terror that flaps in the night.
It feels like coming home.