Blog post #9: Angels without wings (and devil horns too)

This week’s Disney-related post? “Donald’s Nephews”. In 1938, Donald meets his three nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie after his sister Dumbella sends them to him for a visit. Lesson to be learned: Double is Trouble, Triple is a nightmare. For some great characters, inspiration can be found in early forms. The same is true for the triple the terror ducklings.


Donald’s attempts to learn parenting from a “modern parenting guide” . His attempts are futile and better spent guarding his house from the destruction the boys leave in their wake. With a temper like Donald Duck’s, the hilarity ensues as they do their best to annoy Donald as much as they can despite his best attempts to make them happy.

The creator of these three troublesome nephews is Al Taliaferro. Taliaferro had only recently been put in charge of the Donald Duck comics.  He’d put in two years cartooning for Mickey Mouse before moving onto Silly Symphonies and then finally Donald Duck comic strips. His inspiration for Huey, Dewey, and Louie came from Frederick Burr Opper’s “Happy Hooligan” comics where Happy was terrorized by his own three nephews.

That inspiration lead to the happy triplet trio that tortures Donald on a regular basis through comics, animations, and a tv series (Duck Tales) that starred the four and their miser Uncle Scrooge. With the amount of time they spend with Donald, one wonders whether Dumbella even sees her children anymore.

It seems that despite the times, children acting like little devils behind angelic faces is nothing new. We’ve all seen those little devil horns peek out when we think no one is looking.

So the question remains: will Donald ever not be tortured by those brats?

commented on: Erica’s blog and David’s blog

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Blog post #9: Angels without wings (and devil horns too)

  1. It’s a very classic gag of having the “innocent” devil kids playing practical tricks much to the annoyance of the care-taker; especially when it’s someone like Donald Duck who gets pranked, it becomes even funnier. I don’t really remember them doing too much mischief in Ducktales, but granted, it’s been a long while since I’ve seen that cartoon.

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  3. Donald Duck is a great animated personality and he has one of the most recognizable character voices. I enjoyed watching Donald with his nephews because it allowed me to see an aspect of Donald’s personality that wasn’t developed in cartoons where he was interacting with Mickey and friends. Donald’s nephews constantly antagonized him which allowed viewers to see a more agitated, frustrated side of Donald that almost resembled the personality of another famous animated duck, Daffy. Huey, Dewey and Louie were breakout characters. There series Duck Tale’s developed them as more than just the pesky nephews of Donald Duck. I enjoyed watching the tiny trio because they were like little mischievous versions of Donald Duck. Animators took the essence of Donald and shrunk it into three tiny packages.

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  5. Nice post!
    Donald Duck is a perennial favorite. The mention of “Duck Tales” takes me back a few years too… that was one of the best! I guess it is a fairly common comic theme Mr. Taliaferro was using here, but irregardless it worked. Comic cartoons are funny that way, they often utilize a cliched theme but then exploit it to the point that it (somehow) still remains funny. There are so many examples of this in animated cartoons that I won’t go into detail about it, but you were right on the mark with your analysis.

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