2009-04-13

Don Rosa January 2008, part 5 (The 12 Scrooge posters)

This new piece of the interview with Don Rosa, in which he talks about his twelve Uncle Scrooge posters, can be read at many levels. The one I consider most interesting is the one that shows the true reason why Don does all this. Certainly not for the money, otherwise he wouldn't have spent a week on each illustration when the specification he received ("Please do us twelve posters to celebrate Scrooge's 60th anniversary") could have been met with an afternoon's work per image. So, did he do it for his readers? For himself? Surely yes, to some extent. But, most of all, he did for Uncle Carl, to say thank you to him in his own personal way. This is what I find moving.

You may listen to the audio of the interview in mp3 format by downloading it from the link or, if you have the right plugins, by playing it directly from your browser with the Flash gadget below.

FS: You have on your desk, and you've had on your desk every time I've been here, the 30 volume CBL Carl Barks Library. How often do you go back and re-read those?

Well, I would always lean over if I needed an art reference, or to double-check a fact, any fact I think I remember. I double check it, though I still get it wrong sometimes. But again, it's sitting there and I take it for granted so I never sit down and pick up a volume and read it page by page. But I'm glad you asked that question because when I did this series of 12 posters--and of course my version of these 12 posters was so much more elaborate than what they wanted...

FS: These most recent posters?

Yeah, the 12 posters of Scrooge's 60th anniversary. They suggested that I do 12 posters, so they could print one a month, and each one would... what was the original idea?... it was certainly not as complicated as mine... they wanted one to feature all the other ducks in Duckburg or something, I dunno, and one would... I don't know! But my idea was that each one would feature a certain aspect of the legend of Carl Barks's Uncle Scrooge and I'd do that by showing scenes from as many of the key stories that dealt with that particular aspect, whether it was the Number One Dime, or his fights with Flintheart Glomgold, or... In some cases I could illustrate every story: like, Flintheart Glomgold, there were only three stories, so I had two or three scenes from each story. In other ones I had to pick and choose what were the most famous. Now, most of the covers that they have done (they don't have any other posters or pin-ups so I can't refer to those; but just a cover, which is the next closest thing to a full-page illustration like I was doing), I'm sure their artists can whip half a dozen of those out in a day, 'cos' they're just like giant single panels, there's very little detail. And they're good, they're just the right sort of thing for the cover of the comic: it's eye-catching. My covers are not eye-catching because they're too complex. You can't spot them from across the room. It would just look like a mess, a jumble of colors and dark shapes. A proper cover for a comic that's on the news rack, you should see it from across the store: "Look way over there, it's a Donald Duck comic! I'm going to go and get that!". But that's not my job. My job is to overdo and complicate everything! So I would start doing research on one aspect of Uncle Scrooge's history...

FS: Your illustration is more like a crossword puzzle than a cover!

Yeah! [Laughs.] That's good! I'm glad! So, most of those stories would be in the first 60 issues of Uncle Scrooge. There were some early issues, you know, his earlier stories, in Donald Duck, his early appearances, that I'd refer to occasionally; but most of the contents of those posters came from the first 60 issues of Uncle Scrooge. So, in doing the research, that was the first time I actually, in a long time, had gotten and read through all those same stories that I grew up with. And it was so much fun! Every day I would just sit there and say "Gosh, these are good stories!" Or I'd be looking at the Carl Barks Library and see the issues... (I'm not sure if these are the issues I'm thinking of but...) I'd look at issues number 8 to... 12 or something and say, "Gosh! Those five issues... Man! What a run those were!" Just like the five greatest... that'd be about a year's worth... what a year of comic books that was, that you could every month get those stories! But that's the sort of reaction, it was just so wonderful to see all those things again!

So, that was why I had a reason to look back and scrutinize maybe a little bit closer [than while writing a story]. During a sequel I'd look at one [Barks] story. But this caused me to look at all the stories multiple times, because this story might have Flintheart Glomgold but also it would maybe involve some other aspect like the Number One Dime. Oh, and like I was also saying: these things, instead of a normal cover which I think would take some of these other artists two hours to do, when I do one of my overly over-drawn and over-rendered covers, they take me two days! And these pin-ups, although they were the same physical size as a cover, they'd take me a week...

FS: I'm not surprised, having seen them!

...maybe a week and a half to do some of these! Because there would be research. I'd have to go, make a trip (or send my wife on a trip) into town to the copy store to copy the panels and sometimes reduce... because I wanted to be so accurate: I wanted to trace Barks's [original drawing, so] in pencil I'd trace his panel and then of course when I inked it I'd put my own little details into it---otherwise why should I draw it? I'd just trace his panel and paste it right to the piece of paper! But I wanted it to be in the exact same pose and everything, the exact proportions... for my own amusement, because I'm doing it as an honour to him. And then I'd have to figure out how to arrange them, how to best show each element. Sometimes I'd have to leave some out...

I regard them as the most complicated twelve drawings I've done in my whole life, and I'm really proud of them!

FS: Yeah, so, basically, going back to the fanzine days, before your professional time, this is the same essential thing: you've read the [Barks stories] many times and this is an excuse for going back and digging more into them.

That's right, yeah! Plus it gave me a chance to do exactly what I [originally intended]. The reason I took on this job is just to do honor to the Carl Barks stories I grew up with and maybe show them to other people who may not be familiar with them, or at least emphasize them again.


