- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000


The Duckman is gone. Carl Barks, creator of Uncle Scrooge McDuck and revered worldwide as the "good duck artist," died Aug. 25 at his Grants Pass, Ore., home. He was 99 and suffering from leukemia.
He worked on 36 Donald Duck movie cartoons from 1935 to 1942 and largely invented the modern "look" of the character (although he didn't create the character himself). When faced with drawing continuing adventures of the bad-tempered fowl for Western Publishing's line of Disney comics in 1942, he realized that Donald's barely intelligible quacks and contrary nature would make for poor stories and reinvented Donald as an "everyman" character, a Dagwood Bumstead in feathers.
He gave Donald girl troubles (Daisy Duck, from the cartoons), introduced domestic headaches (by fleshing out nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, the "Junior Woodchucks"), created a hometown (Duckburg), dreamed up a zany inventor buddy (Gyro Gearloose), saddled him with an annoyingly lucky, irritating foil (Gladstone Gander) and, most famously, invented out of whole cloth Donald's miserly relative and boss: Uncle Scrooge McDuck.
Uncle Scrooge first appeared in 1947 in "Christmas on Bear Mountain," a filthy-rich Scottish penny pincher who framed the first dollar he ever earned and wore a threadbare, red broadcloth coat he bought in a rummage sale in 1924.
Uncle Scrooge became the fulcrum on which most of Mr. Barks' most famous stories turned. Ever on the prowl for new riches, Uncle Scrooge's schemes would inevitably involve Donald and the Woodchucks in harebrained plots that would take them all over the world. Equally adept at drawing Himalayan panoramas and sunken pirate ships, Mr. Barks would meticulously research his stories and craft them for both drama and humor that would appeal to all ages.
After his retirement from Disney, comics fans finally got a name to attach to "the good duck artist," and Mr. Barks was lionized worldwide.
At his peak, his Disney titles sold more than 3 million copies a month. Mr. Barks drew 6,215 pages, 190 covers and wrote 396 scripts for various Disney comics.
His work is enormously popular in Europe, selling as well in reprints as when new, and dozens of Danish, German and Scandinavian Web sites are devoted to Mr. Barks minutiae and "induckses." In the United States, Russ Cochran publishers have reprinted his Disney stories in 30 black-and-white, bound volumes.
His death has wrought paeans of praise from fans as diverse as Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of the Walt Disney Co., and Art Spiegelman, the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer/artist of "Maus."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide