Donald Duck by Carl Barks
Donald Duck, from Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #68 - © Disney.

Carl Barks is - together with Floyd Gottfredson - the grandmaster of Disney comics. While Gottfredson established 'Mickey Mouse' as a comic character in the newspapers, Barks did the same for 'Donald Duck' in the comic books. Both combined high quality illustration work with a talent for captivating storytelling. Each artist enriched their characters' universe with colourful and recurring personalities, who are still used by many Disney comic artists today. Yet the admiration for Barks goes further, almost to cult levels. Compared with many other "funny animal comics" his characters feel more real, believable and relatable. Donald and his nephews are portrayed far more intelligent and sympathetically than their original cartoon versions. They aren't just one-note personalities but complex individuals with mood changes like any other normal human being. They received a hometown, Duckburg, with many unforgettable inhabitants like Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose and his Little Helper, Neighbor Jones, Magica DeSpell, The Beagle Boys and Donald's multimillionaire uncle Scrooge who eventually became the star of his own series. From this location Donald and co. could travel the entire world, which gives the comics a more epic feel. Many stories revolve around treasure hunts and escapist adventures in exotic settings. But Barks also excelled in clever satire, funny gag-based stories and moralistic, yet never preachy tales. This scope and versatility made him one of the most important and influential comic creators of all time. His stories have all become classics and are still widely read among all ages today. 

Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks
'Christmas for Shacktown' (1952) - © Disney.

Early life and career
Carl Barks was born in 1901 on a ranch in Merrill, Oregon. He spent his childhood working on the farm, studying agriculture and drawing. In 1918, he left for San Francisco to try his luck in illustration, inspired by cartoonists like Winsor McCay and Frederick Burr Opper. Later in life he expressed admiration for the work of Roy Crane, Harold Foster, Alex Raymond, E.C. Segar and Milton Caniff. He had no success, and returned to Oregon, where he held several odd jobs, including farmer, woodcutter, turner, mule driver, cowboy and printer. This life as a "Jack of all trades" served as a fruitful source of inspiration for his 'Donald Duck' stories. By 1923, Barks had his first cartoons published in Judge magazine, and especially in The Calgary Eye-Opener. In the following years, Barks drew several erotic cartoons for this men's magazine from Minneapolis.

Cartoon from the Calgary Eye Opener by Carl Barks
Cartoon from the Calgary Eye Opener.

Animation career 
In 1935, Barks found employment at the Walt Disney Studios, where he was hired as an inbetweener. He was soon transferred to the story department, where he worked as a gag writer and storyboard artist, alongside Jack Hannah. The man predominantly worked on cartoons starring Donald Duck. He has cooperated on the shorts 'Modern Inventions' (1937), 'Donald's Ostrich' (1937), 'Self Control' (1938), 'Donald's Better Self' (1938), 'Donald's Nephews' (1938), 'Good Scouts' (1938), 'Donald's Golf Game' (1938), 'Donald's Lucky Day' (1939), 'The Hockey Champ' (1939), 'Donald's Cousin Gus' (1939), 'Beach Picnic' (1939), 'Sea Scouts' (1939), 'Mr. Duck Steps Out' (1940), 'Donald's Penguin' (1939), 'Bone Trouble' (1940), 'Put-Put Troubles' (1940), 'Donald's Vacation' (1940), 'Window Cleaners' (1940), 'Fire Chief' (1940), 'Timber' (1941), 'Golden Eggs' (1941), 'Early to Bed' (1941), 'Truant Officer Donald' (1941), 'Old MacDonald Duck' (1941), 'Chef Donald' (1941), 'The Village Smithy' (1942), 'Donald's Snow Fight' (1942), 'Donald Gets Drafted' (1942), 'The Army Mascot' (1942), 'Donald's Gold Mine' (1942), 'The Vanishing Private' (1942), 'Sky Trooper' (1942), 'Bellboy Donald' (1942), 'The Spirit of '43' (1943), 'Donald's Tire Trouble' (1943), 'The Old Army Game' (1943), 'Home Defense' (1943) and 'Trombone Trouble' (1944). Barks always preferred Donald over other Disney characters, because he felt Goofy was too dumb and Mickey's heroic stature made him too restrictive. Several characters who would later reappear in Barks' comics already debuted in some of these animated shorts, including Donald's nephews Huey, Louie and Dewey (1938), cousin Gus Goose (1939) and Donald's love interest Daisy Duck (1940). In 'The Spirit of '43' (1943) Donald is adviced by a stereotypical thrifty Scotsman who shares some resemblance to the Uncle Scrooge character Barks would develop five years later. 

