The Italian Disney characters

 

Everybody loves Disney’s cartoons characters: Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Goofy… and OK Quack, Brigitta McBridge, Atomo Bleep-Bleep, Super Duck, Kildare Coot, Jubal Pomp, and hundreds more you probably never heard of – unless you live in Italy, where they are a much beloved part of the comics canon. In fact, Disney comics in Italy are such an integral part of national culture that the country is one of their strongest market worldwide, and has been since the 1960s.

Disney characters are so beloved that they often appear on products clearly targeted to a grownup audience, such as the Economics course published by the esteemed financial newspaper Il sole 24 ore. As a consequence, the characters have risen to iconic status on par with traditional Italian characters such as the masks from the Commedia dell’arte or from classic literature. The flagship Disney comicbook, titled Topolino has been published weekly since the 1920s and is now supported by dozens of more specific publications from single-character anthologies to thematic books (say, stories set in the Middle age or parodies of popular television shows) with new issues pretty much every day. The extremely huge number of pages to be filled led to the opening of an Italian Disney creative branch assigned with producing new stories decades ago already. With time it became independent and it is now the largest producer of new Disney comics in the world, exporting even to the US themselves. This is where and why the “mysterious” characters were born. Faced with having to beef the cast up, Italian authors invented new characters that largely remain exclusive to the local market, but that sometimes grew to international fame. It often happens that a rather unknown character is considered a superstar in Italy – and sometimes with good reason due to the quality of its stories. If you are now curious about the Italian characters, here is the solution to the initial puzzle. The first name is the Italian one, and the second (when available) is how it is called in English:

Paperinik (Super Duck) – Originally a secret identity for Donald Duck when he turned into a “gentleman thief” persona, it evolved with time into an actual super hero. The character was rebooted in the late 1990s as ‘PK’, fighting duck-billed aliens in a series of experimental graphic novels.

Kildare Coot (Sgrizzo Papero) – A crazy cousin of Donald Duck. He is completely irrational and a frequent cause of troubles for everyone near him.

OK Quack – A good-spirited alien who can speak with inanimate objects and perform wonders with his telekinesis power. He came to Duckburg on a coin-shaped spaceship that got miniaturized and lost in Scrooge McDuck’s money reserve.

Jubal Pomp (Filo Sganga) – A Scrooge McDuck’s wannabe, sadly lacking any entrepreneurial sense. He’s constantly scheming up new get-rich-quick plans – and never realizes any.

Brigitta McBridge – She’s desperately in love with Scrooge and she keeps hatching incredibly complex plans to get married with him.

Atomo Bleep-Bleep (Atomino Bip-Bip) – He’s an actual atom, blown up to human size by a rogue science experiment. He sometimes helps Mickey Mouse in his detective adventures.