Don Rosa is one of the most original and conspicious present-day Disney artists. In 1966, "Duck Man" Carl Barks retired, after twenty-five years of drawing and writing Duck family stories. Most the artists and writers that tried their hand on the Duck universe in the years that followed, took Barks' oeuvre as starting point. But it is Don Rosa who took the work of Carl Barks to a further extent. By elaborating on fragments of Barks stories, he assembled the big series 'The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck', in which he probed into the origins of Scrooge McDuck's riches. Don Rosa's fantastic stories and sometimes bizarre drawings, which are sometimes closer to underground than to mainstream Disney stories, gained him a loyal following of fans.
Keno Don Rosa was born in Louisville, Kentucky to parents of Italian and German origins. At an early age, Rosa got acquainted with the Disney comic books by Dell Publishing and thus the work of Carl Barks. When he was at college, Rosa drew a satirical comic called 'Perwillaby Papers' for his school's newspaper. In 1973, he obtained his Bachalor of Arts from the University. Afterwards, he went to work in his family's company as a tiler. In his spare time, he continued his 'Perwillaby Papers' comic, this time for The Rocket's Blast Comic Collector fanzine. In 1979, he took on a weekly comic for a local newspaper, the Louisville Times. He drew 150 stories with 'Captain Kentucky' over three years, after which he called it a day, and stopped making comics until 1986.
In that year, he got inspired by a renewed acquaintance with the work of Carl Barks. He contacted Byron Erickson, chief editor of Gladstone, the publisher of Disney comics at the time, and got permission to draw an 'Uncle Scrooge' story. The story, 'The Son of the Sun', was an instant hit and even got nominated for a Harvey Award. Gladstone assigned Rosa to do more Duck stories, who then sold his tiling company to work fulltime in comics.
Until 1989, Rosa produced several stories for Gladstone, and an occasional one for the Dutch publisher Oberon. After a dispute about his originals, Rosa left Gladstone and went to do some scriptwriting for the magazine DuckTales and the television series 'Talespin'. He eventually returned to Disney comics again, which he made for the Danish publisher Egmont from then on.
Rosa's work is full of references to Carl Barks. In the early stories of 'The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck', he sometimes even redrew some Barks frames, and many of his stories are sequels to the master's stories. In the first frame of his stories, he usually hides the text "D.U.C.K.", which stands for "Dedicated to Unca Carl from Keno." Don Rosa uses actual timelines in his stories. Considering that Scrooge searched for gold in Klondike in the 1880s, Rosa even went so far as to state that Uncle Scrooge died in 1967, at 100 years old. Therefore, the stories that are in the present, are actually situated in the 1950s and 1960s. By recording all these facts and even dates in full detail, critics say that Rosa spoils the magic of the Duck universe, as created by Carl Barks. Rosa's followers on the other hand see these explorations as an honour to the original "Duck Man." Suffice it to say that Rosa is at least one of the most interesting of today's Disney artists, with a small production of about two stories a year, that are always eagerly awaited by his fans.