Robot 6

Exclusive: Fantagraphics to publish the complete Carl Barks

In what is sure to be one of the most acclaimed comics events of 2011, Fantagraphics has announced that they will be publishing a definitive collection of Carl Barks’ seminal run of Donald Duck comic stories. In an exclusive interview with Robot 6, Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth revealed that the company – which announced their plans to publish Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comics last summer – had acquired the rights to reprint Barks’ work from Disney and that the first volume will be released in fall of this year. The comics will be published in hardcover volumes, with two volumes coming out every year, at a price of about $25 per volume.

Although the stories will be printed in chronological order, the first volume, “Lost in the Andes,” will cover the beginning of Barks’ “peak” period, circa about 1948. The second volume, “Only a Poor Old Man,” will cover roughly the years 1952-54 and feature the first Uncle Scrooge story. Later volumes will fill in the missing gaps, including his earlier work, in a process somewhat similar to Fantagraphics’ publication of George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, the Barks library has been one of the great missing links in a time that many have dubbed the “golden age of reprints.”  Acclaimed around the globe for his rich storytelling and characterization, as well as excellent craftsmanship, Barks has long been regarded as one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century, equal to luminaries like Charles Schulz, Robert Crumb and Harvey Kurtzman. He’s been one of the few major American cartoonists whose work has, up till now, not been collected in a comprehensive, manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America), however, so this announcement comes as extremely good news for any who read and love good comics, let alone are familiar with Barks’ work.

Fantagraphics will release an official announcement about the project tomorrow. In the meantime, click on the link to read our exclusive interview with Gary Groth:

Q: For readers who are not familiar with Carl Barks, can you provide a brief description of who he was and why he’s so significant? What is his influence and importance as an artist?

From 'Lost in the Andes'

A: Sure. He was certainly among the greatest comic book artists of the 20th century. He’s one of the few cartoonists who transcended the commercial parameters of those who worked in the comic book industry from its beginning in the late 30s through the end of the century. I can only think of a few other ones who truly transcended that commercial arena — John Stanley, Harvey Kurtzman, Bernie Krigstein — but I think Barks did it the most successfully of all of them.

He started working for Disney in the late ‘30s as an in-betweener in their animation department. And he started drawing comics in 1942 almost by accident. He moved from being an in-betweener to being a gag man and they needed someone to help co-draw a Donald Duck comic, which he did and then he quit the Disney animation studio and needed work because his only source of income at that time was a chicken farm. So he asked Western Publishing if he could do some Duck stories and they apparently needed someone to do some new Duck stories and they gave him the assignment.

So he drew Donald Duck from 1942 to approximately 1966. Over that time he became one of the greatest cartoonists of the 20th century. Not only could he draw beautifully and tell a story, but also he invested the duck characters with such depth and humanity and warmth, that it was just an amazing feat. That I think was his real contribution that he gave the Duck characters – he combined imagination and invention and humanity to his stories that no one drawing corporate characters had ever done.

Q: What do you think made him so unique as an artist as opposed to many of the other people working in Disney comics at the time? The amazing thing about Barks to me is the sheer amount of love that’s generated for him by fans. Even compared to some of the people you’ve mentioned. Harvey Kurtzman has his fans, but especially overseas, the sheer amount of papers, essays and web sites devoted to Barks would be surprising to someone who might be coming to him cold.

A: Right. Well, he’s much better known and beloved than he is here. Over here it’s more the specialist and the cognoscenti who are aware of him. Over there he sells and is more appreciated by a larger and wider readership. Which of course we’re hoping to expand to the U.S.

'Ornamentally Yours'

Q: Why do you think that is, that he hasn’t generated as much attention here?

A: Part of it might just be because of the general indifference or contempt with which comics are seen in this country, or at least were seen throughout most of his career. That’s obviously started to change in the last decade or so but Barks missed that window of opportunity. He died in 2000, the same year as Charles Schulz and Gil Kane. He was 99 when he died so his career literally spans the entire 20th century. He was born in 1901.

I have no idea why they appreciate cartoonists and comics more over there than they do here. I wish I knew.

Q: This is a pretty huge feather in your cap. This is one of the big gets.

A: Yeah, I think it’s right up there with Charles Schulz. I think he’s as great a cartoonist as Schulz is, and maybe George Herriman. So yeah, it’s a dream come true. It’s something I hadn’t thought was even possible until a couple of years ago.

Q: How did this come about then?

A: It’s pretty simple. Gemstone, which was Diamond’s publishing arm, was evidentially contracted to publish a lot of Barks material and had published Barks throughout the years, but in various formats that I don’t think made much of an impression.

When Gemstone went out of business about three years ago, being the opportunist I am I saw a possibility. I got hold of Disney and that’s where we also cut the deal for Gottfredson. It was the same impetus — I saw that they had lost a publisher and I thought it would be perfect for us for all the obvious reasons. I’ve loved Barks’ work since I was a teen-ager and discovered him. I thought we could do the right job. I’ve always lamented what lousy job publishers have done with Carl Barks. I like the Another Rainbow editions, but they are purely collector editions made for guys like you and me.  What I want to do is publish books that will find a general readership, because he deserves one. He deserves as wide a readership as possible. He’s accessible enough. He’s not one of those arcane, obscure cartoonists that the general public wouldn’t understand. His stuff can be read by children or adults, it can be understood on different levels. One of my goals is to publish it in a format that will reach that wider readership. I’m hoping parents buy it, read it themselves and also give it to their kids to read.

To tie up that story, I contacted Disney and it took a couple of years to agree to a publishing contract. At first they told me they were going to publish it themselves, and I tried to talk them out of that without initial success. And then literally like a year later they called me back and said, “we decided not to publish it ourselves and that you’d be the right people to do it.”

Q: What has it been like working with Disney? Do they have a strong appreciation for Barks?

A: Yes, I think they do. At least the people I’m working with do. Now obviously the people I’m working with have highers-up who may not fully understand or appreciate who Barks was, but all the people I’m working with at Disney do. They’re well versed in Barks and understand his significance in the comics pantheon. The hardest thing I had to do was find somebody at Disney to talk to. That literally took me about a year. Once I did that it was pretty smooth sailing. I’ve been working with them pretty closely, I’ve been submitting proposals and formats and content and I have to say everything’s gone really, really smoothly. I’m hoping for the best.

Q: Let’s go on to the books themselves. Can you tell me a little bit about the format, size and design? Who will be designing these books?

A: I think Jacob Covey is going to be designing them. He’s our lead designer here. In fact literally at this very moment he’s designing “Mickey Mouse Vol. 1.” He’s designed a number of books for us, as you probably already know, like “Popeye” and “Dennis the Menace.” He edited and designed “Beasts!” So he was my first choice to design the books.

They’re going to be reproduced – I don’t have the exact size – but they’re going to be reproduced at about 90 percent of comic book size. I don’t have that size off the top of my head, but it’s approximately 90-92 percent of comic book size. We are going to be recoloring every page. We’re using the original comics as our color guide. We’re going to be trying as best we can to reproduce the same colors. The reason we didn’t scan the comic books is we didn’t want it to be a facsimile edition like some of our reprints are. When you do that, it’s obvious that you are reproducing from the comic and there is a specific reason you do that, because you want to capture that old comic book look. Neither Disney nor we wanted to do that, but we both thought it would be best reproduced in color, so the question was how do you go about doing the color? So we’re using the original comics coloring, which is quite good, as a color guide, and an artist by the name of Rich Tommaso is going to be recoloring every page.

Carl Barks

Q: That’s interesting because I was going to ask you if you were going to be using the European collections as a guide because I know some of the recoloring for those books came under controversy because they were very Photoshop-heavy.

A: Personally, I can’t stand that kind of recoloring, where it looks like what used to be called airbrushed, with the gradations of tone and the sculpting and modeling and so forth. To me, that’s a betrayal of how they were originally published and how Barks drew them for reproduction. So we’re going to go with flat colors, but they’re going to be somewhat muted. What we’re trying to do is to reproduce as best we can not only the color scheme, but the chromatic intensity of the colors, so they’re not going to be bright and garish. We’re going to reproduce them on an uncoated stock. It’s obviously going to be heavier than the newsprint they were published on, but it’s going to be uncoated so it will be a very muted stock and the colors will be – they won’t pop off the page like they would with a glossy approach. The colors will be secondary to the actual art.

Q: How much will the individual volumes sell for?

A: I think the retail price is $24.99. They will be hardcover. They will be approximately 240 pages per volume, with a good 200 of those being comics and the rest being some text material — supportive, historical and aesthetic appreciations.

One important fact is that we’re starting with the material he did in 1948, so the first volume is going to be titled “Lost in the Andes.” Now, you know Barks’ work, right?

Q: I’m not as familiar as you obviously are. I’ve read his work but you tend to read him if you’re an American in dribs and drabs. So I have a couple volumes of this and that but I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means.

