What Happened to Della Duck?
This is the Donald Duck family tree, courtesy of Don Rosa in his Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
|Click to enlarge.|
Notice anything? Here, lemme zoom in.
So over there, we've got Scrooge, with his sisters Hortense and Matilda. Hortense McDuck married Quackmore Duck, and she gave birth to twins, Donald and Della. Donald of course is the uncle of Huey, Dewey, and Louie, making them Della's kids with — who the hell is that guy that bird is in the way of?
The first time the kids were shown in 1937 in a Sunday strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro, we're introduced to them via a letter from Donald's "cousin" Della, in which she tells Donald to take care of the kids for a while.
Of course, she wouldn't be Donald's cousin for long, and she quickly became Donald's sister in family trees by Barks, even if she was called "Thelma" in one of them.
Anyway, when Rosa did his big Scrooge McDuck timeline in Life and Times, there was a period when Scrooge roamed around the world building his empire. In that period, Hortense gave birth to the twins.
Scrooge sent his family away right after that (with little Donald giving him a literal kick in the butt), and the next time Scrooge meets Donald, Donald's already got custody of the kids. Huey, Dewey, and Louie just say something cryptic.
This is never followed up on, ever.
Now, it's been suggested by some, even Don Rosa himself, that Della ended up marrying one of Daisy Duck's brothers, which is how come she's "Aunt Daisy" to the boys, but as far this was never worked into a story. As for what happened to Della, that is a mystery and will likely remain so. It's been explained that there's no way for such an explanation to not end up as really depressing, since she's probably either dead or a negligent mother. Rosa goes into more detail on his Facebook page:
For the entire 20+ years I was creating Barks Duck stories, fans would always beg me to tackle the question of what happened to the parents of Huey, Dewey & Louie (hereafter "HD&L"). And I thought long and hard about how to go about it. What would the possible plot resolutions be? I could think of four.
1) HD&L go on an epic search for their lost parents. They never find a trace. There's no point to the story! Nix. 2) HD&L go in search of their parents, and discover they are dead. Depressing and pointless. Nix. 3) HD&L go in search of their parents, and find them! Alive and well! So... they go to live with their parents rather than staying with Unca Donald? I can't do that! That would threaten to rend the very fabric of the universe! Nix! 4) HD&L go in search of their parents, and find them! But... they stay living with Unca Donald? Rather than with their own parents? I can't do that! That would be depressing and probably result in all manner of litigation and paternity suits and I don't know what. Nix.
Is there a #5? I had one in mind as far back as 1990 when I first went to work for Egmont and learned that (unlike America) Europe was an entire continent of Barks Duck lovers who wanted someone, anyone to tell this tale. I even put a scene into the storyboard-script for one of my first Egmont stories that would hint at this 5th possibility. But I did not include it in the finished version of the story because it would still have been very problematic as to how to deal with such the plot or its final outcome.Here's the deleted scene:
It feels very "wrong" for me to discuss this with a detailed explanation. I prefer to simply let people see the storyboard-script of the deleted scene and let them decide for themselves. Besides, I never thought it out beyond that scene. It appeared in the HALL OF FAME and in an even more complete version was in the DON ROSA COLLECTION. Mikkel (above) has apparently seen it.
Maybe Jano can copy it over and show it here? And that's all I will say about it.
It's a strong hint, but at the end of the day, it's one of those unsolved comics mysteries, and it'd be great if we could find out what happened!
Hey, since Don Rosa was the first great Duck artist after Barks and made his reputation on piecing together the life of Scrooge McDuck, maybe the next great Duck artist will be the one who explains this one loose end!
As a side note, a few of my friends have suggested it's a certain Duck, Howard the.
So as I finished writing this, I ran into this piece by Chris Sims, where he basically said the same things. Go read it!
Update: I found this online, an unofficial Rosa-drawn family tree. As you can see, there are some changes. We actually see the boys' dad, but he's still unnamed. But most importantly, Rosa says Matilda is married to Ludwig Von Drake, who I always thought was awesome! (And he appeared all of once in Barks' stuff. Boo!)
You can read The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck here, but reprints are supposedly in the works from Fantagraphics!