We live in a world that more or less is supposed to make some kind of sense, right? And yet as children we're bombarded with weird, inexplicable phenomena that defy logic. As we grow up most of these mysteries are explained away. But there are always a few reason-defying oddballs that continue to confuse and obfuscate well into adulthood. Case in point: SUPER DUCK, THE COCKEYED WONDER.
We saw the character stuffed into the back pages of Archie digests and dogeared issues of PEP and even 94 issues of his own comic throughout the 1950s. And we realize we're dealing with a low-budget Donald Duck with even worse fashion sense and an even shorter fuse. The only question is - WHY IS HE CALLED "SUPER DUCK"?
Created for MLJ/Archie in 1943 by veteran funny animal cartoonist Al Fagaly, Super Duck spent the next 17 years careening through mid-century American urban life in a pair of lederhosen and a little feathered hat, blowing his top at dumb gags and battling landlords, beat cops, salesmen, and other prosaic villains.
As befitting a bargain basement Disney ripoff, Super Duck only has ONE nephew, a smart-assed nipper named Fauntleroy, who alternately abuses, and is abused by, Super Duck. Also important in the SUPER DUCK universe is a supporting cast of freakish dog creatures, seemingly the offspring of Disney's Pluto and Wolverton's Lena The Hyena.
As we see here Super Duck is a loudmouthed, aggressive son of a bitch who would abuse any REAL super powers with terrible, irrational anger.
For MY money, the star here is his long-suffering girlfriend Uwanna. Let's face it, she makes Daisy Duck look like ten miles of bad road. This thick slice of duck-billed cheesecake single-handedly transforms the feature from yet anotherlame funny animal comic into the wellspring of disturbing fetish-fantasies for an entire generation of Americans. And don't think the SUPER DUCK artists didn't know it! Check out this montage of Uwanna - all from ONE ISSUE.
Fishnets, clamdiggers, walking shorts, sweaters, that off-the-shoulder telephoning outfit... Uwanna is clearly the winner in any Sexy Duck-Billed Gal contest you care to hold. Just ask R. Crumb!
As befitting the sweatshop nature of the American comic industry, many different artists would work on SUPER DUCK, each bringing their own interpretation to the character... of Uwanna. This artist forgets that Uwanna is supposed to be, like, three heads taller than Supes. Also the attraction to a plainly human character is disturbing.
Celebrated ACG funny animal artist Dan Gordon would also bring his attractive, kinetic style to the feature. Not as zany as his ACG work, this is notable for being a rare appearance of Super Duck in a regular shirt and normal slacks. That's pretty zany, I guess.
This suspiciously well-inked Joe Edwards story stars an Uwanna who has been turned into an eight year old girl and a Super Duck dressed like a fried chicken mascot. You can tell Super Duck is teetering on the edge of cancellation when they start messing with the characters so drastically. Who would read a Super Duck story that didn't star an Uwanna built like a brick duckhouse? Nobody, that's who.
And as nonsensical as the SUPER DUCK concept is - hapless loser duck, wisesass nephew, stacked girlfriend - there were still comic book outfits cheap enough to rip it off!
Here "Dizzy Duck", resplendent in bow tie and green vet, failing to impress his mammalian ladyduckfriend who appears to have stolen her hair from Richie Rich's Gloria. But the all-time winner in the SUPER DUCK Ripoff Contest is none other than Marvel Comics.
The Stan Lee empire of Marvel/Timely/Atlas never saw a bandwagon they couldn't jump on hard enough, and they leaped onto Super Duck with giant hobnailed boots.
Holy crap, Atlas. You could at least TRY.
SUPER DUCK would be cancelled in 1960 and spend the next thirty years confusing children and filling space in the back of Laugh and Archie's Madhouse digest magazines. In 1990 a shortlived revival would find Super Duck an actual costumed superhero duck - hearkening back to his 1943 roots when he actually WAS, for three whole issues, a superhero character. That's right - three issues as a superhero and thirty years as a henpecked, short-tempered loser with an incongruous name. Thanks for confusing us all, Archie. Still, I prefer to remember Super Duck at his best; dressed in lederhosen and a little hat, hollering at Fauntleroy, making time with the sexiest duck that ever filled out a tennis outfit.
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