A: OK. Well then let me explain. He started doing Donald Duck in 1942. He did it through ’66. I think his peak period was somewhere from ’47 or ’48 and ’56. That’s my opinion and there’s a reasonable consensus among Barks experts – by no means a 100 percent consensus — but that’s generally perceived as his peak period. The first Uncle Scrooge story appeared in 1952. And he was just really cooking at that point. He had learned how to do comics. There was a bit of a learning curve although he was good from the get go. He just mastered narrative. He mastered how to incorporate gags into a narrative. He invested more and more of himself into the work. I think part of the reason the work is so good is because he lived a life before he started drawing the ducks. He started drawing the ducks when he was about 40. By then he was a lumberjack, he worked in a lumber mill, he worked on a riveting gang, he worked on a ranch, a farm. He just did a lot of life experience. From which he got a lot of material for the adventures he wrote.

So we’re going to start with 1948, the first volume will be called “Lost in the Andes.” It will have that titled strip in it. We’re going to mess around a little bit. I think the second volume is going to be titled “Poor Old Man,” which is the first Uncle Scrooge story. That will be 1952 to about 1954.

What I’ve done is I have mapped out the entire Barks collection chronologically. Eventually when we publish however many volumes it will be, which could be – let’s see, he did 6,000 pages – it will be almost 30 volumes of books. Eventually once we publish all of those, someone will be able to put every book in chronological order on a shelf. We’re starting with what will be the seventh volume in the series. It will be our first published volume. I know that will be a little confusing, but our first published volume will actually be the seventh volume in the series.

Q: So you’re not starting with the very first Barks comics, you’re starting a little later?

A: Exactly. The first one was in 1942. The first story was called “Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold.”

Q: Now what was the thinking behind that decision?

A: Well, I wanted to start off with the best stuff. That’s primarily it; I wanted to hook people on the best Barks. “Lost in the Andes” I think, is one of his best stories. It’s an iconic story. Among people who know Barks it’s their favorite.

Q: Is that the one with the square eggs?

A: Exactly. This is a slightly sentimental point, and it didn’t hinge on this, but it was also Barks’ favorite story, so I thought that was a nice gesture. It also just happens to be one of the best stories he did. And as you probably know he did the long stories that appeared in “Four Color Comics.” They were usually between 20 and 32 pages in length, and then he did the 10 pagers that appeared in “Walt Disney Comics and Stories.” So each volume will contain some of both.

Q: I was going to ask about that, because he did work over so many different titles, how you were going to accommodate that, if you were going to do one series first and then put the others out.

A: No, we’re doing it strictly chronologically. So this volume will contain two of the long stories and the rest of them will be the 10 pagers. It includes “Voodoo Hoodoo,” “Race to the South Seas” and “The Golden Christmas Tree,” which are all long stories. They’re all between 20 and 32 pages and the rest will all be 10 page stories.

My original thought was to do the 30 volumes and have a lead story that was a long story in each one and then fill the rest of the book up with shorter pieces. I actually consulted with five Barks scholars throughout the world because I couldn’t quite figure out if I used that as a template — if I used the longer stories as an anchor for the books — I couldn’t figure out how to organize everything else, how to choose stories that would then fill them. You couldn’t do it chronologically because he stopped doing the long stories sometime in the ‘50s. There was a period where he did a lot of long stories in, like, two years, so I couldn’t figure out how to do that and I was finally convinced that I should just do it chronologically, which made my job a lot easier.

Q: What kind of historical information will you be including in the volumes?

A: Well, I don’t want to have too much text in each volume. There’s going to be a biography of Barks that I might rerun in every volume. And then I’m going to get three or four separate pieces that just discuss the particular stories that are in each volume and give a little historical context to the stories. So there will be between three and five text pieces looking at the stories from various angles, maybe sociological, maybe aesthetic. Not so much that it overwhelms the reader but enough to give them context as to what these things are and who Carl Barks is and why they’re as good as they are.

Q: Do you have anyone lined up so far? Any names you can name?

A: The only person I have really lined up is Donald Ault, who’s going to be writing the biography of Barks. Don edited a book called “Conversations with Carl Barks” that University Press of Mississippi published a couple of years ago. He’s been a Barks fan and admirer for quite a few years – 30 or 40 years. He really knows his stuff. He knows more than I do and he’s one of the people I’ve been consulting on this. He’s really very good and knows and loves Barks and is a good writer so he’ll be doing the biography.

Q: What about in terms of ancillary art material? Sometimes in these collections they’ll publish sketchbook material or other unpublished art.

A: I haven’t gotten quite far enough to know for sure but my impression is if the rights are clear, which I think that they are because I think everything is owned by Disney (which makes my job easier) I think we’ll probably be including a lot of photographs and sketches, model sheets he did and things like that. So there will be a lot of miscellaneous stuff will be included with the text. We’re aiming this for a general readership, so I don’t want this to get too wordy.

Q: Along those lines, let me ask in terms of marketing and promotion, how are you planning on reaching that ideal readership? What are your plans? Is there anything you’re doing that might be noteworthy or different from how you’ve promoted your other reprint projects?

A: You know, those are great questions, but they’re great questions for Eric [Reynolds]. He and I and Disney have been exchanging emails about this but frankly I haven’t been paying that close attention to it. My main job has been to get the editorial down. So it would be best if I didn’t give you some half-assed answer about that. We’re hoping to get into Disney stores and Disney theme parks and all that. They have a very systematic grasp of where that is in the process right now.

Q: What’s the schedule for this? How many volumes do you plan to release in a year?

A: Two a year. The first one will be October or November of this year. Just in time for Christmas.

Q: And then it will be one in the spring and one in the fall?

A: Exactly. Two a year from then on, just like Peanuts and Mickey. Mickey, Charlie and Donald.

Q: The mighty triumvirate.

A: Yeah, right. I discovered Barks when I was 16. I was already deeply into comics and then a friend of mine turned me on to it and I kind of flipped out, started buying every back issue of Barks I could find and read them into my 20s and probably had 2/3rds of Barks, but at some point you stop reading him and you move on cause there’s so much else to read. So for the past few months I’ve been re-reading him. I’ve probably re-read about 700 or 800 pages of Barks in the last few months. It’s just amazing.

Q: The thought occurred to me that most young people aren’t aware of Donald Duck because he’s not as prominent a Disney character any more as Belle or the Little Mermaid are for modern generations. And beyond that you’ve got the issue of trying to convince parents and adults that these children’s stories about ducks in sailor suits are some of the greatest comics around. Do you feel like you have a lot of convincing to do?

A: I have to say I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. I guess not. There’s a sense in which we do because we’re dealing with two things that are a bit of a hard sell, comics and print. (laughter) Luckily we’re not Random House, we don’t have to sell 300,000 copies either. For us, I think we’ll sell quite a lot of copies but however many copies we sell constitute a mass market these days I’m not sure. In a sense sure, we have to convince people, but that’s our job. To some extent that was even true of Peanuts. The strip itself had become such a tiny proportion of its worldwide sales after merchandising, it was almost as if we had to reacquaint people with the strip.

So I don’t know. I guess there are probably a sufficient number of people of a certain generation who remember Donald Duck as a cartoon character or comic character that they’re going to be picking it up. I hope they’ll pass it on to their kids.

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Comments

122 Comments

Oh, SCORE. I’ve been dying for someone to do this for a while now, and I’d missed out on the Gemstone editions back in the day. I’m in.

I read a lot of these I was just wondering when after issue #100 do the “”new” stories start? There seems to be lots of reprints after issue 100.

Can’t wait for these. Donald Ault was a professor of mine at the University of Florida. Brilliant guy. He is the Barks expert.

At 2 volumes a year, that’ll be 15 years before the set is done!!

That’s a *long* time.

Wow. 30 volumes and only 2 per year? They really are going to do these for 15 years, eh? Oh well, at least the price is GREAT. Cannot wait. Got hooked on the idea of Barks’ stories after reading Don Rosa’s “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” a few years ago so I’ll be getting a good amount of these I think! Nice grab, Fantagraphics!

Paul and Casey, this is basically the same time frame Fantagraphics is using for their Complete Peanuts volumes–25 volumes, 2 a year, from 2004-2016. They’re already halfway through–don’t worry, they’re in it for the long haul!

Wasn’t Boom doing these

Awesome. :)

You gotta be kidding me

January 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

“90% of comic-book size”?

COUNT ME OUT!

I’ve been waiting for a collection like this since I took grad classes with Don Ault at UF in the early 2000s. GREAT news!

I think it’s cool that Fantagraphics is doing a complete series dedicated to the work of Carl Barks.

This is great news. Barks is the master, and two volumes a year won’t break my budget.

A Barks collection that is affordable is great in itself. Can’t wait!

Too cool for words. I’m glad that the vintage stuff can still be respected amidst today’s choppy, gritty, in-your-face material.

Now this IS ambitious. Collected Carl Barks books is something that’s been long overdue, especially with the release of the Don Rosa Scrooge books. Here’s hoping the page count will be at a reasonable rate with the price ratio. It’ll certainly be a better bargain than the release of DC’s Sugar & Spike.
http://reprintthis.blogspot.com/2010/12/sugar-spike-dc-comes-to-its-senses-then.html

I’m not kidding when I say that, after The Complete Peanuts (also published by Fantagraphics), this is the reprint project I’ve been waiting most of my life for. Barks was an absolute master of comic book storytelling, but there has never been a definitive, all-encompassing project you could point to and say “Yeah, get that and you’re all set.” Fantagraphics has long prided itself on being the publisher of the world’s greatest cartoonists, and it’s astonishing and gratifying to see them add one of the probably half-dozen best of all time to their stable. Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, Eric Reynolds and the rest of the gang at Fantagraphics are to be congratulated and thanked for adding this monumental feather to their cap. Way to go, guys. You just made 2011 a very good year for a lot of comics-loving folks like myself.

