Who really created Huey, Dewey and Louie?
In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, we learn about the origins of Donald Duck’s famous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and sixty-third episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first caption of this episode.
Huey, Dewey and Louie were created by Ted Osborne and Al Talliaferro for the Donald Duck Comic.
Fake Pretty much a fake, but probably more of a half-truth than anything
Like any fan of either version of the awesome anime series, duck tales, should know, probably the most important creator when it comes to these stories is Carl Barks, the former Disney animator who went on to become a longtime Disney comic book writer and artist. While Barks was amazing during his long career as the lead comic artist/writer for Walt Disney’s acclaimed comic book series (published by Dell Comics in the US and then translated worldwide by various other publishers ), Dell (and Western Publishing, the company that produced the comics that Dell would then publish and distribute) made a point of not only not listing the names of the people who drew their comics, but actively CACHE their names to the rest of the world (so maintaining a conceit that Walt Disney was writing and drawing the comics).
So it was left to fans everywhere to identify Barks simply by noting that, hey, this artist was way better than the other artists in those comic book anthologies and so Barks came to be known as “The Good Duck Artist”. (which is a shame, by the way, because there were other great artists working on Disney Comics at the time. It just wasn’t Carl Barks, you know?).
Barks created Scrooge McDuck and greatly developed the characters of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Donald Duck’s nephews who were Scrooge’s great-nephews. However, did he actually CREATE the famous duck triplets?
RELATED: Did Wolverine Almost Stand Trial for Murder?
WHAT IS THE CLAIM REGARDING BARKS AND HUEY, DEWEY AND LOUIE?
I’ve seen this in a few different places, but I’ll name just one (unrelated, as I’m not trying to single out anyone. It’s a common thing):
Carl Barks was an Eisner Awards Hall of Fame cartoonist, well known for his work on Disney comics involving Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck. He served as story director for many animated shorts involving Donald. He was also responsible for creating Huey, Dewey and Louie, which debuted in 1937 in the Donald Duck newspaper strip. His extensive work on Disney comics wasn’t just about giving popular characters new adventures in familiar settings. In fact, he created Duckburg in 1944, the world DuckTales would eventually be set in, and created many of its citizens who would go on to star in the series, including Scrooge McDuck’s enemies named Magica De Spell and Flintheart Glomgold.
That’s generally true, but Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s claim stands out as a bit controversial.
RELATED: What Was Rube Goldberg’s Unusual Occupation Early in His Cartooning Career?
WHO CREATED HUEY, DEWEY AND LOUIE?
The main thing that’s clear is that Al Talliaferro, longtime comic book artist Donald Duck, wrote to the Disney animation studio (at the time, the comics and the animation studio were all two under the “Disney umbrella,” more than saying, today, but also not like they all shared an office or anything) and suggested that Donald Duck should have nephews like Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse (Mickey Mouse’s nephews).
Tallafiaro then received the following message from Disney’s Story Department: “As we have decided to set up a story team to work on [the animated short] Donald’s nephewswe would like to acknowledge the source from which the original idea for these new characters originated… Thank you.
The cartoon “Donald’s Nephews” debuted in April 1938…
In October 1937, Ted Osborne and Taliaferro introduced the nephews in the Donald Duck comic…
Disney Studios writer Dana Coty came up with the triplets’ names, naming them after Disney Studio animator Huey Long, Thomas Dewey and Louis Schmitt.
Carl Barks and Jack Hannah then wrote “Donald’s Nephews” and Barks scripted the cartoon. Sooo… who created Huey, Dewey and Louie? The comic book writer who came up with the idea for Donald Duck to have nephews and made a comic featuring them five months before a cartoon featuring Huey, Dewey and Loiue debuted? Or the comic book writer/animator who drew the model sheets for “Donald’s Nephews” which the comic artist presumably used as the model sheet for the actual comic (because obviously we know the studio began working on the cartoon in early 1937, months before the comic was released)?
Disney’s official position is that Osborne and Talliaferro are the creators of Huey, Dewey, and Louie (of course, that’s academic from Disney’s perspective, because the company owns the characters no matter what, like everyone else). work done to create Huey, Dewey and Louie was done as a job for hire), but I know Barks thought he was the real creator, and, ultimately, I think that’s most rightly attributed as a joint creation between Talliaferro and Barks.
So it’s a kind of fake, a kind of real legend.
DISCOVER A TV LEGEND REVEALED!
In the last TV Legends Revealed – Was A Mickey Mouse Cartoon the last thing shown on BBC-TV before the start of WWII and then the first thing shown on BBC-TV when the service restarted after the end of the war ?
PART THREE COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!