Why Donald Duck Is the Jerry Lewis of Germany

Donald Duck in the German version of “The Golden Helmet.”The Wall Street Journal just published the above-titled article by Susan Bernofsky about the popularity of Donald Duck comic books in Germany, especially among adults. She notes, “Just as the French are obsessed with Jerry Lewis, the Germans see a richness and complexity to the Disney comic that isn’t always immediately evident to people in the cartoon duck’s homeland.”

She adds that the Micky Maus comic books sell an average of 250,000 a week, even besting Superman. Also, “A lavish 8,000-page German Donald Duck collector’s edition has just come out, and despite the nearly $1,900 price tag, the publisher, Egmont Horizont, says the edition of 3,333 copies is almost completely sold out.”

In summing up, she further notes that,

Micky Maus became popular entertainment among a newly politicized generation who saw the comics as illustrations of the classic Marxist class struggle. A nationally distributed newsletter put out by left-leaning high school students in 1969 described Dagobert (Scrooge) as the “prototype of the monocapitalist,” Donald as a member of the proletariat, and Tick, Trick and Track [Huey, Louie and Dewey] as “socialist youth” well on their way to becoming “proper Communists.” Even Frankfurt School philosopher Max Horkheimer admitted to enjoying reading Donald Duck comics before bed.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

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