Don also wrote extensive notes to accompany the posters, but not all Disney publishers who used his posters printed them. In February 2008, one of his readers (Tom Wormstedt) asked on the Disney Comics Mailing List whether Don would post his original English text. This is what he wrote in reply.

And I'm HAPPY to do this. I was rather perturbed that so few publishers gave this information to readers with my posters each month. I wrote an introduction to the series, a description of the thought process behind each poster, a list of the Barks stories featured in each group of scenes, and finally a TITLE to each poster. The main intro and individual intros were not essential to the presentation, nor were my comments on the list of Barks stories -- that could all be omitted. But if the featured Barks stories are not briefly listed and the poster title offered to identify the topic of the poster, HOW would the average reader know what the @#$% I was doing? Unless the reader was a Barks scholar of the first water, he'd never recognize that all the various images were panels copied from famous Barks stories -- most scenes would simply look nonsensical. Even *I* would not recognize all of the scenes I chose in all 12 posters! But then to not even give readers the poster TITLE to identify the topic! Readers would have NO idea what the poster meant! Well...

This was the most time-consuming project that I'd ever undertaken. The research into every $crooge story Barks had ever created, the decision-making involved in choosing the best stories and then best panel to represent that story, the design of the jigsaw-puzzle-like lay-outs, MANY trips into town to copy shops with stacks of old comics to copy hundreds of specific Barks panels each copied at a different % enlargement size to meet my needs, the laborious tracing of each panel of art on a lightbox adapting the art to fit the space and rendering it in my own style based on Barks' original, using PhotoShop for the first time on my art to enhance each line of each drawing to get these special (to me) poster images as perfect as I could, writing detailed instructions to colorists for every aspect of the posters........ whereas a normal cover or PICSOU pin-up might take me 1-2 days, each of these posters took me over one full week! And then for so much of that effort to be turned into a total mystery for readers. I'm not going to this much trouble on anything again. Here are the texts -- I apologize to all European readers who never knew that I had tried to give them this explanation of that poster series.


INTRODUCTION TO POSTER SERIES:

I was asked to create a series of pin-ups/posters to commemorate $crooge McDuck's 60th anniversary, dating back to when Carl Barks created the character for what was only planned as a single appearance in a Donald Duck story late in 1947. I should pick 12 different aspects of the "$crooge McDuck mythos" and devote one large illustration to each topic.

But HOW can anyone really create single illustrations depicting 60 *years* of $crooge stories involving even one particular aspect?! Hundreds of writers and artists have created *thousands* of Uncle $crooge stories in the past 60 years, and, being an American, I'm not even familiar with the vast majority of all the $crooge adventures ever created around the world. So, my "coward's way out" is to simply do what I spend most of my time doing anyway -- I depict 12 different aspects of $crooge McDuck's legend as seen in the stories of his creator, Carl Barks. As large as that body of work still is, it is at least possible to deal with a goodly sampling of Barks' most famous and beloved stories which pertain to a certain aspect of the comic life of his greatest creation. These posters will show the *seeds* of the $crooge mythos upon which were based these past 60 years of stories by so many other creators... me, included.

Here is the list of the $croogian topics which will appear during the next 12 months, culminating in December, 2007, when $crooge officially celebrates the 60th anniversary of his first appearance.

(Note: except for #1 & #12, this list is not in any logical order other than the order in which I completed each poster. The list should be reordered to coincide with the actual planned order in which the posters will be presented, as long as the first and last posters are presented in January and December, respectively.)

  • #1/January: Early Versions of Uncle $crooge
  • #2/February: The #1 Dime!
  • #3/March: Strange Beings
  • #4/April: Uncle $crooge's Early Life
  • #5/May: The Money Bin
  • #6/June: Uncle $crooge's Greatest Treasures
  • #7/July: The Beagle Boys
  • #8/August: Monsters!
  • #9/September: Lost Realms
  • #10/October: Flintheart Glomgold
  • #11/November: Magica deSpell
  • #12/December: Sixty-ONE Christmases with Uncle $crooge!


EARLY VERSIONS OF $CROOGE McDUCK (January)