Daisy Duck and Gladstone Gander
Donald with Daisy and Gladstone Gander (Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #95) - © Disney.

Donald Duck comics
In the early 1940s Barks cooperated on a 'Donald Duck' feature-length movie project titled 'Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold'. When it was cancelled, Barks, Hannah and writer Bob Karp turned the storyboards into a comic book, 'Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold' (1942), published in Dell Publishing's 'Four Color Comics' series. Barks wasn't the first to draw a comic strip based on Donald Duck. Al Taliaferro already drew a succesful 'Donald' newspaper gag comic since 1938. And in the UK and Italy there had already been non-official 'Donald Duck' adventure stories by respectively William A. Ward and Federico Pedrocchi. But Barks was the first American to draw a full-length adventure comic starring Donald. Nevertheless he went into retirement soon afterwards. He was already a 40-year old man and didn't connect with the much younger and energetic animators in the studio. The studio's air conditioning also worsened his already bad hearing problems. Last but not least in late 1941 the studio was commissioned by the U.S. government to create war-time propaganda cartoons, which he didn't enjoy working on. Barks went back to Southern California to start his own chicken farm. Yet as fate would have it, Western Publishing contacted him to write and draw more 'Donald Duck' stories for their monthly comic book Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. They liked his work well enough to give him complete creative freedom within the strict Disney house rules. Barks took this opportunity to reshape Donald into a different, more engaging personality and his universe to more ambitious levels...

Lost in the Andes, by Carl Barks
'Lost in the Andes' (1949) - © Disney.

Donald Duck: character development
Between 1943 and 1966 Barks created hundreds of stories starring Donald Duck. He took the rather one-dimensional angry duck from the cartoons and newspaper comics and gave him more depth. Donald could still act stupid and aggressive, but he expressed a much wider range of emotions in Barks' comics. This was a necessary move, since Barks' stories could be gag comics as well as longer adventure stories. Readers now saw that Donald could be reasonable, patient, uncertain, sympathetic, frightened, depressed, self-critical, even occasionally brilliant at times, just like real people. His unluckiness is still played for laughs, yet Barks portrayed him more as a sympathetic underdog (or "underduck"). Sometimes he ruins his own chances, but he can also be a victim of unexpected circumstances or hostile people. Many readers have been moved by Donald's frequent financial troubles and struggle to keep a job. Barks also made the bond between Donald and his three adopted nephews much stronger and relatable. Huey, Louie and Dewey kept some of their original mischievousness, but are otherwise bright young kids. They often outsmart their uncle and help him solve cases and get out of sticky situations. Occasionally they still try to fool and trick one another, but all in all Donald acts like a caring surrogate parent. He often feels bad whenever his poverty prevents him from buying something for his nephews. In the same way Huey, Louie and Dewey feel empathy towards their uncle's misfortune. 

Uncle Scrooge
Barks gave Donald and the nephews a home town, Duckburg, where various colourful relatives, friends and enemies live together. The most famous citizen is Donald's uncle, the rich and stingy Uncle Scrooge McDuck, who first appeared in the story 'Christmas on Bear Mountain' (1947). Scrooge, whose name and character were obviously inspired by Charles Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol' (1843, illustrated by John Leech) is a multi-millionaire who amassed his fortune during the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush. Scrooge keeps his wealth in a large rectangular building, named the "Money Bin" (1951). He has so much fortune that he literally dives and swims in it. However, one coin he keeps apart from the rest: his "Number One Dime" (1953), the first coin he ever earned and which he considers to be a luck bringer. While Scrooge is the richest duck in the world he is also a complete miser. Even spending one coin makes him distraught. Apart from being stingy Scrooge is also greedy. Whenever he sees an opportunity to make more money he'll take it. Many plots are set in motion by Uncle Scrooge going on a treasure hunt, taking Donald and his nephews along with him since they are the only ones he can trust. Scrooge became such a reader's favorite that he received his own separate series from 1952 on. Either way many 'Donald Duck' stories really revolve around Scrooge, while many 'Uncle Scrooge' comics still have Donald as part of the main cast, so there is little distinction. It all takes part in the same universe. In 1961 Scrooge received an elderly female secretary, Miss Emily Quackfaster. 

