Carl Barks

For my grand-daughter’s 10th birthday, I gave her a couple of presents, including the Carl Barks book of comics for Disney, Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn (2014). Pre-ordered, arriving well after the birthday, which was unfortunate, but at least guaranteed that she hadn’t already read it (she reads an enormous amount).

This volume is in The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library, a set of hardback volumes from Fantagraphics (in Seattle) — beautiful reproductions of the comics (each volume featuring either Uncle Scrooge or Donald Duck) printed in sets on good paper with high-quality color. I have three: the one above, plus the first to be printed, Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes (2011), and also Uncle $crooge: Only a Poor Old Man (2012).

Barks was a story-teller, not (especially) a joke-teller. Here’s George Lucas in his introduction to Only a Poor Old Man:

My greatest source of enjoyment in Carl Barks’s comics is the imagination of his stories. They’re so full of crazy ideas – unique and special and bizarre – not in the contemporary sense of bizarre but in the sense that, to a chilf duringh the ’50s, they were extremely exotic.

The stories are also very cinematic. They have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and operate in scenes, unlike many comic strips and books. Barks’s stories just move from panel to panel, but flow in sequences – sometimes several pages long – that lead to new sequences.

On the Scrooge books, this posting of mine quotes from Wikipedia:

Uncle Scrooge (stylized as Uncle $crooge) was a comic book starring the stingy Scrooge McDuck (“the richest duck in the world”), his nephew Donald Duck, and grandnephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and revolving around their adventures in Duckburg and around the world. It was first published in Four Color Comics #386 March 1952, and the most recent issue to date (Uncle $crooge #404) was released in 2011.

… The first 70 issues mostly consisted of stories written and drawn by Carl Barks.

And on Barks himself:

Carl Barks (March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000) was an American cartoonist, best known for his comics about Donald Duck and as the creator of Scrooge McDuck. He worked anonymously until late in his career; fans dubbed him The Duck Man and The Good Duck Artist. In 1987, Barks was one of the three inaugural inductees of the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Barks worked for the Disney Studio and Western Publishing where he created Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck (1947), Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), The Junior Woodchucks (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), Cornelius Coot (1952), Flintheart Glomgold (1956), John D. Rockerduck (1961) and Magica De Spell (1961). Cartoonist Will Eisner called him “the Hans Christian Andersen of comic books.” (Wikipedia link)

There’s not a lot of specifically linguistic interest in these stories, delightful though they are. Here’s a four-panel sequence from Lost in the Andes that glances on language matters, via questions of identity:

3 Responses to “Carl Barks”

  1. Tané Tachyon Says:

    We have a lot of Carl Barks collections here too. Check out Don Rosa as well if she enjoys them.

  2. Don Rosa | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] on Disney cartoonist Carl Barks comes Don Rosa, like Barks a story-teller; the humor in Rosa’s work is mostly in the way the […]

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