Monday, November 3, 2014

The Carl Barks Disney Library

Carl Barks in the 1950s was a non-conformist living in a conformist society.  Certainly not a James Dean-style rebel, a hipster, or a beatnik but a more subtle one - a middle-aged man, who was fully aware of the flaws of the society in which he was living, and who wrote and drew stories for children that often reflected his philosophical disillusionment with the prevailing ideologies of the current world.
~Stefano Priarone, "Story Notes: Lost in the Andes"

 We are huge fans of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck comics, from back in the day when we were little sprouts, and were delighted to find that Fantagraphics has been reissuing them. Carl Barks is the most famous and acclaimed author and illustrator of the Duck comics, with his first story appearing in 1943 and his last story written and drawn in 1968 (though he continued scripting stories until 1974). Even before cartoonists got credit from Disney for their stories, fans who recognized his signature style called him "The Duck Man" or "The Good Duck Artist".

Fun facts about the Barks comics:
  • Walt Disney did not exercise creative control over the Duck comics, though they appeared under his signature.
  • Though Barks did not invent the main characters in the Duck comics (Donald, his nephews, Daisy), he did invent Duckburg, Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, the Beagle Boys, the Junior Woodchucks, and Gladstone Gander.
  • The rolling boulder scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by Barks' "The Seven Cities of Cibola", a Scrooge McDuck story.
The library has acquired several volumes of Fantagraphics' Complete Carl Barks Disney Library. The books vary a bit in content.  One has a scholarly introduction. Another has a short biography of Carl Barks at the end. Some of the books split up the comics into "The Adventures" (longer stories, 24-32 pages), "The Short Stories" (10 pages or less), and "The Gags" (1 page), and others just have a general table of contents at the beginning that lists each comic (many of which were only assigned names by Barks or others considerably after publication). Each book ends with "Story Notes" by a variety of cartoon scholars, mostly Americans but including a few from Italy, and "Where did these duck stories first appear?, giving the name of the volume the comic first appeared in and its date of publication.

Travel to exotic locales! Be amused by wacky hijinks! Scary stories, crime stories, Westerns - the Ducks have it all! Check out one of Duck collections today. If you're still not convinced, consider this recommendation from another ABC Library staffer:

[Carl Barks] was the best writer of Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge stories ever (with Dan Rosa a close second, but he came much later). I know that I once tried to choose my 10 favorite comic book issues of all time.  It turned out they were ALL Barks' Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics!  My very favorites are: "The Ghost of the Grotto", "The Golden Helmet", "Luck of the North", "Pipeline to Danger", The Seven Cities of Cibola" and "Lost in the Andes".  I could probably quote them verbatim from cover to cover.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "The Old Castle's Secret" by Carl Barks

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trail of the Unicorn" by Carl Barks

A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks

Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks

Please note: these books are completely uncensored from the original printing, and may include racial stereotyping. These books are shelved in the adult non-fiction section, so you can decide if they are suitable to share with children.


Lomas Tramway Library's Graphic Novel Club

The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library [Wikipedia]

5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck (Seriously) [Cracked]

Review: Walt Disney's Donald Duck - Christmas on Bear Mountain by Carl Barks [Chicago Tribune]

Walt Disney [Lambiek Comiclopedia]

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