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Comics A.M. | Bandai halts new manga, anime releases

Bandai Entertainment

Publishing | The anime and manga company Bandai Entertainment will stop distributing new products in February, although its existing catalog will continue to be available until the licenses expire. The company will shift its focus to licensing its properties for digital distribution and merchandising. President and CEO Ken Iyadomi said the decision to shut down new-product operations was made by the Japanese parent company without his input, and he strongly implied the underlying problem was that the corporate parent wanted to charge more for its anime than the current market will bear. Bandai published the Lucky Star, Kannagi and Eureka Seven manga, among others; all new manga volumes have been canceled, which means Kannagi will be left incomplete, at least for now. [Anime News Network]

Awards | The finalists for the Cybils, the blogger’s literary awards for children’s and YA books, have been posted, and they include five nominations each in the children’s and YA graphic novel categories. [Cybils Awards]

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What Are You Reading? with Comic Book Resources

Officer Downe

Hello and welcome to a special birthday bash edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature. Typically the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently, but since it’s our anniversary, we thought we’d invite all our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources and Comics Should Be Good! to join in the fun.

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 4

And a partridge in a pear tree … we wrap up our Holiday Gift-Giving Guide today with even more gift suggestions from comic pros. Like the previous days, we asked them:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve gotten the chance to check out the previous three installments. If not, it isn’t too late:

Part 1: Jim McCann, Matt Kindt, Daryl Gregory, Jim “Zub” Zubkavich, Jamie S. Rich, Ryan Cody
Part 2: Jeff Parker, Tim Seeley, Ross Campbell, Kody Chamberlain, Ian Brill, Jamaica Dyer
Part 3: Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kagan McLeod, Kevin Colden, Thom Zahler, Van Jensen

And here is today’s round-up …

Joey Weiser

1. For the kids (or kids-at-heart): Okie Dokie Donuts by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos – One of my favorite books of the year. Each page is crammed to the brim with kinetic artwork and fun comics!

For the art lover: “Behold! The Dinosaurs!” print by Dustin Harbin – Absolutely gorgeous print featuring one of my favorite subjects: Dinosaurs!

For the comic strip enthusiast: Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson – Super engaging strips that are full of life and very funny. I’m very glad that Fantagraphics is publishing these.

For the manga reader: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi – A recent series that I’ve been infatuated with after having it recommended to me by several friends. A manga with a very welcoming atmosphere and tons of heart.

For the indie-minded: A few comics from Blank Slate Books: Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards and The Survivalist by Box Brown – Two great-looking books from a publisher that might be off some folks’ radars at the moment. I haven’t even read these yet, and I feel confident recommending them!

2. Well, my dad has a long-standing tradition of giving me a volume of the Complete Peanuts collections for birthdays and holidays, so I’ve got that covered. Let’s see…

I suppose there are a few Japanese imported books that would make the top of my list of things I’ve had my eye on, but haven’t had the chance/extra cash to buy for myself. These fall under the category of “Things That I’m Not Likely to Stumble Across In-Person and Say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get that!’” Two that come to mind are One Piece Green, a “databook” which contains a treasure-trove of sketches and notes from Eiichiro Oda from the years leading up to and during his epic manga series One Piece. I’ve also been eyeing some Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege No Kitaro, Onward Towards Our Noble Death) yokai encyclopedias that pop up on eBay. Those look Beautiful with a capital B!

Joey Weiser is the creator of Cavemen in Space, Monster Isle, The Ride Home and Mermin. He also writes the Spongebob Squarepants comic.

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The Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 2

Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 1

Yesterday we kicked off our holiday gift-giving guide, where we asked creators like Jim McCann, Matt Kindt and more for gift suggestion and what they’d want to receive this year. Today we’re back with six more creators, and we asked them the same questions:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

So without further ado, let the joy continue …

Jeff Parker

1. If you have young children, you can give them hours of quality time with any of Dark Horse’s Harvey Comics collections. My kids have been poring through them repeatedly. I’ll be following up with old back issues of Casper, Dot, Richie Rich and Hot Stuff from the local comics shops; they’re always very cheap.