I’m still waiting on Pogo.

I’m most happy about the colouring; they are atrocious in the complete Barks edition published here in Sweden. Also I think it is a good idea to keep the size to something similar to the original comics since the oversized format feels a bit weird to read Barks in. So all in all, very good news (apart from the 2 volumes / year, where I’d definitely prefer something like 4) :-)

Excellent news! I love the pricing targeted at a general audience and the approach on coloring and supplemental material. Really looking forward to this!

This is truly amazing news, and what a great interview to go along with it too! I’ve been buying Fantagraphics’ wonderful Peanuts books for the last few years, and I can’t wait to add the work of Carl Barks to my shelf as well.

Finally! I had been trying to just figure out which Donald comics were actually Barks and which ones were other unnamed artists just to try and get a few Barks comics of my own. This is exactly what I needed.

Julian, you can get a “jump start” on your Barks collection with this Barks hardcover from Boom. It’s available now from your LCS.

DONALD DUCK CLASSICS HC VOL 01 QUACK UP
BOOM ENTERTAINMENT
(W/A) Carl Barks
Whether it’s finding gold, journeying in the Klondike, or fighting ghosts, Donald will always have help with Huey, Dewey, Louie, his much more prepared nephews, by his side! Carl Barks brought Donald to prominence, and it’s only fair to start off the series with some of his most influential stories!

LL

geez! fantagraphics has been on a roll lately!

While for me the Gottfredson books are a bigger thing (Barks stories have been available quite easily in a variety of forms on this side of Atlantic, while those early Mickey strips have been missed), I heartily recommend this to any comic fans. Barks really is that great.
And I do like the strategy of starting with the good stuff, his earliest stuff is ok but more for fans than generic public.

How quickly joy was turned to sadness. Reduced to 90%???????????
What can you possibly gain by that!!!!
You have earned your place in the HALL OF FAME FOR UNFORGIVEN SACRILAGE!!

SORRY, NOT BUYING

Reduced to 90% not reduced by 90%. They reduced it by 10%.

Yeah, the reduction thing is a bit annoying considering how much a collection of those comics had been expected.

I hope Fanta changes its mind.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

SIZE MATTERS IN A VISUAL MEDIUM

January 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

http://comicscomicsmag.com/2010/11/this-week-in-comics-11310-uncovered-unexpected-ongoing.html
“And the books are more expensive than the DH books because they are larger and better printed. Comics are a visual art form and it’s important to be able to look at them, which is why I cherish the Stanley library.”

Jeet Heer

http://www.tcj.com/review/sheltons-freaks-one-more-compendium/
Alas, although the book is fat enough to include all the Freak Brothers, the page size is not kind to the artwork, which, in some instances, is reduced too small to see very well. Earlier compendia, most of which use an 8×11-inch format, are better if you hope to admire the drawing.

http://www.tcj.com/alternative/grim-tidings-miss-dont-touch-me-vol-2/
I saw an untranslated European preview copy of vol.1 at San Diego and ordered the new translation sight unseen. Unfortunately, much of the beauty and charm of Kerascoet’s art is lost in the NBM edition, which has shrunk it down to something close to the size of a tv guide.

http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2010/caper-turns-into-a-farce-both-in-fiction-and-in-execution-7-psychopaths/
Also, a word on Boom’s presentation. This was originally a European Hardcover album, which is possibly the main reason Phillips agreed to the job (at least that’s what I surmised from his introduction). It may not have saved the book from it’s disappointing ending, but I wish Boom would have had the balls to represent it in the format it was designed for, I imagine Phillips’ art would have been even more impressive.

http://comicscomicsmag.com/2010/03/random-riff-round-up.html
It’s a crime. It’s a crime that First Second Books reformats European sized albums like Christophe Blain’s Gus into those atrocious looking manga-sized trade paperbacks. At least NBM’s scaled-down versions of Sfar and Trondheim books are readable. If Paul Pope’s THB collection from First Second is that same manga size it’s going to have to come with a magnifying glass. I heard they are doing an oversize black-and-white collection of that (in addition to the manga-sized color edition) so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Still, it’s a real crime what they did to Blain’s Gus. And to Gipi’s Garage Band and all the other translations that I’m forgetting. A crime, I say.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/steveduin/2008/08/chris_blain.html
My two regrets regarding Gus & His Gang are that First Second is (a) only releasing the book in trade paperback, and (b) releasing it in the company’s standard 6 x 8.5-inch format that — in the case of Blain’s work, at least — is hard on my aging eyes.
When it comes to this guy’s art and storytelling, I prefer the Little Nemo/Sunday Press Books format.

This can be a huge seller. Just publicize them as “the comics that inspired the hit cartoon DuckTales” and watch Generation Y come running. I know I’d buy them just for that, and the only Donald Duck comic I’ve ever read was one I got on Free Comic Book Day 3 2003. But from memories of DuckTales, and everything I’ve heard about Barks’ work, I’m really looking forward to this.

Move over Little Lulu, I think I just got a new favourite reprint series.

Seriously, this is the best comics news since, well, since they announced the Gottfredson reprints.

To everyone griping about the reduction, keep in mind that a 90% reduction in the area of a modern (6.75 by 10.25 in, 69.1875 inches squared) comic book means a reduction by about a half inch vertically and a third of an inch horizontally [ 0.9(69.1875) = ~ (0.9486)(0.9486)(6.75 * 10.25) = (0.9486 * 6.75)(0.9486 * 10.25) = ~9.7240 by 6.4036 ]. It’s barely noticeable.

Sean T. Collins

January 2, 2011 at 8:22 pm

That’s all well and good, Matt, but the guy’s very name is SIZE MATTERS IN A VISUAL MEDIUM, in all caps, no less — how can I not trust him?

The reduction in size is disappointing, but I’ll buy anyway. However, no question about politically correct editing. Hope Fantagraphics can hold off Disney’s censors.

Oh, and where is Popeye volume 6?

Hello, and thanks for your comments — even those of you who’ve groused about the size. Which will be 7″ x 10″, but which I didn’t know that precisely when I gave the interview. Probably greater than 95% of the original size. So, it won’t be manga size, it won’t be close to TV guide size, believe me. Barks’ art reduces better than Gilbert Shelton’s art. Give us some credit here.

The color repros that ran with the piece, by the way, are not our color (but grabbed off the web, I think). We have about 50 pages colored now —by the terrific cartoonist-in-his-own-right Rich Tommaso— but Disney hasn’t officially approved them yet, so we couldn’t release them.

Popeye 6 is on the way. Hang on.

If you have any suggestions or questions, lemme have ‘em.

Actually, POPEYE 5 (not 6), which is just a li’l bit late by our standards, is on a boat on its way to America even as we speak (accompanied by a bang-on-time PRINCE VALIANT 3), and POPEYE 6 hasn’t been announced yet but is planned for about a year from now. I know the ever-delayed POGO is a thorn in everyone’s side, but believe me it WILL happen and it WILL be worth the wait. Have faith, you little monsters: We work round the clock for you, weekends too. I should be kicking back watching TV or playing with my dog now, not translating Jason’s next graphic novel — or answering internet kvetching.

This is fantastic!

And it would be nice to involve Geoffrey Blum too, because his articles about Barks stories are quite good.

How about one extra book with all of the Barks stuff for the big fans, after the series? Like a bonus!!

Another Rainbow did publish the complete Carl Barks Library years ago, over sized and in black/white. Later they did the Library Albums in a slight smaller format and full colors, not complete but close.

I had some of the first bw editions, but sold them and bought the albums. I agree with the new publisher here, I did never like the colors, and the size does not matter much. I found the Gladstone books to just as nice to read as the albums done with the same colors.

As the years have goone and so the editons I think the timing is right for another take on this, hard cover and colors, well that sounds great. Two vols pr. year, well we will live forever so does it matter??

I love Fantagraphics… But come on…. 15 years in the making to complete and 90% of comic size.
Your best bet is to find the carl barks library albums by gladstone. Most are still available via brucehamilton.com. Plus they are magazine size to really appreciate the work with commentary in every album.

Wow, both Mrs. Groth AND Thompson come here to reply! You guys rule!!!

7×10 is perfectly good, I was fearing to see something like 6×9 or smaller.

I wish it could be published at a rate of three books a year instead of two, but I can wait.

A question: Are you going to publish the Barks-written stuff by other artists (including the recent Daan Jippes “remakes” of some of them)?

Also, since Kim Thompson mentioned Pogo, are you going to reprint the older Walt Kelly Pogo comic BOOKS or just the strip material?

This is a dream come true.

