Thirtieth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
Just like any writer or anybody who likes to write, I’m a voracious reader. I’m always reading at least two books and I read the newspaper daily and two magazines per month. However, I first began enjoying reading that much due mainly to one character: Uncle Scrooge. You could safely say I was addicted to his stories and the characters that surrounded him when I was just a young kid of about seven or eight.
Uncle Scrooge was the nickname of a character named Scrooge McDuck; product of the brilliant mind of one person: Carl Barks.
Carl Barks was born March 27, 1901 in Merrill (OR). He had a lonely childhood because he lived in a farm with no neighbors, school only had 8 or 9 students and he had very little in common with his brother, Clyde.
Much to his disappointment, Carl had to quit his school at only 15 due to his severe hearing problems. He then started moving from job to job and, according to his own accounts, learned how to satirize the worst troubles of life with his fellow workers. Carl said this would hugely influence his works on Donald Duck and his best known character: Scrooge McDuck.
Carl’s favorite hobby was drawing and when he turned 16 he decided to take a correspondence course. Although he stopped after four lessons he says it was important to develop his style.
In 1935 after a failed attempt at finding a job in San Francisco (CA) and a move to Minneapolis (MN), Carl learned that Disney studios were looking for more artists. He was selected for a try-out, hired and moved to Los Angeles (CA).
Barks quickly gained status as a great Donald Duck stories creator, but due to emerging wartime conditions and a sinus problem caused by the studio air-conditioning, Barks quit Disney in 1942.
Soon after quitting, he was hired by Western Publishing to contribute both the script and art for Donald Duck stories on the monthly Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. And that’s when Carl bloomed and wrote his name in history.
His stories were longer and had complex plots and he surrounded Donald and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie with a cast of great characters: obviously Uncle Scrooge, the lucky Gladstone Gander, inventor Gyro Gearloose, the thieves Beagle Boys, sorceress Magica De Spell, Scrooge’s rivals Flintheart Glomgold, and John D. Rockerduck, Daisy’s nieces April, May and June, Donald’s neighbor Jones,The Junior Woodchucks organization and the city of Duckburg.
Even without traveling a lot, Carl managed to put Donald and his cast of characters around the world in search of treasures and lost cities. These stories were instrumental in my life, stimulating not only my love for reading but mainly my imagination. I dreamt about having an adventure with Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck and the nephews. I even made a point of buying a stuffed Uncle Scrooge the first time I went to Disneyworld!
Carl, as with most of people who worked for Disney, remained anonymous until fans started recognizing his style and discovered him. He was nicknamed The Good Duck Artist.
After retirement, Carl started appearing at Comic Cons around the world, always with an overwhelming response from fans, and later sold oil paintings of his characters.
Barks’ Uncle Scrooge adventure stories are often quoted as influence by many Hollywood filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who publicly admitted that the opening scene on Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by the story “The Seven Cities of Cibola”. George Lucas called Barks’ stories “a priceless part of our literary heritage”.
Therefore, coming all the way from Duckburg, it’s my distinguished pleasure to welcome Carl Barks into the Hall of Idols.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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