|Donald and his nephews in a corny scene.|
However, despite the rivalry between Donald and his nephews, theirs was a close relationship. In the early comic strips, the nephews were a tad mischievous and uncontrollabe but they matured as the characters developed; taking on a more supportive, responsible role in the Duckburg lexicon.
The smart-as-a-whip nephews were the co-creation of Disney Studio writer Ted Osborne and artist Al Taliafaro and first appeared in a Donald Duck Sunday comic strip in 1937. Osborne worked at the studio between 1932 and 1937 and Taliafaro drew Disney characters from 1932 until his death in 1969, though it was the ledendary Carl Barks who penned and drew many of the comic books in which the nephews appeared.
Huey, Dewey and Louie also made appearances in animation shorts, the first being Donald's Nephews in April, 1938. This was followed by Good Scouts in July of the same year. Several more appearances in shorts followed over the years - 25 in all and ending with the last, The Litterbug in 1961. The nephews also appeared in Disney animated specials.
For those who are into Duck genealogy, the triplets are believed to be the sons of Donald's sister, Della Duck, although at least once, a lady duck called Dumbella was mentioned as the mother. Like many in the Duck family, their origins, it seems, are slightly murky.
According to the Disney Duck Family Tree, the nephews full names are Huebert, Deuteronomy and Louis - very fancy. It's not clear who their father was, although in the early comics an allusion was made to their father being in hospital and thus they had by necessity, to stay with Donald for a period of time. Later this story was dropped and the triplets became permanent members of Donald's household. It's amazing how few 'normal' families of mum+ dad+kids there were in Duckburg society - plenty of Uncles and Auntie's but few mums and dads. Possibly this is because the Duck characters worked better as singles, opening the door to romantic possibilities and scenarios.
Junior Woodchucks Guidebook
The Junior Woodchucks were a coon-skin hat wearing boy scout type organization, of which the duck boys were avid members - ( there was also a corresponding female troupe of Chikadees, which included Daisy Duck's nieces, April, May and June among the ranks). The Woodchuck Manual was their bible and seemed almost supernatural as an inexhaustible source of wisdom and advice. Carl Barks created the woodchucks in 1951, in a comic called Operation St. Bernhard and the sound moral influence of the Woodchucks may help explain Huey, Dewey and Louie's transformation in the comics from brats to responsible beings. Perhaps Barks was a fan of Robert Baden-Powell.