The Animated Series Writer Henry Gilroy On Dark Knight Violence, Donald Duck Arguments, G.I. Joe Woes & More [Exclusive Interview]

After working on “Batman: The Animated Series,” Gilroy wrote for another superhero comedy, albeit a vastly different one — “The Tick.” A parody of superheroes, the show was a fantastic comedy that poked fun at comic book conventions and tropes while still telling a compelling and entertaining superhero story in its own right.

For Gilroy, who was already a big fan of superheroes, lampooning them was easy, but just because the show had a lighter tone doesn’t mean they got fewer notes. As the animator tells us, he did an episode called “The Tick vs. The Uncommon Cold,” where Tick was cloned based on a used Kleenex, resulting in a character called Mucus Tick, who was essentially an evil twin. The episode ends with Tick snorting his evil twin back up his nose and sneezing him into another dimension. “I think there was a closeup of a wavering nostril, with snot going up of it,” Gilroy recalled. “It was disgusting. They go, ‘That’s probably too much. That’s too gross.'”

Gilroy also worked for the mouse on a few shows, including “House of Mouse” and “Mickey Mouse Works,” attempts at keeping the iconic mascot of the Disney company alive with rather cool and entertaining stories. Unsurprisingly, such important characters are closely guarded by the studio, even if it doesn’t always make sense.

One particularly ridiculous and frustrating note Gilroy shared involved a segment where Donald Duck was in a canoe. The character was meant to flip out of the boat and go down some rapids, pinballing off the rocks, but Disney had other plans. “They said, ‘Well, if he’s going to be in the canoe, he has to have a life preserver on,'” Gilroy said. “And I was arguing that, ‘Yeah, but he’s a duck.” Not only does it mess with the comedic timing of the scene — as Gilroy explained “if he has a light preserver on, it’s not as funny if his face flattens into a rock, and then he spins around and then flattens into another rock,” — but why would a duck, anthropomorphic or otherwise, need a life preserver? 

“Okay, even if he is a ‘human duck’ or a duck with anthropomorphic [features], he doesn’t swim the same way. The life vest, the life preserver is clunky, it’s square. It messes up his design. It’s not as cool.”

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