2. I would not sneeze at getting that Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes volume from Fantagraphics.

Jeff Parker is the writer of Hulk, Thunderbolts and the webcomic Bucko.

Tim Seeley

All-Star Superman

1. I’m a firm believer in buying comics for everyone on your list, even if they aren’t an avid fan. Make ‘em a fan! All-Star Superman for the superhero fan, Dungeons & Dragons from IDW for the gamer, Habibi for the sophisticated reader, and, of course, my Hack/Slash Omnibi for the horror fan. Or, if you’re planning on dropping a bit more, might I suggest an iPad, loaded with comics apps?

2. I want the collected version of the web strip OGLAF, which I thoroughly enjoy. I wouldn’t mind a CS Moore Witchblade statue to inspire me while I write.

Tim Seeley seems to be all over the place lately, whether it’s writing the new Bloodstrike series from Extreme or Witchblade for Top Cow, drawing issues of Marvel’s Generation Hope, or working on his own creations like Hack/Slash and Jack Kraken. There’s a good chance I forgot something, but you can follow him on Twitter to learn more.

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Carl Barks’ classic painting ‘The Sport of Tycoons’ fetches $262,900

"The Sport of Tycoons," by Carl Barks

Carl Barks’ 1974 painting “The Sport of Tycoons,” which features the iconic image of Scrooge McDuck swimming in his gold-filled vault, sold at auction last week for a record $262,900.

The painting is based on Barks’ often-reprinted 1952 tale “Only a Poor Old Man,” the first story in which Scrooge was the main character (in which, while swimming in his money bin, he says, “I love to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head!”). “The Sport of Tycoons” debuted in print in 1981’s The Fine Art of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck by Carl Barks.

The piece, part of the Kerby Confer Collection, was accompanied by the Heritage Auctions sales of two other Barks originals — “Sheriff of Bullet Valley” ($107,550), and “McDuck of Duckburg” ($101,575).

The auction also saw Jerry Robinson’s original cover art for 1942’s Detective Comics #67, the first Penguin cover, fetch $239,000, which Heritage dubs the second-highest price for a piece of American comic-book art.

Comics A.M. | The case against, and for, sales estimates

X-23 #20

Sales charts | Responding to an iFanboy article that speculates on what titles Marvel might cancel next, Men of War and Viking writer Ivan Brandon makes the case against sales charts and the subsequent analysis of them each month: “There’s an ongoing debate, for a bunch of years now. There are numbers that circulate every month, inaccurate numbers, people track them, people use that flawed ‘data’ to comment on what they see as the progress or decline on the list. A lot of comics professionals are against this, for a lot of reasons. In my case, for my books, the books I personally share copyright on … my reason is, and no offense to anyone out there: My income is none of your business. Just as your income is none of mine.”

Tom Spurgeon offers a counterpoint: “Sales information seems to me an obvious positive, not because it reveals the bank accounts of creators, but because what sells and to what extent is basic information about a marketplace, and the shape and potency of a marketplace seems to me a primary item of interest for anyone covering that marketplace. It’s foundational to our understanding of how things work and why. Certainly this information is already manipulated to brazen effect by companies with something to put over on customers; I have to imagine this would become worse under a system of no information at all being released.” [Ivan Brandon, The Comics Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Alvin Schwartz passes away; Martin leaves Daredevil

Alvin Schwartz

Passings | Alvin Schwartz, the prolific writer who penned Batman comics and the Batman and Superman comic strips for DC Comics in the 1940s, passed away Oct. 28 after a long illness. He was 95. Before leaving comics in 1958, Schwartz wrote for most of DC’s titles, including Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. [News from ME]

Creators | Tucker Stone talks to Mark Waid about his work on Daredevil, and Waid confirms that Marcos Martin, originally announced as the artist on every other arc, won’t be working on the book after issue #6: “Unfortunately, it was something that came up while we were working. He’s doing 4, 5 and 6. When he came on, I don’t think things were firmed up with his next project and now they have. I salute him, and I think it’s going to be great and I want to see him go off and do creator owned stuff. But my heart breaks.” [comiXology]

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Robot reviews | Donald Duck: ‘Lost in the Andes’

Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes
by Carl Barks
Fantagraphics Books, 240 pages, $24.99.

