They’re a couple of also-rans in the icon department, still going strong after eighty years but never getting fully out of the shadows of their studios’ mascots. For one of them, this situation doesn’t merit a second thought; he couldn’t be more content. For the other, of course, peevishness is a vital ingredient of the whole shtick. Goofy and Daffy Duck both experienced peculiar evolutions during the Golden Age of Animation. Each wears the “Everyman” mantle to one extent or another, possessing an easy connection with the audience that Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, in their mature years, don’t necessarily have. So it’s not quite a bold statement to say that they’re probably my two favorite cartoon characters of all time.
They made their debuts about five years apart. Goofy (first known as “Dippy Dawg”) took a little while to come into his own, whereas Daffy represented a major development for his studio from the start. Goofy’s personality, that of the easygoing buffoon, stayed fairly constant as he branched out into a wide array of maladroit “how-to” guides and misadventures before taking an unexpected turn into domesticity in the 1950s. Daffy’s personality, along with his place in the Looney Tunes moral universe, was a lot more variable. In the late 1930s, before Bugs Bunny even existed, Daffy was the Warner studio’s original trickster god. As long as he was the prey of some hunter or bully, he could be expected to win. But the character’s sharp edges eventually turned inward, and his manic paroxysms were slowly replaced with frustration and pratfalls. Being paired, repeatedly, with Bugs certainly didn’t help matters, nor did Daffy’s later career as a foil for Speedy Gonzales. There wasn’t any real relationship between the developments (revolting or otherwise) at each studio, although both Goofy and Daffy were patriots during World War II. With the exception of the crowd scene at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the two characters have never shared any screen time. The closest they came was in 1942’s Conrad the Sailor, in which Daffy meets Conrad the Cat, voiced by Pinto Colvig, the original voice of Goofy.
Between them, Goofy and Daffy appeared in 220 cartoon shorts from the 1930s to the 1960s. (The end of the “Golden Age” is easy to determine, with the death of Walt Disney in 1966 and the shuttering of Warner’s animation studio in 1969.) Starting on January 1, I’m going to watch them all.
This retrospective will be different from my previous ones in one obvious way, consisting entirely of short subjects. Logistically, it would be quite easy to knock off fifteen to twenty of these cartoons in a night, at which pace I’d be done in just a couple weeks. But I’m actually going to be working on another project simultaneously. As we approach the end of another decade, I’m setting out to revisit all my favorite movies from 2010-2018 (the last of which will all be available for home viewing by the time I get to them), with an eye toward ranking them properly. All critics work from memory, a skill I’m definitely trying to sharpen. But this decade has been especially significant for me (when it started, I was still in college), so an exhaustive review, while time-consuming, feels like a good idea. Ironically enough, this other project might be more deserving of the word “retrospective,” since, naturally, I’ve seen all the movies before. In any case, it will take at least four months to make my way through all those feature-length films. With that in mind, I’ll take in the Goofy and Daffy shorts at a more leisurely pace — two per day.
As always, the films will be viewed in chronological order, so the first week or so will be all Goofy and the last week, all Daffy. The quantity is a bit lopsided. Daffy appeared in 131 cartoons, counting co-star roles and cameos. Goofy only appeared in 89. So judging which one will “win” this duel is going to be tricky. I have a feeling my position going in will not substantively change. As a character, Goofy gets my vote. He’s simply more lovable, more “me.” But Daffy unquestionably has the more noteworthy cinematic output, and there’s a lot of me in him as well. In terms of the cartoons themselves, I’m prone to enjoy the acidity of Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies a bit more than the sweetness of Disney. Aren’t we all? So much is received wisdom. It’s time to see it all for myself.
Here are the titles of all 220 cartoons, in the order of their original theatrical runs.
