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Flintheart Glomgold

Flintheart Glomgold is a fictional character in Disney comic books, one of Scrooge McDuck's main rivals who holds the title of The Second Richest Duck in the World. His appearance is similar to that of Scrooge, and he is sometimes characterized as being of Scottish descent as well (speaking with a Scottish burr in most animated features, though he is generally accepted as being from South Africa in the continuity of the comic books), but he is drawn with a full beard and sideburns as opposed to simple side-whiskers, and a dark tam o'shanter with a red pom pom and black coat instead of Scrooge's red one.

He is portrayed as an ambitious, ruthless, and manipulative businessman who shares many of the same qualities as Scrooge - the drive for massive wealth, and the cunning and creativity to obtain the same - but he lacks any of Scrooge's tendencies towards generosity and compassion. He has no issues breaking the law, cheating and using other unfair tactics in order to fulfill his goal of becoming the world's richest duck, distinguishing him from Scrooge McDuck.

In Uncle Scrooge #376, Glomgold's nephew, Slackjaw Snorehead, is introduced. He has been characterized as loutish but also secretly gifted in business.

Comic History

Under Carl Barks

Glomgold was created by Carl Barks and first appeared in The Second-Richest Duck, first published in September, 1956. In this story Scrooge, who holds the title of the Richest Duck in the World, learns that a businessman from South Africa has also claimed this title. Scrooge decides to confront this claimant to his title and travels to South Africa along with his nephew Donald and his great-nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck. The rest of the story concentrates on comparing and contrasting the two rivals during a race through "The Heart of Africa" (a recurring phrase in the story). The race is supposed to determine which one of them deserves the title. The two characters resemble each other both in appearance and behavior though their main common point seems to be that they are extremely competitive and neither of them can accept the idea of someone else being superior or equal to them. Flintheart, like Scrooge, keeps a percentage of his fortune in his own Money Bin, identical to that of Scrooge (with the exception of the external logo: a Dollar sign on McDuck's and a Pound sign on Glomgold's), while the rest of his fortune is invested in a world-wide financial empire of his own that equals that of Scrooge (though Scrooge's main sources of wealth are his industries while Flintheart's are his diamond mines). Their main difference seems to be their way of life. Scrooge's Money Bin is at the center of Duckburg, Calisota, U.S., a constantly expanding industrial city, while Flintheart's is in the center of a valley, located somewhere in the lands around Limpopo, surrounded by wildlife and away from human activities. While Scrooge finds himself surrounded by an extended family (see The Clan McDuck, Duck family and Coot Kin) and a large number of allies and rivals (see Scrooge McDuck Universe), Flintheart lives a life of solitude and seems to have no family, friends or for that matter rivals except Scrooge himself. While Scrooge has his nephews helping him or advising him, Flintheart faces every situation alone. This appears to have hardened him - he is considerably more ruthless than Scrooge - but also leaves him vulnerable to being simply outnumbered by his rivals. Even at the end of the story when Scrooge has won and Flintheart passes out after finding he is only second best, he has to be carried home by Huey, Louie and Dewey since he has no one else there to help him.

The solitary South African re-appeared to challenge Scrooge to a rematch in The Money Champ, first published in September 1959. This time the confrontation takes place in Scrooge's grounds in Duckburg with the city's population witnessing the event. This time they only count their wealth in cash and not their investments and have to liquidate much of their fortunes. Flintheart uses a number of dirty plots against Scrooge but his plans backfire when their cost in money also costs Flintheart his chance at victory. The story adds little to what was established in the previous one but for the first time some panels concentrate on Flintheart's thoughts, revealing that his insecurities about his own worth are the driving force behind both his efforts to best Scrooge and his dishonest tactics (since he doubts his ability to win in a direct confrontation).

