The animated series DuckTales ran from 1987 to 1990, starring Scrooge McDuck and his young triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie; Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter Webby Vanderquack; and flight plan-challenged pilot Launchpad McQuack. It now returns in an all new animated series debuting August 12 on Disney XD.
A new DuckTales comic book series is also on the way from IDW, with issue No. 0 debuting Wednesday and the first official issue of the monthly series arriving in print and digitally in September.
DuckTales executive producer Matt Youngberg and co-producer/story editor Francisco Angones were tasked with taking a classic cartoon they both loved and making it fresh for a new generation while also appealing to older fans that made the original series such a hit.
"The challenge is to recreate the feeling you had as a child when you watched it but to do it using modern storytelling techniques," Youngberg tells The Post's Comic Riffs. "Kids today have all of their entertainment at their fingertips, so they subconsciously expect more from storytelling than we did."
In the new animated adventures, Donald Duck (no stranger to duck fame himself) takes his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie to meet their extremely wealthy great-uncle, Scrooge McDuck. Uncle Scrooge has been retired from his famous globe-trotting tales for a long time, so the triplets aren't really sure he lives up to the hype and don't even know they're related to him, which leads to the first of many adventures.
"That idea allowed us to put modern viewers in the shoes of the nephews as they're introduced to this amazingly weird, wonderful world," Angones says.
Both producers were frequently asked during production about the DuckTales theme song, a part of the original show that is just as beloved as any episode. Youngberg and Angones credit music producer Michael "Smidi" Smith, composer Dom Lewis and singer Felicia Barton with creating a new song that felt new but channeled the original.
"The theme song was something we knew we had to do right," Youngberg says. "The real sense of relief came from playing it for Mark Mueller, who had composed the original song. Seeing him smile and tell us he was relieved by how it sounded was the sign-off we were looking for."
The series includes a talented cast of voice actors: former Dr. Who David Tennant as Uncle Scrooge, Danny Pudi of Community as Huey, Ben Schwartz of Parks and Recreation as Dewey, SNL's Bobby Moynihan as Louie, Kate Micucci of Garfunkel and Oates as Webby and Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda as Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera/Gizmoduck, a mechanical armored hero.
Over at IDW, writer Joe Caramagna says some elements of stories appearing in the comic book could actually appear in later episodes of the cartoon - though Wednesday's issue No. 0 serves as a prequel to the Aug. 12 television premiere.
"If you want the full DuckTales experience, you'll want to follow both the comic and TV show," says Caramagna, a lifelong fan of the original series.
The producers over at Disney XD gave Caramagna a DuckTales Bible, multiple scripts and animated clips of the new series for research.
"DuckTales is always about race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes," Caramagna says, with a nod to the "DuckTales" theme song. "But to me, it's really about family. What makes a family? We have uncles and nephews and Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter all under one roof - not exactly what society tells us is a 'traditional' setup - yet they're a family, because the reality is that families come in all forms. So we explore what makes a family and figure out their interpersonal dynamics through conflict and character-driven adventures as they solve mysteries and rewrite history."
And then there's trying to voice Donald Duck in a comic book, which Caramagna says at times requires himself to "speak Donald."
"I don't think it's possible to write Donald Duck without doing the voice," Caramagna says. "Otherwise he seems too eloquent when you read his dialogue back. Sometimes when I feel Donald is getting a little too un-Donald like, I'll have another character annoy him so he can do one of his trademark angry squawks."
©2017, The Washington Post
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