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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #73

This is the seventy-third in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous seventy-two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Today’s installment is a special themed installment – ALL-DUCK COMIC BOOK URBAN LEGENDS!!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An inventor was denied a Dutch patent due to a Carl Barks’ Donald Duck story.

STATUS: Appears to be True

Karl Krøyer was a prominent Danish inventor, whose probably greatest invention was creating the continuous glucose process, which resulted in Total Sugar.

However, another noteworthy invention was a system Krøyer developed to raise sunken ships through the insertion of 27 million plastic balls made of expandable polystyrene foam, or, essentially, ping-pong balls.

Krøyer used this method to famously raise the freighter Al Kuwait in 1964. Here is a copy of Krøyer’s plan:

kroyerpatentfig1.png

Even at the time, magazines that covered the event drew parallels to a Carl Barks Duck story from 1949, where Donald Duck and his nephews raised a sunken ship by filling it with ping pong balls through a tube.

donaldduckraisesship.gif

Krøyer applied for, and was approved, a patent for his ship-raising process from the United Kingdom and Germany.

However, he was denied a Dutch patent.

The story was that the Dutch office took note of the comic (which came out, by the by, when Krøyer was 45 years old) and decided to refuse the patent, because one of the requirements for a patent is that it has to be a novel idea, and since the idea had been used 15 years earlier, it was not novel.

This is NOT to say that Krøyer took the idea from the comic book story. He denied doing so, and there’s nothing to say he did. However, if they denied it because the invention had been explained earlier (in the comic book), then it would not matter if he HAD read the comic book, all that matters is that the comic book came before his invention.

The only problem with this story is that there are no official documents on the point. We know he was turned down for the patent, but we do not have papers saying why. All the documents from that era have been destroyed, and the lawyer who reperesented Krøyer passed away years ago (as did Krøyer, himself).

However, just a few months ago, the Dutch Patent Office issued a statement confirming the story, so, while there is a real possibility that it is not true, I think a confirmation from the Dutch Patent Office (combined with the fairly reasonable nature of the claim) is enough to at least give this a tentative “True.”

Here’s a great article on the controversy. Thanks to reader LtMarvel for suggesting I do this one.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An extortionist calling himself Uncle Scrooge baffled German police for years.

STATUS: True

Arno Funke was born in 1950. By his late 30s, he had worked as an automotive and sign painter for a number years, and tests later indicated that the fumes from the paint did a significant amount of damage to his brain, which would perhaps explain his later actions (it certainly explains why he is a free man today).

1913_1512_Haupt.jpg

Funke took advantage of the separate entitites of East and West Berlin in the late 80s, to make sure he would not get caught. He would set up bombs in stores in West Berlin and call in the threat from East Berlin, asking for money in exchange for not setting the bomb off.

One time, a bomb did go off, causing a good deal of damage to a department store (no one was hurt, though, as Funke was extremely careful not to hurt anybody).

Funke soon began calling himself “Dagobert,” after the German term for Uncle Scrooge.

For the next six years, Funke engaged in a game of cat and mouse, using his brilliance to foil any attempts at his capture. He would design machines that would ride along the railroad tracks where he would request they drop the money – the machines would have false bottoms that would drop the money at drop points along the tracks.

Dagobert became a pop culture phenomenon, leading to T-Shirts and songs about him. It was getting to the point where the police were literally combing thousands of pages of Carl Barks comics, hoping that there would be some clue in the comics.

Eventually, Funke was caught in 1994. He was sentenced to nine years in prison (the short term was mainly due to the evidence of his brain damage), but only served six years.

When released, he wrote a book about his crime spree:

arnofunk.jpg

He has worked as a cartoonist for a book publisher since, while also giving numerous lectures and appearing on TV occasionally.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: There was a fourth nephew named Phooey.

STATUS: False

When you have three nephews who look exactly alike, it sometimes is difficult to keep them apart, so every once in awhile (and I mean every once in awhile, it really wasn’t a regular thing), an artist in a Duck comic accidentally drew a fourth duck.

