Uncle Scrooge, Donald’s Uncle, as many of us know, is voiced by none other than Allen Young. I though I’ve loved both Scrooge and Odyssey from childhood, until I got into the Odyssey trivia world, I never knew of this special link between them.
Oh, be quiet.
Even so, how can a grumpy duck be anyone’s role model?
As a child, (okay, as a younger child) my mom bought me a seemingly innocent Donald Duck comic featuring Uncle Scrooge. I was an avid Donald Duck comic fan, but the Uncle Scrooge was a new character for me. As it turned out, Scrooge was in practically every other Donald comic, and was often the star.
And any reader likes him. He’s rich, but can’t stand to spend. He hoards billions of his money into a giant building called “The Money Bin.” And he protects it from burglars unceasingly.
As I grew older, I loved Scrooge more and more. As CS Lewis put it, the truly good children’s books are those we enjoy more as we grow. Scrooge built his fortune globe-trotting and fighting, the old way and then, the only way. Cattle herding, treasure hunting, prospecting. He fell madly in love with a bar girl named Glittering Goldie, but he wasn’t like other children’s literature figures. No happy ending for him. Though they loved, their paths led them to very different shores. And he kept building his monetary empire. He fought outlaws, blazed trails, travelled deserts, crossed continents. Scrooge is the ultimate American, a fearless capitalist entrepreneur and a stickler for freedom.
I could say, “they’re so much more” than comic books. But they’re not. They are only comics. That is their strength. They don’t need to be more. A comic can have a special power, as a true art. They can be innocent, charming, full of wisdom… and they can inspire you.
At first, a reader cannot understand Scrooge. In his first appearance, he growls, “Me, I’m different. Everybody hates me, and I hate everybody!” He’s funny, but unlikable. He’s also very odd. “I dive around in my money like a porpoise! And burrow through it like a gopher! And toss it up, and let it hit me on the head!” You have to get to know him. It’s a process, a journey, just like with a real person. For make no mistake, true characters are real people in their way. “You see, all this money means something to me. Every coin here has a story… this silver dollar, I made that in Klondike… You’d love your money too, boys, if you made it like I did. By thinking a little harder than the other guy… by jumping a little quicker…”
Like Scrooge, Jack Allen spent much of his childhood in Scotland before moving to America (though he was born in the US.) After moving back, he followed his passion to become an actor, and even started his own TV show. Like Scrooge, he battled his way higher and higher. As he grew older and busier, the show went down in quality and was cancelled. But something beautiful came out of it. Allan Young started working in cartoons… And stumbled onto his most famous role. A grouchy duck. And, of course, he also became another old character on a show called Adventures in Odyssey.
Once, we were listening to A Name, Not a Number, and Mom remarked, as Donovan chewed his Scottish lines, "It's Uncle Scrooge."
We all laughed. "It is Uncle Scrooge!" My siblings chortled
And... he is.
A true duck lover knows there’s many connections between Odyssey and Duckburg. Besides the very star of duckdom, Scrooge, as mentioned, being done by the one and only Alan Young, there’s the character Ludwig Von Drake. Also a duck who interacts with Donald, Scrooge and company, he’s a nutty Austrian professor who in one episode convinces the character Launchpad that he’s “cuckoo.” He hosts the Disney Singalong series, as well as appearing in various cartoons and comics. He was voiced for a time by a guy called Walker Edmiston, then Corey Burton inherited the role.
And I’m not done. The major Ducktales character Gyro Gearloose, inventor extraordinaire advice giver and problem solver, is voiced by a random Hal Smith.
At home, Scrooge, always voiced by Allen Young, stars in Ducktales, one of the finest Disney cartoon series of all time, with Donald and Gladstone, Huey Dewy and Lewy, and the rest of the duck crew. He appears in The House of Mouse Disney series (incidentally, in that show, Willy the giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk is voiced by some bloke named Will Ryan and various Disney characters are done by some person called Corey Burton, and few assorted voices are done by Jess Harnell. Ever heard of em?) Ironically, abroad, Scrooge is far more famous than at home, a cultural icon, appearing everywhere in merchandise.
But all cartoon character’s stories have a beginning. And here is Scrooge’s.
Born in March 27, 1901, a man named Carl Barks struggled to make a living, working as a farmhand, cowboy, muleskinner, lumberjack, printer, all with very little success. But he discovered his passion, cartooning, and after bumpy start (a risqué magazine) went to work concept artist for Disney, which delighted him. Even though he was working with a character called Donald Duck, a bit player who didn’t show up much. He helped develop stories and characters, but had little power over what actually ended up onscreen. Here, he helped breath into life Huey, Dewy, and Louie for the cartoon Donald’s Nephews. But Barks wanted to do more. To create.
And so, when offered the chance to a cartoonist for Disney’s Comics and Stories, he jumped for it. He was assigned exclusively to draw the ducks to which he was accustom. His love for them shined through, and the comics launched into selling more than all DC comics do today. He married, but his wife disdained Barks’ work. Eventually, it ended in divorce and his two children lived with their mother.
However, in 1947, something beautiful happened. Barks, simply to provide a plot for a Donald Duck Christmas special Christmas on Bear Mountain, invented Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge, later to be Donald and Huey, Dewy and Louie’s fellow traveler in cartoon and comic, here gave them a “Christmas present” in order to scare them to death. He had a lot of growing to do, but he was born.
Barks’ health declined, but the company demanded more and more work. As Barks grew older and older, this grew torturous. One of the glimmers of light in his life was his second wife, Clara, who loved him dearly. But his health declined further, and he retired in 1966, though he was persuaded to continue to do comics for Western.
It is all the more fascinating, among such hardship, that Carl Barks made comics that make generations of duck lovers laugh. Who inspires people to pursue their destinies. And, unknowingly, created a magic bridge between the two greatest children’s universes in the world.
Yes, my inspiration is….