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SDCC 2018: “DuckTales” Panel

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DuckTales

SDCC DuckTalesThere was still quite a crowd for this year’s San Diego Comic Con DuckTales panel despite David Tennant’s absence. In attendance this year were executive producer Matt Youngberg; co-producer and story editor Francisco Angones; art director Sean Jimenez; the voice of Mrs. Beakley, Toks Olagundoye; the voice of Huey, Danny Pudi; the voice of Dewey, Ben Schwartz; and the voice of Louie, Bobby Moynihan. It was the first time all 3 Duck brothers were together, and it was also Moynihan’s first DuckTales panel.

As seen in the season 1 finale, Youngberg and Angones wanted to deliver the promise made in the theme song’s lyrics: solving mysteries, and that included everything mentioned throughout the season from Della Duck, the Spear of Selene, Lena, and, of course, Magica De Spell. At last year’s panel, Angones said they tried their best not to reveal Della at all before the first episode aired, but, unfortunately, a publishing panel the following day did in fact reveal Della Duck’s presence in the show via a question from a kid asking if the brothers had a mom or not. Even so, Angones said Della Duck was a mystery that was always in plain sight for the show, but was never addressed. (Even in the comics, famous Duck author and illustrator Don Rosa has said to me, in a meeting at a local convention a long time ago, that any story dealing with Scrooge’s absent sisters and the Duck brothers absent parents would not be a happy one.) Angones said that it has been very gratifying seeing this issue being finally addressed and the reaction to it.

As for the cast and their thoughts on the ‘big’ mystery, Moynihan said that even though he already knows what’s going on in the show beforehand, he still watches each episode to see the overall bigger picture. Moynihan added that he’s still surprised by some of the stuff he sees when he watches an episode. Schwartz admitted he’s quite invested in the show, and he even downloaded the DisneyNow app just to watch DuckTales episodes ahead of their cable TV premiere. Schwartz said getting the scripts was like getting the latest Harry Potter book which had to be read all the way through as soon as he got one. Schwartz said being part of a show, which rewarded its viewers for sticking around, is very satisfying. Moynihan added just even saying, “Uncle Donald,” is very surreal to him.

Going back to the theme song, Angones noted to the moderator that they’ve checked off everything on the list: race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes. Moynihan noted that the show only says AEROplanes and not AIRplanes, which was mentioned at the panel last year. Angones joked that the writers would be fired if they wrote AIRplane vs. AEROplane. Jimenez added there’s also a mini checklist of race cars, lasers, and aeroplanes in the artists’ room to encourage the artists to squeeze them into as many episodes as possible.

SDCC Duck TalesWith Pudi, Schwartz, and Moynihan finally together on a DuckTales panel, the moderator asked what was the power of the three Duck brothers together vs. them being on their own. After a very short whispering conference between the three, they answered, “Aeroplanes.” Back to the actual question though, they said, “It’s fun. We love it.” Moynihan noticed that they all are oddly similar to their characters. Moynihan said he’s greedy and doesn’t care. Schwartz said he always wants to find out where his mom is.

With Mrs. Beakley’s past as a secret agent finally revealed, the moderator asked Olagundoye about recording the episode. Olagundoye replied that she was excited to finally record that episode since she knew the episode was coming and kept trying to convey through her mind for the writers to give her that episode. As for action scenes grunts and reactions, Olagundoye said doing them is a bit embarrassing. Moynihan said he felt that 90% of the time, Louie just reacted with, “Whaaaaaaa?!” Schwartz said when he does them, he actually moves in reaction in the recording booth. Moynihan said he, on the other hand, just sits in the chair relaxing when doing his action scene grunts. Pudi noted they usually save the action scene scream recordings for the end so as not to use up their vocal cords for the other scenes. Moynihan said usually they’re asked to pitch their voices higher and sound younger every time they read for a scene. Pudi, Schwartz, and Moynihan then demonstrated, in very low registers, how they would ‘normally’ sound during recording. Schwartz jokingly noted how much ‘fun’ it would be to deal with the three of them recording, and they shouldn’t be together recording. Angones said in the beginning, Moynihan would be recording his lines alone in New York City while Pudi and Schwartz did record their lines together twice. Schwartz asked how those 2 sessions went, and Angones said they were great and some of the best memories he’s had.

