Not Brains, Just Voodoo: A Zombie in Disney’s Donald Duck Comics

In: RePresenting Magic, UnDoing Evil: Of Human Inner Light and Darkness
Author: Katja Kontturi

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Popular culture has brought us fast raving zombies who feast not solely on human brains but also in their flesh turning everyone they wound into one of them. These days the more traditional zombies based on ancient Haitian voodoo are rare creatures. However, one of the biggest products of popular culture has delivered one traditional zombie and that is Disney’s Donald Duck comics. Bombie the zombie was first introduced to the readers of Disney comics by Carl Barks, the noted Disney artist who has created most of the important characters of Duckburg - Scrooge McDuck for instance. In the comic ‘Voodoo Hoodoo’ (1949), Bombie had a spell on him to bring a voodoo doll to Scrooge from the depths of Africa all the way to Duckburg. Mistaking Donald for Scrooge, Bombie gave Donald the voodoo doll and put the shrinking curse upon him. The second time the zombie appears is in the comic ‘The Empire-Builder from Calisota’ (1994) by Don Rosa, one of the most famous of the contemporary Disney artists. His tale tells how Bombie the zombie originally came to chase Scrooge McDuck for his devious deeds to an African tribe in the past. Rosa also shows the zombie in a third comic in which he is part of Scrooge McDuck’s dream narrative. Barks’ creation, Bombie the zombie, is a tranquil being filling his purpose in life. He is not after brains, he is after finding the right person and punishing him for mischievous acts he did to an innocent tribe - just like the shaman of the tribe bewitched Bombie to do. Barks created the zombie to represent among others the racial questions of his time, but in the more recent comics Bombie can also be seen as representing the conscience of a certain duck.