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(Comic)Book Byte: Quack Quack Quack, 1:4 (Guest Post)

While on hiatus, I have guests doing a few posts for me. Enjoy, and see you when I get back! ~CAN

Carl Barks is the most important man in the world to Donald Duck.

Sure, he didn’t create him, that was a joint effort between Walt Disney and Dick Lundy (the character designer).

And he wasn’t the voice actor, that was Clarence Nash, whose impression of a family of ducks inspired Walt to create the character.

Barks didn’t even direct any shorts, though he was a capable gag-man. His biggest claim to fame in the cartoons was pitching the idea where Donald gets his butt-feathers combed and trimmed by an automatic razor in the 1937 cartoon Modern Inventions, which earned him 50$ and a promotion from Walt from in-betweener (a position which he only held for a few months) to gag-writer. He worked at Disney for five years before leaving due to the war-time conditions and sinus problems from the studio’s air conditioner.

Carl Barks is more important than Lundy, Nash, and Walt put together when it comes to Donald Duck, and I wish more people knew it.

Hi guys, my name is Mathias, and I’m doing a guest spot for Christina today. She views it as a break, but I think I view it as an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about Donald Duck. Based on what I just told you I’d say about 90-95% of you are thinking that this post is going to talk about the Disney Shorts, the classics of animation. But I’m not. I haven’t really seen most of the Disney Shorts, and what I have seen is not a passion of mine.

My passion is comics.

Yes, Donald Duck has comic books and that is our subject today. It’s a little difficult to write about because as a comic book fan I feel so foolish not having known about them until about a year and a half ago. I’d seen them in the comic book store, but let’s face it… licensed properties tend to suck, and my only real experience with the Ducks came from the 1987-1990 animated series DuckTales, starring the miser with a heart of gold Scrooge McDuck.

Even when I was a little kid and had a great love for it, I had problems with DuckTales. It stopped me from being the deep, abiding fan I am for so many other subjects. It was too gaggy, too silly, a lot of the characters felt out of place, and it always felt just a little… off. It’s hard to explain, really. Launchpad McQuack, Gizmoduck, Bubba the Caveduck, they all felt like they were just tacked on. But I was just a little kid and didn’t know how to articulate it. I’d watch always wondering why I didn’t get it as unconditionally as so many people did

I understand it now. Scrooge didn’t have anyone who would challenge his authority, which denied him the element of character conflict that he deserved. Scrooge was soft, all bark and no bite. And the outright cartoony elements of the characters listed above were out of place with the verisimilitude of the comics, which always attempted to exist within something of a logical framework; something which DuckTales cared nothing about. At the end of the day they wanted to make people laugh and that was all that really mattered.

So I walked by and picked up an issue of something else, week after week, month after month, year after year.

I had absolutely no idea what I was missing.

Part 2 tomorrow!

The DeRider is a 20-something Minnesota-based comics fan currently studying television production and writing. You can find his awesome Review or Die blog here:


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