Is Barks overrated? Is he really the comics master that people claim he is or was it simply that most of his contemporaries — especially where Disney comics were concerned — were so dull in comparison? Did the mystique surrounding Barks — the fact that he worked anonymously for so long — stoke his legend? In praising Barks, are we merely praising the surface elements of his work and ignoring whether his stories are stand up to the sort of strong critical scrutiny? Does mere nostalgia drive the bulk of our interest in his work? As one person put it on Twitter: “Is the worship of Barks just another case of comics culture’s elevation of craft over everything?”

I really don’t think so. Certainly it’s easy to get lost in the surface elements of Barks’ comics — the simple, clean lines, the skilled detail in depicting other cultures and lost civilizations, the slapstick humor. I suppose to some extent there might be a few people who come to Barks expecting to have their molecules re-arranged and will walk away sorely disappointed and wondering what all the fuss was about.

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Comics A.M. | Sparkplug to continue; Michael George in jail

Sparkplug Books

Publishing | Emily Nilsson, wife of Sparkplug Books publisher Dylan Williams, said she plans to continue running the publishing company after the death of her husband. “We need your support now as much as ever,” she said in a post on the Sparkplug blog. “We are grieving at the same time as we are trying to keep business afloat, and trying not to overstrain ourselves. We want to publish again soon but that is a step we will consider more once we get through the next few months.” Nilsson, Virginia Paine and Tom Neely will continue to run Sparkplug, with plans to continue online sales and attend conventions like the upcoming MIX in Minneapolis next month and the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in December. Williams passed away in September due to complications from cancer. [Sparkplug]

Legal | Michael George, the former comics retailer found guilty of murder for the second time, is in the Macomb County (Mich.) jail after his bond was revoked following Tuesday’s verdict. George was found guilty of murdering his first wife Barbara in the back of their comic book store in 1990. “The family’s ecstatic,” said Barbara’s brother Joe Kowynia. “There’s no way a jury is going to get this wrong twice. I feel sorry for my nieces, this is long overdue. Now that this is over, Barb can rest in peace. And we can move on and he can rot in jail.” [Detroit Free Press]

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Fantagraphics reveals covers for upcoming Barks, Gottfredson collections

Fantagraphics has revealed the final cover to Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes, the first volume in their series of Carl Barks collections. In addition, you can get a good look at the cover and spine courtesy of a brochure they published to promote the book.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

I’ll be honest: The first thing I’d do with my $15 this week would be to buy Ultimate Spider-Man #160 (Marvel, $3.99), just to finally see Peter Parker die. This storyline has seemed so drawn out and by the numbers that it’s pretty much killed my interest in the series, and I’m hoping that the final issue either has a last-minute turnaround that makes everything worthwhile, or else provides some weird karmic payback by finally living up to its title. Much less bloodthirstily, I’d also grab the first issue of David Hahn’s All Nighter (Image, $2.99), which rescues what was, I believe, a one-time Minx book and looks like an awesome mash-up of Stuart Immonen, Jaime Hernandez and, unexpectedly, Steve Rolston. In other words, pretty damn great. Finally, I’d pick up Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search For Swamp Thing #1 (DC, $2.99), for curiosity value if nothing else. I mean, John Constantine in a DCU book? How odd can that actually get?

