When the TV show DuckTales debuted in September 1987, twenty-six years ago this month, it brought with it the infamous Beagle Boys and their matriarch, Ma Beagle. These were the main antagonists of Uncle Scrooge McDuck and his wards, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The whole world that DuckTales existed within was born from the pen of Carl Barks, the writer of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, with the debut of the pen-and-ink Beagle Boys hailing all the way from 1951.
In the book Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book a quote from Carl says the original Beagle Boys were based on “Capone’s gang and the different bunch of hoodlums around the country,” the kind of criminals that Banks would have read about in the news while growing up. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the combined impacts of Prohibition and the Great Depression brought out the worst in society, birthing the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and his gang, and the Ma Baker Gang.