In the first poster in this series to commemorate $crooge McDuck's 60th year, I chose to examine the first 3½ of those 60 years during which Carl Barks was still designing and redesigning his new character's history, personality and (as we see here) clothing & whiskers. Here we have views of all the earliest appearances of the World's Richest Duck.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • The original aged tycoon in his oversized stemmed glasses and robe, eyeing the bear cub he actually never saw during $crooge's debut appearance in "Christmas on Bear Mountain" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #178 -- Dec. 1947).
  • Losing the spats but gaining large pince-nez glasses (no stems) and an overcoat and hunting cap, accessorized by a pistol -- I give you $crooge's "country gentleman" outfit from "The Old Castle's Secret" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #189 -- June 1948).
  • Nattily dressed in suit & derby hat, a still somewhat mean-spirited $crooge McDuck prepares to dump itch powder on his shiftless nephew Donald in an untitled 10-pager in WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES #104 (May 1949).
  • The first appearance of his top hat, $crooge is a well-dressed cast-away as he relaxes on a tropical beach in "Race to the South Seas" (MARCH OF COMICS #41 -- June 1949).
  • Stems back on his glasses, but switching to a fur-trimmed frock coat, $McD is meeting Bombie the Zombie, even though he never actually did so during his cameo appearance in "Voodoo Hoodoo" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #238 -- August 1949).
  • The best-dressed $crooge of all time, wearing a suit & tie and a fur-trimmed frock coat, and his whiskers gradually diminishing, as he considers Donald's Santa disguise in "A Letter to Santa" (CHRISTMAS PARADE #1 -- November 1949).
  • Admiring the rare gnoof in his private zoo, $crooge has switched back to the fur-trimmed frock, but still no belt and with glasses still stemmed, in "Trail of the Unicorn" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #263 -- February 1950).
  • Getting close! The pince-nez glasses are back and $crooge's frock is now trimmed in fine mole-skin rather than shaggy fur, but it's solid black in color and his spats have only single buttons, in a desperate scene from "The Magic Hourglass" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #291 -- September 1950).
  • CENTRAL SCENE: The "classic", modern $crooge McDuck, as he has appeared since July, 1951. (I've slightly changed my own physical appearance since I first debuted just one month earlier, or actually at the same time this "July" dated issue was on the newsstands. Changed my clothing, also -- that original diaper had to go.)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: My dedication of "D.U.C.K." (Dedicated to Unca Carl from Keno) is certainly included in each of these Barks-tribute posters! Give up? Look in the tears and wrinkles of Bombie's shroud on his chest.


$CROOGE McDUCK AND HIS NUMBER ONE DIME (February)

After $crooge himself, what could be the next topic of these pages other than his #1 Dime, the first money he ever earned? In the central scene I give you a "generic" view of $crooge dusting the belljar under which the famous Dime is usually found resting on its velvet pillow atop a marble pedestal.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • Not a scene that Carl Barks ever showed directly, but one scene on this page must show the young shoeshine boy as he earned his First Dime cleaning a ditchdigger's boots on a Glasgow street.
  • Magica deSpell, who is collecting various coins from the world's richest men to use as ingredients in a magic spell to make herself rich, has the first moment of realization that the first coin earned and carried throughout his life by the world's richest man had to be the most potent such talisman on earth -- so began her career in trying to steal it! ("The Midas Touch" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #36)
  • Directly above that scene is a close-up of the tiny Dime, though it is based only on my own speculation that it was probably the most common 10-cent piece in circulation at the time of $crooge's youth, a "seated Liberty" dime .
  • Shrunken by a weird invention, $crooge is trying to rescue his lost Dime from beneath an anthill when he encounters a resident with a taste for tycoon. ("Billions in the Hole" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #33)
  • The #1 Dime makes its very first, if brief, appearance when it saves the Ducks from Beagle Boy confinement -- it is so worn and thin from constant handling that's it's sharp enough to cut ropes! (untitled story in UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #495 -- actual U$ #3)
  • A second scene from the first Magica story, but it's significant that her first try was perhaps the closest she ever came to succeeding in melting the Dime in the fires of Vesuvius. ("The Midas Touch" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #36)
  • In the first appearance of Flintheart Glomgold, $crooge used a string tied around his #1 Dime to win a contest that named him the World's Richest Man. ("The Second-Richest Duck" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #15)
  • In another Magica story, $crooge and his Dime were threatened by some weird faceless critters. ("The Many Faces of Magica deSpell" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #48)
  • Another threat from another weird critter, this one no less than a Martian, as $crooge saves his Dime from the purser's safe of a sunken ship. ("Lost Beneath the Sea" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #46)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: the dedication is hidden in the pebbles beneath the Dime in the anthill scene.


$CROOGE McDUCK AND STRANGE BEINGS (March)

$crooge met some unusual intelligent beings of either earthly or alien origin in Carl Barks' stories. Barks' most famous unusual people are, of course, the residents of Plain Awful who owned the square eggs, but $crooge never visited there in Barks' adventures, otherwise I would have made one of them the subject of the central scene here. I was very pleased to award that spot to my own favorites, the Peeweegah Indians! Here we see $crooge pleading his case before the skeptical Peeweegah Chief and equally skeptical chipmunk onlooker. ("The Land of the Pygmy Indians" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #18)

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • On a asteroid we have two races of aliens seen in "Island in the Sky" (UNCLE $CROOGE #29)
  • Having an aerial cavort are the Greek Harpies who kidnapped $crooge to Colchis ("The Golden Fleecing" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #12)
  • The Venusian King who swapped $crooge an entire planet of gold for a box of dirt and got the better end of the deal. ("The 24-Carat Moon" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #24)
  • Mini-aliens try to get $crooge's attention to make a big grain deal. ("Micro-Ducks from Outer Space" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #65)
  • The Mermaid Queen sends a goon (a mergoon?) after $crooge as an invader to her realm. ("Hall of the Mermaid Queen" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #68)
  • Next to the Peeweegahs, my favorites are the Terries and the Fermies! ("The Land Beneath the Ground" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #13)
  • To balance the Mermaid Queen in the right corner, in this left corner I give you another undersea royalty, the King of Atlantis, also seizing the invading McDuck. (untitled story -- UNCLE $CROOGE #5)
  • The leader of the Martian undersea metal salvagers I also showed in my "#1 Dime" topic poster. ("Lost Beneath the Sea" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #46)
  • Peeking from below the asteroid, another fugitive from the #1 Dime poster, a member of the tribe of faceless people seen in "The Many Faces of Magica deSpell" (UNCLE $CROOGE #48)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: Look at the frill on the Peeweegah Chief's buckskin pants.


