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Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "A Christmas For Shacktown" (Vol. 0) (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library) Hardcover – November 22, 2012
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About the Author
Carl Barks (1901-2000) spent most of his life in Oregon. In 1987, he was one of the three inaugural inductees in the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame (along with Eisner and Jack Kirby). He's also a Disney Legend.
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Carl Barks is one of the all time great comic writer/artists and volume 11 presents some of his most famous stories. Unlike fellow Disney cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson, Barks preferred to keep his creations separate from the rest of the Disney universe so you'll never, for instance, see Mickey Mouse wander into a story. It was Barks who created Duckburg, Gladstone Gander, Scrooge McDuck, The Junior Woodchucks and The Beagle Boys and Barks preferred to stick with his creations. It's interesting that Donald lives in a city called Duckburg since he, Daisy and his family appear to be the only ducks in town. If I had one complaint about Barks art it would be that most of the residents of Duckburg are flesh colored humanoids with animal snouts and floppy ears. Gottfredson went with fully anthropomorphic animal characters but Barks' appear more like human mutants.
One story with Gyro Gearloose brings up a dilemma that Floyd Gottfredson found himself in; how do you mix anthropomorphic animals with real animals and why do some animals have human intelligence and others animal intelligence. Gearloose invents a machine that gives intelligence to animals including a wolf and rabbit who become capable of speaking with Donald who is of course a duck. If that were not weird enough the wolf disguises itself as a resident of Duckburg with the pink skin, animal snout and floppy ears and considers himself disguised as a dog. So now Disney has Goofy (an anthropomorphic dog), Pluto (an actual dog) and now pink skinned bipedal dog like creatures. As if that weren't enough the ducks refer to themselves as "human beings" and in one scene the duck family comes across some ducks stuffed and mounted and they look real so just like with dogs there appear to be anthropomorphic ducks and real ducks.
I may not love the rendering of the pink skinned animal hybrids but in every other way Barks art is spectacular. Not only is he consistent and clean in his drawing of the ducks but his backgrounds are often magnificent. Barks was able to give scope and size to his art that seems to defy the limitations of his medium. In one comic the bottom drops out of Scrooge McDuck's moneybin and the gapping hole that Barks draws looks absolutely massive. Barks was also able to draw landscapes like South American jungles and Polynesian islands in gorgeous detail. Barks high quality is far above other comic artists working at the time. He also wrote exceptionally smart stories. The ducks are very intelligent and resourceful and good role models for children. When I was young reading these stories I felt like I was being both entertained and informed at the same time.
Fantagraphics always does a great job with their comic collections and this one is no exception. I'm not thrilled with the covers of the Complete Carl Barks Disney Library but besides that it's a top notch job. The dimensions of the books are the same size as the original comics and the colors are beautiful. The book finishes with some informative essay's on each of the stories featured in the volume and a short biography on Carl Barks. Between the Carl Barks collection and Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, fans of Disney comics can hardly ask for more.
Growing up I read many Walt Disney Comics. One of my main sources was the great "Walt Disney Comics Digest" put out by Gold Key Comics/Western Publications. I liked many of the comics they reprinted, but among the best were the "duck stories", especially the longer Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge adventures, by Carl Barks (tho like many of us, I would learn who Barks was many years later).
There have been many attempts at reprinting this material. The most recently was the softcover volumes by Gladstone comics of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stuff (include Gyro Gearloose). I have some of those, but not all.
I figured what with all the Duck stuff I'd read, that I would be familiar with most of the stuff, atleast the longer stories. So its interesting to see 'new' stuff.
While this one is a Donald Duck volume, you have Uncle Scrooge in several, along with Donald's nephews, cousin Gladstone Gander, and Gyro Gearloose.
There are several long stories:
"A Christmas for Shacktown"- a story of giving, but also one that includes info on Uncle Scrooge's Money Bin (which in the stories in this volume takes on its final form). This story has Daisy, Donald, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, and Louise, and Gladstone Gander.
"Big Bin on Killmotor Hill", which has Uncle Scrooge bin on Killmotor Hill. This story also introduces the Beagle Boys.
"Gladstone's Usual Good Year" is one of several stories that focuses on super lucky Gladstone Gander. Another is "Gladstone's Terrible Secret" and a third is "Gemstone Hunters".
"The Screaming Cowboy" is another funny Donald & nephews story.
"Statuesque Spendthrifts", while a Donald story, is more of an Uncle Scrooge. This is a new one for me, with Scrooge competing against another claimant to being the richest man in the world.
"Think Box Bollix" is more of a Gearloose story, tho it stars Donald.
"The Golden Helmet" is a classic Donald Duck adventure story. Don Rosa did a sequel to it, and the pair were reprinted in the last of Gemstone Barks/Rosa collections (which I sadly missed).
"The Gilded Man" is another classic Donald Duck adventure story that I've heard of, but never read.
"Houseboat Holiday" is a nice little Donald & nephews stories.
"Spending Money" is a funny story with Donald and Uncle Scrooge.
The volume is filled out with various short 1-4 page stories.
At the end of the volume, we get some great set of story notes.
I look forward to the next volume, which has already been announced.