Interior Decorators

On October 16, 1937, Disney's staff received Preliminary Outline No. 23 for «Interior Decorators». The plot would revolve around Donald's attempt to renovate an old mansion, hindered by a bumbling new assistant, a goose tentatively named Gus. Gags, the outline suggested, could arise from a contrast between the two personalities: while Donald was a firebrand, Gus would be "a slow thinking fellow who never loses his temper" and "can do things in his own tricky manner, which confuses Don at first but then makes him wonder how the goose did them."
This scenario derived from Laurel and Hardy films like «The Finishing Touch» and «The Music Box«, which featured the comedians as bumbling workmen. Donald was cast as Hardy to Gus' Laurel, becoming a victim of the goose's stupidity. His subsequent ire would meet with the same response that Laurel gave to Hardy's rage: quizzical looks and bewildered head-scratching.

Barks wrote key sequences for the film and sketched many of the storyboards. In one memorable gag, Gus asks for food and an angry Donald offers him a can of paint. To Donald's bafflement, the voracious goose mixes the paint into a soup, gobbles it all down, and even eats the can. The drawings are funny, and would have animated well; but a coherent plot never emerged, and Disney scrapped the story.

At this time, Gus Goose's name, appearance, and personality were still in the formative stages, and Barks drew two different versions of the character. One is a tall and skinny version, with a short beak, which makes Gus seem more like an elongated duck. A mop of unruly hair topped by a small straw hat gave him the look of a hayseed. The other version is a pear-shaped goose sporting a derby a la Stan Laurel, prefigured the final and more familiar version of Gus.

In Preliminary Outline No. 23 for «Interior Decorators», the writers concocted a "funny waddle" and a "goofy" way of shaking hands for Gus. But when they had a second try at animating Gus, for «Donald's Cousin Gus», it was Barks' eating gag, the one bit of story material apparently salvaged from «Interior Decorators», that crystalized the goose's character.

In a brief sequence of sketches for «Interior Decorators», Gus appears as an Old World immigrant, handing Donald a card that says "No speka da Inglish. I want work." Dialogue notes on the drawings introduce him as "Cous" (Gus cannot pronounce the whole word), but the storymen did not adopt this idea until beginning work on «Donald's Cousin Gus».

The discarded tall and skinny version of Gus is similar to Barks's 1950s creation Gyro Gearloose.

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