Suspended Animation #285
Magica De Spell is a Disney witch who is distinctly Italian and was created by Disney Legend Carl Barks in 1961. She became even more popular when she moved from the comic book page to the animated DuckTales series.
In an interview with Klaus Strzyz in 1980, Barks recalled:
“I thought at the time Disney has always had witches who were ugly and repulsive. Why shouldn’t I draw one that’s not ugly but outright sexy? That’s why she’s Italian and of course very popular with readers in Italy.
“She knows that if she took a barrel of Scrooge’s money, why, in a little while it would be gone, but if she had that Old Number One Dime and made it into this very lucky amulet, she would have many barrels of her own money and would be the most powerful person in the world. She’d also be the richest.”
The name, obviously, references a “magic spell”. “Magico” is the Italian word for “magic” so adding the “a” at the end makes it feminine.
When Bruce Hamilton began reprinting Barks’ stories, Barks told him that the physical appearance of Magica was modeled on the character of Morticia Addams, “the dark haired witch from the Charles Addams family cartoons in the New Yorker which I liked very much. She was downright sexy.”
Barks only produced nine stories featuring Magica from her debut in Uncle Scrooge #36 in 1961 to 1964.
Barks’ stories found a new audience when they inspired the DuckTales animated syndicated television series produced by Walt Disney Television animation. It premiered on September 18,1987 and ran for four seasons and one hundred episodes until November 28,1990.
Associate producer of the series Tom Ruzicka said in 1987, “Although the show was initially based on the concept of doing Scrooge McDuck and his nephews, Barks was never really consulted. We discovered that a lot of stuff that made wonderful comics wouldn’t translate into the 1980s or into animation, so we started evolving new characters and other things to contemporize the show. As we did that, the stories got further and further away from the comics, although a few episodes are lifted right out of them.”
In the television series, Magica’s voice was provided by June Foray using a pseudo-Slavic accent similar to the one she provided for the character of Natasha Fatale in the Jay Ward cartoons.
Her raven, called Ratface, who was her familiar in the comic books was replaced on TV by a new raven, Poe, christened in reference to Edgar Allan Poe who wrote a famous poem about a raven. Unlike Ratface, Poe was not a natural raven, but rather a transformed duck: Magica’s brother who was under a curse. (Most more recent comics have continued to use Ratface in his original role, but a few also include Poe as a separate character.)
In this television version Magica lives on her own unnamed volcanic island rather than on the slope of Mt. Vesuvius as she does in the comic books.
Send in the Clones (9/21/87) Magica turns the Beagle Boys Bigtime, Babyface and Burger into look-alikes of Huey, Dewey and Louie to help her get Scrooge’s lucky dime. Later she transforms herself into Mrs. Beakley. She gets the dime and takes Mrs. Beakley and Huey to her lair with her where they get into a potion fight with many transformations. Scrooge shows up and tricks her out of the dime and rescues her hostages.
Magica’s Shadow War (9/28/87) Magica brings her shadow to life to steal Scrooge’s lucky dime but it takes on a personality of its own and wants to use the dime to free all the shadows in the world. Scrooge has to reluctantly team up with Magica to defeat this menace as it multiplies. Huey, Dewey and Louie destroy the extra shadows as well as the main super-shadow.
Raiders of the Lost Harp (11/20/87) While uncovering the treasures of ancient Troy, Scrooge finds a golden harp with a carving of a beautiul female duck who can detect lies. Magica disguises herself as Helen of Troy to try to get the prize but the harp reveals her deception. A chase ensues. That night when Scrooge’s Trojan Museum is to open, a fifty-foot stone minotaur who is the guardian of the harp invades Duckburg to retrieve it. Scrooge’s foils Magica’s last attempt and returns the harp to the minotaur.
Magica’s Magic Mirror (11/30/87) In disguise Magica gives Scrooge a mirror that will supposedly reveal the future but it is a trick. She stages future events broadcast over a second mirror to fool him but Huey, Dewey and Louie finally foil the sorcereress.
Duck to the Future (12/1/87) Disguised as a fortune teller, Magica uses her “Sands of Time” to send Scrooge forty years in the future to Duckburg. There he finds that Magica has gotten rid of him, taken his dime and now runs Magica-McDuck Enterprises that controls everything. Scrooge retrieves the dime and journeys back to the past with Magica hot on his heels.
Dime Enough for Luck (12/4/87) Magica hypnotizes Gladstone Gander to use his incredible luck to steal Scrooge’s lucky dime. When he does, his luck turns bad since he used his good luck for a wicked purpose so he must journey to Magica’s fortress and recover the dime to restore his luck. He does and both his and Scrooge’s fortunes blossom.
Nothing to Fear (12/14/87) Magica’s gigantic “fear cloud” envelopes the McDuck mansion and everyone there is menaced by their worst fears. Scrooge and the nephews are even tormented by their nasty “opposites”. It is only when they stop running and face their fears that they conquer them and turn the spell against Magica.
Till Nephews Do Us Part (1/1/88) Magica has a short non-speaking cameo appearance at Scrooge’s wedding along with almost three dozen other characters who had appeared at some time on the series.
The Unbreakable Bin (11/15/89) based on the Barks’ comic story The UnSafe Safe (Uncle Scrooge #38 1962) Gyro Gearloose invents a special unbreakable glass for Scrooge’s Money Bin that is immune from Magica’s spells. She gets a bird with a shriek that can shatter the glass and Gizmoduck must help protect the Bin.
A reboot of the DuckTales animated series premiered August 12th, 2017 with some signifcant differences while maintaining the basic formula of the original show. Magica’s voice was now portrayed by Catherine Tate who uses her own British accent.
Fifteen years before the start of the series, Magica De Spell was Scrooge McDuck’s bitterest rival. During a battle between them atop Mount Vesuvius, Magica attempted to harness the power of the Lunar eclipse to trap Scrooge within his number one dime, however, Scrooge was able to turn the tables on her and imprisoned Magica in the dime instead.
Before she was sealed in the dime, Magica was able to create a living being from her shadow to act as her surrogate. The shadow took on the form of a young girl named Lena. So before she restores her body, Magica’s manipulates things as glowing red eyes, a shadow and through Lena during the first season of the series.
Why does the new Magica looks like a snake with yellow eyes that have reptilian pupils? According to Frank Angones Co-Executive Producer and Story Editor of DuckTales, “The yellow and green is the corrupting effect of her magic. The slender, taller appearance harkens back to her first appearance in a Barks book. And the triangle pupils are like the opposite of the pie eyes that everyone else has. It makes her extra subliminally upsetting.”
Besides her many other comic book appearances by other writers and artists, she also appeared in animated form in videogames including DuckTales/ DuckTales Remastered DuckTales: The Quest for Gold, DuckTales: Scrooge’s Loot, Mickey’s Racing Adventure, Donald Duck: The Lucky Dime Caper and Donald Duck: Goin’ Quackers.