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Dell Tarzan cover strip Dell Tarzan cover strip
Dell Tarzan #85 through #100 shown above.
Tarzan is a TM Trademark of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.
All text Copyright 2010 Michael Tierney


Comics History and a Collector's Guide to Carl Barks' Disney Ducks

by Michael Tierney
Donald Duck's 1st Book
Donald Duck's 1st appearance in comics was in this rare 1935 oversized (9&1/2" X 13") comic, printed on Linen paper.

Walt Disney and the Good Duck Artist

Mickey Mouse Magazine 10 Walt Disney was on his way to fortune when he created Mickey Mouse, an anthromorphic character who was an animal that talked and acted like a human. The success of Mickey Mouse is why Disneyland is referred to as the house a mouse built.

In the dawn of the comic book industry, Dell's Mickey Mouse Magazine continued Disney's record of success. But, over time, another group of Disney anthromorphics began to take front and center stage, as Donald Duck took over the covers of the magazine.

Eventually, Mickey Mouse Magazine was replaced in 1940 by the new Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, also published by Dell. On this publication, Mickey would make few appearances on the cover, and even then he would always be accompanied by Donald. In fact, the only Dell issues that did not feature a Donald Duck cover were solo cover appearances by Goofy on #5 and when Clara Bell watered her garden on the 8th issue.

Mickey Mouse Magazine 6 After that, Donald was front and center on every Dell, Gold Key (with a few rare Whitmans sprinkled in, and distributed mainly to Australia), and later Gladstone and Gemstone cover until 2010. There was only one exception during the Gemstone run, where a cover featured Mickey in drag. Then there were years with no Disney comics, until new publisher Boom! took over. At first, Donald was once again sharing covers with the Mouse. But issue #703 broke Donald's 694 issue run a second time, as Mickey Mouse took his revenge for what Donald had done to him 70 years before. As of 2010, Mickey has completely pushed Donald off the cover of the title he once dominated.

Other cover patterns also appeared in the first years of WDC&S during the early Forties, when the numbering of the books in 12 issue volumes began. With the second issue, a holiday featured cover first ran. This, and other themes like that of Patriotism, became traditions that continued throughout the Dell run.

Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #1 The earliest Walt Disney's Comics and Stories can be valuable. But even the first issue isn't as key as the 32nd one (Vol. 3 #8, April 1943). This issue broke the trend of reprinting newspaper strip funnies, and featured the first new material and a new creator, the legendary Carl Barks. In an age with no credits, his writing and art were easily identified by readers as being that of:

Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #32 The Good Duck artist.

These stories by Carl Barks were products of the age, steeped in references to World War II and the rationing of gas and other essentials. One non-Barks short strip has nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie stalling their uncle Donald from working on a mysterious project while they search frantically across town for camera film. Unable to locate any for sale, they finally tell him to continue, and watch as Donald saws off a branch while he sits on it. In today's consumer economy, it's inconceivable to contemplate being unable to buy film.

But issue #32 wasn't Carl Barks' first published work with Donald Duck.

Four Color #9 In 1942, Dell's Four Color line featured Carl Barks book length tale of Donald Duck and Pirate Gold in issue #4, another key issue with the same kind of Collector's demand as WDC&S #1 and #32.

Many more solo Donald Duck tales followed in Four Color. Most were by Barks, but not all.

In these one shots and WDC&S, Barks introduced many original characters of his own creation, but perhaps his greatest creation was in the 1948 WSC&S #98 (Vol. 9 #2), where Donald's rascally tightwad Uncle Scrooge appeared.

Four Color #178 Uncle Scrooge's first appearance anywhere was in 1947 with Four Color #178's Donald Duck tale; Christmas on Bear Mountain, but it wasn't until his own series debut in Four Color #386 (which also serves as Uncle Scrooge #1) that he made his first cover appearance in "Only a Poor Old Man."

By now, Carl Barks had fully defined both Uncle Scrooge as a character, and his style. Other new creations included the Beagle Boys, who first appeared in WDC&S #134, but would become a regular nemesis for Uncle Scrooge.

The stories Barks produced from this point on were classics whose constant reprinting fueled Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and WDC&S to long histories, all of them still being published today.

Of the many others who followed in the footsteps of Carl Barks, in my opinion Don Rosa was the only other to truly capture even a spark of the essence of the craft which Barks displayed so skillfully on every page.

Four Color #386 The stories of Carl Barks are rich in their character interaction, and their simplicity of concept. Whether is was the battle to bathe his nephews who'd vowed to forever remain the 3 Dirty Ducks, or helping Uncle Scrooge hide his fortune in exotic locales, or a space ride to mine gold on other planets, Carl Barks' imagination saw no boundaries, geographical or otherwise, as he explored everything from daily life to the fantastic.

I have never read a bad story by Carl Barks. I loved them all and still do, every time I read one again. His stories are always fun.

That's why, in the age before credits were posted, Carl Barks (1901 - 2000) was always called The Good Duck Artist.

Michael Tierney -- July 13, 2010
Uncle Scrooge #49 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #2 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #22 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #33 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #134 Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #708
Walt Disney Comics & Stories, Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge and the images shown in this article are TM and (C) by Walt Disney Co.

If you enjoy the high adventure present in many of the Disney Ducks by Carl Barks, and stories that include travel to exotic locations, then you'll probably enjoy the Wild Stars! No funny animals here, but people found the bicycle stealing bear in Volume 3 #5 to be pretty funny. He generated more fan mail than any other character.
Click here to learn more about the Wild Stars History.

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