Donald Duck’s Family Tree Highlights Interspecies Marriage and His Nephews’ Dubious Lineage
Say what you want about the depth and history that come with super-heroes, but if you want to see the most complex, rich and rewarding backstory in comics, there’s only one place to go: Donald Duck.
Under the pen of the legendary Carl Barks — who most famously added to the family with the creation of Uncle Scrooge McDuck — Donald’s relatives grew into a sprawling family descended from knights, pirates and pilgrims that provided the source for a ton of adventures. And even better, the whole gang’s been collected in a Family Tree based on Barks’ stories and notes by current Duck mastermind Don Rosa!Click the image below to see the full-sized family tree:
Originally published in Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories #600 back in 1995, and also collected in Chapter 10 of The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck, the Duck Family Tree includes some great tidbits, not the least of which is the fact that interspecies marriage between ducks and geese has been totally cool in Calisota since at least 1890. Who knew?
It’s an impressive project, especially when you consider that in order to make it, Rosa had to sit down with over over 500 stories by Barks and piece it together from panels like this one, from “Race to the South Seas”:
Of course, the process was helped more than a little by Barks’ own notes, like the one helping to explain the panel above:
It’s worth noting that he refers to the characters as being “hatched” rather than “born,” which for some reason just cracks me up.
A few other notable details are the heated looks being exchanged by Donald’s hot-tempered parents — Donald having inherited his own habit of blowing his top from his mother — and the look of loathing Donald’s casting at his frequent rival and living luck magnet, Gladstone Gander. Also, it’s interesting to see Fethry Duck on there, since unlike the rest of Rosa’s entries into the official family, he’s not a Carl Barks creation, and was apparently included due to his incredible popularity in Europe.
Of course, one of the most notable aspects of the Family Tree is the obscured inclusion of Huey, Dewey and Louie’s father, which our own Caleb Goellner has referred to as their “dubious lineage.” I once heard Rosa speak about this subject, and he mentions that stories about the Nephews’ parents were the one thing that a Duck artist could never tell, because you’d have to explain why they were in the care of their uncles. According to Rosa, there are only two options: Either their parents are dead, which would be sad, or they’re alive but for some reason unwilling or unable to care for them, which would also be sad. And the last thing you want to do is a sad Duck comic.
So instead, we get an obtrusive bird! And… wait, now that I think of it, aren’t they all birds?