The Donald Duck Magazine in Denmark
Donald Duck has always had a special position in Denmark. Not only is he the most popular Disney figure in Denmark – far more popular than Mickey Mouse, who is definitely considered the king of Disney figures in their homeland the USA – but the Donald Duck Magazine holds a unique position in Denmark, unrivalled anywhere else in the world. So big is Donald in Denmark that his Danish publisher, the Egmont Foundation, has been trusted with publishing and marketing the magazine in near and far corners of the world – Danish Egmont publishes the Donald Duck Magazine in Scandinavia, Russia, India, and China, just to mention a few.
It all started in 1949 when Egmont acquired the rights to publish a monthly magazine with Disney stories, named the Donald Duck Magazine. This was actually a new invention at the time. Disney does publish a magazine in the USA, but not quite like the Danish version and not called the Donald Duck Magazine, but Disney Adventures. The magazine was an immediate success and soon became bi-weekly, and then finally a weekly magazine as we know it today.
When Donald Duck started in Denmark, he had virtually no competition. The closest you came to a competitor was the Popeye Magazine (Skipper Skræk), but the format was quite different, the printing quality was lower, quite a large number of the stories were old-fashioned American newspaper strips – Gasoline Alley, Blondie, Crazy Katz, the Katzenjammer Kids and of course Popeye. No Superman, no Batman, no nothing.
Somehow the anarchistic Donald Duck also appealed to Danes – far more than the correct, slightly dull Mickey Mouse. Danes like losers – and Donald’s evil schemes against others always backfired. He was funny, courageous, a loudmouth, lazy, jealous etc. Values that Danes like to see in others. Since 1949 Donald has been a part of everybody’s childhood – all know him, all love him – and laugh at him. His place in Danish culture is so strong that the Danish poet, hippie, loafer and what else Dan Turell for years toured Denmark with his band the Silver Stars with a show that as its highlight had Dan Turell reading from Donald Duck magazines to spaced out hippie rock – Carl Barks stories, of course.
The readership grew steadily until the 70’s when the circulation reached more than 200,000 copies per week. But as all readers of Donald Duck stories know, when things look their brightest, dark clouds always lurk behind the horizon. And of course this also applies to the Donald Duck Magazine. The Duck is still popular. A survey made in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in the spring of 1996 showed that people regard him with sympathy. But sympathy is not enough. You also need sales. The readership has been constantly shrinking since the 70’s, and reached an all time low in 1996 when the total number of sold magazines stood at 88,435 for one week. Then it was decided that something had to be done. Donald had to be brought back to his former glory.
The Egmont Foundation
The Egmont Foundation has had the license to produce and sell the Donald Duck Magazine in Denmark since 1949, and Donald Duck is probably also what they are best known for. They have, however, developed into a heavily diversified media concern.
It is not commonly known, but Egmont is actually the largest publishing company in Scandinavia with a yearly turnover of more than 6 billion DKK. The list of companies under the Egmont umbrella is very long and quite a large number of its activities are far better known than the mother company. The list contains names such as Nordisk Film, including the long list of Nordisk Film companies, among them, known to all cinema goers in Denmark, you find Dansk Reklamefilm A/S and Bergenholz Film A/S, two companies which together control the entire market for cinema commercials in Denmark, you find Go Card, producers of advertising postcards for cafés, you find Lademann A/S and...