The Good Duck Artist - Best Of Carl Barks Picture

Well I guess it is time to rediscuss the master himself properly ! (Crummy old picture her for comparison ... [link] )

Now, for those who don't know , Barks is one of the Disney LEGENDS. His contribution to comics (and later to cinema ...) can not be described .
First off, the man took various jobs but had little success in these occupations : farmer, woodcutter, turner, mule driver, cowboy and printer...
Then , he started at Disney Studios in 1935 as an inbetweener. ( Being teamed and supervised by one of the head animators who did the key poses of character action (often known as extremes) for which the inbetweeners did the drawings between the extremes to create the illusion of movement.)
He also submitted gag ideas for cartoon story lines being developed and showed a talent for creating comical situations . By 1937 he was transferred to the story department( His first story sale was the climax of Modern Inventions, which would be his first association with Donald Duck .)

In 1942, Barks was not at ease with wartime working conditions at Disney and was bothered by ongoing sinus problems caused by the studio's air conditioning. Shortly before quitting, he moonlighted as a comic book artist, contributing half the artwork for a one-shot comic book (the other half of the art being done by story partner Jack Hannah) titled Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold (which was supposed to be a feature... God knows why they did not or why they are not adapting it now !...Boneheads ,,,)

From that point on, Carl would take what his predecessor Al Taliaferro established in the strips and what the more mature Donald from the cartoons (more on that below ) and CREATE one huge mythology around talking ducks and other funny animals ! The word "glorious' BARELY starts to describe the scope of this tooniverse ...and I am not exagerating .
He mainly had 2 types of stories :
- Ten-pagers: comedic stories (mostly about Donald )that were about the everyday life events in Duckburg. Due to his beautiful and vivid artwork , these would make (for any would-be animator reading my text here) great subject for cartoons. The storyboard are basically here , just imagine how you'd bring it to life.
- Big adventure stories, usually 24-32 pages in length. The 1940s-50s ones starred Donald and his nephews but they would later feature Scrooge more prominently due to his increasing popularity at the time. If I had one reason to describe my love for Barks's oeuvre, this would be it : He showed that with enough caring and logical development , you can increase the scope of your characters in a spectacular way ! That will be explained through the characters he created .

SCROOGE McDUCK [ Christmas on Bear Mountain (1947)]

If you don't know who he is , What the hell are you waiting for ? As I said , it will take me quite some time before doing an article on Scrooge himself. But let us say that he is BArks's GREATEST creation ; easily in the TOP 5 greatest Disney characters EVER .
Barks's Scrooge sort of has 3 variations depending on the eras of Barks's style (of course other writers and artists used the characters and can be linked to any of these eras ...)
- 40's-Early 50's Scrooge (where he is a bitter cheap miser with a dash of eccentricity...)
- Mid 50's Scrooge (much more adventurous and fleshed-out, yet still able to be a comedic bastard on occasion...)
- 60's Scrooge ( the meaner streaks are for the most part absent , just focusing on the adventurous and goofier traits of the old miser...)
Developped the superpower of diving into big amounts of cash without breaking his bones...

GLADSTONE GANDER [ Wintertime Wager (1948)]
Donald's obscenely lucky cousin and all-around smug and shallow jerk (so much that you wanna punch him !). Gladstone's incredible luck allows him to live a life of leisure without ever doing anything resembling working... OR DOES IT ?

GYRO GEARLOOSE [Gladstone's Terrible Secret (1952)]
Duckburg's local inventor, who frequently works on strange inventions that have a tendency to end up in the wrong hands. And before any misguided individual tells you otherwise , NO , Gyro is a completely different creature from Ludwig Von Drake ! (Byron Erickson LIED TO US !... why don't I have a "dramatic reveal " tune when I need one ?)

LITTLE HELPER [ The Cat Box (1956)]
Gyro's tiny, robotic assistant, who aids him with his many inventions and is sometimes hinted to be just as smart, if not even smarter, than Gyro.Isn't he the cutest robot ever ? Why aren't they plushies of helper !

