Fans of anthropomorphic adventure rejoice: Fantagraphics will be releasing the complete Carl Barks Donald Duck stories in full color later this year. Long known as “The Good Duck Artist” by fans who were able to pick out his work from the other anonymous Disney artists of his day, Barks’ tales of Donald, Scrooge McDuck (whom he created), and the nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie have inspired everything from the DuckTales cartoon to Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Lucas and Spielberg have all but admitted that they stole the runaway boulder sequence from Barks’ Uncle Scrooge story “The Seven Cities of Cibola.”)
Fantagraphics hopes that the affordable reprints (recolored by Rich Tommaso) will expose Barks’ work to a wider audience in much the same way that their acclaimed Peanuts reprints introduced a new generation to the world of Charles Schultz. Indeed, Barks’ fast-paced tales operate in that timeless zone of great works of fiction (Bone, Harry Potter, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) that grow richer and more rewarding with age.
Shockingly, quality reprints of Barks’ work have been difficult to come by. (Along with the Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman Miracleman and the finally being reprinted Flex Mentallo, they’re some of the most sought after comics.) Another Rainbow/Gemstone published reprints during the ‘80s and ‘90s (many in black & white) which now fetch hefty prices on eBay. Scandinavian publisher Egmont released a “Complete Carl Barks” collection a few years back, but it was criticized for both its prohibitive cost and shoddy Photoshop coloring.
With Disney comics currently enjoying a, uh, boom thanks to Boom Studios, now is the perfect time to rediscover these classic tales. Arguably the greatest comics ever produced (and unarguably the best Disney comics of all time), Barks work is on par with Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, and other greats of the genre. His globetrotting “duck tales” are the closest thing we have to an American Tintin.
The first volume will be released in the fall of 2011, carrying a price tag of $24.99 for 240 pages of racecars, lasers, and aeroplanes. It’s a duck blur, indeed. Better grab on to some duck tales.