Donald Duck has been a popular character in Europe, particularly in Nordic countries where his weekly magazine ‘Donald Duck & Co’ was the comics publication with the highest circulation from the 1950s to 2009. While Donald’s cartoons continue to be shown in the United States and around the world, his weekly and monthly comic books enjoy their highest profile in many European countries, especially Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Most of them are produced and published by the Italian branch of the Walt Disney Company in Italy (Disney Italy) and by Egmont in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. In Germany, the comics are published by Ehapa which has since become part of the Egmont empire. According to Inducks, a database about Disney comics worldwide, American, Italian and Danish stories have been reprinted in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark (Faroe Islands), Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia. In most of them, publications still continue. One of the most productive Duck artists used to be ‘Vicar’ (Victor Arriagada Rios): he had his own studio where he and his assistants drew the stories sent in by Egmont. With writer/editors Stefan and Unn Printz-Påhlson, Vicar created the character Oona, a prehistoric duck princess who traveled to modern Duckburg by using Gyro’s time machine: she stayed and is still seen in occasional modern stories. The best known Duck artist of this time is American Don Rosa: he started doing Disney comics in 1987 for the American publisher Gladstone, later worked briefly for the Dutch editors but moved to work directly for Egmont soon afterwards. His stories contain many direct references to stories by Carl Barks, and he also wrote and illustrated a 12-part series of stories about the life of Scrooge McDuck, which won him two Eisner Awards.
Donald Duck is known in the Nordic countries as: ‘Kalle Anka’ in Sweden, ‘Anders And’ in Denmark, ‘Andrés Önd’ in Iceland, ‘Donald Duck’ in Norway, and ‘Aku Ankka’ in Finland. In the mid-1930s, Robert S. Hartman, a German who served as a representative of Walt Disney, visited Sweden to supervise the merchandise distribution of Sagokonst (The Art of Fables). Hartman found a studio called ‘L’Ateljé Dekoratör’, which produced illustrated cards that were published by Sagokonst. Since the Disney characters on the cards appeared to be exactly ‘on-model’, Hartman asked the studio to create a local version of the English-language Mickey Mouse Weekly. In 1937, the ‘Ateljé Dekoratör’ began publishing ‘Musse Pigg Tidningen’ (Mickey Mouse Magazine), which had high production values and spanned 23 issues; most of the magazine’s content came from local producers, while some material consisted of reprints from Mickey Mouse Weekly. The comic anthology ended in 1938. Hartman helped Disney establish offices in all Nordic countries before he left Disney in 1941: Donald became the most successful of the Disney characters in the Nordic countries, and Nordic peoples recognise him better than Mickey Mouse.