Here's a title from the bizarre comic book collection of my youth: Huey, Dewey and Louie Junior Woodchucks. Here, the ducks three get into all sorts of adventures and mishaps while narrowly escaping a copyright infringement suit from the Boy Scouts of America. Usually here at WWoB we spotlight obscure cartoon characters but I thought today we'd take a look at the career of these three lads who are usually considered minor characters in the Disney stable, but have actually endured quite well over the years.
The nephews made their debut in the old Donald Duck Sunday comic strip in the fall of 1937. By the following spring, the boys had made their way to the big screen in the short Donald's Nephews. It is here that we learn of how Huey, Dewey, and Louie come to live with their Uncle Donald. Donald's sister, Dumbella, leaves the kids on his porch with a note asking him to take came of them until she returns. I'm no expert on legal matters such as this, but after seventy years now I think Donald should be entitled to some back child support!
The Duck nephews made many appearances in Donald Duck cartoons over the next 17 years while also appearing in the Sunday funnies and in several comic books including Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. Many of these comic book stories were written and drawn by the legendary Carl Barks including the epic "Donald Duck Finds the Pirate Gold" which today would be referred to as a "graphic novel". The Woodchucks comic seen here is most likely made up of reprints from the aforementioned earlier titles.
While most of the Disney characters were asleep during the 1960's and 70's; Huey, Dewey and Louie showed up in the 1967 animated short film Scrooge McDuck and Money. (Which is literally one of the few theatrical shorts from the Disney studio that I have not seen!) The boys made a brief cameo in Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1982 and they were featured in leading roles in a rare 1986 animated featurette called "Soccermania". (That, I have seen!)
Huey, Dewey and Louie's return to the spotlight would involve another act of abandonment for the poor boys. In 1987 the TV series "Ducktales" started off with Donald enlisting in the Navy and sending the boys off the live with their Uncle Scrooge. Even though technically Scrooge can't be both Donald and the boys Uncle!? Can he!? "Ducktales" followed Huey, Dewey and Louie as they joined Scrooge on adventures around the globe. The Junior Woodchucks concept was also used on the show on occasion.
Ducktales led to a feature film in 1990, "Treasure of the Lost Lamp" which is a great freakin' movie! In 1996, the kids returned to their Uncle Donald for the series "Quack Pack". Now H,D & L were teenagers and Donald worked as a cameraman for a tabloid news show. (Sure!?)
There's a new DVD out called Walt Disney's Funny Factory Volume 4 that showcases some of the greatest classic cartoons featuring Donald Duck and his nephews.