Queer Duck is an animated series produced by Icebox.com that originally appeared on Icebox.com and later moved to the American cable television channel Showtime in 2002, where it aired as a follow-up feature of the American version of Queer as Folk. Although far from being the first gay cartoon character, Queer Duck was the first animated TV series to have homosexuality as its predominant theme. Like several later television cartoons, Queer Duck was animated in Macromedia Flash.
The show was created, written and executive-produced by Mike Reiss, executive producer of network cartoons The Simpsons and The Critic. The animation was directed and designed by Xeth Feinberg. The theme song for the cartoon was performed by the drag queen celebrity RuPaul.
Despite the suggestive content, there is no graphic language or any sexual content, but the latter is heavily implied throughout the series and the movie.
The title character, whose full name is Adam Seymour Duckstein (voiced by Jim J. Bullock), is a gay anthropomorphic duck who works as a nurse. In an interview included on the DVD release of Queer Duck: The Movie Reiss states that Bullock is the only member of the cast that is actually gay, and that he had insisted that the character be voiced by someone gay.
Queer Duck has cyan-colored feathers, a little spiky fringe, and may wear purple eye shadow. He wears a sleeveless rainbow top and, like almost everyone else in the series, does not wear trousers. This follows the tradition of semi-nudity of cartoon animals exemplified by Porky Pig, Donald Duck, Top Cat, etc. He is often shown to have two fingers and one thumb on each hand, though on occasion he has the three fingers and one thumb per hand that is typical of many contemporary cartoons.
Queer Duck is known to gossip about anything and everything, especially on the phone while watching television, as shown on Oh Christ!, The Gaining of Herpes from Sparky and A Gay Outing. He is promiscuous in his own way, but not as obsessed with sex as his boyfriend Openly Gator; for example, he'll often utter the word "cock" but swiftly follows it with another word, like "tails", such as in The Gay Road to Morocco.
His nemesis is known to be radio show host Laura Schlessinger, who is pictured as a haggard and ugly old woman.
Queer Duck has also been a victim of gay bashing, as shown in Ku Klux Klan & Ollie, in which Ku Klux Klan members attempt to burn his house down. When his disguise fails, he kisses the unveiled Jerry Falwell, only to get shot down by the other homophobes. When in heaven he finds out that famous icons like Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci are also gay, much to the chagrin of Jerry Falwell.
Over the course of the series, the audience learns that Queer Duck has a Jewish mother who is in denial of his sexuality, a diabetic father (whose name is revealed to be Morty in the episode Quack Doctor), a straight brother named Lucky (who is shown to have bullied Queer Duck when they were younger), a nephew named Little Lucky and a lesbian sister named Melissa. Queer Duck is not the most beloved child in his family and there are strong hints that his older brother Lucky is the most favored one, due to his heterosexuality.
Queer Duck is afraid to show his sexuality to his nephew Little Lucky (who first appeared in Fiddler on the Roofie), especially while camping with two of Little Lucky's friends. They discovered one of his magazines, which included personal ads that contained acronyms like GBM, S&M and B&D. Lucky, however, is already aware of his uncle's sexual identity: when his fellow campers taunt him by saying, "Your uncle is gay", Lucky answers, "Well, DUH!".
- Openly Gator (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, in the style of Harvey Fierstein), is Queer Duck's significant other. His full name is Steven Arlo Gator. He is shy and insecure and is usually the voice of reason whenever Queer Duck gets himself or anyone else in trouble. He marries Queer Duck in a Jewish Wedding in Vermont in the episode 'Wedding Bell Blues' (although they are often seen as having an open relationship); a moose was the rabbi. He works as a waiter in a restaurant that both him and Queer Duck hate called "TGIM (Thank God It's Monday)".
- Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by The Ren & Stimpy Show and Futurama actor Billy West, in the style of Paul Lynde) is one of Queer Duck's friends. He often makes bad jokes that he alone finds funny. This character is not to be confused with a character called Bi-Polar Bear from The Tick. He works in a perfume stand at a mall.
- Oscar Wildcat (voice actor Maurice LaMarche) is an urbane character, often portrayed as an alcoholic (he is always seen holding some form of alcohol, usually a martini). He has a deep dislike for his own mother and has implied that he would like to kill her. "If I came out it would kill mother!... I'll do it tonight." He works at a Shirley Temple antique store called "Shirley You Jest".
Recurring supporting characters include Queer Duck's mother (played by Estelle Harris, George's mother on Seinfeld) and the group's nemesis, Dr. Laura Schlessinger (played by voice actress Tress MacNeille). One character, a large, well-built horse, portrays different characters in each episode. He starts out as a gay-converting Christian minister but later portrays more gay-sensitive characters, such as a flight attendant on TWGay. Other characters who have appeared include Truman Coyote, Ricky Marlin and KY Jellyfish.
Although each three-minute episode stands by itself, there are several recurring themes throughout the 20-episode series, such as coming out, gay relationships/marriages, and the problems that can arise when gay and lesbian people have to interact with their straight family members. These are explored through a variety of situations: Queer Duck comes out to his parents in the first episode; in another, Queer Duck and Openly Gator get married, and it's revealed that Queer Duck has a lesbian sister; and in other episodes, Queer Duck must deal with other family members, such as his straight brother, who is much beloved by their parents.
Much like The Critic, Queer Duck features numerous "cameo" voice appearances by celebrities, these voices are impersonated by the cast. In addition to Dr. Laura, the Queer Duck gang encounter Bob Hope, Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant, and Barbra Streisand, with whom Queer Duck is obsessed, as well as noted ultra-conservative preacher Jerry Falwell. These celebrities are the only human characters. All other characters are anthropomorphic animals like Queer Duck and his friends, except for the woman Queer Duck sleeps with in the final episode.
In 2005, Queer Duck was voted among the 100 Greatest Cartoons in a poll conducted by the British television channel Channel 4, ranking at #94.
The show ended because Showtime decided not to air any more LGBT programming and removed it from the website, despite still keeping Queer as Folk intact. That is why the movie was made by icebox.com and produced for DVD release.
Queer Duck: The Movie
Queer Duck: The Movie, an all-new feature film, was released on DVD July 18, 2006. The film reunites the original creators and cast of Queer Duck, plus special guest stars Conan O'Brien as himself, Tim Curry as Peccery the butler, Jeff Glen Bennett as the main antagonist; a homophobic bigoted priest named Reverend Vandergelding, Mark Hamill as a hot dog vendor, Bruce Vilanch as himself, Andy Dick as former drag queen Rex (formerly Regina), Jackie Hoffman as Broadway actress Lola Buzzard, April Winchell doing additional voices and David Duchovny as "Tiny Jesus". Gay-themed channel Logo premiered the film on July 16. The film focuses on Queer Duck struggling his sexuality and love crisis between his long time partner Openly Gator or the spunky Broadway actress Lola Buzzard.
- Official website
- Queer Duck at the Internet Movie Database
- Queer Duck: The Movie at the Internet Movie Database
- Queer Duck at TV.com
- Mishmash Media