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Ellsworth

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Ellsworth is Goofy's talking and mischievous pet. The character has been described by some as a mynah bird or a raven, but his character suggest that he is rather an anthropomorphic crow.

Background

Ellsworth first appeared in the "Mickey and Pluto" Sunday page from Oct. 30, 1949, written by Bill Walsh and drawn by Manuel Gonzales where he is introduced as a mischievous little hustler. He was acquired by from a pet store when Goofy decided he wanted a pet. According to the book "The Mickey Mouse Club Scrapbook" (1977) he is a mynah bird, and was originally scheduled to have been a costumed character on that TV series. He appeared quite extensively in the Sunday, but never in the daily, newspaper comics, and for the most part, the Dell comics avoided reprinting the Sundays that featured Ellsworth, Gold Key reprinted at least two later in comic books, one gag from 1950 is reprinted in "Walt Disney Comics and Stories #154 (July 1953), and another from 1955 in "Mickey Mouse" #105 (Feb. 1966). Ellsworth's presence in Disney comics is fairly unique since, by normal reckoning, he does not act like a typical "pet" character, like Pluto or Figaro, but he isn't quite a human character either. In his introductory tale he may have begun as Goofy's talking pet, but seems to have evolved into a more independent character, more anthropomorphized, yet retaining many animal characteristics (such as his ability to fly), he also carries on regular conversations (unlike a mynah who just repeats words and phrases). He is definitely a "bird (animal)" and not a "birdbeak" (anthropomorphized bird), but he has the ability to interact and converse naturally with both animals and humans with equal ability. However, when he "speaks" to animals, obviously they do not "speak" back. He also fights with animals the way a real bird would, like when a cat might find him a tasty treat (being able to fly comes in handy). He claims to have graduated from Yale University (hence the sweater with the embroidered "Y"). He typically accompanies Goofy on adventures and even does normally *human* things like taking on paying jobs (i.e., teaching at a University), or getting himself arrested. In Italian comics (especially those by Romano Scarpa) he appears in many Mickey Mouse (Topolino) tales as Mickey's companion as well as Goofy's. He tends to fly off for extended periods of time, and returns at his own leisure, thus acting less like a *pet* and more like a friend or companion to Mickey and Goofy. He has virtually disappeared from USA comics, but he sure enlivened a lot of stories in the period when Mickey was quite boring.

More recently, Italian writer and artist, Romano Scarpa, took on the character of Ellsworth (called Gancio in Italy), and, like he did for many Gottfredson creations (Eega Beeva, Doctor Einmug, etc.) gave him new life in Mouseton. His Italian introduction begins in "Pippo e il ritorno di Gancio" ("Goofy and the Return of Ellsworth") from "Topolino" #367 (Sep. 12, 1962), where his character is revived by writer Abramo Barosso and artist Giulio Chierchini. In this tale Ellsworth vaguely explains where he has been for such a long time, which turns out to be involved with various swindles like the selling of bottled "Balsamic Mountain Air" until the Hygiene Bureau learned of it, etc. In this story Goofy must bail Ellsworth out of jail for the crime of vagrancy, having been caught sleeping on a park bench. Soon after that tale Ellsworth appears in a fair number of stories written by Scarpa and a few others until 1966. Ellsworth then reappears once in October 1969, again in May 1971, and finally in January 1972. No explanations were given concerning his absence in those stories.

Finally, 13 years after his Italian introduction, Ellsworth's absence from comics was explained (especially the '72 - '75 lapse). Apparently he had joined the Foreign Legion in the Sahara desert. In the tale, "Topolino e il rampollo di Gancio" ("MM and the Son of Ellsworth"), Topolino #1048 (Dec. 28, 1975) Ellsworth is battling with one regiment of birds against another. A bird from the enemy camp is captured and pleads for help from Ellsworth claiming his "son" is hiddened nearby and that if he is unable to return, his son will be left an orphan. Ellsworth checks out the prisoner's claim and indeed finds a fledgling among the rocks. Now believing the prisoner he takes pity and secretly releases the prisoner. However, he soon discovers that the prisoner lied, and the young bird he found was in fact, already an orphan, and was simply used as a matter of deceit. Feeling sorry for the young bird, Ellsworth adopts him, naming him Bruto ("Gancetto" in Italian, meaning "little Gancio"). Under Ellsworth's guidance Bruto grows up in Goofy's house and learns to be very much like his adopive father, though not nearly as mischievous. Bruto soon befriends Mickey, and becomes an adventuring sidekick for him (much as Horace Horsecollar, Goofy, Butch and Eega Beeva have done before). In many stories Bruto lives in Mickey's home, because his father seems to be involved in some adventures in exotic locales. There are very few tales where Bruto and Ellsworth appear together, and as a result, one not familiar with his origin might not know they are two separate entities. It is very likely that Scarpa may have created Bruto as sort of a "downgraded" version of Ellsworth, to avoid the risk of competition with Mickey that had affected the stories involving both Eega Beeva and the original Ellsworth as his sidekicks back in the fifties. As Scarpa himself said, "Gancio (Ellsworth) *is* too strong a character to play as a sidekick. He's got to be the star. Bruto is duller, and highlights Mickey's role. The main differences between Ellsworth and Bruto, physically, are that Bruto is slightly smaller and wears a baseball cap (instead of a barret like Ellsworth does), and that Bruto usually wears pants, while Ellsworth does not. Also Bruto's beak tends to be more pointed and shorter than Ellsworth's. It is not clear, however, if they are both suppose to represent the same species of bird.

There are no other bird characters comparable to Ellsworth and Bruto except, perhaps, the two parrots Yellowbeak and Joe ("Joe from Singapore" WDC&S #65, 1946), whom Donald Duck has met.

Trivia

  • Ellsworth seems to be used as some sort of symbol and mascot in Egmont Comic CreatioN (ECN)'s house newsletter whom they call "Little Egmont" (the official presenter bird) in Copenhagen, Denmark: [1].

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