... Tad Stones on Disney, Darkwing Duck and monologues

Tad Stones... Tad Stones ...
... on Disney, Darkwing Duck and monologues

Darkwing Duck is a special hero for me. He turned up in the Disney Club one saturday afternoon, then on ARD. From the very first moment I was in love with this St. Canard crimebuster.

Mastermind of the series was Tad Stones, whom I met on Facebook quite a bit later. We agreed on an interview in various parts. This is the first part ...

Tad StonesZauberspiegel: You have been working for Disney for three decades. How did your career go - means, what were stages of your work there?
Tad Stones: I worked for Disney from June 1974 to January 2003 plus some freelance projects after that. I started in an 8 week training program. I entered a few months after Ron Clements and a couple of months before Glen Keane. I then became an inbetweener on The Rescuers, a job I was terrible at. I moved into story on The Fox and the Hound. I then was given an educational film to write, board and produce, Health and Alcohol Abuse. Working on that led to being moved to WED (now Imagineering). I worked on the Transportation Pavilion, sharing an office with Ward Kimball, then the Space Pavilion which was never built and finally on the Imagination Pavilion with Tony Baxter.
I returned to the studio to produce EPCOT documentaries for television but the TV networks were not interested in any documentaries tied to EPCOT Center. I consulted on a Donald’s 50th Anniversary special with Dick Van Dyke which had animated inserts. I bounded around the company, writing and boarding possible animation projects, starting Soccermania with Sport Goofy. Working on that project put me in touch with some of the executives who eventually ran Disney TV Animation.
I returned to features, developing possible feature ideas and a featurette which put Mickey, Donald and Goofy in the Navy. I was part of the first meetings about creating a new TV animation division. I was considering leaving the company when I was moved to TV in its first year. I was the Creative Manager but moved into story editing for the third season of Gummi Bears. I was made a producer on that then went on to develop and run Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, Aladdin, Hercules and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Along the way, I pitched and produced the first direct-to-video features, The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.  I produced Buzz Lightyear of Star Command with Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle then ran the series Team Atlantis. When the feature did not perform well, the series stopped production but episodes already in production were connected to become Atlantis 2: Milo’s Return.

Zauberspiegel: I am a big fan of Darkwing Duck. This is why a lot of questions on my favourite duck in the first part of the interview. So: Let’s gets dangerous? How many Batman and other comics, audioproductions, pulps and serials are necessary for one to consume in order to create the series? Were these heros the favourites of your youth?
Tad Stones: I read, watched and listened to all those things while I was growing up as well as many other comics of the Silver Age and the early Marvel Comics. These provided a lot of the inspiration for stories and villains in Darkwing Duck.

Zauberspiegel: Wikipedia tells us that Darkwing's roots are the Duck Tales (two episodes in particular). Yet the final concept was significantly different from Duck Tales. What made Darkwing Duck Darkwing Duck? How did the series develop?
Tad Stones: There was only one episode that started me on the road to Darkwing Duck but had little direct influence. Jeffrey Katzenberg told me to create a spy series based on the title “Double-O Duck,” one of the episodes of DuckTales that played with the James Bond movie conceits.  My first try was just a spy parody with no heart. Jeffrey ordered me to rewrite it. I wanted to create a show that was as wild as the classic Warner Brothers short subjects of the 1940s but adding heart and length. That was a big break with what Disney TV had done before. Inspired by the superhero and pulp stories that I loved so much, a new Double-O Duck was created that was more superhero than secret agent. But we didn’t have a show until we asked, “What if Batman had a little girl who refused to stay at home.” The relationship between Gosalyn and Darkwing gave the series its heart. Jeffrey liked the new direction but when we tried to sell it, we learned we couldn’t use the title that started it all since “Double-O” was owned by the producers of the Bond films. So Darkwing Duck finally got his name and his series.

Zauberspiegel: The German dubbing resulted in some changes that meant a loss to some aspects. In German Darkwings civil identity was called Eddie Erpel (roughly translated Eddie Drake). In the English version it was Drake Mallard, a reference on »The Shadow«. Do you have knowledge about other references that got lost?
Tad Stones: “Drake Mallard” wasn’t an intentional play on one of the identities of The Shadow, Kent Allard. I was just looking for a good sounding, duck-oriented, name. Perhaps I’m a subliminal genius and pulled it from memory. I’m unaware of the changes done in the various translations. After all, Darkwing Duck was broadcast around the world.

Zauberspiegel: Darkwing Duck always introduces himself with a monologue he always slightly modified such as: »I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the bubble gum that sticks in your hair«. I loved that. Who came up with the idea of these monologues that became a running gag and a trademark of the series?  Who wrote them?
Tad Stones: One of the earliest episodes written was “A Duck by Any Other Name.” I think the story editor was Duane Capezzi although IMDB credits me. In that episode, Launchpad masquerades as Darkwing but he could never get the slogan correct. He was hilarious. I loved the idea so much that I told all the story editors to give that trait to Darkwing himself. We went back and wrote it into all the episodes that had been written to that point. I’m happy it happened so early in the series so we could make the change.

Zauberspiegel: I noticed that not only Darkwing Duck, but also the Gummi Bears and other Disney series seemingly were not only created for children but also contained elements and references for parents and grand parents, thus making watching the series an experience for these generations as well. Was that initially planned or were these hidden gimmicks of their youth, installed by the authors?
Tad Stones: It was not an official plan. We just thought those things were funny. Also, kids are smarter than most adults believe.

Zauberspiegel: The bad guys Darkwing had to fight are all quite exceptionally themselves. I enjoyed his archenemy Negaduck (an opposite image of Darkwing) in particular. How were these various enemies created, and do they have real role models?
Tad Stones: Every villain was created differently. I came up with many of them at premise stage but it was the story editors and writers that really fleshed them out.

Zauberspiegel: You also had S.H.U.S.H. in honour of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. why this interlink, usually Darkwing met  DC-characters?
Tad Stones: S.H.U.S.H. was not named in honor of  S.H.I.E.L.D. specifically. Many fictional spy organizations had names or enemies that were initials. I also grew up with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with its enemy T.H.R.U.S.H. and T.H.U.N.D.E.R .Agents by Wally Wood.

Zauberspiegel: And last but not least: what made Darkwing Duck exiting for you, and is there a chance we might look forward to a reboot or a continuation of the series?
Tad Stones: I loved the tone of the show, the central cast, the villains and the crazy stories. Although I won’t be bringing him back, the showrunners of the NEW DuckTales animated series are huge Darkwing fans so who knows?

Horst Hermann von Allwörden



Questions by: Horst Hermann von Allwörden

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