By Carl Barks (Gladstone)
From the late 1940’s until the mid-1960s Carl Barks worked in productive seclusion writing and drawing a vast array of comedic adventure yarns for kids, creating a Duck Universe of memorable – and highly bankable – characters like Gladstone Gander (1948), the Beagle Boys (1951), Gyro Gearloose (1952), and Magica De Spell (1961) to augment the stable of cartoon actors from the Disney Studio. His greatest creation was undoubtedly the crusty, energetic, paternalistic, money-mad gazillionaire Scrooge McDuck: the star of this show.
So potent were his creations that they fed back into Disney’s animation output itself, even though his brilliant comic work was done for the licensing company Dell/Gold Key, and not directly for the studio.
Throughout this period Barks was blissfully unaware that his work (uncredited by official policy as was all Disney’s cartoon and comicbook output), had been singled out by a rabid and discerning public as being by “the Good Duck Artist.” When some of his most dedicated fans finally tracked him down, his belated celebrity began.
Gladstone Publishing began re-packaging Barks material – and a selection of other Disney comics strips – in the 1980s and this album is one of the very best. Whilst producing all that landmark innovative material Barks was just a working guy, generating covers, illustrating other people’s scripts when necessary and contributing story and/or art to the burgeoning canon of Duck Lore.
This album is printed in the large European oversized format (278mm x 223mm) and features one of the best tales Barks ever told. Taken from Four Color Comics #456 (1953 and technically the second full story to star the multimillionaire mallard) ‘Back to the Klondike’ is a rip-roaring adventure, a brilliant comedy and even a bittersweet romance, which added huge depth to the character of the World’s Richest Duck, even whilst reiterating the superficial peccadilloes that made him such a memorable and engaging star.
Scrooge is old and getting forgetful: he can’t recall how much money he has even seconds after he’s finished counting it, nor even where his traps to locate it are hidden. After one close shave too many he finally shells out for a doctor who diagnoses “Blinkus of the Thinkus” and prescribes some pills to restore his scrupulous memory.
They work! Recalling a gold strike he made 50 years previously he drags Donald and his nephews to the Far North to recover a gold-strike he had cached five decades ago, but as the journey progresses he also recalls the rough, tough life of a prospector and the saloon-girl who tried to cheat him of his find: Glittering Goldie…
This superb yarn tells you everything you could ever need about Scrooge McDuck. It’s the perfect character tale and rattles along like an express train, sad, happy, thrilling and funny by turns, and it’s supplemented in this book with a classic Gyro Gearloose tale from 1960. ‘Cave of the Winds’ taken from Four Color Comics #1095, has Scrooge consult the feathered inventor on a perfect hiding place for his cash, but the answer is far from satisfactory… The book concludes with a short and punchy untitled tale from Uncle Scrooge #8 (1954) which has Scrooge run for City Treasurer – without spending any money…
Even if you can’t find this particular volume, Barks’ work is now readily accessible through a number of publications and outlets. No matter what your age or temperament if you’ve never experienced his captivating magic, you can discover “the Hans Christian Andersen of Comics” simply by applying yourself and your credit cards to any search engine. The rewards are there for the finding…
© 1987, 1960, 1954, 1953 The Walt Disney Company. All Rights Reserved.