Carl Barks, 1901-2000

Barks wasn't the first to draw Donald Duck, but I think it's safe to say that Barks created the Donald we know today. I was raised on Barks comics, on the ducks and dog-faced Beagle Boys he drew for over three decades. I remember reading them during long car trips; we'd stop at the rest stops on the Ohio Turnpike and buy Golden Key reprint comics, which came three to a sealed-plastic bag in the little gift shops. Walt Disney Comics and Stories and Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck, these were nourishment and joy, filled with Barks' endless inventiveness and sense of adventure and sparkling joyful wit. Later, as the Duck renaissance took off in the mid and late 80s, I came to internalize the printing schedule by which the monthly comics were doled out, their pages mixing the wonderful Barks originals with stories by the younger generation of artists, Don Rosa and Daan Jippes and others, whose work Barks inspired and made possible. There was something wondeful and fully realized about a Barks story, a feeling of humor and excitement tripping over each other, and the characters, Donald and Scrooge and, of course, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, who sometimes I still expect to see out walking down the street with color-coordinated ice cream cones, or nearly knocking down that suspicious-looking man with the three-foot long white beard as they race out of the post office, looking for the package with the Transylgarian goblet in it with the treasure map inscribed on its base.

I like to think that wherever Barks is now, every now and then he drops in on Scrooge at the money bin, and the two of them go diving through the money like porpoises, and burrow through it like gophers, and toss it up and let it hit them on the head.