$CROOGE'S EARLY LIFE (April)

I guess I'm rather well-known for my "Life of $crooge" stories, and they would provide a wealth of scenes for this page. But these are to be tributes to Carl Barks' stories, not mine! And that made this a tough job since Barks gave us very few visual flashbacks to $crooge's youth. But I think I have them all here. Still, for the central scene I hope I can be forgiven for using my own version of $crooge as a young shoeshine lad. Barks showed him at that age only once, drawing him already with glasses and whiskers; but since Barks did not write that story, I try to use that as my excuse for dispelling with such an odd rendition.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • $crooge digging for copper ore in 1882 Montana in a flashback in the very first "Uncle $crooge" story in the very first issue of an all UNCLE $CROOGE comic! ("Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386)
  • Again, I use my own image of a young $crooge to show him gathering firewood to sell, something mentioned by $crooge when once reminiscing about his earliest jobs. ("The Golden River" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #22)
  • Just because I'm short of Barks flashback scenes to show you, here's another view of $crooge in the copper fields of 1882 Montana. Maybe I could claim this comes from his previous days "in the cattle wars of the old frontier" as mentioned in the same story. ("Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386)
  • I used $crooge's days as a prospector in Arizona in my "Life of $crooge", but I removed his glasses deciding those came later. But here he is with spectacles as Barks showed him in a flashback to those years. ("Ghosts of Pizen Bluff" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #26)
  • Yes, I also removed $crooge's glasses when I did stories of his years on a Mississippi Riverboat, but here he is just as drawn in an untitled 1957 adventure which was Barks' only $crooge story set entirely in his youth. (UNCLE $CROOGE GOES TO DISNEYLAND #1)
  • Need I say what this is? $crooge proudly displays the find that at long last made him rich, the Goose Egg Nugget, which is catching the eye of one Glittering Goldie. And the rest, as we say, is history. ("Back to the Klondike" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #456 -- actually U$ #2)
  • I can't swear that this Barks flashback showed $crooge in his youth somewhere inside that diver's suit, but it seemed to be a reference to a much earlier time when $crooge spoke of his days salvaging sunken treasure on the Spanish Main. ("Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386 -- actual #1)
  • One of my favorite single panels of all time! The world's first view of $crooge on the streets of Dawson City during the Yukon Gold Rush! (once more from "Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386 -- actual #1)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look at the tunnel wall next to the central shoeshine boy's shoulder.


$CROOGE McDUCK'S MONEY BIN (May)

The truth is that Carl Barks never tried to decide on one single version of the Money Bin. He would always change its appearance slightly by need or whim. But he did seem to decide on a general appearance along about 1956. Here, around a central view of $crooge typically enjoying himself in his cash, I give you all of the early versions of the world-famous McDuck Money Bin!

READING IN RIGHT-TO-LEFT FASHION (NOT CLOCKWISE!) :

  • The first time that it was suggested that $crooge had all his money in cash and kept it in one "bin", literally a grain bin on a farm, was in this untitled short-story in 1951. It was an excellent (and very funny) lesson in economics, and a favorite of mine, but a story that I personally regard as perhaps a dream that $crooge had one night as it is just a bit too fantastic for me to accept... well, you'd hafta read it to know what I mean. (WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES #126)
  • The first appearance of a giant megalithic "McDuck Money Bin" on a hill in downtown Duckburg was in this untitled 1952 story. The Bin is described as being "new", but later stories described it as having been on the hill for many decades. Yes, the joke is that it's supposed to resemble a safe (with a huge combination dial) while surrounded by a moat of acid and many other boobytraps. (WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES #135)
  • Later that same year of 1952, in the very first "Uncle $crooge" story in the very first issue of UNCLE $CROOGE comics, the Money Bin jumped from the hill to a downtown street so that the plot could involve the Beagle Boys buying the adjacent lot and digging right into the Bin wall from their own building! ("Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386)
  • You could argue that this was never intended to be a permanent Money Bin, but just another one-shot idea for another Beagle Boy heist, but $crooge converted all his cash to paper currency and stored it inside this round (and easily rolled away!) Bin in 1953. (untitled story in UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #495 -- actual U$ #3)
  • Here is the most logical design for the Bin, used only once in 1955; it shows a very efficient idea of the McDuck offices attached to the actual 3-cubic-acre Bin of money. But the later cube-shape Bin has more charm! ("The Lemming with the Locket" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #9)
  • This isn't exactly how the Bin looked in the 1956 story that I cite as the first appearance of the final design, but this is how I see the classic Money Bin. The McDuck offices must be contained inside a narrow facade in front of the actual Bin in the rear, which doesn't seem very efficient or convenient for the employees, but y'gotta love it! ("The Land Beneath the Ground" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #13)
DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look in the stones in the wall near $crooge's left hand (to your right).