And to those complaining about size reduction, I have to say that I TRUST Fantagraphics on this, completely and without question. They are not going to botch this, it is going to be thoughtfully done, and it is going to be AMAZING.

I hope this is the big comics hit of next year’s holiday season.

I’d like to reprint the POGO comic books, sure, but first things first, especially since the syndicated strip material is by any standard better than the comic books.

Nick, dude, pay attention, the 90% figure is obsolete, so stop harping on it. The size will be close enough to the original that unless you sit down with a ruler, you’ll never know. Relax. Personally I think the idea of reprinting comics larger than they were intended so as to “appreciate” the art is a bad idea in most cases because it makes the work less readable somehow. The great cartoonists knew what they were doing, and designed the work for maximum efficiency at the final print size.

People thought 13 years was an awful long time for the PEANUTS reprints and we’re almost two thirds of the way through. Besides, if we crank out all the great classic reprints in the next five years, what will you have to live for come 2016?

Just to clarify, Gary is right — the images I used for the story were taken from scans of my own comics and what I found via Google, and are in no way representative of what the eventual Fantagraphics collections will look like. My apologies if that caused any confusion.

While I’m here I should note that I did put in a question to Eric Reynolds and Jacq Cohen about the marketing/promotion with Disney, but they weren’t able to get back to me in time because of the holiday. Just in case anyone was wondering.

comicbookreader

January 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

Mr. Groth,

Fantastic news about finally getting a dedicated full-color Barks Archives! Thank you!

Any chance that Fantagraphics will also go after the EC Comics license and continue publishing the EC Archives which Gemstone also dropped the ball on? Pretty please?

For comics enthusiasts and historians, it’s a damn shame that neither EC Comics nor Carl Barks has a definitive full-color archives yet, but at least the Barks oversight is about to be corrected…

comicbookreader

January 3, 2011 at 11:32 am

On a related note, it appears that BOOM! is going to reprint all of Don Rosa’s Donald Duck stories starting in June, but those editions will only be in paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608866564?ie=UTF8&tag=richjohnston-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1608866564

Perhaps Disney will let Fantagraphics publish a hardcover Rosa Archives at some point too?

Yes, Boom is printing a bunch of Rosa stuff, maybe all of it. But, it will not be a definitive “library” edition.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!

This is great news, of course, and I’m tickled that Fanta is getting behind so worthy a project. But am I the only reader who find the statement that Barks’ work has “not been collected in a comprehensive, manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America).”

I guess I’m dating myself here, but I’m old enough to remember the seismic waves that went out across the world of Duck fandom when Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran’s Another Rainbow announced the publication of the Carl Barks Library in the 1980s. That massive collection, published on time and under budget, may not have had much color, but I don’t think anyone can accuse the CBL of not somehow not being fully respectful of the Duck Man’s talent.

There’s no doubt that Fantagraphics, D&Q and others are doing a great service to our hobby and future scholars. But’s let’s not forget who got there first. When Russ Cochran published the EC Library and later teamed with Bruce Hamilton to bring us the Carl Barks Library, there was no market for this kind of publication. There was no graphic novels section at Barnes and Noble, no Amazon.com. But at great financial risk and with a lot of hard work, these guys found a way to bring every single story written or drawn by Carl Barks to light, including plenty of stories that had never been reprinted before then.

I’m not saying we have to erect statues of Russ and Bruce, but I think a little respect would be in order for the guys who invented the market for archival reprints of classic comic books that Fanta and D&Q are doing such a great job of exploiting today.

This is great news, of course, and I’m tickled that Fanta is getting behind so worthy a project. But am I the only reader who finds off the statement that Barks’ work has “not been collected in a comprehensive, manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America)”?

I guess I’m dating myself here, but I’m old enough to remember the seismic waves that went out across the world of Duck fandom when Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran’s Another Rainbow announced the publication of the Carl Barks Library in the 1980s. That massive collection, published on time and under budget, may not have had much color, but I don’t think anyone can accuse the CBL of not somehow not being fully respectful of the Duck Man’s talent.

There’s no doubt that Fantagraphics, D&Q and others are doing a great service to our hobby and future scholars. But’s let’s not forget who got there first. When Russ Cochran published the EC Library and later teamed with Bruce Hamilton to bring us the Carl Barks Library, there was no market for this kind of publication. There was no graphic novels section at Barnes and Noble, no Amazon.com. But at great financial risk and with a lot of hard work, these guys found a way to bring every single story written or drawn by Carl Barks to light, including plenty of stories that had never been reprinted before then.

I’m not saying we have to erect statues of Russ and Bruce, but I think a little respect would be in order for the guys who invented the market for archival reprints of classic comic books that Fanta and D&Q are doing such a great job of exploiting today.

This is awesome. I’m Danish, but haven’t been able to afford the “Scandinavian” Library. And I’d much prefer reading these comics in the original language, both because I won’t miss out on the untranslated jokes, but also because apparently Egmont doesn’t know how to make good-looking lettering, or just okay-looking. The tiny size reduction doesn’t matter to me. The only sad thing is the incredibly long time horizon (yes, it feels so to a 14-year-old!), but I guess I’ll buy them anyway (:

Very Exciting! Can’t wait to see the colouring samples.

My request: No Geoffrey Blum please. I find his commentary pretty bleak, cynical, and a bit pretentious (especially in regards to Don Rosa) more often than not. His texts provided interesting insights to be sure, but previous collections are crammed thoroughly with his work. How about something fresh for the new one?

I have the utmost faith that Mr. Ault can handle such an assignment.

Any chance for another forward from George Lucas? ;) (For the uninitiated: Lucas wrote a nice forward for a Barks collection back in the early 80s, which mentioned Scrooge’s influence on Indiana Jones)

These news made up my day. Mind you, I was unaware of Fantagraphics before I heard of this magnificent project; but now that I realize they’re responsible for incredibly prestigious and critically-acclaimed comic collections, I’m even more happy than I was before, knowing Barks’ legacy lies in expert hands.

My respect only increased as I read the comments and realized Mr. Groth and M(r?)s. Thompson took their time to provide feedback on our opinions. Now I’m sure I’ll want to investigate what you guys have to offer. I’m sure to find some amazing comics via you ;D

I haven’t owned ANY Disney Comics whatsoever since I was a child; living in Mexico avoids one from simply going to a store and pickin’ up the latest releases, because they’re non-existant here. Yet I have loved Duck comics for years, doing everything I can to at least read them. This will be THE collection for me, no doubt.

As for any requests, I see Geoffrey Blum has both a follower and a detractor so far on this string of comments. What about taking the best of both worlds? I have read good comments about Blum’s style, and I’m very curious to read his thoughts as it would be the first time I’d have the chance to do so; yet, new blood is never bad for the body, you know? ;P Personally, I think it would be amazing if you could get in contact with other Duck artists and ask them to drop some words in honor of The Good Duck Man. William Van Horn, Dan Jippes, Don Rosa (he WILL have stuff to say, I’m sure!) either as a general view of Barks or commenting on their favorite stories of his…Is asking for foreign input too much? Most likely, but it would be the icing on the cake.

Oh well. As long as the commentators have interesting stuff to bring to the table, an unique POV about Barks’ work, and truly get the best use out of the text space they’re given (which I don’t have any doubts they will) I’m all set and happy :D

One last thing; guessing from the interview, is the first (seventh…uh, you know) volume on the series going to contain all the stories from 1948-1949, or just most from each year? I’d greatly appreciate some light shed on this. Thank you so much for all of your attention; you can count with my complete support from now on!

I’ll put this on the shelf right next to my copy of Fantagraphics Complete Pogo Volume 1… Oh, wait…

Hey, the POGO is gonna beat out the DONALD, just wait and see.

Good point about the “collected in a comprehensive manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America)” quote (which wasn’t Gary’s, please note), and the late, great Bruce Hamilton deserves HUGE kudos for his Another Rainbow enterprise — let’s just say that the Barks material is not CURRENTLY AVAILABLE in a comprehensive etc. manner, and never was available in a price/format configuration that would put it within reach of the average consumer (as opposed to us rabid fans). The Fantagraphics edition will top out around eight hundred bucks, admittedly, but that’s peanuts (no pun intended) compared to some of those archive series that charge you $40, $50, or even $60 (SUGAR AND SPIKE, anyone?) for basically the same amount of material…

Thrilled thrilled thrilled is all I can say. Missed the Cochran collections and am guaranteed getting these.

Can’t wait for the day I have grandkids I can share these with.

Thanks Gary & Kim !

Speaking as someone who FINALLY managed to complete my collection of Another Rainbow’s Carl Barks Library set a few years ago (after fighting a lot of losing eBay battles!), I agree that, splendid as those editions are, they were only ever really intended for diehard Barks fans. And that’s even more true now that they are fetching hundreds of dollars per set on the secondhand market. And while Gladstone (and, to a much, much lesser extent, Gemstone) put out a lot of nice reprints of Barks’ work, I have no doubt that Fantagraphics is going to end up producing the definitive editions.

