Immediately we struck up an enlightening conversation about Carl Barks, that I recall to this day. He had told me how Barks’ identity remained a mystery to his readers. However many readers recognized Barks’ work and drawing style, and began to call him the “Good Duck Artist”. One way I could verify that it was his story, was how his wife Gare Barks, when lettering his stories would leave the circle on exclamation marks closed. We talked about how both Don and the nephews differed from the cartoons and the comics. He could not stand how the character was constantly squawking and there was no rationale to his anger. It was very difficult to understand him and the nephews. We had talked about Paul Murry's creation of Super Goof who would eat goobers to attain his powers. How adventurous Mickey Mouse was in Floyd Gottferdson's comic strips. He told me about non related comic book series i.e. Marge’s “Little Lulu and Will Eisner’s “The Spirit”.
My knowledge of the creations Carl Barks was known for lacked. I assumed he had created, Donald’s nephews, Daisy Duck, Grandma Duck, and Ludwig Von Drake. He told me that comic strip artist Al Taliaferro was responsible for their creations, but he was not sure about Ludwig. One of his goofs was in certain comic book panels, was to draw a fourth nephew. We came up with names for him like Phooey and Ratatouille was a suggestion that we both chuckled at. He asked if I read the infamous “Square Eggs Story”. It was a comic that I was not familiar with. Before the library was closing, Joey asked if I could wait for him while he went to the workroom. I waited at the counter feeling happy at how I had a friend who shared a mutual interest. He returned with a light blue hardcover book, which was … volume 3, set 1 of “The Carl Barks Library”. He asked if I would like to borrow it for sometime. I was surprised that he had trusted ME a person that he recently met.
|Right then and there I pictured this scene from "Moaning Lisa" of Lisa hearing the soothing tones of a saxophone. |
I gravitated to how it must feel of meeting a friend who shares a mutual interest.
|The diverse elements that collate in creating a cool comic-book cover.|
On the way home, when I skimmed through the book I found it odd that the comics were printed in black and white. Before each story, the cover that originally accompanied it, was reproduced on a glossy paper, usually one of Carl Barks’ paintings was on the reverse side. I vividly recall how it was a treat seeing the covers for the first time.
I previously read “Christmas on Bear Mountain” (FC#178) in Abeville Press’ compilation of Uncle Scrooge stories. I compared the two versions side by side; I discovered that several panels were removed in Abeville Press’ Scrooge book. For the first time I saw how the story was originally presented. When I went to bed I would have read most of it if it were not for school the next day.
Having not finished the book I took it with me to school that day. We were forced to stay inside during recess due to it raining heavily. Many of my peers complained about staying indoors for recess, but it did not bother me one bit. I soaked in the artistry of “the Good Artist” while others were playing. “The Old Castle’s Secret” was a tale that suited the somber weather that day. The ethereal elements from the abandoned castle with dark halls, the old McDuck cemetery, the misty moors, and the threating “ghost” matched the ambience of the rainy weather that day. It was printed in black and white; The shading of the castle’s bricks added to the moodiness.
The order in which the stories were printed was commendable. Everywhere Don, the nephews, and Uncle Scrooge trekked to they were calling me for a new adventure. Who could resist it? Except for being paid 30 cents an hour.I was intrigued with the concept of square eggs. What would they feel like? When I arrived home from school I read “Lost In The Andes”.
The Plainawfulians spoke English with a heavy Southern Accent was written very well. The design of the little square chicks was cute. The nephew’s description of the square chicks soft as sole leather made me feel as if I held them. After all he endured it was revealed that the roosters used for breeding were both male. Defeat was written all over him with his slumped shoulder, and a tear from his cheek. The riled expression on his face was priceless when the chef asked mentioned “Ham and Eggs? Cheese Omelete? Roast Chicken?” It was clever of Carl Barks of having a police car proceeding to the diner. Instead of illustrating the aftermath he wreaked upon the diner, he left it up to the reader’s imagination of what may have occurred. There were supplementary materials like a storyboard from an unproduced cartoon about square eggs.
|As I read this on a rainy day I imagined what it would be like stumbling your way amidst the fog. The thin lines as the fog and the Ducks in silhouette adds to the mysteriousness.|
|The perspective as the Ducks gaze on the hamlet (egglett) of Plainawful is impressive.|
After reading I was inspired to recreate the drawing of Donald as seen below. In order to verify the accuracy of the length of his bill from his face, I looked back and forth between the cover and what I was drawing. I was satisfied by how similar it appeared. I went over the blue pencil drawing with pastels. I remember the pride that sent me racing upstairs to show my mother the final work.
|My first attempt of drawing Donald Duck. I made sure to capture the small details as the wrinkles in his bowtie.|
|Notice how Donald is not distracted by the advances of the Witch as a snitching siren. As archaic as his response is in the upper right corner it was a good line.|
It was a fine time where my love for the Disney Ducks was flowering. There was no looking back once I had crossed the infamous… “Duck Zone”. I could not get enough of the Duck be it in the cartoons and comics. I borrowed, "The Disney Studio Story", a book on Disney short subjects that I religiously looked at. It was a treat to see pictures of cartoons that I never saw before. I was making one of my archeological discoveries in the basement, where by chance I would unearth a recording of a Disney cartoon. Ho! What luck! As I found “The Mad Hermit Of Chimney Butte” an installment of “Walt Disney Presents”. The eponymous Hermit (Donald Duck) has cut of all ties of human existence, due to his inability of finding peace and quiet (as depicted with clips from earlier cartoons). The cartoons included in this special were a treat, as I saw many of them for the first time. Of the shorts showcased here "Beezy Bear" and "Hook, Lion, and Stinker" were memorable.
