So I learned something interesting today. Do you remember Duck Tales? Of course you do. That show was legendary. BUT did you know that the character Scrooge McDuck was made in 1947 as a comic book character? It was almost 37 years before he’d actually play Scrooge in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but he was still inspired by the character Ebeneezer Scrooge.
That’s not the most interesting part. After Uncle Scrooge got his own comic in 1950 he became super popular, SO popular in fact that after World War II (when soldiers began leaving their comics behind when they went home) comics in general began to grow a following all over the world.
This included a large following in Japan where a Scrooge McDuck comic fell into the hands of a guy named Osamu Tezuka. This comic inspired him to create Astro Boy.
For those of you not following this, Osamu Tezuka is known as the grandfather of Manga. The Walt Disney of Japan. Tezuka was basically the guy invented Manga and Anime!
So keep that in mind the next time you’re watching an Anime or jamming to the fantastic theme from DuckTales!
And now for a rant; a modern version of this story would involve a company naming the duck character after an existing literary character, then getting sued and Scrooge McDuck doesn’t exist anymore.
Because Dickens Corp owns the full rights to the character and names inside of his new Cinematic Dickens Universe.
The most frustrating thing in the world are those companies that hold onto things WELL beyond the intended time allotted by copyright law in an attempt to keep it out of the public domain. (I’m looking at YOU Disney.) Most GREAT characters and stories are inspired by previously existing stories or art… I think that’s a major problem with books, games, and movies now. They all have to be a rehash of an existing property because its safe and no one wants to get sued for attempting something ‘new’ that might accidentally be inspired by something that already exists.
Art doesn’t just serve to entertain us, it inspires us, it helps us take character ideas and stories and reinterpret them in new and exciting ways to create something new. We’re losing that because of the focus on money. Money money money money. All of that instead of spending the allotted time with the rights to the character and stories you made, then letting it go off into the public domain to be reinterpreted and recreated for the next generation.
Just imagine if Scrooge McDuck didn’t exist? Imagine if Disney couldn’t use all of those classic fairy tales to make his movies? What if God of War couldn’t exist? We need to keep all of this in mind for our kids and their kids kids.
Nathan Seals is an independent filmmaker, artist, and author who has created various comic books, films, role-playing systems, and card and board games throughout the years. He’s either insane, or a genius. Either way he’s having fun.