Even though I own all these stories in those big blue slipcased editions, it will still be a thrill to gradually collect uncensored (right?) full color books with the stories collected chronologically. (The AR sets were split up into collections of Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, WDC&S ten-pages, etc.) In fact, I think the Fantagraphics editions will compliment my B&W oversized books wonderfully

I almost wept when I read this. Ok I lied, I did cry.

Gary / Kim,

Can you tell us whether you’ll be printing the original, uncensored versions of Voodoo Hoodoo, Land of the Totem Poles, etc?

Thanks,

LL

Hey, at least Fantagraphics has a valid reason as for why Pogo is late. Old, usable strips are hard to find, whether as originals, tearsheets, mechanicals or clippings. Do you want it now half-assed, or do you want it done properly?

I apologize, but I’m a little confused. Is this.a complete Carl Barks collection (including all Donald and Scrooge) or just Donald?

I’ve got the Swedish collection, and I have no particular problem with the coloring. I love that things like Donald’s and Scrooge’s clothes are consistent throughout. Sure, I’d prefer to have it in English, but at least they kept the original lettering for titles and sound effects.

I had a collection of about 700 Walt Disney comics that I collected by myself as a boy from the 1950’s to the 1960’s. I couldn’t afford to buy all the comic books at the store (I was dirt poor), so I collected very few Batmans, Supergirls, etc. and specialized in Disney comics. Even as a grade school kid I recognized that the Carl Barks comics were the best, and I mean of ALL comics. And Uncle Scrooge was the best of all! I know, you’re asking where are they now? In the late 1970’s I sold them to a comic book store in Sacramento for 1/10 their worth to keep them in the hands of avid collectors, as I was afraid they might get damaged or lost if I kept them. Later I worked for Disney and designed and manufactured the animation tables for the Disney School of Animation at Cal Arts in 1988 when they geared up to really start pouring out feature animation (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, etc.). Disney is not a good company to work for, by the way, but that’s my personal experience. (I wrote an original stageplay (“As You Might Like It”) which was stolen from me at Cal Arts in 1988 and used to make “Shakespeare In Love” and Disney was the holding company and they refused to pay me my treatment fee. (Script theft is widespread in Hollywood.) But I read the original Carl Barks comics fresh from the comic racks at the stores for 10 cents apiece under the Dell brand, then Gold Key brand and when comics went up to 12 cents I was outraged! For 25 cents I could get 2 comics and a 5 cent candy bar.

Exciting news! Ive seen the collections on ebay go for ridiculous prices,so im extremely happy Fanta is putting these out! Ive read maybe one Barks comic but it was enough tohook me. Cant wait!

el_caifan

All Barks duck stories.

Great news!!!! The best news since the Complete Peanuts Collection.
I love the coloring idea. The size (7×10″) is fine for me. The only bad thing: 15 years.

Hey Kimbo, will there be any international restriction for this? You know, the typical “Available only in the United States, Canada, and Guam” disclaimer? I think Peanuts had it, and it wouldn’t be the first time for Disney comics either.

“One last thing; guessing from the interview, is the first (seventh…uh, you know) volume on the series going to contain all the stories from 1948-1949, or just most from each year? I’d greatly appreciate some light shed on this. Thank you so much for all of your attention; you can count with my complete support from now on!”

I wanna know this, too! The interview only mentions about 4 or 5 long stories that belong to both years, yet they were much more long stories in that period!

Gary and Kim,

My feelings are hurt that you didn’t mention my name in association with the Barks comics.

But you can make up for it by sending me one copy of each book you publish. And by the way,

I haven’t been kept up-to-date on the Peanuts books.

Are you going after EC next? You’re stepping on my toes!

Russ

…and I agree about the size. Old farts like me want to see the artwork at least comic-book size,
not smaller!! Go for something like 8 x 11″

Russ

…and don’t worry about erecting a statue to me and Bruce Hamilton. It’s already been done, at least
my statue is done, in bronze, standing about 8 feet tall. I would enclose a photo if this system allowed it.

Russ

I hope you can buy them directly off the fantagraphics website. I can’t wait. I’ll get two of each one!

Again, just to clarify, that “collected in a comprehensive manner” quote was my gaffe and not a direct quote of anything Gary (or Kim) said. My apologies to Russ and the late Mr. Hamilton as I sincerely wasn’t trying to slight them or their efforts but just trying to point out how long Barks has been neglected since their collections. Again, my apologies.

Two words – THANK YOU!

Thanks for all your comments and well-wishes. And even your critiques.

First, here are is the list of stories that will appear in our first volume (Lost in the Anders). Please note that this, like many of our plans, is always contingent upon approval by Disney:

“Toyland” –
“Jumping to Conclusions”
“The Golden Christmas Tree”
“The True Test”
“Ornaments on the Way”
“The Crazy Quiz Show”
“Race to the South Seas”
“Truant Officer Donald”
“DD’s Worst Nightmare”
“Pizen Spring Dude Ranch”
“Too Fit to Fit”
“Lost in the Andes!”
“Tunnel Vision”
“Sleepy Sitters”
“Rival Beachcombers”
“The Sunken Yaht”
“Managing the Echo System”
“Plenty of Plates”
“Slippery Shine”
“Voodoo Hoodoo”

Second, I want to clear up the misapprehension that I said Barks had not been systematically or comprehensively published. As Chris mentioned, that was his comment in his intro and it wasn’t accurate. As Russ Cochran reminded everyone here, he and Bruce Hamilton reprinted every Barks Duck story in magnificent hardcover editions in the ’70s and ’80s. These were printed in an oversized formats, three volumes per boxed set, b&w, and terrific editions for the time. I bought every volume as they were coming out, still own them to this day (they’re all sitting in the Fantagraphics library) and continue to treasure them. Russ and Bruce were pioneers in the area of reprinting some of the best commercial comic books ever produced — Disney’s Barks work and the EC line, and they deserve great credit for that. When my now-16-year-old son was 4, 5, 6, I read him all the Barks stories from those books (as well as from the Little Lulu volumes that Bruce and Russ also published!). (This may go a long way to explain why my son loves b&w comics today — Love & Rockets being a favorite.)

These big hardcover books were clearly aimed at collectors and hard-core fans like myself. We’re doing something substantially different: creating a format that will reach a wider and deeper readership — in addition to the comics fan. One of our missions is to spread the gospel by attracting readers who have never heard of Carl Barks and aren’t even interested in comics auteurs or graphic novels necessarily. We want to attract the general book buying audience to these books while doing justice to and maintaining the integrity of Barks’ work.

Sign me up. I dont care how long it takes. I have faith in Fantagraphics. Every book I own published by them is extremely classy. I will buy every volume. I just hope that Disney doesnt interfere with any political correctness issues. I doubt they will though because they have to know that this is going to a similar audience that their treasures sets shoot for: the fan (and a very specific fan at that), not some mope that has no idea what they are buying.

I really need to catch up with Peanuts… I love their volumes of Krazy Kat. Oh and I am in for Pogo as well when those eventually make it. And I really love their newer editions of Love & Rockets.

“Voodoo Hoodoo”? Cool! At least I’ll be able to read it uncensored in english!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I too am concerned about the size of reproduction. As someone who was privileged to watch Carl draw and ink his pages at 2.5 times the size they were reproduced in comic book format (before Western started doing reprints in an even smaller size), I can testify to the mastery of his technique. Holding his original Bristol boards (he worked in half pages, as full pages were too large to manage) was for me as thrilling as it would have been for a composer or musician to caress Mozart’s original music sheets. Except for the flashes of light in the ducks’ eyes, Carl’s panels were not covered with gobs of thick white tempera as is the work of many cartoonists. His finished art was just that — finished art. You would be better off to publish in a larger, standard trim size, which in the U.S is 8.5 x 11 inches, and if you do the math you’ll find the cost difference is negligible, with the increase in quality worth a buck or two extra to Barks aficionados. Also, an excellent and quite economical uncoated acid free paper stock to consider is Exact Offset Opaque, available in a 70 pound text, which affords virtually no show through. A natural rather than white sheet will give the pages a most pleasing appearance. You are quite correct to make the colors more subdued, tending toward pastels, as one of Carl’s ongoing rants (beyond the awful printing quality of the comic books), was about the grossly overstated palette used by the colorists, which obscured rather than enhanced his artwork. “And look at the (expletive) blue roof they put on Gaspar’s adobe hacienda,” he would exclaim, referring to the 1951 printing of his beloved tale, Old California. “Everyone knows Spanish tiles are terra cotta!” Everyone but Western’s color department, evidently. Give yourselves some latitude in adjusting those colors, rather than attempting to duplicate what was printed in the comic books, as the U.S. publishers were interested neither in quality nor accuracy.

The notion that it’s necessary to reduce the size of the books to reach “a wider and deeper readership” is as ridiculous as thinking that you can do that while “doing justice to and maintaining the integrity of Barks’ work”.

And, as Joseph Cowles demonstrates, Kim Thompson is full of it when he says:

“The great cartoonists designed the work for maximum efficiency at the final print size.”

Masters of bullshit defending the indefensible.

8.5×11″ hardcover volumes aren’t gonna be $24.99. Raising the price whittles away the books’ intended general audience.

It’s not like they’re shrinking ‘em down to digest-size either. 7×10 is pretty damned close to standard comic dimensions.