Over the years, Duck fans have come to call this duck “The Fourth Nephew, Phooey.”

However, when you hear something repeated, even a joke amongst fans, enough times, it tends to take on an official air to it, so let’s just get it straight.

There is no fourth nephew named Phooey.

It is just a joke among fans regarding occasional slip-ups by Duck artists who included a fourth nephew, like this panel:

300px-Phooey_Duck.JPG

Thanks to reader razor wasp for this link of the four times Carl Barks himself made the mistake of drawing a fourth nephew.

I will admit, though, that enterprising Duck fans sure can come up with clever stuff, like the fan who uncovered what s/he felt was Phooey’s “first appearance”:

phooey2.gif

Pretty clever, eh?

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

61 Comments

“Dagobert” is the German term for Uncle Scrooge? That’s weird. Dagobert is a Merovingian name – three kings of France were named that in the seventh and eighth centuries. They ruled part of Germany, too, so it’s not surprising the name is used in Germany, it’s just weird that it got attached to Scrooge McDuck.

I think the thing is that, in these countries, there really is no relative term for Scrooge that would make sense.

The “Scrooge” part is totally an English pop culture term.

So the countries tend to just totally make up brand new names for him, that the comic companies there think work well.

In french, Scrooge is known has Oncle Picsou, which is a portmanteau meaning Stealscoin.

Cool stuff.

Will Duck Day include a dissertation on Destroyer Duck before it’s over? Heh.

moose n squirrel

October 19, 2006 at 5:02 pm

“Uncle Scrooge” is a great name for an extortionist.

“Will Duck Day include a dissertation on Destroyer Duck before it’s over? Heh.”

Yeah, I kind of want to know if that True Tales of comics History thing was true.

QUOTE: “The “Scrooge” part is totally an English pop culture term.”

Do you really think of Charles Dickens as ‘pop culture’?

What does it take for an author to be taken seriously?

I think Charles Dickens is practically the definition of pop culture.

I don’t see the term as an insult.

“What does it take for an author to be taken seriously?”

Don’t have your writing made into Disney cartoons.

In Spanish he is called “Rico MacPato” which could be translated as “Rich McDuck”.

Is “A Christmas Carol” and all its various versions known only in the Anglosphere? It seems like the sort of story and character that would translate readily to other Christmas-celebrating nations.

“QUOTE: “The “Scrooge” part is totally an English pop culture term.”

Do you really think of Charles Dickens as ‘pop culture’?

What does it take for an author to be taken seriously?”

I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware “may not be taken seriously” was part of the definition of pop culture.

Are you Judd Winick?

Isn’t it true that “Phooey” exists because artists often drew 4 nephews and then erased the one they liked least? Phooey came about because sometimes the 4th nephew didn’t get erased.

Funny thing is ina episode of Mythbusters a year or so ago they explored the “Myth” of the Ping-Pong ball boat rescue. They cited the Donald Duck story as the source, and it was labeled either Plausable or Confirmed, (Not sure it was confirmed due to the effort it would take to make it all work on anything larger than a small boat.)
They sunk a small boat and after a ‘bug’ or two were able to raise it a bit.

Also a point was made that it could be a problem for marine life as well.

Bobb

Dickens’ works are considered classics today, but they were the comic books of their time – published in weekly or monthly installments and later collected (for the trades) into the form you know them in.

Pop=popular. Dickens is and was very popular, and Brian’s statement is true: Scrooge is a term totally attached to the popular english/american popular culture.
FantomasPR, I suposse you’re writting from somewhere in South America, because in Spain we use “Tio Gilito” instead of “Rico MacPato” for Uncle Scrooge. Don’t ask me why.

Oh yeah i remember that with Dagobert.
I am german by the way.

To bad for him all his plans to get the money failed.

QUOTE: “Dagobert is a Merovingian name – three kings of France..”

