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Don Karnage, also known as the Dread Pirate Don Karnage or the Dread Pirate Anthrax, is an anthropomorphic red wolf.
The leader of the dreaded Sky Pirates and commander of a massive airship called the Iron Vulture, Don Karnage is a good pilot and a skilled swordsman, but has such a bloated ego and a bizarre accent that he still comes down as a rather laughable foe. A pirate and proud of it, Karnage has been known both to lead air raids and to try to rob cargo planes, most often his archenemy Baloo's Sea Duck.
Behind the scenesEdit
In early story development for TaleSpin, the Sky Pirates were not stated to have a particular leader; the only character standing out among the pirates would have been an anthropomorphic poodle with a particularly wretched and cruel disposition, but he did not appear to be the leader of the crew.
After some tergiversations, it was decided to create a leader character, somewhat inspired by the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride, who was dubbed the Dread Pirate Anthrax and was conceived of as having a British accent. Jim Cummings, already cast as Louie, took the part and decided to give him a wacky foreign accent ("part Spanish, part Creole, part Ricky Ricardo") to make him stand out from most other fictional pirates.
Shortly after, Disney lawyers objected to the use of the name Anthrax, fearing that a Canadian rock band by that name would sue them for copyright infringement (this is widely considered to be a misguided and paranoid fear, considering that anthrax is, in fact, a word to begin with). Tying back into Cummings' flamboyantly foreign portrayal, the character was renamed Don Karnage.
The character's design was the work of Leonard Smith, who had work from a succinct description of "a suave pirate and literal Air Wolf". Being rather new to character design, Smith came up with a rather unique look that has been criticized by other professionals from a technical standpoint (Karnage's "Mickey Mouse nose" is seen as amateurish, and he stands out from all other characters in TaleSpin for wearing shoes), but became iconic among fans. There was, however, some debate on Karnage's species, with even some merchandise labeling him as a fox (instead of a red wolf), until Smith put the matter to rest with an interview on Sullivanet.