CARL BARKS

A Short Biography

Carl Barks alone is credited by both The Walt Disney Company and other pop culture historians with providing Donald Duck and his three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, a PLACE to both thrive and develop (Duckburg).  Carl Barks also created a host of supporting characters, who served to add story texture, adventuresome plot lines, and intelligent humor to the Walt Disney comic books of the forties, fifties, and sixties.

But Carl’s most important and popular cartoon creation was undoubtedly SCROOGE MCDUCK, Donald’s irascible old uncle! Old Scrooge made his debut in a 1947 comic book story entitled, “Christmas on Bear Mountain,” and while Scrooge initially appeared as a reclusive old curmudgeon, Carl Barks gradually “evolved” his personality to make him more versatile as a supporting character. In fact, he became so popular that Carl Barks had to create a history for McDuck as a central character in his Duck universe in addition to eventually making him the “World’s Richest Duck” with his world famous and virtually bottomless Money Bin!

Indeed, the growing popularity of McDuck further accelerated the fame of the anonymous “good duck artist”! And while many of Carl Barks’ millions of early devotees may have grown up thinking that they were the only fans of Uncle Scrooge McDuck and the whole duck clan, their numbers have continued to blossom and grow up to this present day, the actual count defying imagination.

Carl Barks self caricatureIn the 1940s and 1950s millions of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES and DONALD DUCK COMIC BOOKS were being sold. While many of these included stories about Uncle Scrooge, it was not until 1952 that old Scrooge received his own comic book title. At the height of the Scrooge mania in the fifties, the UNCLE SCROOGE title was selling close to 5 million copies every other month at 10 cents each…and that was back when a dime was real money, especially on a kid’s allowance!

In fact, with the recent revival of the Disney Duck comic books with the license granted to Gemstone Publishing of Baltimore, Maryland, Uncle Scrooge and the Disney duck clan are making a concerted come back! With Gemstone’s goal of mass marketing these “family friendly” comic books through the likes of Wal-Mart and Target, vintage as well as new Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck tales will be placed in the hands of kids of all ages!

While the Disney Ducks have continued to be popular around the world, Scrooge McDuck has always enjoyed an almost cult-like following. Indeed, Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge character became not only a central figure in the Barks’ Duck corpus but also, for many, a dynamic reflections of some many of the human virtues we should like to see in ourselves: a persistent sense of vision, a thirst for adventure, an entrepreneurial spirit, and good old-fashioned “pluck” that is willing (agonizingly sometimes) to see a tough project through to completion. Interestingly, we also laugh with the ducks in recognition of our shared weaknesses.

The image of Carl Barks holding one of his last paintings entitled “EUREKA! A Goose Egg Nugget!” which accompanies this introduction to this Carl Barks Fan Club website, shows Uncle Scrooge at his entrepreneurial best: discovering that gold “rock” that became the foundation of his entire Money Bin fortune! From here McDuck went on to discover untold treasures, unearth fabulous antiquities, and take Donald and his nephews along for the ride! We went along too, with that same spirit of adventure spurred on even in our ordinary lives.

But the entire Scrooge saga began when Carl's CHRISTMAS ON BEAR MOUNTAIN made its first appearance on the newsstands in 1947. It was from such an auspicious “first appearance” (which Carl Barks himself called “a bit part”) that Carl Barks re-shaped, re-molded and re-created his most beloved character into the multi-faceted personality that continues to engage young and old alike today the world over.

No less a fan than George Lucas, creator of the STAR WARS saga, had it right when he said of Carl Barks: “What I think I enjoy most about Uncle Scrooge is that he is so American in his attitude. These comics are one of the few things you can point to and say, ‘Like it or not, this is what America is.’ And it is for just this reason that they are a priceless part of our literary heritage.”