A rich uncle paves the way for a wide range of villains who want to steal his fortune. In 1951 the wicked gang of crooks, the Beagle Boys, made their debut. They consist of countless identical brothers who all wear the same clothes and share the same criminal background. The only thing that distinguishes them are their prison number plates. They even address one another by it, rather than use proper names. Ten years later Barks added another recurring thief: the evil witch Magica De Spell (1961). Magica constantly tries to steal Scrooge's Number One Dime to melt it in the Vesuvius and expand her own powers. Barks based much of her design on Morticia Addams from Charles Addams's series 'The Addams Family'. Scrooge also has to watch out for his rival billionaires Flintheart Glomgold (1956) and John D. Rockerduck (1961) who are not above collaborating with criminals to either steal his money or get to a treasure before he can. 

Gyro Gearloose by Carl Barks
Gyro Gearloose - 'Fishing Mystery' (Uncle Scrooge #17) - © Disney.

Other main characters
But Donald also has his own adversaries to deal with, such as his aggressive neighbor Jones (1943) with whom he constantly fights. Donald's biggest rival is his arrogant and ever-lucky cousin Gladstone Gander (1948). Gladstone is everything Donald would want to be. He is confident and so lucky that he never has to do anything to get what he wants. He always finds or receives food, money, jewelry, winning lottery tickets... by just being around at the right time and the right place. Naturally Daisy Duck finds him just as attractive as Donald and the two often fight over her. Luckily Donald has many friends and more sympathetic relatives too. In 1952 the brilliant but absent-minded inventor Gyro Gearloose made his debut. Little Helper, his tiny robotic assistant with a light bulb for a head, was introduced in 1956. In 1953 female counterparts of Huey, Louie and Dewey entered the series, namely Daisy's triplet cousins April, May and June. 

Duckburg harbours all recurring cast members and locations, with the Money Bin always being the tallest building. While the city wasn't consistent in its look it still felt like a believable, three-dimensional place because Barks created an entire mythology and institutions around it. In 1952 readers learned that Duckburg is located in the state Calisota. The same year their 19th-century founder Cornelius Coot was first mentioned. Coot's statue can be seen anywhere in the city. Barks also invented a neighbouring city, Goosetown (sometimes named Gooseburg), with whom the Duckburgians have an ongoing rivalry. Duckburg also has its own boy scouts organisation, the Junior Woodchucks (1951), of which Huey, Louie and Dewey are members. The group comes with its own reference guide, the Junior Woodchucks' Guidebook (1954), which the nephews often use to their advantage. Despite its tiny size it happens to know the answer to any possible question. In 1971 Barks also created the boys' scouts leader, Philodemus Gentlefogg (sometimes named Bertie McGoose) whose honorary initials often spell out unrelated funny words. However, he never drew Gentlefogg himself, since he'd already retired by then and left the design to his successors. 

Barks invented so many recurring characters that no other 'Donald Duck' artist ever managed to top him. At the same time not all characters he used were purely his own creations. The most obvious example would be Donald himself, who was the brainchild of Disney animators Dick Huemer, Art Babbitt and Dick Lundy. Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro on their part introduced Huey, Louie and Dewey, Grandma Duck, Donald's little red car and his St. Bernhard's dog Bolivar in the 'Donald Duck' newspaper comic strip. Barks would use these characters too, much like other Disney comic artists used his. Some starred in their own one-shot comic books or one-page gag comics. 