Also,

“Give yourselves some latitude in adjusting those colors, rather than attempting to duplicate what was printed in the comic books, as the U.S. publishers were interested neither in quality nor accuracy.”

Quoted for emphasis!

I am pleased as punch over this. As far as I’m concerned we’ve already had the best bit of comic book news for 2011.

I discovered Barks in drips and drabs in the early 90s thanks to the Disney Comics reprints. We are long, long overdue to have easily accessible collections of all his work.

My only disappointment is that we aren’t getting 3 a year, and we aren’t jumping straight into the awesomeness that is Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge, of course, being the greatest of Disney’s characters either in print or film.

I’d love to see quality collections of the other great duck artists like Rosa (yes, I know Boom! has some work coming), Vicar and WIlliam Van Horn.

These comics are classic, fun to read, beautifully illustrated and for the young and young at heart. Exactly what comics SHOULD BE!

Will there be a subscription to this production?

AWESOME NEWS :) CB is really one of the best within the realm of comics. In relation to the size, I think it is a nice choise. I love the Hellboy series but have found that another stellar artist such as Mike Mignola actually works best in the TPBs than in the oversized library editions. In relation to the colouring: AWESOME! I was hoping on a facsimile collection of his works but this is MUCH better. Cannot wait till i can see the result. A few Qs, however: Will this be an uncensored version? And will you perhaps make choises to accomendate Carl Barks’ original artistic wishes such as remove the half-closed eye lids in Bombie the Zombie’s eyes (which I believe was the work of someone at Western as they found the glaring white eyes too scary), What about the story Back to the Klondike? Will you guys print the “new” restored version which contains the panels staring the young Glittering Goldie? And the redrawn panels by Barks himself (these were inked by Daan Jippes). How are you gonna reprint Race to the South Seas? Given the circumstances surrounding this story (and Darkest Africa) I take that you will reprint this particualr story as a facsimile? In order to stay as true to Barks original as possible? Last question, are you gonna reprint the Junior Woodchuck stories and all the other stories which Carl Barks either wrote or plotted before his death? Could be pretty cool if you did as this would truly make this poduction the ONLY really complete in the world (which could be appropiate since you are producing what is to be considered the international editon of Carl Barks’ works) the big Skandinavian edition (with its AWFUL colouring) isn’t even complete as they failed to include a few of the last stories which Barks was involved in. Of course none of these stories are as great as the ones The Duck Man wrote and drew himself, but they are a fun read. Even those plotted by Barks and written by Geoffrey Blum as they provide a last insight into the story lines which were to be found in this great artist’s mind. Cannot wait untill this fall so I can get my two copies of this book ( and hopefully THREE (six) next year? :p)

– A Danish fan

Danish fan,

Thanks for your interesting post. Could you elucidate (for those of us not as thoroughly versed in Barksiana) regarding the circumstances surrounding “Race to the South Seas” and “Darkest Africa,” as well as any other problem stories readers/buyers should be aware of?

I’m afraid Groth has pretty much answered the censorship question, though obliquely: “Please note that this, like many of our plans, is always contingent upon approval by Disney:” I trust they will try their darnedest to print Barks in the most complete, un-tampered-with form possible. The inclusion of editorial material makes it easy to address affronts to political correctness, and why these volumes must present the original versions. (But restored versions are great, too.)

@M-K :)

Hey, what i mean is that the original proof sheets for these particular stories ( Race to the South Seas, Darkest Africa and a few others e.g. Donald’s Atom Bomb) are missing and thus subsequent printings have been re-inked versions (reinked by others). Therefore, in order to present the most original editions of these stories the best way would arguably be to merely include them as digitally cleaned fascimiles. This was also done in the Skandinavian The Carl Barks Collection, which, btw, featured all of Barks’ stories uncensored. Therefore, it would seem rather odd if Disney allows the Europeans to see the stories as they were created but not the Americans? Also, being in the English language, one must consider Fanta’s edition as an international edition of Carl Barks’ works and therefore hpefully this can help persuade Disney to indeed allow the stories to appear uncensored. But whether these books are gonna be censored or uncensored they would still be worth buying. Carl Barks is AWESOME :D

Part of me is tempted to ask “will you be publishing the final Junior Woodchucks stories written by Barks and later re-drawn (in a style closer to Barks’) by Daan Jippes?”

But another part of me realizes that I will be turning 50 by the time this series nears its end. I will wait and ask my question then!

It only took 2011 two days to deliver the best comic book news out of the whole year. Fantastic.

I’m curious as to why the official Fantagraphics page has yet to acknowledge the existence of this project, though.

I bow to the wisdom of the posters who believe cartoonists were totally oblivious to the final reproduction size of their work, and that printers don’t charge you more when you use more paper, or that if books cost more to print publishers don’t have to charge more for them, or that if books are more expensive this won’t cut down on the audience. C’mon, “Lad,” do I come to your place of business and complain that the french fries aren’t golden enough?

I own a few books that include blown-up (relative to intended printed size) editions of cartoonists’ work — Moebius, Franquin — and while I treasure them as art objects, when I want to actually re-read the work, I never go to the oversize versions but to the “classic” versions.

The argument that the new edition should correct coloring mistakes or misjudgments of the original seem to me to be a very slippery slope. Short of having the original artist perched on your shoulder, this would all be wild conjecture. I mean, if we find a panel where the ducks’ beaks were colored green in one panel, I suspect we’ll fix that (although I assume the hardcore “respect the original printing as the text” fans would protest). Unless Joseph Cowles (at whom I was NOT aiming with the above crack, his was a fine, courteous, informative and sensible post with which we just don’t necessarily fully agree) has a ouija board we can borrow, those blue roofs will probably stay.

Leif Barbré Knudsen

January 12, 2011 at 12:55 am

Dear Kim Thompson.

I’m 51 and raised on Donald Duck and specially the Carls Barks stories are an integral part of my memory. I am very happy that a conscientious effort is made to reissue this cultural treasure in a quality manner.
It saddens me though that a marketing issue is a deciding factor on a crucial matter as size. The original size is a holy grail that should not be tampered with.

There is of course a relation between price and volume businesswise. But is 24.99 a magical figure? If it is 1-2 dollars more expensive it might reduce the volume marginally. But the revenue might stay the same if the volume is only affected by the same percentage as the added price.
I subscribed to the Egmont Danish series and that cost a fortune … but it seemed to be sound business for Egmont so even an exorbitant price wasn’t prohibitive.
Please reconsider the size issue.

I also feel worried about the execptional long time of the series to complete. 15 years! I might not even live to get the last one! Are you sure that the market cannot consume 4 issues per year with the same total sell? I guess a deciding factor is the number of collectors versus casual buyers.

Will there be a subscription option?

Kind regards
Leif Knudsen

I believe the art is going to be about 96% or 97% of the size it was printed in the comics, i.e. a differential so infinitesimal that no one who is not actually setting the two editions side by side and measuring them will ever notice. My cost argument was against those who were suggesting the blown-up 8 x 11 size or bigger, sizes of 110% or whatever, where yes, the costs can mount up very quickly.

There is no reason we can’t tweak the release schedule as we go, and get a sense of how the market responds. (In retrospect I believe, for instance, that the twice-yearly schedule for PEANUTS was just right, despite AAUUGHHs from ageing, impatient fans at the time.) There is a LOT of classic material being released, and seems to be even more day by day — as it is, Disney fans in general will already be forking over $110 a year just between this and the Gottfredson MICKEY.

Thanks for these edition. I’m from Spain where outrageous Planeta DeAgostini editorial made an attempt to publish the complete Barks library in hardcover format but it didn’t sell well so it was cancelled (4 volumes per 25€ each). Colors were those Photoshop people talk about here. And they began chronological so we missed “Lost in the Andes” or “Uncle Scrooge” first appearance. The worst thing is that volume 4 had the final page of “Fireman Donald” missing. Nobody in the editorial realized about it (even the translator) and they didn’t make a replacement or money back. Sad but true.
All the Disney stuff was also cancelled.
So you guys are lucky to have these new edition for a good price and non chronological order. ¡Well, I’m lucky too as I will order via amazon or bookdepository!

For a complete listing of Carl Barks stories check the biggest ducks database:

http://coa.inducks.org/creator.php?c=CB&c1=date&pg=0

If Kim is still reading this (and if he is, thanks for the patience!), I would like to know one final question: Will the collection have the later Barks-written stories that were at the time penciled by second-rate artists like Tony Storbl and Kay Wright but are nowadays being redrawn in a much more “Barksian” style by Daan Jippes? And if so, which version? The older, the newer or both?

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Hi Pedro. There are no plans for reprinting the Barks-written-but-not-drawn stories per se (I think we can all agree they are among his lesser works), but in any event, if we were to do so it would be at the very tail end of the project so it’s not a bridge we have to cross for many, many years. It would be kind of a neat book, particularly since Daan Jippes is great. But I’d rather reprint Barks BARNEY BEAR stories, for example, before that. Barks trumps all!

It’s so nice that Kim keeps returning to this page to answer questions!