Barks would use Flintheart for a third and last time in So Far and no Safari, first published in January, 1966. This was one of the last stories Barks created before his retirement. The themes of this story are considerably darker than the two previous ones. Flintheart's intentions towards Scrooge are clearly depicted as murderous. The story starts with Scrooge planning to participate in an auction for an old South African gold mine. It is considered exhausted but Scrooge's mechanics believe that the main vein of gold hasn't even been reached. While Scrooge is piloting his private plane over South Africa, with Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie as passengers, Flintheart appears piloting his own private plane. It is equipped with machine guns and he proceeds to shoot down Scrooge. While Scrooge is still trying to reach the auction Flintheart repeatedly tries to get rid of him. When Scrooge manages to reach the Kalahari Desert, Flintheart's plane is revealed to be a bomber as well. Flintheart proceeds to bombard the area where Scrooge and his nephews are, but misses. When he returns for a second bomb run, the Ducks have dressed some rocks with their clothing and have taken cover elsewhere. Flintheart mistakes the rocks for his targets and proceeds to destroy them. As he comments, his rivals are now dinner for the jackals. His victory is short-lived. He was flying low and the bomb explosions damaged his plane's fuel tank. He crash-lands the plane and finds himself in no better condition than Scrooge. The rest of the story presents Scrooge's and Flintheart's rival efforts to cross the Kalahari and reach the auction. The end of the story finds them at the auction, tired from their hard trails but still rivaling each other, while an exhausted Donald has fallen asleep. It is considered Flintheart's darkest appearance and among his strongest and most memorable ones.

Under Don Rosa

The twenty years that followed his creator's retirement threw the character into relative obscurity. He made infrequent appearances in stories that are generally regarded as lower in quality to those of Barks and largely forgettable. He wasn't nearly as recognizable as other rivals of Scrooge, like Italian sorceress Magica DeSpell, who appeared more often. Flintheart returned to prominence in 1987.

In this year Keno Don Rosa created his first Scrooge McDuck story, "Son of the Sun", first published in July, 1987. Rosa's detailed style of drawing, references to Barks stories (by then considered classic) like Lost in the Andes!, detailed references to often obscure historical figures and events and strong characterization would later make Rosa considered one of Barks' most popular "successors". Those themes are all evident in his first story. It begins with Flintheart questioning Scrooge's many successes as a treasure-hunter. He claims that discovering riches that are already concentrated by others is not that hard and that he could do it better than Scrooge if he decided to try. Pretty soon he is following Scrooge and his nephews in their latest treasure hunt - locating a hidden temple of Manco Capac, who was the legendary founder of the Inca dynasty. The temple is hidden somewhere in the tops of the Andes and according to inscriptions earlier found by Scrooge supposed to contain a great treasure. In the course of the stories Flintheart is re-established as one of Scrooge's most charismatic, resourceful and ruthless rivals.

Rosa, who admits to have a soft spot for the character, has used Flintheart in a growing number of stories and has offered him a sort of origin. In his stories Flintheart is a Boer from the province of Transvaal. He was born around the same time as Scrooge and first met him during the Gold Rush of 1886 (the main effect of this Rush was the foundation of Johannesburg). Like Scrooge, Flintheart was born in poverty and was working his way up the financial ladder. While unsuccessfully searching for diamonds, he attempted to steal the findings of more successful fellow miners. As a result he was tied to the horns of a water buffalo and the animal was then sent running. Flintheart was found and saved by Scrooge. Flintheart offered to be the guide of the recently arrived gold miner from Scotland, since he knew the territory. Scrooge accepted him as a needed companion and friend. But at night while Scrooge was sleeping, Flintheart stole his ox-cart along with all his equipment and supplies and left him alone in the wilderness. Having underestimated Scrooge, he was surprised when Scrooge caught up to him, furious and vengeful. When Scrooge finished with him, Flintheart was publicly humiliated, thoroughly embittered and imprisoned for theft. The two rivals made vows to themselves that helped shape some of their character traits. Scrooge vowed to never trust anybody ever again, in order not to be betrayed again. Apparently this is the source of Scrooge's distrust towards others whether they are allies, rivals or complete strangers and the reason he is secretive about his thoughts and emotions. On the other hand a completely defeated Flintheart vowed that he will work to become so rich that nobody can humiliate him again (see Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck - Part VI:The Terror of Transvaal). Because Scrooge officially meets Glomgold for the first time in 'The second richest Duck' in 1956, Don Rosa makes sure Glomgold's name is never mentioned in his tale. Since Glomgold gets Scrooge's name, some fans could think he's more interested in defeating and humiliating Scrooge as a revenge for getting imprisoned rather than becoming the world's richest duck. According to Rosa's unofficial timelines it would take him twenty years of hard work as a diamond miner till finally he became rich in 1906 by his profits. He would spend the next fifty years working his way up the financial ladder both by hard efforts and dishonest methods when needed. He would become a worthy match for Scrooge and would die during around 1965, aged 100, after a century of solitary life.