'The Old Castle's Secret' (1948) - © Disney.

Barks distinguished himself from a lot of other children's comic artists by offering quality artwork and narratives. He was a master in crafting epic adventures, full with thrills, suspense and mystery. Donald and his family often engage in treasure hunts to exotic countries, ancient civilizations, mythological worlds and/or distant planets. Barks read National Geographic Magazine, where he frequently found photographs and articles as inspiration. He spent many hours researching a new story. Whenever he drew a jungle, a desert, a mountainous area, ancient temples, tropic islands or vast oceans he wanted it to look believable. Even if it was set in a fictional location. He drew everything with a keen eye for atmosphere and couleur locale. It made Donald's world feel like its own universe. Many stories have become fan favorites and reached classic status. They are still reprinted to this day in Disney magazines worldwide. 

Only A Poor Old Man (1952) 
'Only A Poor Old Man' (1952) - © Disney.

While displaying such quests Barks never lost sight of his characters. He never saw them as '"funny animals" but approached them as "humans who just happened to look like ducks." The artist could relate to Donald, since he too had experienced poverty, unluckiness and loneliness in life. But just like Donald and Scrooge he never gave up, a virtue he also expressed in his work. Several comics provide readers with life lessons about friendship, family union, perseverance, the rewarding aspects of honest labour and the shallowness of money. Barks was able to add humanity to his stories without ever coming across as saccharine or overly idealistic. Some stories even have a rather cynical streak, particularly considering they were distributed by the Walt Disney Company. The protagonists don't always get what they want in the end. Even the one-dimensional "good vs. evil" characterisations so common in children's comics are far more grey in Barks' comics. Scrooge can be quite selfish and ungrateful to Donald and the nephews, even though they often help him to get even richer. And the Beagle Boys may be crooks, but are somewhat pitiful losers at the same time. In a 1973 interview by Donald Ault Barks explained his philosophy: "The thing that is most important about my comics is this: I told it like it is. I told the kids that the bad guys have a little good in them, and the good guys have a lot of bad in them, and that you couldn't depend on anything much, that nothing was going to always turn out roses. (...) I laid it right on the line that there was no difference between my comic characters and the life these kids - the readers - were going to have to face." 

'A Financial Fable' (1950) - © Disney.

Some of Donald's adventures are clever satirical metaphors. In 'Tralla La' (1954) Barks lampoons both capitalism and colonialism. Scrooge travels to a country without a monetary system where the people live in peace. Yet when he throws his bottle caps around, the inhabitants start treating them as valuable items. The greedy duck realizes the financial possibilities and brings over as much bottle caps as he can, until the paradise is ruined forever. 'A Financial Fable' (1950), on the other hand, defended capitalism over the dangers of easy money. When Scrooge's entire fortune is blown away by a cyclone and scattered all over the country, everyone in Duckburg is suddenly a millionaire. As they all quit working Scrooge quietly runs a farm with Huey, Louie and Dewey as his helping hands. In the end Scrooge has the monopoly on every possible accessory that the Duckburgians need and thus gets back rich in an instant. 

'Old California' (1951) - © Disney.

Cultural impact
Thanks to the global reach of the Disney imperium Barks' comics were read by millions of people across the world. As such they managed to have a remarkable impact on our present-day society. The witty solution in 'The Sunken Yacht' (1949) to recover a yacht from the bottom of the ocean by using a large amount of ping-pong balls was in 1964 used in real life by Danish inventor Karl Kroyer. Funny enough Kroyer hadn't read this particular story and only learned about it when he tried to apply a patent for his discovery in the Netherlands. As the Dutch are infamous 'Donald Duck' readers they were quick to point out that his idea had been invented by Barks 15 years earlier.

The Sunken Yacht by Carl Barks
'The Sunken Yacht' (1949) - © Disney.

