A while back Sarah and I were approached to write a Donald Duck story for Boom!. The page rate wasn't anything to brag about, but we had room in the schedule, I like Donald Duck and working on different characters can be fun (I'd written The Goon and Hellboy at that point and was going for a comic book icon trifecta). Perhaps more importantly, my daughter Emily was a fan (her pull list at the comic shop consisted of exactly one book, Boom!'s Uncle Scrooge) so we figured we'd take a shot at it and see what happened.
At the time Emily was reading a Cryptozoology book for younger readers and we built a pitch up around a Bigfoot scenario for her. We sent the pitch in, which was given the okay. We were asked to write an outline for four ten-page installments, which we wrote and sent in. We were told the pitch had to be approved by someone at the Disney organization, which is usually par for the course on licensed stuff. Time passed, and we didn't hear from the editor. We assumed the delay was with the Disney desks and we'd get some sort of word eventually. In the meantime we had other things to work on. More time passed, and then Disney bought Marvel and Boom! lost the license to the ducks et al, and the project was dead. Which happens. We never heard from the editor, not even to offer up some version of, "Well, that wasn't expected, sorry about that, thanks, take care."
The editor's no longer at the company. Someone at Boom! eventually got in touch with me to discuss another licensed project and was very nice and offered us some free books as a token of apology about the duck situation. They never sent them, which was kind of hilarious. It happens, I'm certainly not Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig, RIP). I try to follow up on stuff but am currently late on commissions, I haven't finished two drawings I promised people years ago and I owe someone a pitch (to be honest, I don't think they actually want it). Everyone drops the ball sometimes. And sometimes the ball gets dropped, booted away and lost. Wee-ha.
In the meantime, it does us no good sitting in our files, so here for your potential interest is the outline to our dead duck story:
DONALD DUCK: THE GREAT BIGFOOT HUNT
Plot outline for four 10-pg story chapters
DONALD DUCK and his nephews, HUEY, DEWEY and LOUIE, are camping out in the woods in the town of Bigfoot Falls, where a fishing contest is taking place, first prize, $5,000. After a day of not catching anything, a frustrated Donald and the three Junior Woodchucks enter town to replace a fishing pole Donald broke in a fit. They are surprised to find the town in a tizzy, people rushing towards the town square. A local explains that a Bigfoot has been sighted in the woods, and the mayor was going to address the citizenry.
In the town square, THE MAYOR presents an EYEWITNESS who saw the creature, the first Bigfoot sighting in the area in decades (Donald is surprised to find out that Bigfoot Falls was named after the creature, he just assumed the people there had fat feet and were clumsy). The eyewitness tells the crowd that he saw footprints, found fur on twigs, and then heard a roar before briefly seeing a large, hairy creature. He presents evidence to the spellbound crowd, tufts of fur, pictures of the footprints, and a blurry picture of...something. The nephews think it's probably just a bear (according to the Junior Woodchuck Field Guide on wildlife spotting), but no one pays them any mind when the mayor offers a reward of ten million dollars for anyone who captures the beast, dead or alive.
Suddenly the crowd parts to reveal FRANK DUCK, big-game hunter and star of his own reality series, BRING 'EM BACK DEAD OR ALIVE!. He was in town to win the fishing contest for the tenth time, but now vows to catch the critter in the woods, dead or alive, and claim the reward. He and Donald have words, and each vows to be the winner as Bigfoot mania hits the town.
Donald maxes out his credit card outfitting his group, buying up expensive gadgets, tools and supplies at the local hardware/sporting goods store...which happens to be owned by the Mayor. The nephews urge caution, but Donald is betting a few thousand dollars against ten million and won't be dissuaded.
Back in his office, the mayor and the eyewitness share a laugh and a toast as they celebrate. By the mayor's desk are a pair of fake Bigfoot feet, bags of hair, and a furry suit. The Bigfoot hoax they've concocted will make them tons of dough and put Bigfoot Falls back on the map. They joke about raising the reward to a hundred million dollars, as there's no way they'll be paying anything out, “Because there ain't no such thing as a Bigfoot!”.
