How to Read Donald Duck

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How to Read Donald Duck
Para leer al Pato Donald, Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaiso, 1971.jpg
Cover of the 1971 Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaiso first edition
Author Ariel Dorfman
Armand Mattelart
Original title Para leer al Pato Donald
Translator David Kunzle (English)
Country Chile
Language Spanish
Publisher Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaiso
Publication date
Published in English
ISBN 0884770370

How to Read Donald Duck (Spanish: Para leer al Pato Donald) is an early work critiquing popular cultural forms written by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart. It discusses the impact of comic books featuring the Walt Disney Duck cartoon characters (Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, etc.). The book was written and published in 1971 in Chile, then under socialist president Salvador Allende.


Dorfman and Mattelart argue that the Duck comics, particularly those featuring the ultra-rich Scrooge McDuck on international searches for treasure, take on an ideological cast that reflects and naturalises American corporate exploitation of Latin American countries. While Dorfman and Mattelart argue in the original text that this is corporate ideology of the Disney Corporation is made manifest in the comic books, David Kunzle's introduction to the 1991 English edition suggests that in the years since the book's initial publication, Dorfman had "taken a more generous view of the comics he excoriated, at least those by Carl Barks (main writer and artist of the Duck comics), whom he too recognizes as an unrivaled satirist."[1]


Thomas Andrae, a biographer of Carl Barks (the main writer of Donald Duck), criticized the claims of Dorfman and Mattelart that Disney controlled the work of every cartoonist, maintaining that cartoonists had almost completely free hands unlike those who worked in animation. He writes that Barks' cartoons include social criticism and even anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist references.[2]


  1. ^ Kunzle, David. 'Introduction to the English Edition (1991).' How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic, 4th Ed.. International General, 1991, p. 17.
  2. ^ Andrae, Thomas (2006), Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity, Univ. Press of Mississippi, ISBN 1578068584 

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert Boyd. "Uncle $crooge, Imperialist" Comics Journal #138 (October 1990), pp. 52–55.
  • Dana Gabbard and Geoffrey Blum. "The Color of Truth is Gray." Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge Adventures in Color #24 (1997), pp. 23–26. Critical analysis by two experts on Carl Barks.
  • David Kunzle. "The Parts That Got Left Out of the Donald Duck Book, or, How Karl Marx Prevailed over Carl Barks." Paper presented to the Marxism and Art History session of the College Art Association Meeting in Chicago, February 1976 (1977), pp. 15–22. Kunzle's experiences in doing the English-language translation.
  • Tadeusz, Tietze. "Hard Racism and Soft Stalinism" Comics Journal #142 (June 1991), pp. 32–34.