Donald Duck and the Golden Helmet
By Martin Blemsted, editor, 2006
With Donald Duck on the blue ocean wave
The Golden Helmet is a strip cartoon by the American artist Carl Barks. Barks is the best known Donald Duck cartoonist, so you have surely read some of his stories. Barks frequently used things from real life when illustrating his stories. The Golden Helmet was inspired by the Nordic Vikings and their perilous journeys across the Atlantic Ocean.
Sailing race for the helmet
In the tale, Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie are on the hunt for a mystical, ancient Viking helmet - “The Golden Helmet”. The helmet belonged originally to Olaf the Blue, who was the first to sail to America. This means that the one who finds the helmet will become King of North America! Unfortunately Donald is not the only one who wants to get his fingers on the Viking helmet - the evil villain, Azure Blue, successor of Olaf the Blue, is also out to grab the treasure.
America’s true discoverer
The character Olaf the Blue is inspired by a real life person: Leif the Lucky, who sailed to America on board a Viking ship over 1,000 years ago. It can be said that Leif the Lucky “discovered” America at least 500 years before Columbus. Not having our modern aids for navigation at sea, the old Vikings were obliged to rely on tracking the sun and the stars to find their way across the Atlantic.
Starry firmament as navigator
At one point in the story, Azure Blue steals Donald’s ship and puts the duck and his nephews on a little life raft. This means that they, just like the old Vikings, are forced to use nature’s own aids in their hunt for the Golden Helmet. Whether or not Donald and his nephews manage to find the helmet before the villain will not be divulged here.
Did you know?
Do the words "Langtbortistan", "Grønspættebogen" or "Milde Mammon" evoke good memories? It is only a few of the many expressions that the Donald Duck Translator Sonja Rindom added to the Danish language. She was opposed to simplifying the language and talking down to children. As for the speech bubbles in the clumsy duck series, she did everything to make them as inventive and quirky as possible for the benefit of both the vocabulary and the children.
The Committee's justification
By the Committee for Literature, 2006
Film and comic books became the new mass media art of the 20th century and, in 1942, the American Carl Barks turned Disney© studio cartoon figure into a world-renowned figure in printed comic books: Stubborn, with a beak, webbed feet and a shortened sweater over naked tail feathers, the bad-tempered duck was developed into a nuanced yet comical representation of the pride and weakness of modern man.
Duckberg, the new, middle-class, detached house paradise which Barks populated with Joakim von And (Scrooge McDuck), Fætter Højben (Gladstone Gander) and Georg Gearløs (Gyro Gearloose), as translated by Sonja Rindom, became a Danish representation of modern myths and perceptions of wealth, luck and ingenuity. Since the 1960’s, Egmont in Denmark published the comic stories for the whole world. The Duckberg universe is particularly popular in the Nordic region.
Barks’ plastic and expressive drawing, tight composition and sound humanity, plus a skewed nod to the Nordic sagas, are combined in the story of The Golden Helmet. Working as a museum curator, Donald finds an original Viking ship logbook and reads that Olaf the Grey, who discovered Vinland in 901 – i.e. approx. 100 years before Erik the Red’s son, Leif Erikson, had been in Labrador and left the Golden Helmet. Its owner is the rightful ruler of North America. Along with his clever nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald looks for and finds the helmet but, in competition with the treacherous Azure Blue, the descendant of the Viking, and his lawyer Sylvester J. Sharky. Using legal wrangling and jargon, the rogues attempt to become the rulers of North America, but this power also tempts Donald in this well-crafted pictorial epic for all ages about the classic choice between personal gain and public interest.