France didn’t exist at that time, neither did Germany, the Dagoberts were actually kings of the Franks. Even today there is still an area left in Germany that is called “Franken” (Franconia) which could be seen as the successor of the Frankish empire. So the Dagoberts were part of “German” history as much as they were of “French” history. Dr. Erika Fuchs, the women who translated the Barks stories, studied art history, archeology and medieval history, I guess that’s why she chose this name for Uncle Scrooge…

I remember the German gutter paper “Bild” featured an excerpt from Barks’ comic “Christmas for Shacktown”, when Funke played his railroad tricks, and commented upon the bad influence of comics… ;)

There’s another comic book urban legend concerning Barks’ ducks that’s been forgotten: In a 1944 ten pager (“The Mad Chemist”, WDC 44) Donald referred to CH2, although that particular chemical intermediate was only discovered fifteen years later!

Just thought I’d pop in to say that I really enjoyed this week’s installment. I can’t say I care about the Ducks, but I found the first two entries very interesting none the less.

Isn’t Pop Culture things that are only remembered because they were popular, not because they had any intrinsic artistic merit?

Isn’t Pop Culture things that are only remembered because they were popular, not because they had any intrinsic artistic merit?

There certainly may be some folks who view it that way, but I don’t think that’s inherent in the term at all. At its heart, I think it is what it says it is – Popular Culture.

Sometimes, popular things are lame.

Sometimes, popular things are good.

In Spanish he is called “Rico MacPato” which could be translated as “Rich McDuck”.

Well, maybe in South America; Here in Spain, we´ve always known him as “Tío Gilito” (Uncle Gilito)

QUOTE:”Funny thing is ina episode of Mythbusters a year or so ago they explored the “Myth” of the Ping-Pong ball boat rescue. They cited the Donald Duck story as the source, and it was labeled either Plausable or Confirmed, (Not sure it was confirmed due to the effort it would take to make it all work on anything larger than a small boat.)
They sunk a small boat and after a ‘bug’ or two were able to raise it a bit.”

It ended up being Plausible. Jamie said “Not very practical, though.” to which Adam responded “You don’t think anything is practical!”

And they didn’t raise it “a bit”, they got it all the way up to the surface, using FEWER ping pong balls than they had estimated they’d need.

That said, it would indeed take a lot of effort and ping pong balls to pull it off.

Something happened on a game show this week that may tie in to the Duckburg (Duckberg?) comics. On the Game Show Network there is a new program called That’s the Question. One question that came up was “What is Donald Duck’s middle name?” I don’t remember just what they wanted, but it was something sissy like “Fauntleroy” (and I do mean “like,” as I don’t think that was actually it). A middle name for Donald was news to me and to the housemate who was also watching, but I explained about the highly regarded Barks/Ducks comics, and speculated that it probably came from them. Am I right?

His middle name is indeed Fauntleroy, but the only time it was ever mentioned was in the cartoon “Donald gets drafted”.

(1) the great thing about Dickens is that he is pop culture AND taken seriously

(2) does anyone have any scans of a panel which accidentally contains four nephews? I’ve never noticed one, and I’ve read a lot of Duck books

(3) Another terrific installment of the urban legends! Please keep ‘em coming!

razor wasp:

So Fauntleroy was right, after all. Thank you.

Ken: “Does anybody have any scans of a panel which accidentally contains four nephews?

That was in fact what I was expecting to see when I scrolled down to what turned out to be the “first appearance of Phooey” scan, so I second the request.

I added it for you, Ken, and as I did so, razor wasp added an awesome link!

In Brazil he´s called “Tio Patinhas” something like Uncle Duckie.

And by the way, pop culture is anything that´s popular in it´s time. Good or bad.

Mozart was pop back in the 18th century. That´s why he´s “classic” today.

Hey, thanks very much for that. I really appreciate the picture and the link.

I wonder if there’s any chance Don Rosa can do a tongue-in-cheek story explaining the on-again, off-again, existence of Phooey.

