Fantagraphics’ announced Complete Carl Barks Disney Library, which recently began publication with Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: “Lost in the Andes” is a godsend of a comics project.
The publisher does the heavy-lifting of finding, formatting and even contextualizing the work of one of comics’ undisputed (and, in some way, unrivaled) masters and putting it all together in an easy to find and read source, making Barks’ influential work available to casual readers to either easily finally find out why The Good Duck Artist has the reputation he has, or to discover his work for the first time.
Before cracking the cover, I will admit there was one aspect I was a little leery about. Because so many of Barks’ stories dealt with the Ducks visiting exotic lands, because the stories in this collection were produced between 1948 and 1949 and because Disney doesn’t exactly have the most sterling reputation when it comes to representing diverse nationalities or ethnicities, I was sort of concerned about what the lily-white ducks would be faced with when they journeyed to South America or Africa. Or, more precisely, how Barks would present what they would be faced with.
Reading Will Eisner’s Spirit comics and being confronted by his Ebony White or Osama Tezuka’s work and seeing the various racial stereotypes that pop up in it can be a bit like finding a fly in your soup—by biting down on it. It’s great stuff, but there’s that extremely unpleasant moment you could have done without, you know? (Also, while I haven’t read it, it’s my understanding that Tintin may have had at least one less than politically correct adventure in the Congo).