Mickey’s Revue • The Whoopee Party • Touchdown Mickey • The Klondike Kid • Mickey’s Mellerdrammer • Ye Olden Days • Orphan’s Benefit • The Band Concert • Mickey’s Service Station • Mickey’s Fire Brigade • On Ice • Mickey’s Polo Team • Mickey’s Grand Opera • Moving Day • Toby Tortoise Returns • Magician Mickey • Moose Hunters • Porky’s Duck Hunt • Mickey’s Amateurs • Hawaiian Holiday • Clock Cleaners • Lonesome Ghosts • Daffy Duck & Egghead • Boat Builders • What Price Porky • Mickey’s Trailer • Polar Trappers • The Fox Hunt • Porky & Daffy • The Whalers • The Daffy Doc • Daffy Duck in Hollywood • Goofy and Wilbur • Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur • Scalp Trouble • Wise Quacks • The Standard Parade • Naughty Neighbors • Porky’s Last Stand • Tugboat Mickey • Billposters • You Ought to Be in Pictures • Goofy’s Glider • Baggage Buster • A Coy Decoy • The Nifty Nineties • Orphans’ Benefit • The Henpecked Duck • The Art of Skiing • The Art of Self Defense • All Together • Mickey’s Birthday Party • Conrad the Sailor • Symphony Hour • Daffy’s Southern Exposure • How to Play Baseball • The Impatient Patient • The Olympic Champ • How to Swim • The Daffy Duckaroo • My Favorite Duck • How to Fish • El Gaucho Goofy • To Duck or Not to Duck • The Wise Quacking Duck • Yankee Doodle Daffy • Porky Pig’s Feat • Victory Vehicles • Scrap Happy Daffy • A Corny Concerto • Daffy – The Commando • How to Be a Sailor • Tom Turk and Daffy • How to Play Golf • Tick Tock Tuckered • Duck Soup to Nuts • Slightly Daffy • How to Play Football • Plane Daffy • The Stupid Cupid • Tiger Trouble • Draftee Daffy • African Diary • Ain’t That Ducky • Californy er Bust • No Sail • Hockey Homicide • Nasty Quacks • Book Revue • A Knight for a Day • Baby Bottleneck • Daffy Doodles • Hollywood Daffy • The Great Piggy Bank Robbery • Frank Duck Brings ‘Em Back Alive • Double Dribble • Birth of a Notion • Along Came Daffy • Crazy with the Heat • A Pest in the House • Foul Hunting • Mexican Joyride • They’re Off • The Big Wash • What Makes Daffy Duck? • Daffy Duck Slept Here • The Up-Standing Sitter • You Were Never Duckier • Daffy Dilly • The Stupor Salesman • Riff Raffy Daffy • Wise Quackers • Holiday for Drumsticks • Daffy Duck Hunt • Tennis Racquet • Goofy Gymnastics • Boobs in the Woods • How to Ride a Horse • The Scarlet Pumpernickel • Crazy Over Daisy • His Bitter Half • Motor Mania • Golden Yeggs • The Ducksters • Hold That Pose • Lion Down • Home Made Home • Cold War • Rabbit Fire • Tomorrow We Diet! • Get Rich Quick • Fathers Are People • Drip-Along Daffy • The Prize Pest • No Smoking • Father’s Lion • Hello Aloha • Thumb Fun • Man’s Best Friend • Two Gun Goofy • Teachers Are People • Cracked Quack • Rabbit Seasoning • Two Weeks Vacation • The Super Snooper • Pluto’s Christmas Tree • How to Be a Detective • Fool Coverage • Duck Amuck • Father’s Day Off • Muscle Tussle • For Whom the Bulls Toil • Father’s Week-end • How to Dance • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century • Duck! Rabbit, Duck! • How to Sleep • Design for Leaving • Quack Shot • My Little Duckaroo • Beanstalk Bunny • Stork Naked • Sahara Hare • This Is a Life? • Dime to Retire • The High and the Flighty • Rocket Squad • Stupor Duck • A Star Is Bored • Deduce, You Say! • Ali Baba Bunny • Boston Quackie • Ducking the Devil • Show Biz Bugs • Don’t Axe Me • Robin Hood Daffy • China Jones • Apes of Wrath • People Are Bunny • Person to Bunny • Aquamania • The Abominable Snow Rabbit • Daffy’s Inn Trouble • Quackodile Tears • Good Noose • Fast Buck Duck • The Million Hare • Aqua Duck • The Iceman Ducketh • It’s Nice to Have a Mouse Around the House • Freewayphobia • Moby Duck • Assault and Peppered • Well Worn Daffy • Suppressed Duck • Corn on the Cop • Tease for Two • Goofy’s Freeway Troubles • Chili Corn Corny • Go Go Amigo • The Astroduck • Mucho Locos • Mexican Mousepiece • Daffy Rents • A-Haunting We Will Go • Snow Excuse • A Squeak in the Deep • Feather Finger • Swing Ding Amigo • A Taste of Catnip • Daffy’s Diner • Quacker Tracker • Music Mice-tro • The Spy Swatter • Speedy Ghost to Town • Rodent to Stardom • Go Away Stowaway • Fiesta Fiasco • Skyscraper Caper • See Ya Later Gladiator