Moby and Porpy, with cousin (or whatever) Donald.


Original Medium: Comic books
Licensed from: Disney
First Appeared: 1967
Creators: Vic Lockman (writer) and Tony Strobl (artist)
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Never mind Uncle Remus (a black man who spoke in thick dialect) and Little Hiawatha (a Native American from back when …

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… stereotypes were okay). The least politically correct Disney character was Moby Duck — a whaler who smoked a pipe.

Not that Moby was ever seen actually harming a whale — in fact, he even helped them from time to time. The harpoon he frequently carried may, for all the readers knew, never have so much as touched a large aquatic mammal, and he certainly put more on-stage effort into transporting cargo for Scrooge McDuck than he ever did into harvesting blubber. But he was on a whaling trip in the comic book where he was introduced, Donald Duck #112 (March, 1967), where Moby (and his porpoise pal, Porpy) rescued Donald, who had fallen asleep on an air mattress and was drifting out to sea. The story was written by Vic Lockman (who introduced Gyro Gearloose's nephew, Newton) and drawn by Tony Strobl (whose long career as a comic book artist began in 1949, with Bucky Bug).

Despite the surname, Moby wasn't introduced as a hitherto-unknown relative of Donald's, as Gus Goose and the Nephews had been. He was just a guy with "Duck" as a last name, whose first name was "Moby" because it made a nice pun with Herman Melville's classic novel about whaling. He did have a first mate who was related to Donald, Cousin Dimwitty (who was introduced separately, in Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #330, May 1967). In subsequent appearances, it was assumed Moby and Donald bore some familial relationship to each other, but no such relationship was ever spelled out.

Moby was apparently intended from the start to be an ongoing character, as Gold Key Comics launched his title a mere seven months after his introduction. It ran three years, then was brought back in 1974 for another four years of regular publication. Altogether, 30 issues came out. Writer Mark Evanier (Blackhawk, Crossfire), who scripted several of them, noted the character (whom he compared to "Popeye with webbed feet, no decent supporting cast and no spinach") was apparently popular overseas, and one reason they published him in America was to generate pages for reprinting. But he couldn't really have been all that popular there, as very few stories about him were actually produced by overseas publishers (tho even to this day, they occasionally turn up).

The character was animated exactly one time. Half of the October 6, 1968 episode The Wonderful World of Disney was devoted to Pacifically Peeking, a mostly live-action travelogue which Moby narrated. His voice was done by Paul Frees, who was a little bit better known for a couple of other ducks (Dinky Duck and Ludwig von Drake) and a great deal better known as the voice of Bullwinkle's Boris Badenov. The other half of the show was devoted to driving tips from Goofy.

Moby Duck hasn't been seen in years, at least in America — not even on House of Mouse, the 21st century Saturday morning show where practically any Disney character can turn up. If they ever do use him again, chances are it'll turn out he no longer smokes or whales.


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Text ©2004-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Walt Disney Co.