By Nicole Nalty
Life is like a hurricane with a new DuckTales series on the way! We’ve watched the television movie (multiple times) and had a blast at our Disney Afternoon-inspired event on The Walt Disney Studios lot. In fact, it was at this special D23 Gold Member event that we got a glimpse behind the scenes at some of the ducky development, thanks to Matt Youngberg (executive producer), Francisco Angones (co-producer/story editor), and Sean Jimenez (art director) of the DuckTales team (original DuckTales super fans themselves!). The team shared exclusive clips and secrets way too secret for us to share here, but here are a few tidbits to tide you over while we wait for the series premiere on September 23.
1. Re-doing the “Woo-oo!”
What was the one question the DuckTales team was asked more than anything else during development? “Are you keeping the theme song?” Francisco shared (and we’re sure DuckTales fans agree) that they felt the theme song was so iconic that it was important to recapture the spirit of the original theme, which doesn’t just mean the song itself! The team made sure to include iconic imagery and beautiful animation so that the new theme met the same level of quality animation as the beloved original. That said, animation techniques have made great strides since the late 1980s, so the goal was to, as Francisco explained, “not only make it feel like the original and make it still have that handcrafted feel, but bring in some of the new technology of how you can produce animation and put it into the main title.” We think it holds up––woo-oo!
2. Finding the “Pulp”
While there have been great advances in technology, the team actually looked to the past when determining the show’s art style. When Sean was tasked with coming up with ideas for the look and feel, he immediately turned to the Carl Barks comics. Sean truly dove into these comics, literally zooming in on the page to find the “pulpy paper texture” that inspired the look and feel of the new show. The show, Matt explained, draws inspiration from the original pulp adventures, so finding a texture that “brought the pulp” and had a tangible feel was important to the overall design.
3. Birds of a Feather
What would DuckTales be without its flock of fowls? The team again turned to Carl Barks for inspiration when animating Scrooge and the gang for the 21st century. Carl Barks drew the Duck family in a style unique to the comics––different than the animators at Disney. The team created a guide for animators to follow demonstrating the difference between the two styles, with beaks being the most noticeable difference to the audience’s eyes. In the Barks style, animators draw the beaks farther back than in other styles.
4. Defining the Ducks
A key element to the show, according to Francisco, is that it is “a family comedy about the world’s most daring adventurers and they also happen to be ducks.” The team took time to develop each character, both in look and personality: Scrooge may be a miser, but he’s also an amazing adventurer. In fact, Scrooge is so frugal because, as Francisco said, “He knows how he earned every single gold coin in that money bin and they all are attached to a memory.” The team referred to Donald as the “Louis C.K. of Duckburg,” or, for a more classic Disney reference, “Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one but Donald Duck?” Donald’s bad luck is naturally going to make him overprotective of his three nephews. Speaking of nephews, the team created their birth order to help develop their personalities: Huey’s the oldest, Dewey’s in the middle, and Louie is the youngest. Huey, as Francisco explained, has Scrooge’s brains, Dewey is Scrooge’s guts, and Louie is Scrooge’s ability to scheme and make money. As for Webby Vanderquack, you’ll see the duckling has joined the main group of kiddos and is, as Francisco called her, the “ultimate Duck family fangirl.”
5. Might solve a mystery…
A family of adventurers is bound to solve some mysteries and maybe even rewrite history along the way, but DuckTales focuses on family in a way unique in the new show by delving into the history of the Duck family itself. We won’t give too much away in case you haven’t watched the TV movie yet (seriously, what are you waiting for?), but the team shared that there are big family secrets waiting to be discovered by the DuckTales crew.