Of the shorts excerpted “Beezy Bear” was a honey of a cartoon. There were many mirth-inducing moments among them, Humphrey’s anguish while he witnessed Donald tasting the honey. The vocals expressions provided by sound-effects man Jimmy McDonald enhanced his suffering.
|"Oh boy.. oh boy.. 100% pure" exclaims Donald as he is delighted by the sweetness of the honey. A year later, when I would have pancakes for breakfast I drizzled honey and whipped cream on them, as it would not seem odd that I would quote this line.|
One of his attempts of crossing the barbed wire fence was using a sign for a fencepost, to gain access without being unscathed. He then threatened the bees through a series of grunting sounds; meanwhile the Ranger removed the fencepost. When the bees were chasing our bruin he attempted to dive underneath the fencepost, only to be distressed that it no longer existed. The figure, the frazzled face, and the skidding sound effects as he prevented breaking through the barrier were well executed by the animator. The aftermath of this scheme proved to be unsuccessful as a tuft of fur was snagged onto the broken barb fence, the Ranger placed it on his head was hysterical. Lastly Humphrey acted as a snake charmer using a hose in order to acquire the sticky substance from far away, however Donald’s observation of it disappearing caused him to suck from the other end of the hose. I was impressed by the synchronization of the music to the rate of the honey travelling through the tube.
“Hook, Lion, and Stinker” followed it, where Louie the Mountain Lion and his cub as they attempted to purloin the fish Donald caught. It was good seeing Donald having the upper hand in thwarting of the mountain lions in each of their schemes. For instance, he saw Louie's paw reach out of the window for the fish only to move it and instead to grab a flaming lump of coal from the stove. The cartoon showcased Donald to exclaim my favorite catchphrases of his "Oh, yeah!" when he discover the cub stealing his fish, and "So!" when he hears them knocking on the door. The unforgettable running gag of Louie the Lion’s son plucking pellets from his posterior much to his discomfort was amusing. The metallic clinking sound as his son put the pellet in a bowl enhanced it.
|It was interesting seeing Walt interacting with one of his creations.|
In “Rock-A-Bye Gator” a running gag was when Woody would play “Rock A Bye Baby” to surrender him into sleep. A clever gag was when he used semaphores to conduct the song to render Gabby Gator sleepy. “I’ve been tricked,” he says before dozing. I laughed my head off, when Woody accidentally mentioned a word that rhymed with food (“Now he’s in a sleeping mood.) would arouse him (“Did you say food?). Laverne Harding’s model of Woody Woodpecker was appealing. He looked cute with his small stature and his topknot facing upward. I deduced that Daws also voiced Huckleberry Hound, as the voice he provided for Gabby Gator was in an almost similar register. I would be seen at either home or school mimicking Woody’s laugh and pretending to peck people.
|A zany gag after Donald reaches the top of the branch where the Aracuan is he hits him with a mallet, then|
inserts a cigar that once is lighted skyrockets him down.
On another day I found “CLOWN OF THE JUNGLE” (1947) a fascinating Donald entry, as it was unlike any Disney cartoon I had seen. My curiosity had been kindled after having seen a snapshot of this cartoon from a book on Disney short subjects. My father told me that this cartoon was hardly ever aired on T.V. The zany Aracuan Bird irritated Donald as he interfered in his photographic attempts made for an interesting pairing.The gags had an air of Tex Avery diffused through them, for instance when he repeatedly extended the legs of a camera tripod to see the Aracuan Bird on a tree branch. One scene of his prey painting a door onto a rock with Donald ramming towards it echoed a gag used frequently in a Warner Bros. cartoon.
The music added to the frantic efforts of Donald taking
a picture of his prey. Donald with his incisors out annihilating the Aracuan
Bird with his machine gun was an intricate display of his primitive instinct. Donald
appeared to have been elated by his demise was short-lived, as he discovers him
unscathed by the blasts. The shock
was too intense for him that he acted like the Aracuan. It seemed frightening
at first seeing him fumbling his lips, popping in and out, and running in
circles but was amusing in later viewings. The ending of the straight character replicating the zany behaviour of his foe had Tex Avery written all over.
|How I loved the song of the Aracuan Bird provided by Pinto Clovig. The animation of him going through a series of hysterics before being obliterated was done well.|
Around this period I was among several students as announcer reading the events occurring in our school. It was a great time when I was one of the students in charge of deciding what music to play before starting the announcements. Most of them complained about playing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” repeatedly to Mr. Stewart, the vice principal. He suggested that they follow my lead of selecting their favorite artist then asking for his approval of it being played. It was awesome playing a snippet of Jean Michel Jarre an artist in the electronic genre, and The Carpenters. I would read a brief blurb about the artist after playing their song. My friends Ian and Spencer were thrilled to hear my voice on the speaker.
|A Father's Day card made by yours truly. If I had more time to scour for images I would have selected better comic book covers.|