I have one: will the books include the covers to the original comics drawn by Barks, either as full-pages within the books or perhaps reproduced smaller within? Simply curious, I would understand either way.

In all the years I’ve been hoping that someone would bring the Complete Barks back into print, I had never really given much thought to the different considerations in marketing it towards new readers vs. hardcore Barks fans. And though I was disappointed back when Gemstone lost their Disney license RIGHT before they were to begin issuing their own Complete Barks series, I’m so much happier that Fantagraphics is handling it now.

I was expecting another giant, hardcover slipcase edition – basically like the Another Rainbow but in color and chronological rather than grouped by title. But it’s so true that an edition like that would pretty much ONLY appeal to people who already love Barks enough to shell out big money, OR to a certain type of person who might read an interesting write-up about it and take a chance on it. But– crucially– it’s hard to imagine ANY significant amount of young readership checking it out, and that would be a real shame.

I grew up reading my dad’s old Dell comics, and then collecting those along with old Gold Key editions along with brand new Whitman comics that would come three-wrapped-in-a-plastic-bag at a local gas station. And those Whitman comics would always have a Barks story along with a bunch of deeply inferior Disney comics– often poorly drawn and much less funny and interesting than the classic tales they were printed alongside. I love knowing that starting next year, more kids are going to be rediscovering these great Barks stories.

At this point, I’m guessing that Fantagraphics might regret even mentioning the size issue, since it’s turning out to be much less of a difference than they had thought, and now so many are harping on it as if these books are going to be digest-sized or something. Given FB’s track record in handling classic comics, I find it really difficult not to just trust that they love these comics and will see to it that these books are nothing short of extraordinary.

The only other question that I can think of that I don’t believe has been directly addressed is the issue of things that were “censored” or changed in the AR editions– stuff that was altered because it might be considered offensive now. I know a lot of people get very fixated on this type of thing, but to me, it’s a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, there’s the matter of not messing with Barks’ original work– on the other hand, Disney has to approve everything, and they probably don’t want to put out a book that’s going to upset parents or have any stink of controversy or offensiveness.

How’s it gonna be handled? Original comics, unaltered? Censored? Is it entirely Disney’s call?

Again, I’m more curious than concerned. I will buy these books for 15 years either way!

Let’s see if I can dip my toes back into the ever-swirling waters of this converation (which may presently be the most interesting discussion on the ‘net), without stirring up silt. I’ll begin with Kim Thompson’s posting of 11:24 pm on 8 January, with apologies in advance for my verbosity.

* * *

My January 5 comment regarding Carl’s ongoing agonies about Western’s colorization obscuring rather than enhancing his artwork was not figurative, but a recollection of what he told me some fifty years ago, ranting: “Where in blazes do they think Gaspar would have come up with blue-glazed roofing tiles in the early 1800’s?”

A classic example of Western’s unfortunate color choices appears on the cover of Four Color 422, the original 1952 publication of Carl’s “Gilded Man” yarn. The whole sequence of the ducks’ interactions with El Dorado begins with Donald’s having dared to touch the golden man’s prized silver buckles on the mail pouch, and ends with his nephews painting the giant’s pantyhose silver. Yet on the cover of the comic book, the colorist (who clearly had no knowledge of what went on in the story) shows the ducklings escaping with the mail pouch and its GOLD buckles.

Barks had absolutely no say-so regarding colors. The premiere runs of WDC&S and the DD and Scrooge titles were not much better than the reruns (which were recolorized, occasionally improving upon the earlier printing, but not by far). Scan a page and zoom in on it, and you’ll see how poorly the colorist’s work fits Carl’s pen lines, and that the print registration is often way off. Both of these problems are exacerbated by the ink wicking out on the porous news-pulp.

The point being, Western was in business to churn out comic books and couldn’t care less about bad registration or inaccurate coloring details that jumped out at the readers.

* * *

Carls stories, as Leif Knudsen notes (January 12), can be “an integral part” of our memories, and of course we fans are are all hoping that the Fantagraphics reproductions will be true to those memories. But Leif’s statement that “the original size is a holy grail that should not be tampered with” doesn’t ring true because, as a young man of 51 years, Leif would have been reading reprints, not originals. In the US, the reprinted comics were released at a smaller size than the previous printings, and this may have been true with the overseas editions as well. So the question of size needs to be considered newly, not based on what may have been done before.

I assume Kim Thonpson’s point that a reduction to about 96 percent of the size of the comic books refers to the original DELL version, and not the shrunk-down Gold Key or even Gladstone versions. Either way, Kim is quite correct that the projected amount of reduction is infinitesimal. However, the original original original size (that at which Carl drew them) was huge, about 2.5 times larger than it appeared in the comics. The actual panels measured 5.5625 inches high, and were reproduced in the comics at 2.125 inches high. The point of this hair splitting is that the stories should be reproduced by Fantagraphics at the largest possible size appropriate to their press requirements, without concern for any of the various sizes in which they may have appeared previously.

* * *

Nothing will come close to the the visual impact of Carl’s pen and ink drawings. And it wouldn’t be practical from a pricing standpoint to consider reproducing the pages anywhere near the size of the original (now non-existent) art. But it might be appealing to publish them as the half pages Carl drew, in a landscape format on a standard trim size (11 x 8.5 inches in the US). I am curious to know if Fanta’s Disney agreement is somehow locked into the page size and the edition you are planning to offer, or if you are allowed latitude to offer them to your customers in a choice of paperback as well as casebound editions in more than one size.

I would be willing to pay more to own them in a half-page landscape format. Especially the work Carl produced in the late Forties and early Fifties. Such books would contain half as many stories and could be released four per year instead of twice. What a collection that would make!

It’s the art and stories of Carl Barks that has my interest, not the fact that in some long ago time they cost a dime (originally a nickel) and were printed on cheap pulp paper. Your printers of today can’t help but do a better job than the original comics, and that’s wonderful news except for one small matter: the better the reproduction, the more the flaws show up. Good colorization is a painstaking job. Because of a characteristic of Carl’s art, the colors cannot simply be “flowed on” in Photoshop. Many of his pen strokes do not quite touch one another, meaning that there are tiny holidays which allow the digital color to flow into areas where it doesn’t belong. The work will be slow-going and tedious.

Fanta is doing the right thing by publishing the fabulous work of Carl’s best years right from the get-go. I personally don’t fit the term”collector,” so will be making my purchases strictly for enjoyment. There are plenty of great Barks tales I haven’t seen in more than a half century, and at my age it’s not a good idea to plan on waiting too long for anything. As for those “peak” years of the Forties and Fifties, you can have my subscription order right now. We should all be placing our orders in advance anyway, so Fanta can be sure to have enough copies printed. Folks who delay ordering may get bumped from the initial press run, and it always costs more to go back on press than to print more copies to begin with. I’m betting Fantagraphics will sell out of the first printings pretty rapidly.

Lastly (whew!), I applaud Fantagraphics for undertaking this daunting task. We Barks fans are indeed rabid, and if there’s the slightest thing that we consider out of place, we tend to foam at the mouth and give chase. So . . . Thank you!

“This conversation presently be the most interesting discussion on the ‘net”.

¡Yeaahh!. You Carl Barks fans please keep this outstanding discussion. I’ve read a lot of great italian artists duck stories in my childhood (Giorgio Pezzin, Massimo de Vita, Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano, Giovan Battista Carpi). And I have “Lost in the Andes! from Barks and “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” from Don Rosa. But nothing more.

So I’m avidly waiting for this Barks and Rosa Libraries to begin. Can’t wait.

Quickly: (1) Censorship: Disney’s call, we hope for the best. (2) All covers: Included.

1) Good to know, and it must be kind of a relief in some ways for this question to be out of FB’s hands. The people who will be angriest about this probably already hate the Disney corporation anyway. I must admit that I find it hard to get too worked up about small changes like the kind that were in the AR editions. Most of the time that Barks veered into ethnic stereotypes or the like, it wasn’t like he was making some sort of grand statement, it was usually done for a throwaway gag. I know that to some, ANY alteration to the original work is unforgivable, but I don’t think the AR changes are anything like, say, the recently altered Huck Finn, where to alter the language really damages the point of the work itself. Honestly, I sympathize with Disney’s reluctance to take a bunch of heat for something offensive in new editions of 50-year old comics.

2) Hooray! I was hoping that we’d get the covers, since some of those are among Barks’ most iconic images…

Another question, maybe a dumb one: you know that notorious sequence of Mickey Mouse strips where he attempts suicide multiple times? Was that when Floyd Gottfredson was doing the strip, and if so, will that be included in Fantagraphics’ series?

IF Disney will not allow you to print the original uncensored stories EVEN if you rightly so accompany each storie with a brief article explaining why a particular story can appear offensive, will Fanta then at the very least include brief aritcles explaining WHAT was censored in the stories instead. Kinda a way to still reveal the content of the original comic and “fool” Disney so the real content will see the light of day albeit in a written form. Also, will Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse be published twice a year or do we get only one volume per year?

And awesome about the covers :) However, will it be exclusively Barks’ covers or also those of the comics which featured a Barks story and for which Barks himself did not make the cover?

