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Speculation Saturday October 16, 2010

Posted by John D. Moore in Darkwing News.
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Note: None of the following speculation is based on any kind of insider information.  Nothing is confirmed.  It is all hearsay and speculation based on the opinions of the blog author, John D. Moore.

Word on the street has it that the success of Boom!’s Darkwing Duck comic book has piqued the interest of people at Disney, which is going to lead to some new and exciting announcements.  There’s been a good deal of rumbling and speculation about what exactly those announcements might be.  The public isn’t privy to any information beyond just that for the time being, but I thought I’d throw in my two bits.

While it’s lovely to imagine some new direct-to-video movies or a new series of some sort (and they would certainly be welcome), Disney allocating those kinds of resources on the basis of four months of great independent comics sales seems something of a pipe dream (at least for the time being; I’m sure somebody in Burbank is thinking about how to pull new film/TV off).  More realistically, I expect to see more merchandising, perhaps as a sort of testing the waters to see how much a market there is for the character, before they attempt to launch bigger and better things.  (Note to Disney: at some point during this, I want a big, bold, and classy Darkwing Duck poster to frame for my room. I’d be okay with James Silvani or Amy Mebberson handling the design.)

Of things I believe are actually likely to happen, I think that an online motion comics edition of new Darkwing comic stories may well be on the way.  Disney Publishing recently announced they will be bringing Boom!’s Muppet Show comic to the motion comics format.  If they somehow included Jim Cummings and other cast members reprising their roles, it would be a treasure indeed.

One of the things I, personally, hope for most is a serious treatment of the original Darkwing Duck series on DVD/Blu-Ray.  That means not just a third (and maybe fourth) volume of the series of DVDs that have already seen release, but an uncut rerelease of the first 54 episodes, perhaps with some extras (like concept art, all the original opening sequences, and commentaries from the likes of Tad Stones and Toby Shelton, voice actors, the Boom! crew, or some notable fans), and packaging that looks like it had been developed by someone who saw and liked the show.  The original, uncut episodes haven’t been seen anywhere in probably 15 years, and the censorship present in the existing discs and the Toon Disney airings is erratic, awkward, and frustrating.  Other children’s cartoons with content that might be even less acceptable in today’s idea of appropriate children’s entertainment have made it onto home video unrevised in recent years, like Sony Wonder’s wonderful treatment of Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends. Perhaps since Disney trusted Boom! to license and develop D.W. and other properties for comics, Disney could license a smaller company like Shout! Factory to produce some fine collector’s editions of the cartoon.

I think it’s very possible that this is going to lead to a wide reevaluation within Disney of what  they can do with their Disney Afternoon properties, which have lied dormant for almost two decades.   Many of the children who grow up with the show are in their twenties and early thirties now, often starting families of their own, and not too infrequently rediscovering the joys of the quality entertainment they enjoyed in their youth.  Searches across social media often reveal someone outside the fan community introducing a daughter or a nephew to the show, or just rolling a joint and spending the night with the Justice Ducks.  There’s a market for Darkwing and his contemporaries now, and Disney should be able to figure out how to induct their legacy into the wider legacy of the Disney brand.

Perhaps some of the shows will return to air.  If the Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers comic goes over well, I expect we’ll see more properties tested for print (I have a strong impression that we’ll be seeing an original DuckTales book to complement Darkwing Duck before too long).  The people writing these books are often longtime fans of the characters, and are really passionate about turning out a quality, faithful product.

Then of course, there’s always the world of video games.  It comes up surprisingly frequently in video game circles (especially with all the hubbub surrounding Warren Spector’s Epic Mickey), so I wouldn’t rule out that possibility.

One thing I definitely don’t want to see is Disney trying to kick these brands up to a more powerful, more distributed company like their own Marvel Publishing.  Boom! and its team are doing an incredible, respectful, and faithful job, and the success of the Darkwing Duck comic book has as much to do with Ian Brill, James Silvani, and Andrew Dalhouse, specifically, as it does with any iconic status or fan loyalty.

With the launch of the Darkwing Duck comic book, Darkwing officially became a multimedia franchise (previous comics and toys all seemed to support the show instead of offer an extension of the characters and the brand).  Maybe all my ideas here are way off base, but I don’t think  I’m alone in my wishes for the future of the Terror That Flaps.

Please feel free post any responses to my ideas or ideas of your own in the comments section!  Where do you want to see Darkwing go from here?

Update & correction 10/17/2010: Readers Mike Russo and Steet have informed me that the DVDs released in 2006 and 2007 were, actually, released uncensored.  Perhaps the awkward cuts I remember from the discs were present in their original airings.

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Comments»

1. Mike Russo - October 16, 2010

Psst, with the exception of the “Darkly Dawns the Duck” 2-parter, all the Darkwing episodes released on DVD are completely uncut. And you can’t really even call the “Darkly” episodes censored, since that’s how they aired in syndication. They were only aired completely uncut one time when they aired in TV movie form.

2. steet - October 17, 2010

I was going to say the same thing. I know for a fact that the Talespin episodes released are totally uncut, except maybe for the pilot Plunder & Lightning, but that’s due to them putting the syndicated version and not the movie version (same thing for Darkwing)

For anyone’s interested, I wrote a very similar news here : http://www.animationsource.org/talespin/en/comments/Darkwing_Duck_is_spreading_to_Disney/2831.html

3. John D. Moore - October 17, 2010

Thanks, Steet and Mike, for calling my attention to that. Indeed, we can’t call “Darkly Dawns the Duck” censored, as it was only abridged for air across two episodes and appeared both on Toon Disney and the Disney Afternoon that way. It was last seen unabridged on the air September 8, 1991, and was only ever available on VHS after that.

I’d been under the impression that the DVD releases were cut for minor instances of violence like the Toon Disney airings. I seem to remember some awkward cuts and gag timings that seemed different from my memories of the show on the air/my VHS recordings. I’m still a bit under that impression, but can’t back it up with anything at the moment. I’ll cross that out and make a note in the original post.

4. Z - October 18, 2010

I really hope they release the entire series on DVD! I am frustrated by Disney’s release of half or part of series, and then abandoning releasing the rest. (Gargoyles is an excellent example of this–especially frustrating since it follows a very specific continuity.)

Just found your blog today-just wanted to say thank you. I’m a long time Darkwing fan, and I used to be pretty active in the community 97-02. So excited to see that people are still talking about DW, and so thankful to BOOM for bringing DW back as a quality product that is in the spirit of the original series!

5. padawanspider - October 28, 2010

I just remember being a kid and being frustrated because I couldn’t afford any of the merch! My parents were on a tight budget and my allowance was minimal. I’d love to see some new, high-quality figurines/action figures that I could add to my collection. Everything I have now has been rescued from flea markets – already “well-loved” (i.e. beaten up).

And the poster idea is a definite plus. Anyone remember the Pizza Hut poster? :D

6. padawanspider - October 28, 2010

Also: The series on Blue-Ray would DEFINITELY be a winner. Maybe they’d put a little more polish on it!

the ENTIRE series, too. Parents can decide if an episode is inappropriate for their children.

7. Ella - November 1, 2010

Wow, this is great news! It seems that 2010 is a really good year! This is the second best news I have gotten in the past 4 mouths!

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