$CROOGE McDUCK AND THE BEAGLE BOYS (June)

The terrible, terrible Beagle Boys! The greatest, albeit most inept, crooks in comicdom! They seemed to be the only recurring villains that Carl Barks really liked -- after creating Magica DeSpell he used her for only a few years before dropping her for the last 3 years of his career, and he used Flintheart Glomgold only three times total. But the Beagle Boys were constantly attacking $crooge's Money Bin ever since the very first "Uncle $crooge" story in the very first issue of "Uncle $crooge" comics! Here I give you scenes from some, but certainly not all, of Carl Barks' most famous Beagle Boy attacks.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • In their first two appearances, The Beagle Boys were not wearing their later prison uniforms. They seemed to be a "street gang"... a "crook fraternity"... perhaps not even related to one another. They had the name of their club on their T-shirts and wore simple baseball caps (if created nowadays rather than in 1951, I guess those caps would be worn backwards to further demonstrate their low mentality). (untitled story -- WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #135)
  • The BB's try (very unsuccessfully) to imitate $crooge's demonstration of how he dives into his money, in the very first "Uncle $crooge" story. ("Only a Poor Old Man" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #386 -- actual #1)
  • To balance the first appearance of the baseball-capped BB's on the left, here on the right I give them to you still similarly garbed in their second appearance one mere month later, chipping $crooge's money out of a block of ice. (untitled story -- WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #136)
  • The BB's reveal themselves to our heroes who thought they were ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors in the untitled story about $crooge's search for the Seven Cities of Cibola. (UNCLE $CROOGE #7)
  • Imitating another ancient ghost with a pirate cut-out and a lighthouse beacon. ("The Strange Shipwrecks" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #23)
  • The BB's become astronauts in a snazzy spaceship to beat $crooge to a golden planetoid. ("The 24-Carat Moon" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #24)
  • $crooge buried his money underground but the BB's hit a gusher with their oil-drilling rig. ("The Money Well" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #21)
  • $crooge hides his money in trees but the BB's invent a giant tree-cutter-shredder. ("The Paul Bunyan Machine" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #28)
  • The BB's have stolen a portable petrifying-ray machine from a mad professor who loves cabbage in an untitled story (UNCLE $CROOGE #8)
  • If only the Money Bin were as small as it is in this story when it was hit by a shrinking ray, it would be much easier to steal, but then the money inside wouldn't be worth so much! ("Billions in the Hole" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #33)
  • Two disguised BB's, one as a robot seaman and another as the ship's skipper, planning to hijack $crooge's fortune hidden in cans in the hold of a freighter in an untitled story about Hawaii. (UNCLE $CROOGE #4)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look in the grid pattern on the rear end of the Paul Bunyan machine (to the right of the oil derrick).


$CROOGE McDUCK'S GREATEST TREASURES (July)

Oboy! I enjoyed designing this one! My favorite Carl Barks stories are the great treasure hunts! I was so inspired that I created an interesting symmetry to this page design. At least I think I did. But you might accuse me of also "cheating" a bit by including some items that are more like "trophies" than valuable treasures. Further cheating in the central scene combining two adventures that took place in frigid climes. $crooge wears the Crown of Genghis Khan ("The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #14) while sampling the taste of frozen Bombastium ("A Cold Bargain" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #17). Oh, okay, and I cheated again by drawing $crooge's penguin pal smaller than life-size, but I didn't want her to dominate the scene. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • The "ghost of Sir Quackly" threatens an early version of $crooge McDuck in his second appearance in comics and his very first treasure hunt story! ("The Old Castle's Secret" -- DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #189)
  • The world's only 1916 quarter, a coin $crooge made so rare that he himself was the only person rich enough to buy it from him! Whups! (untitled Atlantis adventure -- UNCLE $CROOGE #5)
  • $crooge orbits his own solid gold planetoid. ("The 24-Carat Moon" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #24)
  • $crooge swims in the treasure bins of just one of the Seven Cities of Cibola while the booby-trapped Emerald Idol leers ominously. (untitled -- UNCLE $CROOGE #7)
  • Okay, so that Grecian urn might not be worth so much except as a trophy, but it was very valuable to the Terries and Fermies. ("The Land Beneath the Ground" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #13)
  • An ol' rock that turns base metal to solid gold... is that more valuable than an ol' urn? Okay! ("The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #10)
  • Just one treasure from the bottom of a flooded sacrificial pit in Central America. ("The Crown of the Mayas" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #44)
  • The GOOSE EGG NUGGET!!! ("Back to the Klondike" -- UNCLE $CROOGE FOUR COLOR #456 -- actual #2)
  • Discovering some very famous diggings! ("The Mines of King Solomon" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #19)
  • The Candy-Striped Ruby! ("The Status Seeker" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #41)
  • Diving for the Pearls of the Kuku Maru protected by a Hindu idol. ("Deep Down Doings" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #37)
  • Turning more metal into gold, this time with Vulcan's Hammer. ("Mythtic Mystery" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #34)
  • Running from the Sleepless Dragon with Jason's Golden Fleece. ("The Golden Fleecing" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #12)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look in the Emerald Idol's headdress.