In Japan he’s known as ‘Gaijin Tengu Investor’

That’s hilariously awesome, joffe! Thanks!

That was great!

Next time you have a week devoted to ducks, maybe you can check on the rumor that “Mallard Fillmore” was funny one time.

I think it’s highly doubtful.

Another addition to the “Dagobert” extortionist:

He actually escaped from a money delivery that was set-up and monitored by the police with trick he lifted from a Duck-comic.

Hoosier X wrote: “…maybe you can check on the rumor that ‘Mallard Fillmore’ was funny one time. I think its highly doubtful”

How about the rumor that ‘Doonesbury’ was remotely fair to a Republican once?

I don’t know if this counts as a Legend or not, but did Jeph Loeb invent the “expanded” version of the Solomon Grundy rhyme when he did Long Halloween? The one with all the flowery weather language?

It’s funny that this entry appears now, as I just finished reading “The Science of Superheroes”, a book by Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg. In the final chapter, they abandon proving the plausibility of superhero origins and powers to tackle the vast scientific content of Carl Barks’ work. The book claims that the ping-pong ball story is, in fact, verified and true. I’d love to cite it, but my copy seems to have wandered off in my girlfriend’s hands now that I’ve finished it…

It cites it, does it, Dave?

I HAVE that book! I should check it out. Thanks for the tip.

Ah well, it’s what I feared. Heinberg just cited it unsourced.

And he didn’t even cite the story I’M stating. He cited the one that’s more insulting to Kroyer, which says that Kroyer took the idea from the comic, which Kroyer always vehemently denied. In addition, Heinberg states that Kroyer took the idea from a comic he read as a boy. Kroyer was thirty-five years old when the comic book story was published.

Ah well, que sera, sera!

Yes, be nice and fair to the Republicans. They are so sweet and gentlemanly.

Besides, Doonesbury is much nicer to the Republicans than they deserve.

Mallard Fillmore is just a collection of conservative talking points. Any occasional resemblance to reality is strictly coincidental.

“Fillmore,” unlike “Doonesbury,” cites sources for its claims of liberal B.S., which Trudeau CAN’T do most of the time, because it’s fiction. You got THAT critical comparison exactly backwards.

So…The Iliad is pop culture?

Maybe someone would like to give me an example of something that isn’t pop culture.

No politics please.

The Iliad was pop culture, yes. Something that *isn’t* pop culture… the problem with that is, only stuff that was popular tends to remain from previous eras, because it gets duplicated and distributed so much.

My mistake. :) I wish I had had the book at hand, so I could confirm what I *thought* I had read.

My mistake. :) I wish I had had the book at hand, so I could confirm what I *thought* I had read.

No problema! It’s surprising to see him toss in an uncited anecdote like that.

Ununnilium wrote: “No politics, please.”

Fine by me. Hoosier X brought it up, and I just couldn’t let that remark stand without “equal time.” I note with great respect that, despite how politicized discussions of rape have become elsewhere, that didn’t get into the “Was Black Canary raped in Grell’s ‘The Longbow Hunters’?” thread.

The purpose of Funnies is clearly stated in their title. Mallard Fillmore is not funny. Therefore, Mallard Fillmore fails at being a Funny, and all who enjoy it (or voted Republican) suffered some sort of brain trauma at some point in their life. QED.

BushSucks:

All you are doing is indicating your own liberal/Democrat bias, and if I was the moderator of a discussion board, a crack like your “brain trauma” remark would get the perpetrator at least suspended, whichever way it went. OF COURSE liberals don’t find Mallard Fillmore funny, but conservatives don’t find Doonesbury funny any more, either. And at least Fillmore’s Bruce Tinsley doesn’t let his affiliation get in the way of getting the facts straight. If HE did that as badly as Trudeau does, he’d lose his distribution. Like Ununnilium asked, let’s leave politics of this board, please.