THE BEAGLE BOYS [ Terror of the Beagle Boys (1951)]
A family of masked and usually (or occasionally) not-too-bright thugs that unsuccessfully seek to rob Scrooge of his fortune. Depicts how effective the law system is these days ... and I am not joking !

MAGICA DE SPELL [ The [Midas] Touch (1961)]
A shady sorceress who seeks to steal Scrooge's #1 dime and melt it in the fires of Mt. Vesuvius for a spell that could give her the power to turn any substance into gold...or tries to get another magical artifact . Basically Morticia Addams as a duck ...

FLINTHEART GLOMGOLD [ The Second-Richest Duck (1956) ]
The second richest duck in the world, Flintheart Glomgold, just like Scrooge is a cheap old miser who lives in a bin full of money, except in South Africa; and just like Scrooge, Flintheart started his fortune from nothing.... long story short : Scrooge's EVIL twin, will be perfected by Don Rosa and one of the greatest Disney baddies EVER !

JOHN D. ROCKERDUCK [ Boat Buster (1961) ]
He presumably holds the dubious honour of being the third richest duck in the world, or depending on the story, the second richest. John D. Rockerduck was created and used by Carl Barks in just one story BUT will be perfected later into the anti-thesis of Scrooge ...

APRIL , MAY AND JUNE [ Flip Decision (1952) ]
Derivative of Huey, Dewey and Louie ... but as girls. Will be improved in the Dutch comics though ...

NEIGHBOR JUGHEAD JONES [Good Neighbors (1943)]
Guy who should have been in a lot of Donald cartoons. Few people can turn a petty dispute into a goddamn neighborly WAR...


In most stories, HD&L are the only named characters in the organization,full of good actions, intentions and silly titles. Mainly used to evolve and flesh the triplets.Also known for being the one organization with the most ridiculous titles like: O.G.U.F.O.O.L. (Omnipotent Giver of Unimpeachably Full-bodied Observations on Omniscient Logic), B.I.G.D.O.P.E (Brazenly Impressive and Grandiose Door Opener and Party Entertainer) and A.N.S.W.E.R.M.A.N (Awesome Noteworthy Senior Woodchuck, Expert Researcher, and Master Archaeological Nitpicker)

As for his treatment of characters he did not create but developped and flesh out (for the most part...)


Donald, Fethry and Gladstone's grandmother and Huey, Dewey and Louie's great-grandmother. She lives at a farm outside Duckburg with her gluttonous, incredibly lazy farmhand Gus Goose (Donald's cousin), and kicks ass and takes names. Has Jaq and GusGus from the "Cinderella" movie in her farm too (and it makes her even cooler !)


Carl gave him an actual voice rather than just honking. Besides, he's definitely more likable than before (while still being a gluttonous doofus...)


Carl's take on Daisy may not be the best. We have to wait for the late 50's to flesh her out more, or at least make her more likable.


The nephews that started out as absolute pests who enjoyed tormenting their uncle evolved into much more mature and resourceful kids, as well Woodchuck Juniors.If you know them from the DuckTales cartoon...they are basically like that in Barks's comics (with more mischief during the 40's and 50's though .