Another story, from 1944, had Donald utter some techno babble after receiving a blow to his head. This gibberish, however, turned out to be an actually accurate mathematical formula (!) and was in 1964 used to describe the newly discovered carbene methylene. Even the way Donald mixed it with other substances happened to be scientifically correct! Barks' comics also influenced pop culture. The classic Uncle Scrooge story 'The Seven Cities of Cibola' (1954) inspired the opening sequence of the 1981 film 'Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark' by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Many elements in Matt Groening's 'The Simpsons', from a town full of characters (Springfield), a rival city (Shelbyville), a town founder (Jebediah Springfield) to a stingy miser billionaire (Mr. Burns) also mirror Barks' influence. In Germany the translations of Barks' stories by Erika Fuchs have had a considerable impact on German language. Mrs. Fuchs enriched the comics by using colourful words and expressions in the dialogues still used by German people today. 

'The Seven Cities of Cibola' (1954) - © Disney.

Although his tenure on comic books lasted little over twenty years, Barks' production was immense. He wrote and drew a monthly 'Donald Duck' story for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories (his famous "ten-pagers"), a title for which he also regularly made the cover illustration. Four or five times a year, up until the early 1950s, he made epic and humorous adventure stories with Donald and his family in the 'Four Color Comics' series of one-shot books. He drew the first issue of the solo 'Donald Duck' title in 1952, but left the following issues to other artists from the Dell staff, such as Jack Bradbury, Dick Moores, Phil De Lara and Tony Strobl. From 1953 on he drew long adventure stories for the quarterly 'Uncle Scrooge' title. He additionally produced a great many filler gag pages, and a couple of one-shot comic books with other Duckburg characters, like 'Gyro Gearloose', 'Daisy Duck's Diary' and 'Grandma Duck's Farm Friends'. The latter two were scripted by Bob Gregory and Vic Lockman, respectively.

Non-duck comics
If all this wasn't enough, Barks produced non-Duck stories for Dell Comics/Western Publishing too. He made one 'Mickey Mouse' story ('The Riddle of the Red Hat', 1945), and also worked on some of the non-Disney titles. Between 1944 and 1947, Barks wrote and illustrated 26 stories of MGM's 'Barney Bear and Benny Burro' for the Our Gang comic book. These stories were collected in 'The Carl Barks' Big Book of Barney Bear' (IDW, 2011). Barks drew Walter Lantz's 'Andy Panda' for New Funnies in 1943 and made one story with Tex Avery and Friz Freleng's 'Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig' ('Porky of the Mounties' in 1944) and Avery's 'Droopy' too. Yet, despite all these stylistic breaks, none of these characters quite suited him. He preferred his own duck universe and made more stories with Donald and co. 

Barney Bear by Carl Barks
'Barney Bear' (Our Gang #21).

The "Old Duck Man", as Barks affectionately was called, quit drawing comics in 1966, yet continued to write scripts until the early 1970s, which were illustrated by John Carey, Kay Wright or Tony Strobl. These were mostly stories for the 'Junior Woodchucks' title, dealing with environmental themes. From 1992 onward, these specific stories were redrawn by Dutch artist Daan Jippes to give the artwork a closer resemblance to Barks' style.

Rise to fame
Since all his comics were anonymous, Barks was an unsung hero throughout most of his active career. Yet comic fans noticed that certain 'Donald Duck' stories were much better executed than others. In 1957 fan Malcolm Willits managed to identify the "Good Duck Artist" as Barks. In 1960 the brothers John and Bill Spicer tracked Barks down and met him at home. They made his name more widespread through various comic fanzines and conventions which went along with the 1960s reappreciation of classic comics. By the early 1970s Barks was firmly established as one of the most important comic artists of all time. He appeared at conventions, gave interviews and saw demand for his work significantly rise. European publishers of Disney comics did everything they could to recover all stories he'd ever drawn. In the States, Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran of Another Rainbow Publishing collected Barks' Duck work in the luxury ten-set 'Carl Barks Library' in the 1980s. From 1985 on, Barks' comics were also introduced to a new generation of US readers in the comic books published by new licensee Gladstone Publishing. Since 2011 Fantagraphics has reprinted Barks' 'Donald Duck' and 'Uncle Scrooge' stories in their original colors in a new collection edited by Gary Groth.

original sketch by Carl Barks
An original sketch by Barks.

