Thursday, November 18, 2010

What a Character! - Moby Duck

Well remembered? Hardly.  Significant?  Not really.  Creatively dynamic?  No.  But Moby Duck is enough of a Disney curiosity to warrant at least a few paragraphs here at 2719 Hyperion.

Moby Duck is not altogether dissimilar to Uncle Scrooge.  He was born out of comic books and was featured in one animated vignette in the 1960s.  But where Scrooge McDuck went on to become a major player in the Disney character canon, Moby quickly returned to relative obscurity where he has largely remained for the past five decades.  One could almost imagine him sitting in a seedy dockside tavern, crying into a pint of grog and lamenting opportunities missed and paths not taken.

Moby Duck first appeared in the comic book Donald Duck #112, published by Gold Key in March of 1967.  In the 14-page story, A Whale of an Adventure, written by Vic Lockman and drawn by Tony Strobl, Donald accidentally drifts out to sea on a rubber raft where he is rescued by Moby Duck and his pet porpoise Porpy.  In exchange for the rescue, Donald agrees to be the first mate on Moby's boat, the Miss Ambergris.  Moby returned to Donald Duck two issues later in the story The Jewels of Skull Rock, and then Gold Key launched him in his own title in October of 1967.

The producers of The Wonderful World of Disney wasted no time drafting Moby Duck for a television appearance.  Pacifically Peeking was first broadcast on October 6, 1968.  Directed by Ward Kimball and Ham Luske, the show was a series of South Pacific travelogues sewn together with animation featuring Moby. It was almost as if Ludwig Von Drake took an unexpected sabbatical and Moby was asked to fill in at the last minute.  Disney veteran Paul Frees provided the voice of Moby for the program. 

While his tenure in animation was distinctly brief and unremarkable, Moby Duck did live on, albeit again in unremarkable fashion, for another decade.  His own Gold Key Comic lasted thirty issues before ending in 1978.  Well known cartoon writer and comics scribe Mark Evanier scripted a number of Moby Duck stories early in his career.  The character appeared in a series of the Donald Duck daily comic strips at around the same time.  He was also exported to Disney comics overseas but with no real lasting impact in any market.


Gator Chris said...

Hi Jeff,

I'm wondering how many of the forgotten characters chronicled in 2719 Hyperion make an appearance in Epic Mickey...

Achille Talon said...

Moby Duck did make "an impression overseas" recently in a long-lasting series of Italian comics in which he is paired with Fethry Duck and a bunch of new characters living in a XIXth-century style town named Duckport. The series is named "Tales from the Bay", though you can also see it referred to as "Chronicles of the Bay" — it has no official english title yet.