Friday, August 11, 2006

Carl Barks


In the early years between the time I could only grasp the meaning of books through pictures and the period where I was finally able to read properly, Disney comics ruled my world. Superheroes were too frightening and european bande-dessinées like Tintin or Astérix were sold only on bookstores and too expensive for small kids, or at least this small kid's parents. Disney comics were cheap and accessible, available at any newsagent, therefore dominating most of my reading diet during those days.

There were tons of comics back then.You went to any newsagent and they could have a whole wall devoted to comics... and most of those were brazilian editions featuring Disney characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy... and Uncle Scrooge.

I wasn't a comic book geek yet, even if well on the way to become one, so the only thing that really mattered to me were the stories. IMO, the geeker you get with these things, be it comics, films or whatever, you start shifting from the interest in the content, the actual stories, to the characters, to the formal aspects, to the authors and ultimately to the medium itself - its mechanics, its business and its semiotics. Back then, I was plain and simply interested in having fun, so the story came first. And story, in comics at least, means words and pictures - and the best words and pictures, in Disney comics, almost invariably came on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories, although there were these pretty good Mickey Mouse comics too... but that's for another story. Slowly, I started to recognize a pattern, a way in which these particular stories I found so appealing were superior to all others - it was the way Uncle Scrooge, Donald and his nephews were drawn, as if they were alive; and the world in which they lived, as if Duckburg really existed somewhere; and the adventures they had, with references to stuff I might hear about on t.v. ... Whenever I was allowed to get a new comic, I'd first look inside and check which one brought stories by the "good" duck artist - that'd be the one I get.

Then, onde day, Editora Abril, the publisher responsible for those editions, released a thick, 200 page edition dedicated to Carl Barks. Who was this guy? What did he have to do with Uncle Scrooge? Weren't all these stories signed by Walt Disney? Soon I found out and was finally able to name the comic book artist whose artstyle I first learned to recognize : Carl Barks, the "Good" Duck Artist.

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