On October 17th, 1937 the world was introduced to Huey, Dewey, and Louie in a comic strip created for the Walt Disney Company by Ted Osborne and cartoonist Al Taliaferro. The triplets would go on to star in animated motion pictures, shorts, television shows, video games, and comic books around the world.
The boys are the nephews of Donald Duck. In the original story they were sent to stay with Donald after an incident put their father in the hospital. The boys were very mischievous and most of their early comics and cartoons were about the trouble they caused.
The boys made their first animated premiere mere months after their first comic appearance in 1938’s Donald’s Nephew’s. Their introduction to animated shorts was very similar to how they were introduced in the comics except they were not sent to live with Donald for a lengthy stay. However, the boys were often depicted in both comics and cartoons as living with Donald.
The boys’ appearance has become iconic within Disney Fandom. They are identical triplets who often wear outfits of specific colors to distinguish them from one another. In their first comic appearance Huey wore red, Dewey wore blue, and Louie wore green. When they debuted in “Donald’s Nephews,” Dewey wore an orange outfit. Sometimes the blue was dropped for the orange, but the red, blue, and green are their most iconic looks. The boys were sometimes switched around and were even depicted wearing the same outfit in some stories. It wasn’t until the 1980s that they were locked into their specific colors at Disney.
In the cartoons the boys were always mischievous and even outright disrespectful of their Uncle Donald. In the comics they were portrayed more well-mannered. The boys would often go on adventures with their Uncle Donald and even keep him in line from time to time in the comics. Their personalities rarely differed from one another, and that was often the butt of a joke or two. They boys were constantly written finishing each other’s sentences. Only the animation indicated which triplet was talking because they were always voiced by the same actor.
Comics depicting Donald Duck and his nephews were very popular and they have been some of the most popular comic book characters in the world. Especially in Europe.
In 1987 Disney Television Animation released DuckTales, a cartoon that featured the triplets as they traveled the globe with their Uncle Scrooge in search of treasure. The show was a huge success and further catapulted the characters as cultural icons. The success of the show even led to an animated motion picture.
DuckTales also led to a couple of video games in 1989 and the early 90s. These games are considered classics by both fans and gamers, and in 2013 a Remastered version was released with an updated look.
One of my favorite designs for the characters is from the Italian comics. The look is very cartoonish and exaggerated. I really enjoy looking at the artwork in these comics.
There have been various versions of Huey, Dewey, and Louie. In the mid-90s Disney Television attempted to bring back the trio along with Donald and Daisy in a new series called Quack Pack. The show has a number of critics, but the designs absolutely scream 1990s.
More recently the boys have been found as guest on the Disney Mickey Mouse shorts and starring in a reboot of DuckTales! The new DuckTales has gone the route of Quack Pack and given the triplets their own distinct personalities and they have even gone so far as to give them separate voice actors!
With the success of the new DuckTales series we believe Huey, Dewey, and Louie will enjoy even greater cultural relevance in the future. The characters have a long and rich past, and a very bright future.
What is your fondest memory of the nephews? Do you have a favorite short, show, or depiction of the characters? Join the conversation below in the comments or on Twitter @DuckTalks