Buck Rogers got looney in a Daffy Duck cartoon spoof!
It's positively "daffy" to see him in a cartoon!
Image: The Everett Collection
Buck Rogers has inspired millions to dream of the adventures that await among the stars. Who would have guessed that it would have inspired one little black duck to explore the galaxy?
That’s right – Daffy Duck is also a pioneer of space. In 1953, audiences were introduced to Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century, a spoof that combined the tropes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Flash Gordon.
Of course, the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century television series that airs on MeTV originally premiered in 1979, but the character dates back to the late 1920s. The popular newspaper comic strip led to movie serials and radio programs. The Daffy Duck spoof, in particular, was perhaps inspired by the first Buck Rogers TV show, which aired in black-and-white on ABC in 1950–51.
In the Merrie Melodies cartoon, Dodgers is on the hunt for a rare and valuable element known as "Illudium Phodex," also known as the “shaving cream atom.” The final place her has to search is the elusive Planet X. As he lands and claims this planet in the name of Earth, Marvin the Martian appears and claims the same planet for Mars. From here, it is a battle to see who can outsmart the other and claim Planet X for their homeworld.
In the original cartoon, the image of Duck Dodgers is more akin to the classic Buster Crabbe look from the 1930s movie serials. When the character returned in 1980 for a sequel, Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24½th Century, he was clearly riding the coattails of the popular Gil Gerard iteration of Buck seen on TV at the time. The Daffy Duck character would slowly look more and more like the familiar Gil Gerard Buck.
From 2003 to 2005, Cartoon Network aired a Duck Dodgers TV series. As seen up top, he was now wearing a paler jumpsuit. During the show, we watched as Dodgers began as a victim of cryogenic freezing who awoke 300 years in the future. With no one to know who or what he is, he tricked his new society into thinking that he was 21st-century hero. While it was later revealed that he was a fraud, he went on to prove that heroes can be born out of the "fowlest" intentions.
The series was met with positive acclaim, including a nomination for a 2004 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production Produced for Children, Music in an Animated Television Production, Production Design in an Animated Television Production, and Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production. It was even nominated for four Emmy Awards that same year.
Not even Looney Tunes can resist a good space adventure.