MONSTERS! (August)

I'm having more fun with these tribute posters as I go along! This time I give you the best giant or supernatural (and a few phony) monsters that $crooge McDuck faced in the stories by his creator, Carl Barks. And I knew which character had to be in the central scene -- Bombie the Zombie ("Voodoo Hoodoo" -- DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #238). Yes, I know $crooge did not actually meet Bombie face-to-face in that story, but $crooge was the fellow to whom Bombie was trying to deliver that booby-trapped voodoo doll. And in that early story in $crooge's history, Barks did not yet even draw him as I show him here. So, I may have taken some "artistic liberties", but it was worth it if it means I can make my pal Bombie the central monster on this page!

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • A rather inexplicable being from a later Barks story, that's the Wild Girl who lived with dingoes in Australia. ("Queen of the Wild Dog Pack" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #62)
  • Coming up now are what are actually three phony monsters. First, this hotel-bellboy "ghost" turned out to be fake (Barks did not like supernatural concepts in his stories), but it makes a nice visual addition to a "MONSTERS!" page. ("The Mystery of the Ghost Town Railroad" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #56)
  • Another fake "ghost", supposedly the spirit of Sir Quackly McDuck protecting his jewel box in $crooge McDuck's first ever treasure hunt. ("The Old Castle's Secret" -- DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #189)
  • One more fake monster from Castle McDuck, this one a disguised member of the McDucks' ancient rival clan, the lowlander Whiskervilles. ("The Hound of the Whiskervilles" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #29)
  • One of my childhood favorites, the Sleepless Dragon who protected Jason's Golden Fleece in Colchis. ("The Golden Fleecing" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #12)
  • Across the bottom I give you three giant-size monsters that $crooge has encountered. First is one of the legendary Rocs that $crooge faced in an adventure that seems to have only been a dream. ("The Cave of Ali Baba" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #37)
  • In the center is a giant jellyfish that attacked $crooge's submarine while he was carrying the Candy-Stripe Ruby. ("The Status Seeker" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #41)
  • One of the huge robots that were commandeered by the Beagle Boys to loot the McDuck Money Bin! ("The Giant Robot Robbers" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #58)
  • Another all-time favorite! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the one, the only, Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas! ("The Lost Crown of Genghis Khan" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #14)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look on the Sleepless Dragon's big Jay-Leno chin.


$CROOGE McDUCK'S LOST REALMS (September)

This page is a tribute to all the wondrous lost lands and special places that Carl Barks created for $crooge McDuck's adventures! These scenes get more fun to do as we go along, and this one might have been the most fun of all... but a LOT of @#$%& work! The greatest lost realm that I think $crooge ever visited is easily the wonderful valley of peace and harmony, milk and honey, Tralla La; in the central scene, I represent the valley in the person of one of the Tralla Lalian (?) leaders as he shows $crooge the wonders of his happy land.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • Across the page top I give you three famous castles/palaces from $crooge's adventures. First, even though it might not really be a "lost realm", and not even very pretty to look at, still, one of the most important estates in $crooge's life is Castle McDuck on a remote Scottish moor. ("The Old Castle's Secret" -- DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #189)
  • Top center is no less than the castle of Valhalla that $crooge encountered on an errant asteroid. ("Mythtic Mystery" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #34)
  • The remote and mist-shrouded city of Colchis where the Harpies guard Jason's Golden Fleece. ("The Golden Fleecing" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #12)
  • Here we have the lost city of Tangkor Wat somewhere in an Indochina jungle. ("The City of Golden Roofs" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #20)
  • Here's another beautiful lost valley, this one hiding the gold mines of the ancient Incas (though Tralla La didn't have these nasty booby-traps that greeted $crooge's arrival). ("The Prize of Pizarro" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #26)
  • Below the ruins of his palace on the Isle of Crete, at the end of the famous Labyrinth maze, was found the treasure-filled secret throne room of King Minos. ("The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #10)
  • I couldn't fit them all in this tiny view, but I give you at least five of the Seven Cities of Cibola! (untitled story in UNCLE $CROOGE #7)
  • Here you can see regiments of Terries and Fermies marching through... Terry Fermy! ("The Land Beneath the Ground" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #13)
  • The lost city of Atlantis surrounded by its guardian whales (untitled story in UNCLE $CROOGE #5)
  • With its famous whirlpool seeming to lead down to Atlantis, I give you the wonderful valley of Tralla La (with its mountainous walls severely shortened to fit them into the tiny scene). (another untitled story in UNCLE $CROOGE #6)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: In the Incan valley, look at the nearer of the two walls where the spring-loaded blade awaits unwary invaders.


FLINTHEART GLOMGOLD (October)