Paulo E.P.Vasconcellos - Brazil

January 27, 2011 at 9:19 am

I can´t wait new Fantagraphics collection with complete Carl Barks comic works in color!

Who doesn’t own the great “Carl Barks Library” will have to spend a lot of money to get a complete collection in mint or near mint condition.

With regard Barks-written-but-not-drawn stories, I agree partly. Perhaps those stories are among Barks lesser works. But it is important to remember that Carl Barks isn’t only the best Disney comic book artist ever. He is also the best Disney comic book writer ever.

I believe that “Pawns of the Loup Garou”, Officer For A Day”,”A Day in a Duck’s Life” and “King Scrooge the First” are much better than the other Disney comic book stories in the seventies and Barks last comic book works “Horsing Around With History” and “Somewhere in Nowhere” are good Disney comic stories.

Finally, I consider that 23 Junior Woodchucks stories writen by Barks from 1970 to 1975 are the best JW stories from the seventies to the present day.
In my opinion, there are at least five of those JW stories that if were also been drawn by Barks would be among the greatest Duck Man classics :
“Saviors Of The Lake “, “Maple Sugar Time (How Sweet It Is!) “, “Traitor in the Ranks “
“Storm Dancers “ and “Peril of the Black Forest”(Some “Avatar” scenes gave me a dejavu feeling).

I would like that all Barks-written-but-not-drawn stories could appear in the end of the new colection.

PS : Fortunately all 23 Junior Woodchucks stories was reprinted in the end of collection “O Melhor da Disney- As Obras Completas De Carl Barks”( Brazilian version of CBL published from 2004 to 2008).
There are five original versions, one drawn by Tony Strobl, two drawn by
John Carey and three drawn by Kay Wright. And there are eighteen remakes drawn by Daan Jippes.
It is pretty good because some works of all artists that drew Barks Junior Woodcucks scripts are shown .

Paulo E.P.Vasconcellos - Brazil

January 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

Errata : There are 24 Junior Woodchucks stories writen by Barks from 1970 to 1975 (not 23).

I couldn’t agree more with Paulo, even if those stories aren’t as memorable as earlier efforts, they’re still worth remembering…Besides, if you guys do publish all of the Barks written-but-not-drawn stories, you’d be the first ones ever to TRULY bring out an ABSOLUTELY COMPLETE Barks’ collection. Even the magnificent Collected Works of Carl Barks are missing “Somewhere in Nowhere”, in both its original version and as the 10-pager one.

Please, do it and make history in the process!

It’s great news to hear that the original covers will all be included! Kudos to you guys!

Now, time to get curious/greedy and ask if you’re also going to showcase Barks’ paintings in this series. Lost In The Andes does have a painting dedicated to it, after all…

I agree about the inclusion of the written-but-not-drawn Barks stories (having asked about it earlier in this comments thread), that they are an important part of the whole body of work, and they are fascinating in how they show Barks’ worldview (pro-environmental, cynical about big business) and the way he reverts Scrooge to the role of the rich villain for those latter-day stories.

However, I do think it is almost literally the lowest priority for Fantagraphics at this stage in the game– we are 15 years away from them having any reason to consider publishing this material! Who knows who’ll even be making the call at that point…

Will there be a yearly box set with two books like the one for the Complete Peanuts?

Good question. I love the Peanuts series but those nice boxes with the two volumes would make it easier/nicer to store.

About freakin’ time!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve got a bunch of the Barks stories in various formats, but all of them published in chronological order (eventually) is the best way to go. I like that there will be some text pieces, too, and hopefully some sketch, etc. artwork. Certainly, there should be covers included (at least when Barks drew/painted them). Also like the number of pages per volume … plenty of material per book. Price point is not bad (wouldn’t like it any higher). Couple of concerns: 90% of comic size? Smaller is not better. Also, would really love to have the publishing schedule reduced from 15 years to 10 years, or 3 volumes per annum. Otherwise, everything sounds great!

ThankyouThankyouThankyou! This is the best news! Maybe now some people will actually understand what I’m talking about when I mention, say, Gladstone Gander. Ignorant high school students.
Two requests, though I know you’ve recieved them tons of times: please try not to censor the stories. Maybe some of the material is a little shocking in modern times, but you have to remember they were written in the 50s/60s. Last request, please include the other material, such as sketches and Barks-written stories.

Paulo E.P.Vasconcellos - Brazil

March 14, 2011 at 3:09 am

I agree with the Richie and C. Ratliff.
I believe Fantagraphis will take the best decision 15 years from now: Publish all written-but-not-drawn Barks comic book stories.

As Richie said, Fantagraphis will have the opportunity to be the first one to bring out a ABSOLUTELY COMPLETE Barks’ comic book works collection. To achieve this goal, in addition to mentioned stories, “Pluto saves the ship” should be published in new collection as well.
“Pluto saves the ship” was written by Carl Barks and Jack Hannah and was the very first Barks’ work on comic books preceding few months “Donald Duck finds pirate gold”.

PS: Another errata:
-“I believe that “Pawns of the Loup Garou”, “Officer For A Day”,”A Day in a Duck’s Life” and “King Scrooge the First” are much better than the other Disney comic book stories in the late sixties and early seventies.”.
(NOT “… Disney comic book stories in the seventies.”).
-“In O Melhor da Disney- As Obras Completas De Carl Barks” six (NOT five) original versions of JW stories only written by Barks were published. One drawn by Tony Strobl, two drawn by John Carey and three drawn by Kay Wright.

European Duckfan

March 14, 2011 at 8:16 am

Could you also publish the cover of the first Disney comic in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands?
http://coa.inducks.org/story.php?c=DC+AA1949-01
It’s not Barks original, but Huey, Dewey and Louie have been taken from a Barks story. It’s special for many European fans, because, as mentioned earlier, it’s the cover of the first Anders And & Co (Denmark), the first Donald Duck (The Netherlands), the first Donald Duck & Co. (Norway), and the first Kalle Anka & C:O (Sweden).

Will these also be collected in two-volume slipcased editions, like Peanuts?

One copy per month would be better for many of us collectors. Moreover, we won’t have to wait for 15 years to get the entire set. I also agree that these reprints should not be censored and ought to be presented as they appeared in the 1950’s and 1960’s comic books. The way they were drawn were not offensive. There is more offensive stuff in the comic books of today than those of 50 years ago.

Gary Groth? Question for you.

I know this is a pretty late question – seeing as how this interview was published months ago.

The Mickey Mouse book is phenomenal! I noticed that everything was published with no censorship.

Would you be able to tell me if whether or not two of my favorite Donald Duck stories “In Darkest Africa” & “Voodoo Hoodoo” will be reprinted unchanged? Too my knowledge these two stories have never been reprinted unaltered in the US.

If you’re not allowed to divulge that at this point, I understand. Thanks

The previous question is very important! The re-inking by Dick Vlottes is horrible and absolutely un-Barkslike!

I thought Russ Cochran once published a large-sized multi-volume set titled THE CARL BARKS LIBRARY (in the same vein as the gorgeous oversized EC sets). Those are incredibly hard to find at any price, so I am quite thankful for this new, complete version. Tho still expensive in total, purchasing in smaller amounts over time, like the Peanuts volumes (which are regularly 30 percent off or more online) helps most collectors; we’re very grateful for that.

I wish them the best of success with it!

Lawrence R. Gustin

June 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I just picked up your “Lost in the Andes” volume the other day (June 2012) so had to do a lot of catch-up reading of all the comments. At 75, I’m probably one of the older Barks fans (I think my first one in the mid 1940s was the “Ghost Morgan’s Treasure” Better Little Book which summarizes “Finds Pirate’s Gold.” Altho I did have a Comics & Stories subscription around 1943). Many years later I did a couple of newspaper reviews on the reprint books and Barks and I exchanged several long letters as I tried to do a piece for the Another Rainbow books. Carl even sent me an autographed DD sketch which is framed. In reading the blurbs in “Andes” and the above comments I was at first very surprised that no recognition was given to Cochran/Hamilton/Another Rainbow/Gladstone/Gemstone. To read that not much had been done on Barks couldn’t have been further from the truth. Anyway, I see you later caught up with all that, thanks in part to fans. I only hope you correct things by discussing those previous efforts, and the Barks paintings, in future volumes. I do think “Golden Christmas Tree” is a weak example of the best of Barks, even the best of Barks at Christmas. I would have chosen the first Scrooge or “A Christmas for Shacktown” or the one with the dueling steam shovels instead, but that’s what makes the world go ’round….

Great news !

( I have the entire Barks collection already, but then again, I live in the Netherlands. )

I do not agree with following the original colouring – Barks drew in black and white !
In Scrooge McDuck – his life and times, the colouring is as good as it gets, and I think modern kids would appreciate beautiful colouring…

Vincenzo Calcopietro

April 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I’m a big fan of Carl Barks, here in Brazil the complete work was published by Editora on April 5.
I already bought 6 volumes published by Fanagraphic, and intend to complete the collection, and that if I live until the last issue because I am 65 years old.
I would love if you could accelerate a bit editions, how about 4 per year? I would have more chances to complete the collection.

thank you

Are the Gyro stories going to be published?

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