Don Rosa also revealed in at least two stories another thing that makes Flintheart a counterpart to Scrooge: the Number One Rand, the first coin Flintheart Glomgold ever earned (or stole). In Return to Plain Awful, this rand makes his first appearance, a cameo, and has nothing to do with the story. In A Little Something Special, the Rand makes an equally small but of more relevance role. Magica De Spell teamed up with him and the Beagle Boys to get the Number One Dime. Scrooge reminds Magica he will no longer be the richest duck in the world after they steal his fortune and the Dime will be worthless to her. Based on the advice Scrooge gives her in exchange for his dime back, Magica steals Flintheart's first rand.

Notable is the fact that Flintheart Glomgold's first coin could never be a rand because the South Africans utilized the South African pound from 1825 to 1961, when the South African Rand was introduced. Adding it to the fact that Don Rosa's stories usually take place in the 1950s, it means it would be impossible for anyone to own a rand in such stories.

To make things worse for Glomgold, Magica takes the Beagle Boys with her the Valley of Limpopo and they carry all they can of Flintheart's cash. Despite the fact he teamed up against them in that story against Scrooge, he still dares to ask what did he do to deserve that.

Animation and Other Appearances

While the Barks/Rosa version is arguably the most popular, an animated version of the character appeared in the TV series DuckTales, that started airing on September 11, 1987. The Second Richest Duck was among the series most prominent characters and this helped his introduction to a wider audience. But some drastic changes came to the character. To avoid connections to South African issues that were then a cause of world-wide attention and concern (see apartheid) his origin was changed from South African to Scottish to match that of Scrooge, which led Glomgold to have Scotland-style names in other countries (see below). He was depicted as wearing a traditional Scottish kilt and his voice actor Hal Smith (Harold John Smith, August 24, 1916January 28, 1994) known for his old role as Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show gave him a thick Scottish accent. His place of residence was also changed to Duckburg. The previously unaffiliated Beagle Boys were now depicted as working for him on an occasional basis. In a two part episode "The Golden Goose" Glomgold almost beats Scrooge at being the world's richest duck with the help of the Golden Goose-until he gets turned into gold himself; in the series finale, Glomgold makes one last attempt to get richer than Scrooge by sending the metal mites to eat whole money from Scrooge's bin. Glomgold almost succeeds when Fenton Crackshell stopped the metal mites and the last ones retrieved by Dijon spread in Glomgold's office. The biggest humiliation of all this is the fact Scrooge finds a way to earn honest money with the metal mites captured by Fenton.

In the Walt Disney series Darkwing Duck episode In Like Blunt Glomgold makes a cameo appearance-along with the Beagle Boys and Magica DeSpell-as a bidder for the secret S.H.U.S.H. agent list.

Combining elements of the Barks/Rosa and the DuckTales versions of the character, other comic book creators started using Flintheart in their stories and in time he became one of the most frequently appearing characters. In these stories he is depicted as an influential member of Duckburg's Billionaires Club, which also includes Scrooge and John D. Rockerduck. A number of stories have attempted to reconcile the two versions of his origin by claiming that either he or his parents had immigrated to South Africa from Scotland. Some stories also depict Flintheart as dividing his time between his home base in Limpopo Valley, in order to be closer to his diamond mines, and his mansion in Duckburg, from where he can keep an eye on Scrooge's activities and oversee the expansion of his financial empire to the USA. Others are trying to fill the blanks in his background. But all in all Flintheart has become a very prominent character.

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