DuckTalesThe moderator noted there were many great pairings over the course of the season with Webby and Dewey looking for Della and Beakley and Scrooge hunting Gummi Berry juice. Youngberg said his favorite pairing was Launchpad with Webby which Angones noted turned into the movie Step Brothers. Angones also said he loves putting people together with Launchpad since Launchpad just makes his companions look smarter by comparison. In the episode, “Terror of the Terra-firmians!” Angones noted in the Dewey and Launchpad pairing, there was a throwaway line where Launchpad says, “I can’t believe my best friend (Dewey) is a mole man.” Dewey replies, “I’m your best friend?!” which shows Launchpad can even make Dewey smarter.

Besides the pairings, the moderator also noted the many old Disney Afternoon appearances in the show from Darkwing Duck, Gummi Berry juice, and Don Karnage, and he wondered what exactly is the relationship between DuckTales and the Disney Afternoon. Youngberg replied saying the relationship between the two is that both he and Angones love the Disney Afternoon and wanted to populate DuckTales with as much as they can from the Disney Afternoon. Angones said he always felt DuckTales and the Disney Afternoon was one big universe since there would be crossovers now and again with Glomgold appearing in a Darkwing Duck episode or the Genie from Aladdin turning into Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid. When they started the new DuckTales, Youngberg and Angones asked for various licensing permission to feature characters from the various international Duck comics as well as asking for permission to feature characters from old Disney Afternoon series. Angones said Disney was okay with them asking to use them and were actually excited they had asked about them. Angones added he was also excited to reintroduce these characters to a new audience. As for Darkwing Duck’s introduction, Angones noted people weren’t too happy with how they introduced him in the new DuckTales, so he added it wasn’t the last time Darkwing would appear in the show, hinting at another Darkwing cameo or episode.

Doofus DrakeThe moderator then asked Jimenez about redesigning some of these old characters to fit in with the new DuckTales style. Jimenez replied for side characters, it was an opportunity to add more to the character than before. As for design, Jimenez said character traits played a big role in style design. For classic old characters like Scrooge and Donald, one really needed to stick to the basic design, but for the other characters, it was an opportunity to play around with their shapes and design like the Duck brothers, Webby, and Mrs. Beakley. In the case of Doofus Drake, his redesign was prompted by his personality traits first and foremost.

The moderator asked the three Duck brothers whether doing the show would influence their wardrobe choice particularly when it came to the colors red, blue, and green. Moynihan said at first he was going to wear an X-Men shirt but decided on changing into an ‘adult’ plaid shirt instead of anything green. Schwartz jokingly said he only plays characters who dress in blue, but jokes aside, he loves blue.

Angones admitted he revealed ‘too’ much at last year’s panel due to ‘technical’ issues, so supposedly, there wouldn’t be a problem this year. Among the ‘revealing’ slides though were Fethry from the Italian comics, Darkwing Beakley, the Three Caballeros (which made all the actors on the panel run amok), and a Steampunk Gizomoduck. A clip from the season finale also showed Gyro putting a Barksian voice modulator into Donald, giving him the voice of Don Cheadle instead of Tony Anselmo.

Angones thought it would be great for Donald to have the voice of an Avenger, and Schwartz said he knows an Avenger, so Schwartz texted Cheadle and one of Cheadle’s kids to further motivate Cheadle’s answer in the matter. Schwartz said Cheadle had a blast doing it even though he was a little nervous at first in the recording booth about doing one of Donald’s classic mad tantrum breakouts which he nailed according to Schwartz.

The team has been hard at work on season 2. A few episodes have come back from animation and were in the process of being finalized. A few clips from season 2 were shown including a reunion of the Three Caballeros. Since the whole cast is not in every episode, sometimes Angones would have to explain what has happened in previous episodes to each actor, much to their surprise, and Angones loves how the cast loves DuckTales and cares so much on what happens in the show and series.

Next was Q&A. The first questioner, a young kid, wondered when other characters would appear on the show, in particular Chip and Dale. Angones said as soon as he’s allowed to feature Chip and Dale, he will do so. Angones also added that there have been some hidden cameos and things in the show already if you look, but didn’t mention anything specific. Youngberg said they’re always looking for opportunities to insert such things and hope they can soon.

