This weekend’s The Wall Street Journal has an article about the popularity of Disney comics in Germany, and in particular Donald Duck. The article talks about Dr. Erika Fuchs, Micky Maus‘ first editor-in-chief, who became famous in Germany for her quality translations of Carl Barks stories and set a very high standard for the language used in the German Disney comics.
Donald Duck’s popularity was helped along by Erika Fuchs, a free spirit in owlish glasses who was tasked with translating the stories. A Ph.D. in art history, Dr. Fuchs had never laid eyes on a comic book before the day an editor handed her a Donald Duck story, but no matter. She had a knack for breathing life into the German version of Carl Barks’s duck. Her talent was so great she continued to fill speech bubbles for the denizens of Duckburg (which she renamed Entenhausen, based on the German word for “duck”) until shortly before her death in 2005 at the age of 98.
Ehapa directed Dr. Fuchs to crank up the erudition level of the comics she translated, a task she took seriously. Her interpretations of the comic books often quote (and misquote) from the great classics of German literature, sometimes even inserting political subtexts into the duck tales. Dr. Fuchs both thickens and deepens Mr. Barks’s often sparse dialogues, and the hilariousness of the result may explain why Donald Duck remains the most popular children’s comic in Germany to this day.
Unfortunately the article hardly mentions Carl Barks himself, whom was undoubtedly the reason for Donald’s success in Germany. It was his stories that Dr. Fuchs so elegantly translated. It is still a great article though, acknowledging the greatness of Disney comics and their continued popularity in Europe.
Read the entire article here.