Now I am going to commit what you would call a blasphemy (then again, I never saw myself as a donaldist due to my own idea of what is the TRUE essence of Donald. And also because most -ists , these days in Tunisia , tend to REEEAAAALLY irk me !) , but it is time to set the record straight . No, Barks's Donald is NOT a different Duck from the one you see in the cartoons .And bear in mind that I see it as the apex of the Duck (especially the 50's Barks Donald) !
No there are not 2 Donalds (why the fuck even call him Donald Duck in the first place then ? That is as ridiculous as me saying that my pancreas spits applesauce ! The same goes for Daffy . The problem comes from this separatist mentality people have ! Hybridism FTW Baybay ! Fuck it , you know what ? I will draw a comic that spoofs my opinion on donaldists!)
NO, Carl did not make any him less hot-tempered , aggressive , frustrated, slapsticky or lazy than he was in the cartoons.(I have a friend that commented that he found Don much more aggressive in the comics ! And that was hilarious . And yeah, because if there is anything Donald is known for , it is his patience and calm ! Just ask Gladstone ....)
Donald was ALREADY the symbol of humanity's everyday struggles and frustrations... and he already had a taste for adventure and a good heart in the cartoons,especially under the hands of the underrated Jack King. (The ACTUAL holder of the title "Donald's other daddy".The long version is here if you missed it [link] )
But what did Carl do then ? He took every trait you see in the cartoons I've listed and mixed them into one cohesive blend and gave us the PERFECTED Donald Duck (Both in aesthetic and spirit !). He gave Donald the chance to show us his depth as a character and that he is perfectly fit to be in big adventures (take that Mr Hannah ! You were completely wrong !).
In short, he took one the richest cartoon characters of the golden age and made him even GREATER ( cus that's how Carl ROLLS !).
And I repeat , to all moronic Disney execs out there : WE WANT a Donald movie ! TRUE Donald fans would not give a fuck about not getting everything he says , it is how he kicks ass, goes into adventures and takes names that is great about Don . Just use a little imagination to work in animation for fuck sake !
What ? He is intelligible in comics ? OF COURSE , YOU GUYS ARE READING HIS SCRIPT ! XD (in fact , here is a funny competition to shake things up on youtube : Take any Donald comic and start reading his speech in Duck voice. Start training instead of whimpering about it, you'll see , it 'll be funny !). Besides most cartoon characters have their dialogues written normally in comics ! (In Looney Tunes comics , they don't write Daffy's speeches with STH or -ZTH sounds ! That does not make me hear him differently ...)
Oh and another thing , if you really wanna understand why he can WORK in animation (and that excluding him from DuckTales was utter shite ! Seriously, Fuck you Eisner...), here is how intelligible he can get when talking [link] . And more importantly , THIS IS HOW HE THINKS AND MONOLOGUES [link] (Yeah ! You can translate Barks's stories where Donald is the narrator by using this voice when he narrates exteriorly , and his normal voice when he speaks during the story action. All hail Jack Kinney ! He had the solution all along ! Isn't that a good compromise or what ? You can have a loquacious thinking Donald with , at the same time , his intact spoken quacks ! You TELL ME what you think ! I want your opinion on this idea ! )

Since I said that Carl had 2 types of stories , I guess we will have to present you both types differently. So I will start with the 10 pagers. These are short comedic stories for the most part , making them easier to turn into 7 minutes shorts . The way they are drawn make them practically story-boards, mainly thanks to Barks's fluid drawing style .

Let us properly start then ! [link]

20 TOYLAND (1948)

Santa Claus hires Donald and his nephews to test his new toys ...


Huey , Dewey and Louie's fight against their weekly bath ! (aren't these little rascals cute ?)


Scrooge wants to get a juicy contract from a millionaire who happens to be a fox-hunting fanatic. Who does Scrooge hire as a champion ? Well Donald of course ! And it SUCCEEDS ... a little too well ! .


Scrooge wants to form Donald as his successor by showing him the fun life of a tycoon. Okay, who believes the old McDuck here ?


Donald as an obnoxious tourist ? What comedic possibilities could such a set-up have ?


Gladstone and Donald duke it out to determinate who will be the lead in a play along with Daisy ! Whoever loses , we all win !


The first story to expand on Grandma Duck . Read it to know more about her !


The nephews promise to always go to school on time , Donald promises not to lose his temper


Never call Scrooge dumb ! You may end up regretting it .


Excellent spoof of the Goldilocks story, involving soup , pranks and Gladstone !


Why yes , Dumbo exists in this universe. AND HE TALKS !?


Scrooge tricks Donald and Mr Jones into thinking that a "Mr Fox" lived there and hid a treasure under their houses. And let us say the old duck will get the surprise of his life later ...