For me, Flintheart is the greatest $crooge villain since he is, in the tradition of all great pulp fiction, our hero's "evil twin"! But as famous a villain as Flintheart has become in 6 decades of $crooge McDuck adventures, the fact is that his creator Carl Barks only used Flinty three times! First in 1956, the next time over 3 years later, then one final time a full seven years after that. Flintheart has gained his real fame in the many $crooge stories created by Egmont in and for Europe. But since this is a series of Barks tribute pages, that leaves me with the tricky job here of using scenes from only those three stories! Well, okay, let's try it. I start with a central scene of a classic "generic" face-off between the world's two richest tycoons.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • Fighting! ("The Second-Richest Duck" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #15)
  • The Glomgold Money Bin at his home base in the Valley of the Limpopo, South Africa. (U$ #15)
  • More fighting! ("The Money Champ" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #27)
  • Flintheart firing rockets at $crooge's jet! ("So Far and No Safari" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #61)
  • $crooge (or at least his hat) being hit with a glob of a witch doctor's shrink potion fired by Flintheart. (U$ #27)
  • The end of the great string-ball competition to be Richest Man in the World -- it's a tie? (U$ #15)
  • No more fighting... now only cussing! (U$ #15).
  • The great silver dollar competition to be the World's Money Champ! (U$ #27)
  • Oh, no! They got loose! They're at it again!!! (U$ #15)
  • $crooge's jet being hit by Flinty's rockets from the opposite side of my drawing! Good aim! (U$ #61)
  • Flintheart firing the shrink-potion glob at $crooge with his giant cannon, itself already a victim of its own ruptured ammunition pouch! (U$ #27)
  • The beginning of the great string-ball competition to be Richest Man in the World (U$ #15) ...but the richest tycoon on earth, as we all know, will now and forever be Carl Barks' $crooge McDuck!!!

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look in the strands near his foot on $crooge's large ball-of-string.


MAGICA deSPELL (November)

While the Beagle Boys wanted the largest part of $crooge's money (all of it!), this femme fatale wanted the smallest part... only one thin ten-cent piece. But that dime was THE Dime, the first coin $crooge ever earned. According to Magica's (and $crooge's) creator Carl Barks, she wanted to use that coin to forge a magic amulet that would give her the Midas Touch... not because the Dime had magical good-luck abilities of its own, but for the opposite reason of it having powers that $crooge himself had given the coin by handling it since his childhood. (Another aspect of Barks' original concept for Magica deSpell that I like to harp on is that she is not the supernatural "witch" she is often portrayed as in European tales -- she is a normal person who has studied the mystic art of sorcery.) Barks only used Magica for a few years of his career, from late 1961 to mid 1964, then seemed to go back to using the Beagle Boys as $crooge's only recurring villain(s). I picked some classic Magica poses from specific stories, but most of which might have appeared in any Magica story created in the past 46 years. And they are arranged around a "generic" central scene of Magica again gaining possession of the #1 Dime, though we know it's, as always, only temporary!

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP-LEFT:

  • Look out! FOOF BOMBS! ("Ten Cent Valentine" -- WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES #258)
  • Magica's famous Sorcery Shoppe on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy (I stuck some other volcano in the distance, for effect). Looking on are the two spies sent by $crooge to keep the shop under surveillance. ("The Many Faces of Magica deSpell" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #48)
  • Magica gives a Beagle Boy some lightning in his gabardines in a rare team-up. ("The Isle of Golden Geese" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #45)
  • One of Magica's many near successes in melting the #1 Dime to make her amulet. (In an earlier page, I already used a scene of the traditional melting method using the fires of Vesuvius.) ("Oddball Odyssey" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #40)
  • A typical magical disguise. ("For Old Dime's Sake" -- UNCLE $CROOGE #43)
  • Magica uses a nice fly-fishing technique to glom the Dime on the opposite side of the drawing. ("Raven Mad" -- WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES #265)
  • The sorceress casts a spell to summon a fiery meteor from outer space to smash the Money Bin! (U$ #43)
  • Magica strikes a sexy pose! Sophia Loren, eat your heart out! (U$ #40)
  • The sorceress casts another spell, this time to summon a comet from the heavens! (U$ #43)
  • Magica's pet raven Ratface gloats at the seemingly defeated $crooge. (U$ #48)
  • Magica's fly-fishing cast from the other side of the page is about to snag Ol' #1 from a public display (foolish $crooge!) with that wad of stickum! (WDC&S #265)
  • How could I not include a generic potion-mixing scene? (U$ #48)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: look in the flames in the comet's head.


Sixty-ONE Christmases with Uncle $crooge (December)

After the first 11 pin-ups, my problem was how to think up a "big finish" for this series commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first appearance of Carl Barks' Uncle $crooge McDuck? My first idea, in typical movie-buff style, was a big ACTION SCENE! One topic I had not yet explored was to try to highlight all of Barks' great action panels. In fact, I still think the greatest single panel of comic book art of all time is the half-page of the Money Dam breaking in "Only a Poor Old Man" in the very first issue of the American UNCLE $CROOGE comic in 1952. I figured I'd make the 12th pin-up double-size to span two pages, and enable me to fit in all the Panavision-size scenes of leaping sea monsters and collapsing Seven-Cities. But soon I realized that either publishers were already using my pin-ups as double-page spreads or they were limited by their product and couldn't use a double-size scene. So I needed a new idea... In an e-mail exchange of ideas with Duckfan Sigvald Grøsfjeld, he mentioned some famous Barks $crooge stories that I had not yet featured in the first 11 pin-ups, and I noticed that there were several Christmas stories on his list. This got me to thinking... the 12th pin-up would appear at Christmas, the true and exact 60th anniversary of $crooge's first appearance! The first appearance of $crooge was in a Christmas story in a Christmas issue! In fact, Barks' name for his new character (in the American originals) was "Scrooge" after the character in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"... if $crooge McDuck had first appeared in a story at any other time of year, Barks probably would have named him "John Rockerduck" or a name indicating a *wealthy* character. But Barks had given his character a Christmas name... Dickens' "Ebenezer Scrooge" was not especially wealthy, he was just greedy and sour. So my answer was to have the "big finish" pin-up spotlight $crooge McDuck as a Christmas character created for a Christmas story. And this is now his sixty-FIRST Christmas appearance!

