"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Some of us have fantasized about going for a swim in a gold-filled vault like Scrooge McDuck, but Carl Barks fan Dennis Steppe put his time to better use: He built a painstakingly detailed model of the legendary money bin using LEGO bricks and Don Rosa’s blueprints. And it only cost a small fortune.
The artist discovered the impressive project while appearing over the weekend at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con, where he signed one of the money bin’s exterior walls.
The famously miserly Scrooge McDuck always refused to buy his own newspaper, preferring instead to find one discarded on a park bench. It’s therefore awfully difficult to imagine the World’s Richest Duck parting with $3.99 for a comic book. Why, that’s almost 40 whole dimes!
Naturally, Uncle Scrooge isn’t the target audience for the debut series from IDW Publishing’s new line of Disney comics, but he is the star. Absent from new-comics racks since BOOM! Studios lost the license four years ago, floppy comics starring the original Disney cartoon characters are now making their return. This month brings us Uncle Scrooge #1 (which is also being parenthetically numbered as #405, keeping the original numbering), and each of the next three months will add another title: First Donald Duck, then Mickey Mouse and ultimately Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories.
It’s appropriate that they start with Scrooge, as he’s the rare Disney character who got his start in the comics and later transitioned to animated stardom, rather than vice versa. And, of course, Scrooge has been a fixture of American comics, the longtime subject of his creator, master cartoonist and storyteller Carl Barks.
Renowned Disney cartoonist Don Rosa, who left comics in 2012, has returned to the character for which he’s best remembered — with the cover art for a concept album based on his Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Yes, read that last part again.
Titled Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge, likely in hopes of avoiding the all-seeing eye of Disney, it’s a solo album by Finnish keyboardist/songwriter Tuomas Holopainen, founder of the symphonic metal band Nightwish, and a major Rosa fan.
“This is my longtime dream come true, 14 years in the making,” Holopainen says on his website. “And a homage to one of the best storytellers of our time.”
Holopainen spent most of last year writing and producing the album, which contains 10 tracks, including “Glasgow 1877,” “Cold Heart of the Klondike,” and the first single “A Lifetime Adventure,” which arrives with a video. The full album will be available April 15.
Publishing | Although there’s been no official announcement beyond an Amazon listing, Fantagraphics is set to publish a Don Rosa Library line, beginning next summer with the 248-page hardcover Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: “The Son of the Sun.” That was the title of the cartoonist’s first Scrooge McDuck comic, released in 1987. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Writer and editor J.W. Rinzler talks about adapting George Lucas’ initial draft of the Star Wars screenplay into the Dark Horse comic The Star Wars: “This is not something you could film. Here’s a giant city and then here’s a giant vista filled with huge spacecraft. (Lucas) was doing his blue sky version of what he wanted to do. He knew this was not going to be filmable.” [The Associated Press]
“[T]hey broke my spirit,” Don Rosa wrote in an epilogue to his autobiography in comics, explaining why he retired from the job he so dearly loved. The whole tale is heart-breaking but also beautiful in the cartoonist’s abundant gratitude and humility.
“They” of course are Disney and its publishing licensees who don’t pay their comics talent any royalties whatsoever despite the incredibly healthy exporting of Disney comic books around the world. Rosa created Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics for almost 20 years and only ever received a flat page rate, as though it were the 1940s. His rate was better than other Disney comics artists at the time because he was so popular, but his wife was still the primary provider for the family. She was a school teacher, a profession not typically known for financial excess.
Whenever I hear about these kinds of stories, I always wonder why the creator doesn’t turn to creator-owned comics, which allow freedom on many levels, and a greater potential for financial benefit. The Walking Dead, anyone? Rosa, the internationally beloved cartoonist, doing his own comic book series or graphic novel would be an event. It seems like a no-brainer. But it’s easy to forget that for some creators, despite the opportunities, that option is a non-starter.
Don Rosa, who drew Disney’s Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck comics for many years has written a lengthy and fascinating piece on why he gave up creating comics.
Rosa, who started working on the series in early middle age, gave up making comics entirely in 2012 for a variety of reasons, including vision problems caused by a detached retina, depression, and frustration that the studio pays no royalties on his comics — a situation that he says is unique to the comics, as other Disney creators do get royalties. (One possible reason for this is that the Disney comics are produced by freelancers working for third-party companies, not for Disney itself.) That became particularly galling once Rosa was well enough known that the collections featured his name in the title — but he still didn’t see a dime. His response was a clever one: He copyrighted his name so publishers would have to ask his permission to use it to promote the books.
Rosa also explains why he didn’t make the switch to creator-owned comics:
The University of Kentucky has developed an awesome tool for making the periodic table of elements fun. The Periodic Table of Comic Books allows users to click an element and discover comics that talk about it, while also reading analyses of how scientifically accurate those comics are.
It’s still a work in progress, so there aren’t yet entries for say, meitnerium or astatine, but there are a surprising number of references for elements like hafnium and lutetium in addition to expected ones like oxygen, nitrogen, and – of course – krypton. As an example, below is Scrooge McDuck talking about lithium, but there are also fun examples of Jimmy Olsen looking for germanium and the Beyonder turning an office building into gold. A fun, educational way to kill some time.
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.
Close readers of this weekly interview column will realize that I have interviewed Roger Langridge a couple of times. And I never tire of chatting with Langridge about his storytelling approach. Next Wednesday, November 2, marks the release of the second issue for his Kaboom! creator-owned Snarked series. The series has been building its audience, first through the $1 #0 issue,and then Snarked 1 sold out of its first printing–warranting a second printing. In addition to discussing Snarked, we also got a chance to discuss his recently released The Show Must Go On (BOOM! Studios) as well as his writing the Marvel five-issue limited series, John Carter: A Princess of Mars. If you want evidence why I love interviewing Langridge, the man revealed a slight connection between his work and musician Robyn Hitchcock’s The Soft Boys. After reading the interview, please chime in with which current Langridge projects you’re enjoying the most.
Tim O’Shea: What was the most enjoyable aspect, in the run-up to Snarked’s premiere, of building up the potential reading audience through the Snarked website (Snark Island)?
Roger Langridge: Partly just to see if I could do it, and to try to be creative about what could be done with it. I’m planning to continue putting content up on the site each time a new issue comes out, so it’ll be a constant, evolving thing – but mainly, I wanted to do a letters page, and having somewhere to direct people so they could e-mail us was essential. It helps if there’s some other stuff to look at when they visit, of course!