Yeas ... Jaq and Gus Gus are much more competent and useful than Gus Goose.


Leaving Gyro to take some rest at the farm leads to some peculiar results .

6 THE HYPNO-GUN (1952)

Donald : only duds to be hypnotised by a toy gun !


Out of all these short stories , this is the most heartwarming .


The quintessential Gyro story ! How too much progress can be a bad thing .


People , you will never guess what it is, but trust me it is a hoot !


Where Harvey Dent was the victim of flipism, Donald shows you how much you can fuck up with it !


Out of all stories that have a morale, this is the best !

Now to the main course ! The stries where you expand your characters ! Music Maestro [link] (and yes , it IS FITTING !).

Top 20 stories (Big Adventures)

20) THE TITANIC ANTS ! (1958)

A Duckburg scientist's enlarged ants disrupt the Billionaires' Picnic. And yes, the fights between the Ducks and the ants are hilarious !

19) STATUS SEEKER (1963)

Scrooge wants to be part of the elite , thus he learns that the striped ruby is the best object to get the highest status . This does not fall in death ears; McSwine and the Beagle Boys will get it from him ! And jellyfishes love mint candies.

18) TRICK OR TREAT (1952)

I already mentioned it before . In the comics, Donald is still on complete jerk mode but even more stubborn than he is in the animated short ... it is just glorious !


Donald and his nephews are on a holiday in California. They take a small narrow road that seems deserted and Donald is momentarily distracted from his driving. The car crashes in a rock besides the road.When they regain consciousness, they find they are visitors of a local tribe of Native Americans. The tribe kindly offer to help them recover. The exhausted Ducks are offered a drink, and they fall sleep. When they wake again, they find themselves in Alta California in 1848.... But it was all a dream... OR WAS IT ?


Donald and his nephews are appointed to go in search of the natural predator of the pickle-destroying fleas: the wasp junglum ratibus. But this goes against the plans of a horrible guy: the owner of millions of cans of pickled turnips just waiting for it to invade the market. What's not to love about a story of ducks and dinosaurs.


The best Donald and Nephews against their cousin Gladstone;

- Donald and the nephews race Gladstone Gander to rescue Uncle Scrooge from a South Seas shipwreck ...

- Scrooge hires Donald and the boys to find valuable papers in a crashed mail plane in the thick and hostile jungle Hondorica. But Gladstone is way too curious and will make it harder for them .


Scrooge wants a coat made of solid gold, but the coat merchant tells him there is no such thing. Despite that, Scrooge still desires one, so he meets a strange man who is known as an Eikral who is from the country of Seikral.All is fine and dandy except that "Seikral" is "Larkies" spelled backwards ... Woops !


My favorite Barks story with Magica ! Why ? Look at what happens when she finds Circe's magic rod !

12) LETTER TO SANTA (1949)

Donald fails to follow through on his promised delivery of a letter to Santa (due to his own forgetfulness), thus asks Scrooge for some help. After a money bags fight (yeah , it is a s you read it ! McDuck hits you with bags if you hit him with a dollar....), McDuck accepts ... and the rest of the story is one thrill ride !


Scrooge gets rid of an old defective hourglass he had for 30 years by giving it to his nephews (and of a bill by offering a defective boat to Donald . And Don's expression is just that hilarious !). But after some time, the old miser realizes that his hourglass was the source of his success while his nephews find out that it has the power to help them find gems and gold ! But they need to renew the red sand of this hourglass while Scrooge wants to get it back . Bear in mind that we will talk about THIS particular story once we get to another maestro ...

10) THE MONEY CHAMP (1959)

My favorite out of the Glomgold trilogy ! Flintheart competes with Scrooge to see who can make the biggest pile of cash, which leads the old bastard to pull a dirty trick after another to beat McDuck ...


Take a silly idea : square eggs, and make a story around it ! And while it is quite a funny adventure for Don and the boys, the ending is just PRICELESS !