Animated adaptations
In 1983 the first theatrical Mickey Mouse cartoon in decades hit theaters, 'Mickey's Christmas Carol'. The story spoofed Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' with Uncle Scrooge naturally playing Scrooge. It was the character's first official screen debut. Barks' stories were also the basis for the animated Disney TV series 'DuckTales' (1987-1990). The show used various Barks characters, like Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, the Beagle Boys and Magica DeSpell, but others were omitted, most notably Donald Duck, who only appeared briefly in the entire series. He was replaced by the clumsy pilot Launchpad McQuack, because Donald's voice was unsuitable for a starring role. Other characters were remodelled. The Beagle Boys for instance, who were all identical clones in the original stories, were individualized. Flintheart's nationality was changed from South African to Scottish, since South Africa received too much bad publicity in the 1980s over its apartheid policy. And Daisy Duck's nieces April, May and June were reduced to the composite character Webby, who was the granddaughter of Scrooge's housekeeper Mrs. Beakley. Tying in with the popularity of 'DuckTales', Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, built a real-life version of Duckburg in their theme park. In 2017 'DuckTales' was rebooted, making even more direct references to Barks' stories, like in several Barks-style oil paintings by Dutch artist Tim Artz.

Oil painting by Carl Barks
Oil painting by Carl Barks, based on his 'Flying Dutchman' story.

After retiring, Barks started painting. These oil paintings were much appreciated by fans, and in 1971 Barks received permission from the Walt Disney Company to depict the Duck characters in these works. Some were general scenes depicting Donald, Scrooge, the nephews and co. But the most popular were the ones based on classic moments from his adventure stories. Barks painted everything with a keen eye for detail and atmosphere, almost like a 17th-century baroque masterpiece. Between 1976 and 1981 this permission was revoked again, but eventually lifted permanently. Ironically all these legal matters revolved around characters he mostly created himself. The paintings were a nice compensation for the fact that not much of Barks' original comic book pages have survived. Naturally they sold for very high prizes. 

Erotic art
Barks also made semi-erotic paintings, which featured duck-billed men and women in titillating but never explicit situations. These works were - of course - not distributed by Disney, but gained notoriety among Barks fans. They were even exhibited in 2011 during the 'Comics Stripped' Exhibition at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan, NYC, along other private erotic drawings by famous comic artists.

Barks received various awards after his retirement. He was the recipient of the Shazam Award for Best Humor Writing (1970), an Inkpot Award (1977), a Kirby Award (1987), a Sproing Award (1987), a Golden Adamson Award for his entire career (1990) and a Disney Legend Award (1991). He was additionally inducted in the Eisner Award Hall of Fame (1987). Posthumously a reissue of his old stories received the Prix du Patrimoine (2012) at the Festival of Angoulême. In 1983 an asteroid was named after Carl Barks. The choice was justified by the 1960 'Uncle Scrooge' story 'Island in the Sky'. Incidentally Donald Duck also had an asteroid named after him in 1995.

Donald Duck paints Carl Barks: "In Every House a Ba-a-arks Painting" - © Disney.

Barks' cult in Europe
In old age, Barks became a global celebrity among Disney fans. He was particularly celebrated in European comic fandom, as his work is very beloved there. The Dutch city Almere has a road named after him and streets after Donald Duck, Scrooge ('Dagobert'), Gus Goose ('Gijs Gans'), Gladstone Gander ('Guus Geluk'), Daisy Duck ('Katrien Duck') and Gyro Gearloose ('Willie Wortel'), all part of their "Comics Heroes" District. A street in Stockholm, Sweden, is actually called the Carl Barks Väg, though it was in fact originally dedicated to municipal sewage worker Carl Bark. Swedish Carl Barks fans, however, stumbled upon this street and spiritually adopted it in name of their hero. Some of Barks' characters have even gained more popularity in certain parts of Europe than elsewhere. John D. Rockerduck, for instance, is firmly established as Uncle Scrooge's main rival in France and Italy, while the Danish and Dutch publishers use Flintheart Glomgold for that role. 