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Talking Comics with Tim | Matthew Loux

Salt Water Taffy (Vol. 4): Caldera's Revenge

Salt Water Taffy (Vol. 4): Caldera's Revenge

Back in April, writer/artist Matthew Loux released the fourth volume in his all ages Salt Water Taffy series for Oni Press, Caldera’s Revenge (Part 1). This installment (as detailed by Oni): “Part 1 of Jack and Benny’s first multi-volume adventure! The boys are having a hard time reading The Hidden History of Chowder Bay, given to them by Captain Hollister. So when a spooky whaling ship appears in the bay, it’s no time at all before the boys abandon the tome and find themselves in the middle of the action, searching for the fiercest whale that ever lived: Caldera!” The advantage of an interview like this is the fact that back in June 2009 Loux and I discussed the early days of Salt Water Taffy for Robot 6–and this second go-round allowed me to consider Loux’s work then and now (when developing my questions). Thanks to Loux for his time and thoughts. As happens periodically with these discussions, Loux has a question for his readers at the end.

Tim O’Shea: The most recent volume (Vol. 4/Caldera’s Revenge) of Salt Water Taffy was the first part of a two-parter tale (to be completed with Volume 5). Was there any trepidation on your part to do a two-parter split between two volumes, or in fact are you hoping it will draw readers even more into the story than if the two volumes were standalones?

Matthew Loux: When I was working out the story for Caldera’s Revenge I had originally figured it to be one volume like the previous three Salt Water Taffy‘s, but once the script was finished and I started laying out pages, I quickly realized that there was no way I could fit it all and still do the storytelling justice. We were faced with the option of doing a larger book and breaking from the original format, or splitting it into two. I was in favor of keeping the original format and doing two books instead of one. Luckily I was able to end Caldera pt. 1 on a really nice cliffhanger which became a perfect place leave off, and it will be a great spot to pick up again in Caldera pt. 2. Even though I didn’t originally write the story with that in mind, I think It works extremely well for both books.

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Rich Tommaso on re-coloring the Carl Barks comics

When I heard that Rich Tommaso was re-coloring the complete Carl Barks comics for Fantagraphics’ archive editions, I was curious about how that would work and how it would affect Tommaso’s own work: He shared an Eisner award with Jim Sturm for Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, and he has a rich selection of other comics on his website. Although he was just back from Angouleme, Rich was kind enough to answer some questions about his process and how it is changing his own art style.

Brigid: How did you get this gig?

Rich: For years I had been doing some freelance work in the way of lettering (for foreign books translated into English) and spot illustration for Fantagraphics Books and then, last summer, totally out-of-the-blue, Gary emails me asking if I’d like to try-out for a “secret” coloring gig. About a few weeks later, they sent me about ten pages of Donald Duck comics for me to test out coloring—finally breaking the surprise of what the secret was. Based on my ability to capture—as closely as possible—the look of the original, hand-separated colors on the computer, I got the job.

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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:

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BOOM! goes old school with Disney classics

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #715, the 70th anniversary issue

BOOM! Studios has made quite a splash since taking over the Disney licenses, with their Darkwing Duck and Ultra Heroes collections, but it has also been continuing Disney’s standard lines with modern-style stories (mostly from Italy) featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, and the rest of the classic stable.

A few weeks ago, BOOM! announced announced that starting in January, it would be marking the 70th anniversary of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories with a return to classic content in these standard lines. The new comics will drop the contemporary work in favor of older stories, sometimes with new illustrations, as well as older content that has been released overseas but not in the U.S. The relaunch begins with Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #715, which features a story written by Carl Barks and redrawn by Daan Jippes, as well as several classic reprints, and Mickey Mouse #304, which includes two Floyd Gottfredson stories from 1932 and 1944 and an Italian story by Romano Scarpa that is making its first appearance in English. Both comics are 40 pages long, which takes a bit of the sting out of the $3.99 cover price.

Next up is the 400th issue of Uncle Scrooge, in which Barks makes an appearance as himself and meets with Scrooge McDuck and the other denizens of Duckburg.

And just yesterday, BOOM! announced a quartet of collections that continues the theme: Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck vols. 1 and 2, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories Archive vol. 1, and Disney’s Four-Color Adventures vol. 1. The Donald Duck books will feature some of Don Rosa’s early stories, while Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories Archive is a completist’s dream, the whole series presented in chronological order. All four books are due out in late spring and early summer 2011.


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