Gyro with using one of his inventions. Artist: Carl Barks.


Original medium: Comic books
Licensed from: Disney
First Appeared: 1952
Creator: Carl Barks
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Superman had Professor Potter. Alvin & the Chipmunks had Clyde Crashcup. Herbie had Professor Flipdome. But none of …

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… those whacky inventors can hold a candle to Gyro Gearloose, the whacky inventor who inhabits the world of the Disney ducks.

Gyro was first seen in Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #140 (May, 1952), but only briefly — he was there to deliver a single gag, then get out of the way so Donald Duck and his nephews could get on with their story. But his star potential was clear from the start, as evidenced by the fact that the following issue's lead story revolved around one of his inventions. Both stories were written and drawn by Carl Barks, the legendary cartoonist who created Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander and many other important members of the cast.

Barks used him frequently after that, and so did the other writers and artists who handled Duck comics. Gyro himself wasn't a Duck — in fact, his exact species was never specified, tho it's generally assumed (and confirmed by Barks in interviews) he's a chicken — but that's the set of characters he's always been associated with.

Starting in its 13th issue (March, 1956), Dell's Uncle Scrooge comic book carried a four-page feature in its back pages, with Gyro as its main character. Two issues later, his helper, whose name is Helper, debuted, and he's been Gyro's only prominent supporting character ever since. Helper is a tiny, non-speaking robot with a light bulb for a head. Barks wrote and drew this series, as well most of the stories and all of the covers of the four issues of Dell's catch-all series, Four Color Comics, in which Gyro was the cover-featured star. Gyro was in #s 1047 (November 1959), 1095 (April 1960), 1184 (May 1961) and 1267 (December 1961).

Barks stopped doing Gyro's stories in 1964, but they continued in the back pages of Uncle Scrooge, as well as in specials, anthologies and elsewhere, done by other cartoonists. The first to do him after Barks was Vic Lockman, who introduced Gyro's seldom-seen nephew, Newton, as well as Gyro's "thinking cap" — a bizarre conglomeration of junk with three living "hmmm-ing" birds in it, which supposedly helped him concentrate on problems. Gyro has continued to star in his own stories, and to appear as a supporting character in other Duck stories, ever since.

He was first animated in 1987, when Disney launched DuckTales, a daily half-hour based on Barks's comic books. There, his voice was done by Hal Smith, whose credits run from Clutch Cargo to Smurfs, and points beyond. Aside from DuckTales reruns, he's occasionally seen in House of Mouse, where just about any Disney character is likely to show up.

Gyro hasn't been a prominent part of the American comic book scene in recent years (owing mainly to the paucity of Disney comic books in the U.S.). But wherever Disney comics actually are available, he and Helper are a familiar sight to their readers.


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Text ©2003-04 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Walt Disney Company.