  • In the upper left & right corners of the page appear $crooge offering Donald the Bear disguise worn in that first story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" (DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #178).
  • Spanning the entire page below that is the scene of $crooge leading his parade of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" (though I cheated and only drew about two-thirds of the participants) from the story "The Thrifty Spendthrift" in UNCLE $CROOGE #47.
  • Below the end of the parade, clockwise down the right side, is a horse poorly disguised as a reindeer, pulling the rented sled seen on the opposite side of the page -- more on that later.
  • Next is a shot from the untitled Christmas story in WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES #148 where Donald tries to trick Uncle $crooge out of a free Christmas feast by disguising himself as a fellow millionaire businessman.
  • Below that is a special entry -- this is a combined scene from the LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK #D84 published in 1960. Barks provided the art for this illustrated children's storybook about $crooge's nephews disguising themselves as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future and causing their uncle to experience the Dickens story of his namesake character.
  • In the lower-right corner is a scene from "Christmas in Duckburg", the Barks story appearing in CHRISTMAS PARADE #9. Yes, that's a giant Christmas Tree being hoisted atop a Ferris Wheel next to Duckburg City Hall; I won't try to explain it! Read the story!
  • Mid-bottom -- a special central spot had to be found for a scene from "Christmas for Shacktown", many a Duckfan's favorite Barks story, from DONALD DUCK FOUR COLOR #367.
  • In the lower-left is one of my favorite Barks Christmas stories from CHRISTMAS IN DISNEYLAND #1 when the Ducks enjoy a white Christmas (due to volcanic ash) on a tropical island while hunting black pearls.
  • Going up the left side we next have a scene from another Christmas treasure hunt -- a submarine search for a sunken ocean liner in the untitled story from WDC&S #172.
  • Finally, to complete the scene started by the flea-bitten horse on the opposite side, you see $crooge forcing Donald to dress up as a cut-rate Santa Claus to fool Huey, Dewey and Louie in "A Letter to Santa" from CHRISTMAS PARADE #1. You might recall that I also featured this very early $crooge appearance way back in my first pin-up in this series, 11 months ago!
  • (There were only two U$ Xmas stories that I didn't include -- "You Can't Guess" from CHRISTMAS PARADE #2, and "The Christmas Cha Cha" from CHRISTMAS PARADE / DELL GIANT #26. But there were no usable scenes with U$ in either one.)

DUCKHUNTER SPOILER: Check the whatchacallits on the drummers' hats in the upper left.

And that completes my twelve 60th anniversary celebrations for Carl Barks' creation of the great $crooge McDuck, my favorite character in fiction!


The twelve posters in this blog post are © Disney and were scanned from a copy of the Finnish Roope-Setä Don Rosa calendar 2008 that Don kindly gave me that day. Click on any poster to see a much more detailed version of it. To reveal the yellow spoilers, "select" them with your mouse---but first look for the D.U.C.K. on your own, or you'll miss all the fun! Note also that each poster is signed by Don! That's quite unusual for his Disney art. See what happens to the signature as months go by...

8 comments:

D. Blücher said...

Frank I really appreciate your interviews with Don, It´s nice to hear him answer in his real voice. And not only in the "text voice"

But what happened to the audio (Mp3) it wasn't very long? It ended After Don says: or at least emphasize them again.
And the text continues...

And Don if you reading this I`m very happy that you did start working on the Barks world. I treasured your comics when I first saw them as a kid and I still treasure them now as an adult.

I´m collecting your comics in the book series: Walt Disney´s Hall of Fame ( the Swedish version). I hope that you get some royalty from it.
PS The 12 Scrooge posters are good I especially like: $CROOGE'S EARLY LIFE (April)

Frank said...

Thanks, D, I'm glad you like the interviews and yes, the whole point of this podcast was to let people hear the stuff in the author's own voice. It makes a world of difference!

The audio stops where it should, which is where you say. The text on the page continues but that's something that Don TYPED, not something he said to me. It's the text he sent to the various publishers to go with his posters. That's why there's no audio for that.

D. Blücher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pertwillaby said...

This was great as usual Frank! Is this the last part of the interview series? I hope not!

Pencils & Inks Comic Art said...

I love this series! Don is always great fun to listen to:) One of the worlds foremost duck experts! I hope there's more to come still, and if not, its time for another trip!

-j

Frank said...

@Pertwillaby: thanks a lot, my regular visitor! No, it most definitely wasn't the last part. The next installment, whenever it appears, is going to deal with the alter-ego of your namesake---Captain Kentucky.

Frank said...

@Pencils: thank you! Yes, Don is great fun to listen to (Hey! Waaay over theeeere! It's a Donald Duck comic!!!!); yes, he's one of the greatest duck experts, and yes, there is a lot more to come! I wish this were my day job and I could put out a new piece once a week...

At this rate, I'm probably going to visit Don again even before the January 2008 interview (never mind the July 2008 one) is fully transcribed and published!

Saxofonmannen™ said...

Excellent blog! Keep it up!

-Øyvind J. Karstad