Between 30 May and 31 July 1994 Barks paid a visit to Europe, meeting with Disney publishers in no less than 11 countries: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The tour was an initiative of Bob Foster. A trip to Switzerland was also planned, but later cancelled. Much to the 93-year old artist's surprise his visit received a lot of local press attention. In Sweden he received an official Junior Woodchucks cap from the local Donald Duck fanclub NAFS(k). In Germany he met Donald Duck translator Erika Fuchs who played a huge part in popularizing his stories among German-language readers. Despite the fact she too was already quite old (87 years) he still complimented her by calling her "a chick". In Finland a meeting was arranged with local caricaturist Kari Suomalainen. In most countries he was officially greeted by the local lord mayor of the capital, like Jacques Chirac in Paris. In Norway Barks even met the local Minister of Culture Aase Kleveland. In the Netherlands he was given permission to observe Rembrandt Van Rijn's painting 'The Nightwatch' up close, something visitors usually aren't allowed to do. 

Final years and death
However, Barks' final years were clouded because of a legal dispute with his former managers. In August 2000 he died from leukemia at his home in Grants Pass, Oregon, at the age of 99. While his passing barely made headlines in his home country, it was front page news in many European countries, particularly the most duck crazy of them all: the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. 

Carl Barks with the writers and artists of the Dutch Donald Duck during his visit to the Netherlands in 1994. From left to right, top: Piet Wijn, Harry Balm, Ed van Schuijlenburg, Michel Nadorp, Carl Barks, Mau Heymans, Jaap Stavenuiter, Frank Jonker, Wilma van den Bosch, Ben Verhagen, Hilbert Bolland. Bottom: Jan Kruse, Daan Jippes, Lucas Abedy, Bas Heymans.

Legacy and influence
The work of the always humble Carl Barks is still an influence on comic book artists today. The Danish and Dutch production of Disney comics still use his stories as a blueprint. American artist Don Rosa has used elements from Barks stories to further explore the younger years of Scrooge McDuck in the fan favorite 'Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck' series. Besides the redrawn Barks scripts, Dutch artist Daan Jippes also applies a near-perfect imitation of Barks' style for his own stories. But Barks also served as an inspiration for artists outside the Disney spectrum. Osamu Tezuka, Albert Uderzo, Art Spiegelman, Cal Schenkel, Charlie ChristensenGary PanterRobert Crumb, Theo van den BoogaardEvert Geradts, Karsten Weyershausen, Dillon Naylor, Jeff SmithEverett PeckAnnibale Casabianca, Windig & De Jong, ZepSergio Aragonés, Neon Park and Matt Groening have all mentioned Barks as an influence. An image of the story 'Wishing Island' (1958) inspired Roy Lichtenstein's painting 'Reflections: Portrait of a Duck' (1989). Another huge fan is Austrian artist and painter Gottfried Helnwein who considers Barks the greatest artist ever and said: "I learned more from 'Donald Duck' than I did from all the schools I ever attended." He also interviewed his idol in 1992 and curated the first museum exhibition of Barks, a retrospective which was shown in ten European museums. Film director George Lucas named Barks' work "a priceless part of our literary heritage" and wrote the introduction to Fantagraphics' new release of Barks' classic Duck stories.

Books about Carl Barks
For those interested in Barks' life and career Michael Barrier's 'Carl Barks and the Art of the Comic Book' (1982), Simo Sjöblom's 'Carl Barks ja hänen tuotantonsa' (1992), Donald Ault's 'Carl Barks: Conversations' (2003), Tom Andrae's 'Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity' (2006), Alfons Moliné's 'Carl Barks, un viento ácrata' (2007) and Timo Ronkainen's 'Carl Barks: Ankkamestarin salaisuus' (2018) are all highly recommended. 

Kees Kousemaker and Carl Barks
Lambiek's Kees Kousemaker with Carl Barks on 14 July 1994, meeting in Hotel L'Europe. Barks donated a signed copy of the 'Donald Duck' story 'In Ancient Persia' to our Kees. 

Carl Barks fansite at
Inducks entry

Series and books by Carl Barks in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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