Carl Barks

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Carl Barks : biography

March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000

When Barks expressed dismay at coping with the backlog of orders he faced, fan/dealers Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran suggested Barks instead auction his paintings at conventions and via Cochran’s catalog Graphic Gallery. By September 1974 Barks had discontinued taking commissions.http://web.archive.org/web/20091028084238/http://www.geocities.com/~jimlowe/barks/images/barkcard.jpg

At Boston’s NewCon convention, in October 1975, the first Carl Barks oil painting auctioned at a comic book convention ("She Was Spangled and Flashy") sold for $2,500. Subsequent offerings saw an escalation in the prices realized.

In 1976, Barks and Garé went to Boston for the NewCon show, their first comic convention appearance. Among the other attendees was famed Little Lulu comic book scripter John Stanley; despite both having worked for Western Publishing this was the first time they met. The highlight of the convention was the auctioning of what was to that time the largest duck oil painting Barks had done, "July Fourth in Duckburg", which included depictions of several prominent Barks fans and collectors. It sold for a then record high amount: $6,400.

Soon thereafter a fan sold unauthorized prints of some of the Scrooge McDuck paintings, leading Disney to withdraw permission for further paintings. To meet demand for new work Barks embarked on a series of paintings of non-Disney ducks and fantasy subjects such as Beowulf and Xerxes. These were eventually collected in the limited-edition book Animal Quackers.

As the result of heroic efforts by Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz and screenwriter Edward Summer, Disney relented and in 1981, allowed Barks to do a now seminal oil painting called "Wanderers of Wonderlands" for a breakthrough limited edition book entitled Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times. The book collected 11 classic Barks stories of Uncle Scrooge colored by artist Peter Ledger along with a new Scrooge story by Barks done storybook style with watercolor illustrations, "Go Slowly, Sands of Time". After being turned down by every major publisher in New York City, Kurtz and Summer published the book through Celestial Arts, which Kurtz acquired partly for this purpose. The book went on to become the model for virtually every important collection of comic book stories. It was the first book of its kind ever reviewed in Time Magazine and subsequently in Newsweek, and the first book review in Time Magazine with large color illustrations.

In 1977 and 1982, Barks attended the San Diego Comic Con. As with his appearance in Boston, the response to his presence was overwhelming, with long lines of fans waiting to meet Barks and get his autograph.

In 1981, Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran, two long-time Disney comics fans, decided to combine forces to bring greater recognition to the works of Carl Barks. Their first efforts went into establishing Another Rainbow Publishing, the banner under which they produced and issued the award-winning book, "The Fine Art of Walt Disney´s Donald Duck by Carl Barks", a comprehensive collection of the Disney duck paintings of this artist and storyteller. Not long after, the company began producing fine art lithographs of many of these paintings, in strictly limited editions, all signed by Barks, who eventually produced many original works for the series.

In 1983 Another Rainbow took up the daunting task of collecting the entire Disney comic book ouvré of Barks—over 500 stories in all—in the ten-set, thirty-volume Carl Barks Library. These oversized hardbound volumes reproduced Barks´ pages in pristine black and white line art, as close as possible to the way he would originally drawn them, and included mountains of special features, articles, reminiscences, interviews, storyboards, critiques, and more than a few surprises. This monumental project was finally completed in mid-1990.

In 1985 a new division was founded, Gladstone Publishing, which took up the then-dormant Disney comic book license. Gladstone introduced a whole new generation of Disney comic book readers to the wondrous storytelling of such luminaries as Barks, Paul Murry, and Floyd Gottfredson, as well as presenting the first works of modern Disney comics masters Don Rosa and William Van Horn. Seven years after Gladstone’s founding, the Carl Barks Library was revived as full-color, high-quality squarebound comic albums (including the first-ever Carl Barks trading cards) – the Carl Barks Library in Color.