Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Great Carl Barks!

One of my favorite comic book creators was Carl Barks. He was an animator at Disney. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, Disney comic books were selling enormous numbers. Enough so that Walt needed someone reliable to put in charge of the Duck comics and to keep things on an even keel. This was house important the comic books were to the man who owned the company. So he searched his company talent and settled on one of his best storyboard artists to write and illustrate most of the Duck stories for Dell Comics. That man was Carl Barks.

Even when I was a very young kid...as young as eight...I wondered if the same men who drew the comics were the same men who were also writing the comics. Without ever knowing for sure, I decided that my favorite Duck artist was also writing the stories. This was because of a single panel. At the end of the story there was a panel with a tiny pair of silhouettes off in the distance. The story had involved an elephant and way, way, way back, almost out of sight, you could see this tiny silhouette of Uncle Scrooge leading the huge pachyderm away, the elephant's trunk hooked in Uncle Scrooge's cane.

That did it for me. I knew that only the man who could draw a delightful detail like that could have written the story. It wasn't until some years later that I learned that my favorite Duck artist was named Carl Barks, and that he indeed did write and illustrate the stories. And, of course, it later became obvious to me that Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were also writing the stories (even if that credit was stolen from them).

I still collect Carl Barks comics. Later in life, when he had retired from comics, he had been given permission by the Disney company to sell paintings of the Duck characters. He was doing quite well at this for a while until an unscrupulous businessman made posters of one of his paintings and sold them illegally. Disney got wind of it and withdrew their permission for Barks to do his paintings. Carl Barks created a tremendous number of characters for the Duck books that he wrote and illustrated. Uncle Scrooge. Gyro Gearloose. Gladstone Gander. Flintheart McGlomgold. The Beagle Boys. And so on. It had to be rough for him not to be able to render these paintings, especially when he had created them.

Below, some of my Disney comic books featuring art and stories by Carl Barks.

Donald Duck #26.

This was one of my favorite Donald Duck adventures when I was a kid. Donald and dinosaurs!

The deservedly famous "square egg" story.

Four Color #456, actually Uncle Scrooge #2.

Great Barks comics with great Barks covers!

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