First published in the campus newspaper, The Pertwillaby Papers follows Lancelot "Lance" Pertwillaby, a gifted but rather dense aspiring scientist and adventurer, who goes on expeditions around the world with various eccentric professors and his rather airheaded girlfriend, Feather Fluffnuthin, always closely followed by his two sworn enemies, Schuyler Roatch III, Rich Bastard extraordinaire, and Professor Viktor Dimitrius Smyte, who is definitely not a former Nazi scientist and high-ranking SS officer in hiding, who are hoping to cause "an unfortunate accident" for our hero.
Don Rosa would later reuse quite a few of the series' story elements for his Duck Comics.
The Pertwillaby Tropes:
- Adolf Hitlarious: An elderly Adolf Hitler is revealed to be the villain of one story. Notably, Hitler actually retains quite a bit of menace throughout the story; the gags that happens him around are often played for Black Comedy at other's expense rather than Hitler's own, and it is only his defeat and death at the end of story that is portrayed as truly humiliating for him personally.
- Absent-Minded Professor: Lance works with quite a few of these.
- The Charmer: Lance has a way with words that exempts him from most of the expenses that college students have.
- Dark Fic: As a one-off gag, Don Rosa made one with of Hogan's Heroes called "The Last Episode of Hogan's Heroes", the form of a single panel comic, wherein Sergeant Schultz presents Viktor Smyte to the titular heroes as the new commander of the POW camp. The implication of the title being that Smyte would probably neither be as incompetent or willing to put with the prisoners' shenanigans as his predecessor.
- Ditzy Genius: Lance.
- Dumb Blonde: Feather at first. Don Rosa tried to give her a more even-handed portrayal in later comics by making her Closer to Earth to play off Lance's Ditzy Genius.
- Freudian Slip: Professor Smyte constantly lets out stuff about his past, usually followed by a frantic attempt to cover it up
- Left Hanging: The Knighttime Story Arc had two additional chapters planned, but Don Rosa never got around to finishing these. The later Duck comic The Once and Future Duck can be considered a Spiritual Successor.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: Don't let the accent or the Luger and SS papers in his desk drawer fool you. Professor Smyte was definitely born in "Coüncil Bluffs", Iowa, and is as American as "Apfelstrudel".
- Ms. Fanservice: Feather.
- Nazi Grandpa: Besides Professor Smyte, Adolf Hitler himself, now quite elderly, also makes an appearance.
- Non-Indicative First Episode: The first series revolves around Lance's attempt to cheat himself into college, and contains elements of satire over The '70s' politics. The rest of the series is about his adventures around the globe.
- Shirt Damage: Lance's shirt tends to get ripped to pieces Once per Episode. He even lampshades it."I gotta stop buying these cheap shirts..."
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Smyte attempts to hijack their plane, Ted and Frank unanimously decide that they aren't going to bother with it, so they put on their parachutes and jump out the cabin door.
- Speech Bubbles: Every character's speech bubble has a notably distinct style.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Doing the last few months of World War II, the Germans managed to invent and produce a prototype nuclear submarine and six nuclear warheads labeled V3. They were, however, lost in the Arctic Sea, until our heroes find them again, that is.
- Take Me Instead: Exploited Trope. Smyte volunteers for a questionable and potentially lethal experiment and Lance ends up offering himself as a test subject instead. Smyte fully expected this to happen, as he knows that Lance is too much of a goody-two-shoes to allow another man to put himself in danger and hoped that Lance would perish in the experiment.
- Those Two Guys: Pilot Ted and co-pilot Frank, whose work often brings them in some form of indirect contact with our heroes.
- Those Wacky Nazis
- Walking the Earth