Gladstone Gander is a character created by Carl Barks, first used in the story "Wintertime Wager" in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #88 (January, 1948). He is a lazy and infuriatingly lucky goose who never fails to upset his first cousin, Donald Duck. Gladstone's luck defies probability and provides him with anything he desires, with hardly the need of effort. As Disney comics writer Don Rosa has commented on the character: "Gladstone is unwilling to make the slightest effort to gain something that his luck cannot give him, and, when things go wrong, he resigns immediately, certain that around the next corner a wallet, dropped by a passer-by, will be waiting for him". For all his luck Gladstone has no achievements to be proud of and no true ambitions, as he is incapable of long-term planning. All of this is in stark contrast to his relative Scrooge McDuck, who is also capable of taking advantage of opportunities but works hard to create situations favorable for him, is strongly motivated by his ambitions and takes pride in forming his fortune by his own efforts.
He is a rival of Donald for the love of Donald's girlfriend Daisy Duck. Gladstone is also considered among the prime candidates for Scrooge McDuck's succession. For all of these reasons, he and Donald have formed an intense rivalry with each other. Gladstone's arrogance and outrageous luck, combined with Donald's own ego and belief he can still best him despite all odds---or as Don Rosa's version of Scrooge comments, "Donald's eternal tendency towards self-destruction" have set the stage for many stories featuring the two cousins' confrontations.
Barks gradually developed Gladstone's personality and at first used him frequently—in 24 stories between 1948 and 1953, the first five years of his existence. Gladstone's luck evolved slowly. In his first three appearances in 1948 ("Wintertime Wager", "Gladstone Returns", "Links Hijinks"), he was portrayed as the mirror image of Donald: an obstinate braggart, perhaps just a little bit more arrogant. In his next two appearances, "Rival Beachcombers" and "The Goldilocks Gambit", Gladstone is portrayed as merely lazy and irritable, and also gullible. The breakthrough of his lucky streak occurs in December 1949, and the long adventure story "Luck of the North". His and Donald's rivalry over Daisy is established in "Donald's Love Letters" (1949), "Wild About Flowers" (1950), and "Knightly Rivals" (1951), and as potential heirs to Scrooge's fortune in "Some Heir Over the Rainbow" (1953). After that, Barks felt unable to develop the character further, finding him basically unsympathetic, and began using him less frequently. But by then, Gladstone had found a steady place in the Duck universe. He was first used by a different Duck comic artist in 1951: "Presents For All" by Del Connell and Bob Moore.
His exact relation to the Duck Family Tree is somewhat uncertain. In Carl Barks' original version of the family tree from the 1950s, Gladstone was the son of Luke the Goose and Daphne Duck, who died by overeating at a free-lunch picnic. He was later adopted by Matilda McDuck and Goosetave Gander. Later, Barks is reported to have done away with the adoption, which was never featured in any story. (Of course, no stories denying the event were published.) In a more recent version of the family tree created by Don Rosa, Daphne Duck (Donald's paternal aunt) married Goosetave Gander and the two were Gladstone's parents. This is consistent with what Gladstone says in "Race to the South Seas": "Scrooge McDuck is my mother's brother's brother-in-law". Don Rosa's stories follow this viewpoint; in "The Sign of the Triple Distelfink" (first published on February 4, 1997), he added the fact that Gladstone was born on the day of Daphne's birthday on 1920, under the protection sign of the Triple Distelfink, thus inheriting his mother's luck.
Outside of comics, Gladstone appeared in several episodes of DuckTales, where he was voiced by Rob Paulsen. In the episode "Dime Enough for Luck", Gladstone is an unwitting stooge for Magica De Spell in one of her attempts to steal Scrooge's Number One Dime. He returns in the episode "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. McDuck", where he accidentally bids on an item that turns out to be valuable. This inspires Scrooge to bid on the next item—a trunk containing Dr. Jekyll's formula—which sets the plot in motion. He also makes non-speaking cameo appearances in the episodes "Sweet Duck of Youth" and "Till Nephews Do Us Part", as well in the House of Mouse episode "Goofy For A Day". Gladstone also appears in the video game Donald Duck: Goin' Quackers! in his traditional role of Donald's rival for Daisy's affection. Although he didn't appear in Mickey Mouse Works, his name was mentioned on a punch card in "Donald's Rocket Ruckus".
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