For this installment, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the original children's books that were created to capitalize on the success of the Ducktales TV series. There are plenty of articles and discussions devoted to the comic books and the magazine, but this venue - prose fiction - has been left unchecked.
All of the books featured in the gallery below are presented in order by the year they were published - 1987, 1988 & 1990 - in groups of two, although there was a third title published in 1990, Ducktales: Journey To Magic Island, which I don't have, so there's no picture to offer...yet.
The Hunt For The Giant Pearl : has the best-looking cover of the lot. I think it was drawn by Daan Jippes, who drew many Donald Duck comics and illustrated the covers for the Ducktales comic book when it was published by Gladstone Comics in the late-80s. The cover art is uncredited, so that's my guess. A different artist (also unknown) worked on the interior art, which is not as lush as the cover. The real charm is the plot, which features Flintheart Glomgold teaming up with Magica De Spell for the first time, though it seems odd that Scrooge would fail to notice them together in an early scene (pictured), plus a neat gadget from Gyro Gearloose.
The Great Lost Treasuse Hunt: is not credited to any author, but it appears to have been inspired by the 2-hour TV premiere, "Treasure of The Golden Suns". Mrs. Beakley did not accompany Scrooge and company on any treasure hunting expeditions afterwards, but the author assumed she would be and hazzarded a guess as to the direction of the series!
Webby Saves The Day : is the book that most fans of the show might recall the most because it was promoted as a selection of "Disney's Wonderful World of Reading Book Club". This was a mail-order book club that often advertised in magazines - most of the books offered were adaptations of Disney films. WSTD offered an alternative take on the plot of "Treasure of The Golden Suns" , in which Donald Duck is not joining the Navy but "...away on a trip", there is no lost treasure, no wooden ships and crazed sea captain, just a retelling of how Mrs. Beakley & Webby met Scrooge and the nephews, and how the Beagle Boys tried & failed at robbing Scrooge in a home invasion. At this point, the book sounds a lot like the plot to "Donald Duck: Instant Millionaire" an older book with an attempted burglary at Scrooge's mansion.
The Secret City Under The Sea: is the first book to be credited to a writer and artist.Writer Paul S. Newman is often referred to as "King of The Comic Book Writers", simply for being very prolific - he wrote the original Turok comic book for Gold Key and a batch of Darkwing Duck comics for Marvel, as well as a lot of Disney comics. His approach to writting a Ducktales story shows a writer who's done his homework and is consistent with the tone of the show. Bill Langley's art captures the look of the show.
Down The Drain: 4 years later, the tone of the books changed, appealing to much younger readers. One thing all the books on this list have in common is this: the nephews are just along for the ride, Webby gets to be the hero. Justine Korman's story resembles many of the Webby-centric episodes of the show, which often involve her left to her own devices (and the assistance of some cutesy animal friends) to confront a challenge....not unlike most Disney movie heroines, really. In this case, she befriends two talking rats (which seems odd, since there always seemed to be unspoken rules regarding anthropomorphic "funny animals" interacting with "real" animals - I think Korman was inspired by Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers when she wrote those scenes). The book has the Beagle Boys adapt the urban legend about alligators-in-the-sewer for their latest crazy-gimmick crime wave. Willie Ito's artwork has fun with it, particularly the sewer scenes.
Scrooge McDuck's Birthday Surprise: Cindy West has the good fortune of having Bill Langley illustrate her story - a Little Bear-esque romp in which Scrooge lets a series of vague messages lead him to a "surprise"...on his birthday. This book depicts Scrooge with a blue top hat, which has a glossy look to it. We get to see Gladstone Gander in his 2nd children's book appearance (more on that another time). This light tale may be a fitting finale; it ends with a celebration - a wrap party! Few children's book series ever get to have a graceful finale these days. It's unlikely there'll be any more prose fiction based on this series. It will do just fine.