From the cover of the 1990 Duckman comic book. Artist: Everett Peck.


Original medium: Comic Books
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
First Appeared: 1988
Creator: Everett Peck
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Everett Peck is often described as an "underground" cartoonist, and his most famous creation, Duckman, as having come from "underground" comix. In reality, …

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… Peck's credits are mostly in animation (Real Ghostbusters, Dragon Tales, The Critic …); and the comic book title where Duckman first appeared also introduced Concrete, The Mask and other mainstream, commercial comic book properties.

Duckman (first name Eric) debuted as a mere filler in the back pages of Dark Horse Presents #22, published by Dark Horse Comics with a cover date of September, 1988. He turned up again in #31 (June, 1989), and from there went to a title of his own — for one issue, dated September, 1990.

He was billed as a private dick and family man, but wasn't very good at either. His family consisted of Beatrice (wife), Ajax (good-hearted but stupid teenage son), Charles/Mambo (two-headed pre-adolescent son(s) either of whose heads was smarter than the rest of the cast put together) and Grandmama (useful mostly for generating flatulence jokes). At work, he took the cases other private eyes wouldn't touch — nor would anyone else with self-respect. His assistant, Cornfed Pig, sounded like he was channeling Jack Webb, from Dragnet. His office staff consisted of Fluffy and Uranus, who drove Duckman to distraction with their pious platitudes. His arch-enemy was King Chicken, bitter because Duckman had ridiculed his extreme intelligence when they were children.

When Duckman was next seen (in animated form), Beatrice was dead, from an accident Duckman had caused. She'd willed her half of the house to her twin sister, Bernice, who hated Duckman but occupied the house anyway. The rest of the cast remained the same.

The animated pilot was made in 1991, and shown at an international TV convention in Cannes, in 1992. Cable TV's USA Network picked it up, and launched it as a weekly series on March 5, 1994. It was nominated for Emmy Awards in 1995, '96 and '97. A total of 70 episodes were made.

The series was produced by Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters). Duckman's voice was done by Jason Alexander (best known as George Costanza on Seinfeld, but also responsible for several voices at Disney). Nancy Travis (also better known for face acting than voice work) played Bernice and Grandmama. Dweezil Zappa (son of Frank Zappa) played Ajax. Dana Hill (heard occasionally in Darkwing Duck, The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and elsewhere) and E.G. Daily (Babe the Pig, no relation; Wendy Elizabeth in Eek! the Cat) played Charles and Mambo, respectively. Greg Berger (several voices in Bonkers and Powerpuff Girls) played Cornfed. Pat Musick (Snappy Smurf, Tony in An American Tail) played Fluffy and Uranus. Tim Curry (Nigel Thornberry, Gawain in The Legend of Prince Valiant) played King Chicken.

Like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Duckman started in a black and white comic book, was turned into an animated series, and the cartoon version was turned into a completely separate full-color comic book series. The Duckman comics adaptation was published by Topps, the trading card company responsible for Mars Attacks which briefly branched out into comic books during the 1990s. Stefan Petrucha (Nexus, Mickey Mouse) did the scripts, and they were illustrated by several artists. Five issues, plus a mini-series titled Duckman: The Mob Frog Saga were published between November, 1994 and May, 1995. Also, Topps reprinted the 1990 oneshot in 1996.

As far as new production goes, Duckman went into hibernation in the late 1990s. But he's still seen in occasional reruns, most recently on Comedy Central.


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Text ©2003-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Everett Peck.