DuckTalesThe next questioner asked what the panel’s favorite minor characters were. Moynihan said his favorites were Mrs. Beakley and Launchpad mainly because of Launchpad’s voice actor, Beck Bennett. Moynihan said he and Bennett were in the same room when they found out they were cast in the show, and going back to watch old episodes of the show, all he can hear is Bennett’s voice as Launchpad now. Schwartz said he liked Gene the Genie from the DuckTales movie as well as Gizomoduck, who he waited to see in every episode. Schwartz said he auditioned for Gizomoduck and begged to voice him only to have the role go to some ‘random’ singer, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Schwartz did buy an old Gizomoduck pin which he then gave to Miranda the next time he saw him to congratulate him on getting the role, since Gizomoduck was such a huge influence on his childhood and because he was so excited about Miranda’s casting. Pudi said he liked Webby, who is his daughter’s favorite, while Huey was his daughter’s second favorite. Pudi added he also liked Launchpad as well. Youngberg said he’s a big Doofus fan because Doofus is such a weirdo, and he loved John Gemberling’s performance as Doofus. Olagundoye said she loves Donald Duck and is impressed by his lines. Moynihan added that Tony Anselmo doesn’t get the credit he deserves for voicing Donald. Jimenez said he likes the fact that they turned Duckworth into a ghost for the series. Angones said his favorite, and most important character in the series, is the headless horse, Manny.

The next questioner asked which of the Three Caballeros is their favorite. Angones said someone pointed out that if they put Mark Beaks, Gyro Gearloose, and Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera together, you would get the Three Science Caballeros since they are essentially a parrot, rooster/chicken, and a duck. However, Angones said he loves all three of the original Caballeros. Angones said that the actor who will voice José, the Brazilian Bernardo de Paula, was so excited to play José that he called his parents in Brazil to tell them, since José is much beloved in Brazil and is like the Brazilian Mickey Mouse.

Another questioner brought up Don Rosa’s famous McDuck and Duck family tree published in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck which shows Della as Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s mom while their dad’s picture is covered in vines, and asked if their dad would appear on the show some time. Moynihan jokingly blurted that Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s dad was Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. That answer covered any ‘real’ answer the panel would give about the subject.

(As a side note, I recently met Don Rosa again at a local convention after this year’s Comic-Con where he was selling various prints including an alternate McDuck/Duck/Coot family tree which he had redrawn for a friend to include Ludwig Von Drake marrying Scrooge’s other sister, Matilda McDuck, making Ludwig Donald’s uncle. This tree also showed Della’s husband and Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s dad in full and uncovered, but no name is given to him. Rosa offered to pen in whatever name I wanted when I bought the print, but I couldn’t think of a name.)

Duck Family Tree

Duck Family Tree Duck Family Tree

Anyway, besides the dad question, the questioner also asked why the ending of the theme song was changed. Angones answered that he liked the build toward the ending in the newer version and the abrupt ending is sort of a surprise that wakes one up to a change.

The next questioner asked the panel which episode they most liked to see come to life and watch. Schwartz said he was an enormous Darkwing Duck fan so seeing the episode almost made him cry. Schwartz said the whole episode was full of nostalgia and Darkwing’s classic villains, all of whom were voiced by their original voice actors except for Megavolt. Moynihan said he felt very selfish since his favorite episode was “The Great Dime Chase” which was a Louie episode. Moynihan also said that he hadn’t watched the Darkwing episode yet until after a visit to Disneyland, at which he re-watched the Darkwing portion 50 times. Youngberg said his favorite was the very first episode since it was the fruition of all their work and everything they ever wanted in the show. Pudi agreed since it finally made his kids respect his work.

DuckTalesThe final questioner wondered why Scrooge wasn’t in several episodes and asked whether it was because of the stories or because David Tennant didn’t have time to record Scrooge. Angones answered that it had nothing to do with Tennant’s recording schedule. Angones said the show itself, DuckTales, is a show about all the ducks from McDucks, Vanderquacks, Beakleys, Ducks, etc., so the show isn’t just focused around Scrooge, and they wanted everyone to have a chance to shine on the show.

Afterward, I had a chance to ask Angones a couple of fan questions myself at a signing at IDW’s booth. I first asked about why the Pixiu featured in the first episode was just a regular dragon and not an ‘actual’ Pixiu which is ‘supposed’ to be a hybrid of a dragon and lion with antlers like the Qilin which was featured on an episode of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness. Angones answered that the Pixiu’s features resembled too much like another character they had on the show, so they opted for a regular dragon. I also asked whether Webby’s missing parents would be featured one day, and of course, I was giving the ‘keep watching’ answer.

DuckTales season 2 is set to premiere on Disney Channel on October 20, 2018.