What if you were given the chance to take over a pop culture franchise that you’ve loved for your entire life? That’s what happened to Matt Youngberg and Francisco Angones when Disney let them take a turn at the wheel in adapting DuckTales for a new generation.
Youngberg, the executive producer of the new Disney XD series (which premieres with a television movie on August 12, and then begins airing on September 23), previously worked on other animated franchises like Ben 10, The Batman, and Justice League. Angones, the co-producer and story editor for the new DuckTales, worked as story editor for Wander Over Yonder, and is such a fan of the original DuckTales that his oldest daughter’s first word was the theme song’s iconic “Woo-oo!”
We got a chance to speak to Youngberg and Angones prior to the DuckTales panel at Disney’s D23 fan expo in Anaheim, and they told us about the development process, why this series isn’t what you would call a “reboot,” and dropped a very, very obscure exclusive on us.
UPROXX: I’m extremely excited about the new DuckTales, as I’m sure you both are. What was the process like of getting the whole thing together, getting it off the ground, and getting it developed?
Matt Youngberg: We came out about two years ago, a little over two years ago, and it was kind of hitting the ground running. We came up with the basic conceit, and then when I met with Frank we just started spit balling, and we started kind of coming up with ideas, and expanding the ideas. And within, I think three days?
Frank Angones: Yeah.
Youngberg: We had kind of hit on, “This is what we want to do with the series,” and from there, it’s been kind of non-stop from there. That was the core of my ideas, and then we had to go into development on the artistic side as well, which took months to hit exactly the style we wanted to do, and so it was just, yeah. It’s just been a very intense couple of years.
Angones: Well, I mean to be fair ,it is like we’ve been working on this show for thirty years.
Youngberg: Yeah, that’s right.
Angones: ‘Cause we’re both massive fans, who when … it’s almost like when Disney came to Matt and I and said, “Hey, do you have any ideas for Du –-” Yes, absolutely we do, before they finished the word. I think it was …
Youngberg: Yeah, we were both knocking on their doors.
Angones: By the end of those three days, we had a 10-page document that said, “Look, [these are] the basics for the show.” And two things that we hit upon that are the core of the show is that this is a show about a relatable family, and that Scrooge McDuck was once the greatest adventurer and treasure hunter in the world.
And everything kind of stemmed off of those two truisms, and that’s what it all comes down to.
The key art is amazing. All the designs are incredible. I was telling [DuckTales director Tanner Johnson] earlier, I can’t buy merch fast enough; you can’t have merch available fast enough.
Angones: Tell everyone.
Youngberg: We want it to [have merch], we were just craving it.
Yeah. So, Disney came to you, and offered you DuckTales?
Angones: Well, we both kind of —
Youngberg: Kind of were knocking on the door a little bit. We knew there was rumblings that they were thinking of bringing it back, and so I was outside of the company at the time, and I was calling people, cold-calling people, that I barely knew. I’m like “Hey, I hear there’s something maybe about DuckTales? Could I come in?” So, yeah. And he was in the house.
Angones: Yeah, I was working on Wander Over Yonder for Craig McCracken, and I caught wind as that show was starting to wind down, that they were talking about the possibility of bringing back DuckTales, so I immediately went home, and I went to my closet. I took out my seven framed DuckTales posters, that I have collected over the years, put them up in my office, and was doing like “Oh, yeah. Oh, are you rebooting that? Oh, I might have some ideas, I guess.”
Youngberg: “I’m kind of a fan, I like that stuff”.
But, yeah. So this is a reimagining, it’s not a direct sequel to the original?
Angones: No, it’s a new version.
Youngberg: Yeah, it’s a … Yeah, we don’t want to say it’s a reboot, cause it’s just a reimagining, a refreshing.
Sort of a what-if; an Elseworld thing.
Angones: That’s actually a really good way to put it.
Youngberg: It’s bringing back the show that people love, but doing it for a new audience.
I really love the conceit.
Angones: Oh, cool. Thank you.
It’s an amazing setup, I feel. Donald hasn’t spoken to Scrooge in a decade, and he and the boys get Scrooge back into the adventuring game.
Angones: Well, it felt necessary because everyone our age knew and loved Duck Tales, and the big question … There’s two questions that we get, is “Why now?”, and “How is this relatable to kids, and not just a nostalgic piece?” And the why now is because, it’s thirty years old, and it’s a story about family, and now that we have kids, we have a whole new perspective; and we can use our experiences both when we were kids and we were in love with Duck Tales, and now to create that family dynamic for today.
Youngberg: And ultimately, we want to bring [in] kids today.
Youngberg: That same feeling that we had when we were kids. We want them to feel the same way that we felt when we were watching. We were watching something new and interesting and cool that would live with us for a long time, because that’s … I mean, there’s a reason that we’re so in love with DuckTales, and as long as we can tap into that thirty years from now, the kids who fall in love with our show, hopefully will be bringing it back again.
Angones: And then we will fight for medication and for supremacy.
Youngberg: And we will be defeated cause we are old.
Angones: Because we’ll be very old at that point. We may be defeated now. And one of the things, in terms of the setup, I mean that’s kind of why we did it the way that we did. So that we can use Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby as an entryway into this massive world that we’ve been steeped in for so long, and that helps set it up for the new generation.
I noticed that the design of Dewey sort of has Ben Schwartz’s hair, and Webby has Kate Micucci’s haircut. Is that at all intentional?
Angones: That was actually entirely accidental.
Youngberg: Entirely accidental, since our design decisions we were making along the way, though when it comes to the characters themselves, they definitely have influenced the actual characters, in terms of how they’re written and how they come across in the show.
Angones: Yeah, after we landed this amazing cast, that I still can’t believe we got for some stupid reason, I actually went back and rewrote the first part of the pilot just for their specific voices, cause it’s so strong and they bring so much to the show.
Every DuckTales fan, every fan of Disney, has their own laundry list of characters they want to see coming back. Are you able to give me any hint, any exclusive of one semi-obscure character, or …
Angones: You want obscure, obscure?
Angones: Mrs. Quackfaster. Mrs. Quackfaster, in the original DuckTales was Scrooge McDuck’s … used to be Mrs. Featherbee, now it’s Mrs. Quackfaster. In the original DuckTales, she was Scrooge’s secretary and now she’s the archivist that handles all of Scrooge’s … We always try to find, if we have a character need, try to find something either within the show, or [Carl] Barks, or Disney in general.
Youngberg: There’s so many characters to mine from, with the comic books, and the original series. There’s so many that we’re trying to get as much as we can in, but we have to make sure it’s coming organically, not just throwing it in for fans or for ourselves.
Angones: For sure, I believe Quackfaster is exclusive, as they say. I think that’s an exclusive …