Gladstone Gander is the lucky cousin of Donald, son of Goosetave and Daphne Duck. He was invented by the great Carl Barks and made his debut in the 1948 comic story Wintertime Wager, when he came to the house of his unlucky cousin Donald to evict him and take possession of his property.
It's most likely Barks was inspired by Lucky Ducky's animated short film Chicken Little in 1943 for the creation of his character. The original prototype of Gladstone which debuts in the comic story Wintertime Wager is a friendly trafficone who resorted to very little cheating at the expense of others and was much more like a typical salesman, but soon Barks evolved the character into a snooty and haughty higher-class duck. The proverbial luck and feature is introduced only in the 1949 comic story Gladstone's Terrible Secret. He was subsequently remade by Don Rosa to deepen his character and personality, like with all of Barks' other characters, giving him many positive qualities and
Gladstone Gander is introduced into the world of the ducks as the cousin of Donald Duck, and remains so in all the stories in which he appeared. However, his family relationship with the other ducks is unclear and sometimes conflicting.
In Donald and the Mysterious Island, Gladstone and Donald Duck are presumably both grandchildren of Scrooge, as both are presented as his heirs. According to the family tree, Private Carl Barks Gladstone, an orphan, was adopted by Matilda 'Scrooge, which would explain his relationship, albeit non-biological, with the multibillionaire; this version, however, is incompatible with the family tree developed by Don Rosa, where Gladstone is the son of Daphne Duck and Scrooge Gustavo, and the cousin of Donald Duck (and Paperoga) as all three descend from Grandma Duck, but without any blood relationship with Scrooge. In the stories of Don Rosa, however, Gladstone is often presented as the heir of Scrooge. One might therefore assume that in the Don Rosa universe, Gladstone was actually adopted for a short period by Matilda McDuck, following the death of Daphne Duck.
To complicate matters further, was this statement from Barks; "Gladstone Gander and Donald Duck are cousins: their mothers were sisters". Remains very doubtful that these two sisters can identify, at least in part, with Matilda and Hydrangea designed and characterized by Don Rosa: or rather, according to Barks, should simply remain indeterminate?
In Italian stories, Gladstone is generally considered the nephew of Scrooge (his uncle) and Grandma Duck (grandmother); this situation could be explained by accepting that the two elderly goslings are brother and sister, a version often present in Italy but not accredited in the United States.
In 1992 Gladstone, which according to all the available sources would seem only child, is even given a grandson, confirming the "rule" that, both in the universe of ducks and mice, almost every adult main character should have one or more grandchildren of the same sex, and with similar characteristics (without the extensive details of the relationship). It is in fact a copy in childhood version of his uncle, both for the name (Gastoncino) and physical appearance, both for sheer luck and intolerable presumption,which is to discount to peers Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
Clothing and appearance
The first creature born from the pencil of Barks was a far cry from the current Gladstone, he was more worn, slightly bald and devoid of his classic aristocratic hair. Eventually, Barks evolved his character by giving all him features that made the duck appear arrogant and full of himself. To mark this change, the beak was drawn upward, leggings were added to the legs, and he was given a fedora. The tuft became much more thick and nice, and the jacket more elegant.
These features have been preserved intact until today, save some details, such as the stick or headscarf. Though not present in all the stories, the physiognomy of the lucky duck remained very similar to the one designed by Barks in 1949.
In many stories, he is attracted to Daisy and tries unsuccessfully to steal her from his cousin: this, of course, is another reason to fight with Donald. The two indeed have a peaceful relationship. The choleric temperament of both of them always ceates conflict during their numerous meetings, and only in a few stories do the two manage to find some understanding and manage to work together. The duck also has to undergo intense misfortune even twenty-four hours a year, that being, ironically, his birthday, when lightning struck him at an early age. If Gladstone triumphs thanks to good fortune, however, there is the classic exception to the rule where the luck can do nothing for his pupil. Daisy Duck, despite continued courting and the attention he floods her with, still prefers the unlucky Donald, although she has agreed to go out with the lucky duck just to make her boyfriend jealous.
The sheer luck that Gladstone has is his most striking feature. He manages to have all that he wants for free without ever having to work. A typical day for Gladstone is an endless succession of random discoveries of valuables that he collects from the ground, and prizes and winnings that are delivered to his home. His proverbial luck is a family heirloom acquired from his mother, Daphne Duck, thanks to a mysterious magic design - from the prophetic name scalognofugo triplo- track barn on the farm as a gift from a painter vagabond. Gladstone Gander is really boastful, conceited and full of himself. He always has a cavalier attitude and carries himself with a lot of swagger. He has no intention of finding a stable job and and is convinced that luck will get you all you want. In fact, he has only worked on a single occasion for an amulet in a story he told Donald, where he confesses with great shame and dishonor that he has tried it, justifying it as a moment of weakness. Conscious of having luck on his side, Gladstone is often grumpy and arrogant with his relatives, especially with Donald, his rival in love: he often, in fact, refuses to help Donald and does not show the slightest solidarity with him. In general, it seems that Gladstone not feel affection for anyone, and does not do very well with either love or bonds of friendship. Even when courting Daisy, he apparently does it more to annoy Donald than because he's really in love with her.
However, in some episodes, especially the newer ones, the authors have tried to re-evaluate the character, and Gladstone appears even generous with his cousin, enough so to help him when he is in trouble. Usually though, 'Gladstone's "help" often boils down to trying to "teach" his unfortunate cousin to live a comfortable and less frantic life. Also, in some recent Italian stories, Gladstone is made into a more sympathetic character to readers, with the authors using narrative devices to make him lose his fortune so he can live the life of an ordinary duck. Obviously, at the end of the adventure, the luck comes back from his pupil returning everything to normal.
In the saga of Ultraheroes, the character of Cloverleaf was introduced, who was the masked alter ego of Gladstone, whose superpower was, unsuprisingly, his sheer luck. Another secret identity of Gladstone is the Masked Executioner introduced in Papernovela Silvia Ziche. In some stories, Gladstone, as well as its cousins, is an agent of the secret society created by PIA Scrooge for the defense of his considerable estate. His code name is Co-Co 1 (ie agent Dismissal Continuous 1).