Showing posts with label Uncle Scrooge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Uncle Scrooge. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today is Carl Barks' B-Day!

Carl Barks is largely responsible for the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics as we know them today.  We were lucky enough to also have the amazingly talented Don Rosa pick up where Barks left off, and I am truly in awe of both their efforts.

You'll hear of Carl Barks referred to as "The Good Duck Artist" as, back in the day, all the comics put out by Disney obfuscated the names of the creators.  But fans knew there was one artist working on those comics who was particularly great as artist and storyteller.  They just didn't know the name of the man behind the pen.  Thus, he became known as "The Good Duck Artist".

Born this day in 1901, Barks created great Duck stories, and also worked on other characters, including Barney the Bear.

In recent decades, Barks' name became known and he's now a legend among comic aficionados.  We're lucky to have had Gemstone, Boom! and Fantagraphics collecting his work the past few years, in increasingly lovely volumes.

Here's a bit from "Lost in the Andes".

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SW Advent Calendar: December 6

The Disney Comics gang has a very weird way of decorating their tree.  And that just looks terribly poke-y if you ask me.  Also, where are Donald's nephews?  On the back side of the tree, unloved and unwanted, I suppose.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kid Friendly comics! Snarked and Donald Duck


I finally read the first two issues of Roger Langridge's Snarked.  Well, I read issue 0 and issue 1.

Playing off the public domain status of Lewis Carroll's stories, Langridge has grabbed the briefly mentioned Walrus and The Carpenter and decided to spin a story from what we know of them from the poem (told by Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Through the Looking Glass).  If you can still track down issue 0, its pretty chock full.  Not just of story, but of the source material Langridge will hope you're familiar with as he mines Carroll's material for his own purposes.

He includes pictures by John Tenniel, Carroll's artistic accomplice, in appropriate places, but the art is the same mad cap, cartoony style I really liked in his work on The Muppets comics (also from Boom).

I suspect that, with issue 1, Langridge plans to make this a closed story, that has a beginning, middle and end.  Originally, I'd believed it would be a gag book, or have one-off stories per issue, but instead it seems we're headed off on a bit of an adventure.

You see, the Red Queen has passed, leaving two children Princess Scarlett and Prince Russell IV (aka: Rusty), but now the Red King has disappeared whilst on a sea-faring voyage.  And the kids (a) would like to find their father and (b) get away from the folks who want to seize power.  Our friend The Cheshire Cat has an idea who can help them, even if The Walrus and The Carpenter seem to be, by all indications, cheaters, liars and cons.

The Walrus, The Carpenter and the offspring of the Red Queen & King
Good stuff.

The writing is sharp, the characters archetypes but cleverly done, and its a book that you can hand a kid, but I suspect you'd want to sit and read it with them.  Its pretty fun, and the language is very well thought out.

And if you have a picture of what a "snark" (the much discussed but unseen beastie) looks like, you may send it in.

I think this is one of those books you're going to wish you'd jumped on early.

Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol 1. and 2 (and more)

Oh, so!

Yes, I've been reading Donald Duck again.  I know, I know.  I came to Disney comics so late, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

I've had both these volumes for a while, but I just dug them out of my stack of comics I haven't yet read, and I plowed through them with pretty great speed.

I don't think Boom! will be carrying on printing these books now that Disney owns Marvel comics (a shame, because Marvel's collections edition has never seemed as together as I'd like) and Boom! was just really getting themselves together on their Disney collections front.  AND it was a nice compliment to the really fancy (but expensive) work Fantagraphics was doing on their archive collections.

Hubris, thy name is Donald
The two Donald volumes are pretty reasonably priced ($14.99 cover for a lot of comics) and contain pretty good stories in both.  I finally got to read a Plain Awful story in Volume 1, and the Uncle Scrooge/ Donald go into space to collect satellites story in Volume 2 had me rolling.  Both volumes contain work of the American creator, Don Rosa, who is one of two comics creators associated with Disney's ducks that all comics people should know (along with Carl Barks).  And coming off reading the Disney Four Color Treasury, it was nice to transition to the more modern Ducks era.

Its tough to explain the appeal of a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic to the uninitiated, except to say that Duckberg is a very well realized place of goofiness and big hearted skinflint trillionaires and good-hearted crooks like the Beagle Boys, and its fun to see Donald in one story wrestling with space flight and in another trying to get the nephews to school.

Don Rosa is, in my estimation, one of the most creative talents in comics, with great understanding of narrative, gags, character, etc... and its just a huge pleasure to read his work.  And I suppose it says something about how under the radar the comics must have been for Disney for this to be one of the areas where any single creator was able to make a name for themselves.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Carl Barks Comics Collection Coming: Collected Classic Comics a Collosal Concept

Here's some good news for comics fans here in 2011.

