Carl Barks

108

Carl Barks : biography

March 27, 1901 – August 25, 2000

Barks relocated one last time to Grants Pass, Oregon near where he grew up, partly at the urging of friend and Broom Hilda artist Russell Myers, who lived in the area. The move also was motivated, Barks stated in another famous quip, by Temecula being too close to Disneyland and thus facilitating a growing torrent of drop-in visits by vacationing fans. In this period Barks made only one public appearance, at a comic book shop near Grants Pass.

From 1993 to 1998, Barks’ career was managed by the "Carl Barks Studio" (Bill Grandey and Kathy Morby—They had sold Barks original art since 1979). This involved numerous art projects and activities, including a tour of 11 European countries in 1994, Iceland being the first foreign country he ever visited. Barks appeared at the first of many Disneyana conventions in 1993. Silk screen prints of paintings along with high-end art objects (such as original water colors, bronze figurines and ceramic tiles) were produced based on designs by Barks.

During the summer of 1994 and until his death, Carl Barks & his studio personally assigned Peter Reichelt, a museum exhibition producer from Mannheim, Germany, as his agent for Europe. Publisher "Edition 313" put out numerous lithographs. In 1997, tensions between Barks and the Studio eventually resulted in a lawsuit that was settled with an agreement that included the disbanding of the Studio. Barks never traveled to make another Disney appearance. He was represented by Rev. Ed Bergen, as he completed a final project. Gerry Tank and Jim Mitchell were to assist Barks in his final years.

During his Carl Barks Studio years, Barks created two more stories: the script for the final Uncle Scrooge story "Horsing Around with History", which was first published in Denmark in 1994 with Bill Van Horn art. The Barks outlines for Barks final Donald Duck story "Somewhere in Nowhere", were first published in 1997, in Italy, with art by Pat Block.

Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein curated and organized the first solo museum-exhibition of Carl Barks. Between 1994 and 1998 the retrospective was shown in ten European museums and seen by more than 400,000 visitors.

At the same time in spring 1994, Reichelt and Ina Brockmann designed a special museum exhibition tour about Barks’ life and work. Also represented for the first time at this exhibition were Disney artists Al Taliaferro and Floyd Gottfredson. Since 1995, more than 500,000 visitors have attended the shows in Europe.

Reichelt also translated the Michael Barrier Barks biography into German and published it in 1994.

Final days and death

Still living in a new home in Grants Pass, Oregon which he and Garé had built next door to their original home, Barks died in 2000 at the age of 99, seven years after Garé had died.

Although he was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia he was, according to caregiver Serene Hunickle, "funny up to the end."

Awards

  • The Shazam Award for Best Writer (Humor Division) in 1970
  • The Academy of Comic Book Arts Hall of Fame Award in 1973
  • The Inkpot in 1977 from the San Diego Comic Con
  • Inducted into the Eisner Awards Hall of Fame in 1987.
  • Inducted into the William Randolph Hearst Cartoon Hall of Fame.
  • The Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for Favorite Writer in 1996.
  • The Walt Disney Company bestowed a Duckster award in 1971 and their Disney Legends award in 1991
  • The series Carl Barks Library received the Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Novel/Album for 1996.

Barks’ influence

Barks’ Donald Duck stories were rated #7 on Comic’s Journal list of 100 top comics; his Uncle Scrooge stories were rated #20.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have acknowledged that the rolling-boulder booby trap in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by the 1954 Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge adventure "The Seven Cities of Cibola" (Uncle Scrooge #7). Lucas and Spielberg have also said that some of Barks’s stories about space travel and the depiction of aliens had an influence on them., Lucas comments on the influence of Bark’s style of story flow. Lucas wrote the foreword to the 1982 Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times. In it he calls Barks’s stories "cinematic" and "a priceless part of our literary heritage".