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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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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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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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Comics A.M. | Why the new Spider-Man matters; a look at ‘work for hire’

Miles Morales

Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”

The New Yorker, meanwhile, posts the opening on an essay from the year 2120 that looks back at the cultural significance of the new Spider-Man. [Comic Riffs, New Yorker]

Legal | Analysis of the Kirby estate/Marvel case continues, as both Modern Ideas and Copyhype look at the concept of “work for hire” in light of the ruling. [Modern Ideas, Copyhype]

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

Space Warped

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.

Brigid Alverson

If I had $15:

I’d surround myself with good-humored, good-natured comics. Sometimes you just gotta do that. My stack would include Veronica #207 ($2.99), which launches the new Kevin Keller miniseries; Donald Duck #367 ($3.99), with a rework of a classic Carl Barks story; Space Warped ($3.99), kaboom’s new Star Wars parody comic (I probably won’t get half the jokes, but it looks like it’s worth checking out); and Love and Capes Ever After #5 ($3.99), just because Love and Capes is such a charming comic. I may be poor, but at least I’ll be happy.

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

Flashpoint #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d immediately go for Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, $3.99) – I am very, very unsure about the number of tie-ins DC are pushing out for the new crossover event, but with Geoff Johns in charge, I’m suspecting that the main book will be worth a look at least. I’d also grab the relaunched GI Joe #1 (IDW, $3.99), if only to follow up on the “Cobra Civil War” storyline that I admit has completely caught my attention unexpectedly. Curiosity would also get me to pick up both Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99) and Total Recall #1 (Dynamite, $1.99), two new launches that will hopefully take familiar ideas and characters in directions I wouldn’t expect…

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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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Collect This Now! The Complete Carl Barks

dduck7

Someone please explain to me why, in this golden age of reprints, when every 20th century cartoonist under the sun and their dog is getting the lavish, fancy-shmancy book collection treatment, do we still not have a decent, definitive collection of Carl Barks’ work?

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Happy 75th birthday, Donald Duck!

Donald Duck's debut in 1934's "The Wise Little Hen"

Donald Duck's debut in 1934's "The Wise Little Hen"

The world’s most famous, and likely most irritable, waterfowl marks a major milestone today as Donald Duck turns 75.

The “feathered anti-hero,” as Agence France-Presse describes him, debuted on this day in 1934 in Walt Disney’s “The Wise Little Hen,” an animated short that also featured his pal Peter Pig in a retelling of the well-known story.

Although Peter never caught on, Donald rose to worldwide fame, starring in more than 150 cartoons and numerous feature films. But, as the Disney Comics Worldwide blog notes, most important may be Donald’s thousands of comic books.

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