Back in 2005, Disney released a DVD as a part of their Walt Disney Treasures line called The Chronological Donald, Volume Two. This was the second of four two-disc DVD sets of the complete cannon of Donald Duck short cartoons. One of the extras on that set was called “The Art and Animation of Carl Barks” of which I was glad to be a part.
This ten minute extra focused on the work of the great Carl Barks who wrote and drew over 500 comic book stories primarily featuring the Disney ducks during the 1940s-1960s, and even wrote a few more that others illustrated later on. It was through these stories that he created characters such as Gyro Gearloose, Gladstone Gander, The Beagle Boys, and my personal all-time favorite Disney character, Scrooge McDuck.
The video was produced by the Sparkhill media company, a representative of which randomly called me one day. The conversation went something like this:
Hi, I’m from Sparkhill. I am producing an extra for an upcoming Disney DVD about Carl Barks and am looking for folks who can talk on camera about Carl. We got your name from the local comic shop in Burbank who said you buy Disney comics all the time. Would you be willing to be on our DVD?
Well, I paraphrased that, but that’s pretty much how it went down. I practically only buy Disney comics (the traditional titles of which are now no longer published in the USA), so the fellas down at House of Secrets in Burbank, CA, thought I’d be a good one to call when Sparkhill asked them if they knew of anyone. They then asked me if I knew of anyone who could talk about Carl, and right away I suggested my friend Scott Shaw! who I know had known Carl personally. After watching the video and seeing that they only had me, Scott and Jerry Beck on there, I wish I had fed them a few more names of local guys who knew and worked with Carl. I had no idea they really didn’t have much of a line-up to talk about this great man.
I am pretty much just a fan of Carl. I wrote him a few times as a kid, even making him a fun pop-up card for his 90th birthday (he mailed back a photo of him holding it). His work was probably the biggest influence upon me going to work for Disney. I fell in love with his work in my father’s old Dell comics from the 40s and 50s where they were first published, often copying various drawings as I tried to figure out how he did it. His stories were just magical – full of imagination and adventure all over the globe (and sometimes even off of it!). I even wrote a comic book story once, basing it on the series of stories Carl did of Donald’s suburban squabbles with his neighbor Jones.
So, as much as I love Carl’s work, just know that the producers of the video didn’t consult with us to approve the final edit. If they had, I know that we would have been quick to point out that some of the art they used in various shots wasn’t Carl’s art, and some of the photos seem to zoom in on guys other than Carl who is standing off to the side, or is not even in the photos at all! I’m not sure why that happened, but it did. Even the art you see below of “Hawaiian Hideaway” was actually drawn by the great (and very living) Disney ducks storyteller, Don Rosa.
Regardless, I was flattered to be asked to be interviewed for this DVD. Carl lived to the ripe old age of 99 (passing away in 2000) and continued to be an inspiration with his many oil paintings of the ducks. No other Disney artist had a greater impact upon me than THE GREAT CARL BARKS!
Click on the image below to watch the video.