As they celebrate, Donald and the nephews trundle through the wilderness, overburdened with equipment and oblivious to the wild goose chase – part of a small army all caught up in the Great Bigfoot Hunt.
Despite his nephews suggestions (taken from the Junior Woodchuck Guide), and the sarcastic advice from Frank Duck, Donald stubbornly tries to use the fancy and largely useless gadgets he bought, convinced that their price tags means they must be better than old campfire guff. But these attempts only lead to injury, frustration and broken gadgets, as well as the razzing of other hunters crisscrossing the woods.
We check in on the Mayor pushing the Bigfoot hoax on the assembled media, his crony selling Bigfoot merchandise to the crowds as he spreads his version of events.
Later that evening, the ducks set up their tent. Donald dreams of what he'll do with the ten million dollars. We see that the woods are filled with tents, everyone inside them dreaming of ten million dollars.
The next day, Donald tracks down what he thinks is a Bigfoot lair but it turns out to be a bear's cave. The angry bear chases the ducks, causing them to lose all of their expensive equipment. They escape the bear after falling into a stretch of mud and rolling down a hill through brambles and leaves. Covered in the leaves and dirt, they look like four brown, hairy heaps, and are mistaken for Bigfoot and “three Littlefoots” by overzealous hunters led by Frank Duck and his entourage. They chase the “Bigfoot” ducks, vowing to take them “Dead or Alive” for ten million bucks!
Running from Frank Duck and the hunters, the ducks jump in a river to wash off the mud and prove they are not Bigfoot and three Littlefoots. Donald and Frank Duck trade insults until the nephews realize the river rapids are taking them towards Bigfoot Falls.
The ducks go over the falls – but instead of falling on rocks, they fall on something soft at the bottom – a real Bigfoot and his three sons bathing in the waterfall. The creatures are on a fishing vacation of their own, a regular family tradition going back generations (which explains the original Bigfoot sightings in the area over the years). They use a campsite in a cave hidden behind the waterfall, and are friendly towards Donald and the nephews.
Meanwhile, the Mayor and his partner are in the woods creating more false evidence to keep the Bigfoot hysteria going, stamping fake oversized footprints and tossing fake fur from a big sack onto bushes and low-slung tree limbs. They make some growling noises to rouse the tired hunters in the area – inadvertently sending them towards the real Bigfoot family and the ducks!
The hunters and media folks are converging towards the area where the hidden cave is. Worried that Frank Duck might find them, the ducks have to help their new friends escape.
For a moment Donald contemplates calling to the hunters so he can show up Frank Duck and claim the millions. But the nephews – recognizing Donald's evil smile -- dissuade him, reminding him of how awful it felt to be chased by the hunters.
They leave the cave to try to evade the hunters and get the Bigfoot family to their vehicle. Moving through the woods, leading the way in case they're spotted, the ducks come upon the Mayor and his cohort. The nephews sneak around to see their Bigfoot hoaxing supplies, and the scam is revealed.
Before the villains can harm our heroes, Bigfoot emerges from the woods and shoves fish into their mouths before they can yell for help. Donald and the nephews come up with a plan to shake the hunters off the trail of Bigfoot and family – covering them with mud and the fake fur, then sending them running in a panic from Bigfoot's terrifying, tooth-revealing roar.
While the now-crazed hunters chase the Mayor and his helper, the real Bigfoot and company reach their vehicle – which turns out to be a small spaceship! The family is from another planet, where the fishing is lousy. As they say their goodbyes, Bigfoot gives Donald and the boys a huge fish as thanks for their help.
Later, back in town, there are two big media stories unfolding: Donald Duck has won the fishing contest with a monster-sized fish (and the prize money is just enough to cover all the equipment he bought). And Frank Duck has captured the two villains who masterminded the Great Bigfoot Hoax (although the Mayor and his pal now swear there was a Bigfoot in the woods for real). No one wants to hear talk of such nonsense, and when a local runs into town to tell everyone that he saw a spaceship flying over Bigfoot Falls, he's dumped into a fish barrel. Only Donald and the nephews know what really happened, and they're not talking.