"All the News That's Fit to... Well, You Know"
By Darkwing Duck
All of you adventurous aficionados of animation out there in TV viewing land are just dying, I'm sure, to know the origins of the world's greatest orni-thological outlaw ouster - myself, Darkwing Duck!
Yes! I am Darkwiiiiiiiiiiiiing Duck!!
Ahem, yes, well, it all happened like this. One evening as I was seeking out sinisterness on St. Canard's rainy streets, as wet as the pond on which I was born, I passed a paperboy hawking his wares. Being a generous gander, I bought a paper and surreptitiously stole away into the night. Suddenly, a tabloid caught my eye. "WALT DISNEY SEEKS SUPER HERO FOR NEW 'DISNEY AFTERNOON' SERIES!" it screamed at me.
I couldn't believe Disney's luck! Little did they know that one of the greatest criminal crushers of all time was reading that story. Yes, I, the terror that flaps in the night, the ignition key for the engine of justice, was the perfect hero for the job!
I quickly scoured the streets for a pay phone, dropped in two bits, and dialed the special "800" number.
"Gimme the top gun!" I said. "I've found your new super hero! It is I, Darkwing Duck!"
In awe, the receptionist hooked me up with the head honcho, Gary Krisel, the president of Walt Disney Television Animation.
"Is this some kind of quack call?" I remember Krisel (foolishly) asking. It took a bit of persuasion, as he was reluctant to add another duck to the Disney stable of superstars. But I told him that my hardball haranguing of horrendous hoods would catapult me to that coveted canardian point of culmination! He said, "What?" I said, "We'll push the ratings through the roof!"
A few days later we met for a power breakfast at the Polo Lounge, where I got a chance to size up Krisel and one of his key creative types Tad Stones (and they got a look at the duck they'd be dealing with). Naturally, they were impressed, and a darling of a deal was struck - including Krisel's promise that finally my picture would be plasted on the cover of every newspaper and magazine in the country. (Like many other winged warriors, I have long suffered from a lack of publicity.)
Then Krisel really gave me goosebumps. He said, "DW - do you mind if I call you that? - DW, with our help, you will be a major, major superstar."
Imagine! Me, Darkwing Duck, your humble servant, a lover of law and order, a quiet, sort of retiring kind of fellow, soon to be a MEDIA STAR!
I said, "Gary - do you mind if I call you that? - Gary, let's get dangerous!" We shook wing tips, and that was that.
Tad (who would be my supervising and story editor) and I returned to TV Animation headquarters for a pow-wow with the creative unit. We'd hit it off famously, for it seems Tad and I have a few things in common. Like me, he's ruggedly handsome, principaled, and dedicated to duty. And, um, he just has a few tiny flaws - nothing serious, mind you - as well as a precocious peach of a daughter, just like my Gosalyn.
"DW - do you mind if I call you that? - DW, I want to create a show with no straight man," Tad said to me. "I want a real star at the heart of the show. (That's me!) Not a group show, which we've done before, but a star who can be funny. (Me again!) A guy you wouldn't mind writing for if there was no one else in the show. (The new darling of the "Disney Afternoon"!) Can you meet what may be your greatest challenge of all: being funny?"
I said, "Tad - do you mind if I call you that? - Tad, let's get dangerous!" (I say that a lot, if you haven't noticed.)
Terrific Tad and President Gary then ushered me into a large meeting room where several hundred Disney executives were ready for a briefing on my show. Gary addressed this talented brood: "Darkwing Duck is as exciting a project as we've ever done at this studio," he told them. "Ladies and gentlemen, launching a new character is not so much a business proposition as it is like a new person showing up in town. We don't know how big Darkwing is going to be until the audience responds to him. But I know that I speak for all of us, when I say that in terms of community here at TV Animation, he's already everybody's favorite person - er, duck." (Everybody's favorite! Isn't that nice!)
He continued, "You can rest assured that Darkwing's audience is going to be very broad. Adults can watch this show as well as kids. There are lots of jokes adults will get that kids won't get." (Aha! I thought. So that's their game!)
Tad picked up the ball here. "With Darkwing, we're going to tell a real story that will have surprises and emotional impact, and we'll tell it in the broadest way possible, like in the classic short cartoons," he said. "These stories are fun - 'DW' grows extra arms, or he's shrunk to this size of an ant, or he saves the earth from alien space cabbages. (That turned out to be a great episode, by the way!) And we'll use pratfalls, and all sorts of exaggeration to illustrate what the characters feel. If someone's depressed, they could literally end up as a puddle on the floor. We'll tell real stories with an emotional beat - and with the wildest gags possible."
Then Alan Zaslove, supervising producer and the man who would go on to direct me in my best scenes, told them: "I've gotten to know Darkwing, and he isn't a total mess-up. (Hey, hold it! Who said I was?) He really does come out all right. (That's better.) He can do lots of things correctly. (Even better.) But his ego invariably gets in the way, (waiiiiiiiit a minute!) and then he winds up correcting the situation in the end." (Whew!)
The executives stood and cheered. They had accepted me! To thank them, and to illustrate my powerful prowess, I made a dramatic, daring leap from the front podium. Unfortunately, I landed on Bob Jacquemin, President of Buena Vista Television, Disney's czar of syndication. Fortunately, Bob understood my zeal - after all, his sales force and marketing team muster just as much muscle - er, charm... in their own way as I do in mine.
Then the real work began. I went to meeting after meeting with costume designers (to enhance my suave good looks), color stylists (to pick just the right shades to go with my eyes), and background artists (to give my series just the right mood). Storyboards of my greatest adventures were prepared; I spent months memorizing my lines. The best part, I think, was when I convinced Disney to let me hire my own supporting cast - my sidekick Launchpad McQuack, my adopted daughter Gosalyn, her brainy friend Honker Muddlefoot, and yes, even Honker's insufferably suburban family the Muddlefoots. Why shouldn't they share in a little - just a little - of my glory? Through it all, I practiced and practiced my terrifying entrances - remember, the only fear criminals have is the fear of the unknown - in the hallowed halls of the Disney coporate offices. The good news is that the Director of Accounting, whom I surprised coming out of the men's room, will be released from the hospital this week.
Now that we've wrapped most of the first season's shows - and I'm about to become extremely famous - I want to remind everyone that the most important mission of the show (aside from my vanquishing villianous vandals) is that you, the TV viewers - my public! - come away with a smile after viewing my victories. We want you to laugh, to be entertained and to feel good (which, as much as I hate to admit it, is just as good as my credo: "looking good while doing good"!).Oh, and one last thing: "I am Darkwiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing Duck!"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Darkwing Duck is a superhero who battles crime in the city of St. Canard, where he resides. Average citizen Drake Mallard and the father of nine-year-old Gosalyn by day, by night he becomes the caped crime-buster Darkwing Duck. Beginning Monday, September 9, Mr. Duck stars in his own half-hour animated series from Buena Vista Television, which joins "The Disney Afternoon", the two-hour syndicated program service for children. Thirteen episodes of the series will also air as part of ABC-TV's Saturday morning lineup, beginning September 7 at 9:00 AM Eastern Time (8:00 AM Pacific Time). He does not suffer criminals gladly.
"The Making of a Superstar" is copyright 1991 by Buena Vista Television, and is used without permission.
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