Today on the site, Greg Hunter interviews Peter Schilling Jr., the author of Carl Barks’ Duck, a new book on the Disney artist’s classic work. Here’s one exchange from it:
I’m glad you mentioned Barks’ framing of his stories as stage plays or novels, because you made a decision to put your own frame on the work, but at the same time, you do some biographical criticism of the work. You talk about his financial struggles, his divorces. How did you decide what from Barks’ life or from his stated views was most worth accounting for?
The one I thought was most worth accounting for was definitely his struggles with money. He had a real work ethic. It could have been driven by the fact that, I think at one point, he got eight-hundred dollars for one of his comics, which I think represented three one-hundredths of a dollar per comic sold. Ridiculous, even for the time. And work means a lot to the character of Donald Duck.
An early analysis that I was going to pursue was that Donald really does personify a lot of the things the American middle class were struggling with in the wake of World War II. We’ve got this American dream of having a job, having a house, living a life, and Donald has all these mishaps in going about his daily business. So it’s Carl Barks’ own struggles with work. Listing off Donald Duck’s jobs, they go to ridiculous extremes—he’s a falconer at one point. But then you have Carl Barks’ own list of jobs. It’s crazy too.
Yeah. I was not familiar with the chicken rearing.
And the weird thing is that with Barks being an egg farmer, there’s a ton of stories that include eggs. One I don’t talk about in the book is called “Omelet”, and it involves Donald having a chicken farm that produces this huge sea of eggs that he’s trying to hold up with a wall. For some reason, he has this chicken farm up on a hill, and millions of eggs descent on the town below, and the only way they can clean up is to burn the city, which will cook the eggs so they can haul ’em out and rebuild the town. It’s a really nicely laid-out story.
And yesterday, we published Rob Kirby’s review of the latest Michael Dowers-edited anthology, Treasury of Mini Comics Volume Two. Here’s how Rob starts:
In the introduction to the third and final volume of his tribute to the mini-comics art form, editor Michael Dowers traces the wide-ranging scope of the entire collection, which began with Newave!: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s and Treasury of Mini Comics Volume One. He follows the form from little-known antecedents in the early half of the twentieth century to the ragged, pre-photocopier obscurities of the late sixties and seventies, on to the boom of the Reagan years and the Generation X era, up to today’s meticulously crafted, colorful art objects, sometimes risographed or featuring fancy silk-screened covers. Volume Two wraps up the trilogy with some quite sophisticated works, such as the full-color minis Spithouse #1 by Leah Wishnia and 5/4 by Nick Bertozzi, both light years from the unassuming work of earlier decades. Minis have come a long way, with their fascinating, previously secret histories still being revealed.
As with the prior installments, Volume Two has its peaks and valleys. Dowers states he wants the series to showcase a wide variety of comics, including “good art, mediocre art, and bad art,” clearly embracing the democratic, all-are-welcome ethos of important ’80s-era minis publisher Clay Geerdes (profiled in Newave!). The chronology of featured work is somewhat loose. Rather than following the ’80s-themed Newave! with work from the ’90s in Volume One and then comics from the ’00s and beyond in Volume Two (which I would have preferred, for the sake of clarity), he has opted to include comics of all eras in both Treasury books, which admittedly allows for on-the-spot comparing and contrasting of styles and content from different periods.
—News. The Society of Illustrators has announced the winners of its second annual Comics and Cartoon Art Annual competition. Gold medalists include Bianca Gagnarelli, Lauren R. Weinstein, Roger Binyone, Olivier Schrauwen, Roger De Muth, and Maëlle Doliveux.
The CBLDF talks to Jarrett Dapier, the student who used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover Chicago Public Schools officials’ role in a classroom ban of Persepolis.
The Wall Street Journal reports on internal discord within the Charlie Hebdo staff on how to proceed editorially, post-massacre and post-massive cash infusion.
Editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes writes about a planned cartoonists’ conference in France this April, which was cancelled due to security concerns.
—Interviews & Profiles. Mustard has published an enormous interview with Alan Moore on everything from movies to the effect of drugs on his work to magic.
—Comics History. At Print, Michael Dooley talks to our own R.C. Harvey about the work of the pioneering Black cartoonist and illustrator E. Simms Campbell.
Sean Kleefeld looks at Marvel’s practice of recoloring background characters to change their ethnicity in some of their reprints.
Shea Hennum at Paste writes about recent alternative manga publishing attempts from Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, PictureBox, etc.
—Reviews & Commentary. I believe we forgot to previously link to Paul Gravett’s annual survey of the best international comics of the past year (part one, part two).
Justin E.H. Smith has a strong essay defending satire in the Chronicle of Higher Education, worth reading even if you’re tired of reading essays on satire this year.
David Carter at The Beat looks at the declining fortunes of DC’s Vertigo line.
Marcus Farrajota introduces Portuguese comics.