GLADSTONE GANDERMedium: Comic books
Licensed from: Disney
First Appeared: 1948
Creator: Carl Barks
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Carl Barks. Unlike them, he has never appeared in his own comic book. The reason for that probably lies in his personality, which is entertaining to readers but not exactly the stuff of heroes. Even The Beagle Boys (also created by Barks), who are out-and-out villains, make more sympathetic protagonists than Gladstone Gander.
When Gladstone was introduced (Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #88, January 1948), he was merely a cousin of Donald Duck, whom Donald didn't like very much. The attribute for which he's best known, the phenomenal luck, so reliable it would qualify as a super power if he were a superhero rather than a funny animal, came along later.
But not too much later. The first indication of it came in "Race to the South Seas", which appeared in March of Comics (a commercial give-away) #41 (August, 1949), where he lazed his way through a race but still came in first. But the jaw-dropping extremity of it wasn't seen until four months later. In "Luck of the North" (Four Color Comics #256, one of a couple of dozen issues of that catch-all title devoted to Donald's adventures), readers got to watch the wind blow money into his hand just as a creditor was about to beat him up, then a trunk he bought at auction for small change turn out to have a secret cache full of money, and eventually a whale suddenly flop onto an icy beach right when he needed to prove the efficacy of a whale-attracting good luck charm. Since then, his luck has been as prominent a characteristic as his beak.
Gladstone may not be the sort of guy who makes a good hero, but he excels at providing obstacles for a story's main character to overcome. He quickly became a frequently-seen supporting character, not just in stories written and drawn by Barks, but throughout the Disney Duck line — and not just in America, either, but all over the world.
It took nearly four decades, but he eventually got into animation. He made his debut in that medium in the October 21, 1987 episode of DuckTales, titled "Sweet Duck of Youth". He's been in a few more DuckTales episodes, as well as one or two of House of Mouse. His voice is done by Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner).
He doesn't look like he's going to get his own show in the foreseeable future. Or his own comic book, for that matter. But as useful as he's proven in supporting roles, he also doesn't look like he's going to stop being a familiar part of the cast.