Fall 2011, Fantagraphics will be printing a really nice, hardbound edition of classic Uncle Scrooge comics  by Carl Barks in a prestige format for around $25.  There's a terrific interview at Robot 6 today discussing plans.

One of the odd things that's hard to sell to non-comic readers and comic-readers alike is that Uncle Scrooge comics are a whole lot of fun.  And this is also semi-true of a lot of most Disney comics.  I, myself, looked cock-eyed at people who would talk about Uncle Scrooge comics until I was about 30.  I watched a few episodes of Duck Tales in high school, but wasn't ever all that enamored (I did, however, love Tail Spin and was quite irritated when it was canceled).  I knew about the money bin, Gyro Gearloose, domestic duck squabbles with Donald, globe-trotting adventure...  but what I didn't get was how that worked in comics that I heard adults talking about.

While Mickey is certainly the foremost Disney character in terms of recognizability, for decades Uncle Scrooge, who is a sort of periphery Disney property, has reined supreme in comics around the globe.  The rise to prominence came under the pen of Carl Barks, a legend to many in comics along the lines of Jack Kirby, who brought straight up all-ages adventure to Uncle Scrooge comics.  That didn't mean they weren't funny or rely on specifics of character that you'd see in all the classic Disney characters (except, oddly, for the nephews, that Disney seemed to think worked better as interchangeable, and I kind of refuse to disagree). It was mostly a quality of storytelling and art that set Barks apart as an auteur of the medium.

We keep our change in a big coffee cup
I guess it was when I found out the guy who owns Diamond, the monopoly that runs comic distribution in the US, had started Gemstone Comics to get the Disney license and do reprints from older and overseas-produced Disney comics, I decided to try out some Uncle Scrooge.

I've become a fan, but I don't pretend I'm one of the folks who was reading Uncle Scrooge as a kid, or who has a closet full of Disney comics that I can quote chapter and verse.  Respect.

When Gemstone lost the Disney reprint license to Boom! a couple years ago, I wasn't all that shattered as Boom!, (a) was going to be aggressive in their offerings, and (b) they dropped the prices to the point of easy affordability.  Gemstone had been charging upward of $8 for a single issue of Uncle Scrooge (in all fairness, it was 2 or 3 comics worth of materials) and I'd quit buying.

Anyhow, summer 2010 Fantagraphics announced it would be publishing a classic run of Mickey Mouse comics by Gottfredson, and I've been waiting to see that collection listed in Previews (honestly, I may have missed it, but I hope not).  And now Fantagraphics plans to do the same with the Uncle Scrooge work of Carl Barks (aka: The Good Duck Artist).  Fantagraphics doesn't really do "half-measures", so I expect this will be a really nice book-shelf style hardback.

This is almost exactly my set up at Barton Springs each summer
In some ways, I don't understand the publishing model from Disney's perspective.  Disney has a license for its characters through Boom! and they've published largely recent, mostly European-produced stories.  But in recent months Boom! has made it clear they're going to be reprinting classic Disney comics in their mainline Disney books, and one assumes this includes Barks and Don Rosa (Rosa is Barks' amazingly talented successor).  Disney actually does own their own publishing arm, which could have done this.  Further, Disney owns Marvel Comics.  I don't know that its a good mixing of brands, and I have to assume there are good reasons for a lack of cooperation between Marvel and Disney Comics.

And then Fantagraphics, yet another publisher, gets the prestige format reprint license?  It would just be interesting to hear Disney flat-out explain their strategy.  My guess is that they just saw what Fantagraphics has done with Peanuts and they thought they were the right folks for this job.  I'd also hazard a guess that they see the monthly comics as "periodicals" and this project as "the book department", and so licenses are different.

Whatever the case, the book is happening.  And that's really good news!  

An additional note:  Its hard on the pocketbook, but across the industry, many publishers are getting very good at putting together prestige format collections of classic comics, both from standard comic book formats and from the comics page/ comic strips.  There have always been "best of" hardback collections, but now we're seeing complete runs of work like Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Bloom County.  Fantagraphics is working its way through Peanuts' multi-decade run.  And we can expect to see Walt Kelley's Pogo hit in March with its first volume.

Barks' work hasn't been collected in the US in any comprehensive manner, so I'm glad to see it happening.  Not a bad way to start a new year in comics news!

Again, its expensive if you decided you wanted to own all of these, but I think I'm glad to know that these archive edition books are making their way to press before the work is lost (because one day it will be), and that means its likely digitized and semi-preserved.  The price isn't that prohibitive if you can pass the books around, and I don't know if they'll try for an ebook or paperback edition, both of which would be cheaper, I'd guess.  The new edition also means that these books, whole runs of them, may find their ways into libraries, both public and private.