Steamboat Willie

November 29, 2006 at 4:05 pm

The fourth Nephew… The legend of the 4th nephew is so persistent that a danish author (Lars Jensen) wrote a story about him that made it into Disney Comics worldwide.
(Story code: D97589)

Ken said: “I wonder if there’s any chance Don Rosa can do a tongue-in-cheek story explaining the on-again, off-again, existence of Phooey.”

Lars Jensen, another of today’s popular Duck writers, has already done one:
http://coa.inducks.org/story.php/x/D+97589/

This story hasn’t yet been published in the United States. But ***SPOILER*** it sarcastically tells of how ever since the three nephews were struck by lightning, they occasionally spawn a fourth nephew during periods of stress, who pops momentarily into existence and then vanishes seconds later. ***END OF SPOILER***

Oops, I’m an IDIOT.
I just now notice that the poster above me mentioned the same story that I did!

you should really poast the mythbuster site on here

Claus K. Pedersen

July 23, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Being a Dane and old enough to have meet Karl Krøyer when he was alive (He was an old friend of my dad)I can stil remember why he didn´t get the Dutch patent and it was indeed because of the Uncle Scrooge comic. He always said that he really didn´t mind bacause he had been a fan of the ducks for many years.

Wow, I can’t believe that anybody’s even bothering to waste their time talking about Doonesbury OR Mallard Fillmore. Both annoying, neither funny.

I found this site while looking for a dwg of the thieves usually associated with Scrooge.

Couldn’t remember the name, but recalled that in Spanish it’s “Tío Rico MacPato” (don’t know why someone else forgot the “Tío”); a search for Rich McDuck landed me here!

2 cents:

In English, thanks to Dickens, Scrooge ~ tightwad, an association not made in other cultures, where their authors come first and Dickens’ other works would come ahead of “A Christmas Story”

Also, the name doesn’t work with the Romance languages, where for pronunciation it would have to be something ugly like “Escruch” (debatable due to the lack of an ending “sh” type sound) MacPato ~ McDuck.

The duck’s method of “dropping” balls from a hopper into the sunken ship can’t work; they float and would have to be pushed in. Not clear how Kroyer got around that one.

Thanks for a great site, nice read and nice memories.

If others can provide the translations to other languages it’d a be interesting. Here’s a few Spanish names that come to mind:

Mickey Mouse: Ratón Miquito, Ratoncito Miguel
Donald Duck: Pato Donald, Pato Pascual
Goofy: Tribilín

Mighty Mouse: Super Ratón

Jughead: Torombolo

The Lone Ranger: El Llanero Solitario
Tonto: Toro (tonto = dummy)

Little Orphan Annie: Anita La Huerfanita
Daddy Warbucks: Papá Diamantino (Diamonded?)

Dagwood Bumpstead: Lorenzo Parachoques (bumper)
Blondie: Pepita
Herb: Heriberto

Betty La Féa: Ugly Betty

It;\’s interesting that names have to be changed to something somewhat similar, yet pronounceable in the other language.

;-)

Mickey Mouse: Ratón Miquito, Ratoncito Miguel
Donald Duck: Pato Donald, Pato Pascual
The Lone Ranger: El Llanero Solitario
Little Orphan Annie: Anita La Huerfanita
Betty La Féa: Ugly Betty

These are all literal translations. Not “something similar yet pronoucable” as you stated.

Has anybody ever shown parents for Donald’s “nephews” other than their suspected parents, Donald and Daisy, who were so ashamed at having out-of-wedlock children the concocted a false story for them)? Does Donald have an acknowledged brother or sister?

The fourth newphew has appeared in Duck canon, just not Barks. It was in an Egmont published story. The American name, Phooey, came earlier, by editor Bob Foster.

Dagobert is also the name for Dagwood (of Blondie fame) in Swedish comics.

The nephews mother was always Donald’s sister, Della (sometimes called “Dumbella”) and I remember seeing the cartoon where the nephews first arrive as a kid—Donald gets a letter from Della. She’s also been shown in some of Don Rosa’s flashback issues.

Wow, I hadn’t heard about the fourth nephew before. Good stuff!

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