Donald, bored guard at the Museum of Duckburg, is intrigued by a visitor searching a former Viking longship.There he discovers a map leading to the gold helmet Olaf Blue. Said helmet can confer on its owner the sovereignty of America, leading to race to the helmet. And NO ONE is safe , NO one is safe from the temptation of possessing this object .
And to whoever will tell me " Just try and see the main character from The Golden Helmet being the same one as the hothead who's a punching bag for Chip n' Dale...."... Well.. is it me or is Donald not only brash and impulsive in this story ? Doesn't he slam his head against the wall when his nephews don't get why he wants them to come with him ? And besides, we all saw a power-drunk Donald prior to this story . Don't believe me ? [link] at 4:22 is exactly how I imagine Donald when he realises that he can become king of the USA XD ... This just deserves to be animated !


The 2 stories that literally PERFECTED Scrooge's character in the 50's:

- His best confrontation against the Beagle Boys and where we learn why he loves his money so much .

- Where we get to know a bit more about his past life and meet Goldie O'Gilt ...

6) BACK TO LONG AGO (1956)

An hypnotist helps Scrooge and Donald discover that their ancestors were pirates and that they buried a treasure chest in a remote island. What ensues is race between both of them to try to get the treasure ....


A mad scientist (who looks like Dr Cortex if he was fused with Peter Lorre ) kidnaps the ducks to help him revive an ancient Persian court. Barks's most disturbing story.... AND IT'S SO DAMN COOOOOL !


Donald and his nephews go into a camping trip to the woods , not knowing that it will be full of dangers . Despite having a first part full of hilarious gags , the climax is just epic: a bully's carelessness causes a forest fire that traps the Duck family alone and Donald's sense of improvisation and quick thinking are needed to ensure their survival. Basically the Duck at his apex !


Scrooge has decided to move his entire fortune on an island he bought, but despite all precautions he took. He and his nephews will end up as hostages to, the Beagle Boys at their cruelest ! BUT, something supernatural will save them !


While on a beach in the French Riviera, Donald and his nephews are in a spy story with the lovely Mrs. triple X . And let's say that you will never guess who is an ally or not through the whole damn thing ! And it ends with a suicide... I am not joking , it is a Disney style suicide, making it even more disturbing !

HONORABLE MENTIONS :.... Way too much to list... I will pass this time...or update it another time...


THIS is to me what encapsulates everything I love about Carl's works : It is both funny and heartwarming! This story revolves around the Duck family attempting to raise money to throw a Christmas party for the poor children of the slums of Duckburg.Scrooge , however, refuses his nephew's request for a donation, but nevertheless offers to give Donald the remaining 25 dollars, BUT ONLY if he can manage to raise that much....
I won't spoil the rest, but let me tell you that the rest of the story is beyond great ! Not only is it a fantastic Ducks story but also the Saint Patron of all christmas specials (and I don't celebrate Christmas... just to give you a hint at how great it is ! It can't be said enough !).

And to conclude my pariah status among Barks fans I will say that I love his paintings... Yeah, I never saw them as ugly ! They were part of what influenced me to draw stuff ! Up until we meet again , we'll leave you with this poem , AND GOOD NIGHT :

They ride tall ships to the far away,
and see the long ago.
They walk where fabled people trod,
and Yetis trod the snow.

They meet the folks who live on stars,
and find them much like us,
With food and love and happiness
the things they most discuss.

The world is full of clans and cults
abuzz as angry bees,
And Junior Woodchucks snapping jeers
at Littlest Chickadees.

The ducks show us that part of life
is to forgive a slight.
That black eyes given in revenge
keep hatred burning bright.

So when our walks in sun or shade
pass graveyards filled by wars,
It's nice to stop and read of ducks
whose battles leave no scars.

To read of ducks who parody
our vain attempts at glory,
They don't exist, but somehow leave
us glad we bought their story.

— Carl Barks, 1999
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