Barks created many secondary characters (Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose, ...), one of whom soon became the new star. Uncle Scrooge first appeared in December 1947 (DD FC 178, "Christmas on Bear Mountain"); he was not even a foil to Donald but a mere plot gimmick. Barks used him again to that effect in later stories, and the character gradually became a major figure.
After retiring, Barks continued scripting stories (especially Junior Woodchucks stories), which were drawn by other artists. In 1971, prompted by fans, he obtained from the Walt Disney Company the right to produce fine art paintings of the Ducks based on his stories and covers and the characters he had created and worked with. Barks also designed statuettes. He eventually stopped working due to poor health..
Boys, The (WDC&S
134, Nov 1951)
"The terrible, terrible Beagle Boys" are Uncle Scrooge's first nemeses, chronologically speaking (that is, the first recurring villains: the ghost of "The Old Castle's Secret" only appeared in that particular story). Barks introduced them in "Terror of the Beagle Boys" (WDC&S 134), a ten-pager in which they only appeared in the very last panel. Their second appearance, the next month (WDC&S 135, Dec 1951) was similar to the first in that they only appeared briefly and did not actually play any part in the story: they embodied a threat, but were still extras. The Beagle Boys first "came alive" in "Only A Poor Old Man" (U$ FC 386 / # 1, March 1952).
138, March 1952)
Merrill de Maris was one of the writers that were assigned to help Floyd Gottfredson script the Mickey Mouse strips-- Gottfredson wrote the plot, the writer developed it, and both reviewed the continuity. Disney switched de Maris and Ted Osborne a couple of times, unable to decide which was best for the Story Department and which for the Comic Strip Department.
Spell, Magica (U$ 36, June
The Italian sorceress first appeared in "The Midas Touch" (U$ 36, June 1961). Magica's initial aim was to collect coins that belong to the richest men in the world in order to melt them into an amulet that would make her rich. It then occurred to her that Uncle Scrooge's Old Number One, the very first coin he ever earned, must be the most endowed with magical power of all since it is the one the richest man has touched the most. From then on, Magica would try to steal the precious dime.
Walter Elias ( December 5,
1901 - December 12, 1966 )
Walt Disney was mainly a storyman, who preferred telling stories than drawing and animating them when others could do it, and he focused on the movies, pioneering new cinematographic techniques, while the comic strips and comic books were being taken care of by other people: artists such as Floyd Gottfredson, who was head of the strip department for a long time, or professionals such as Dell and Western Publishing, who produced and edited the comic books.
Roy O. ( c 1900 - 19? )
While Walt was the creative one, Roy was the pragmatic brother who managed the financial side of the Studio.
Rosa, Keno ( June 29, 1951
- ... )
Keno Don Rosa's formation is in civil engineering, but when Gladstone took over the Disney comic books' license in 1987, Don Rosa offered them to do an Uncle Scrooge adventure: it was "Son of the Sun", and it was the beginning of a new career. This story in fact, like a few others, was adapted from one of his own Pertwillaby Papers comic strip, but Don Rosa explained that these stories were really written with the Ducks in mind. The Pertwillaby Papers and Captain Kentucky were published as The Don Rosa Archives (Volumes 1 & 2 respectively) by Gazette Bok in April 2001 (hardcover books).
Don Rosa's adventures rank among the very best, along with those of Carl Barks, to whom they are often dedicated by means of a cleverly hidden "D.U.C.K." ("Dedicated to Unca Carl from Keno") in the opening panel. They are written in the same vein, mixing adventure, history and humor in Don Rosa's own style. A characteristic pattern of his, precisely, is his relying and pondering on physics in his stories: the Ducks thus have to face such problems as time-freeze or the dissolution of everything, reversed gravity or time travel. Another trait is the abundance in his tales of cinematographic references.
All these adventures are carefully inscribed within the Ducks' universe and stories as given in Barks' stories, with references and in-jokes. Details serve as bases for new plots, and loose ends are tied up. The most outstanding work of Don Rosa's certainly is his Eisner-winning "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", a 12-part (a few others were added since then) telling of -- well, the life of Uncle Scrooge, based on all the tiny little references scattered throughout the Barks stories, and that definitely organizes everything into a coherent whole (the original incoherences being due to the fact that Barks simply added details as he went on, little concerned about coherence because no one expected fans to collect and remember everything-- or even that there were fans at all and not mere casual readers; one instance is the Money Bin, which appeared first in WDC&S 135 but was then said to have been erected a couple of decades earlier).
Nephews: Huey, Dewey and Louie
Donald's beloved mostly appears in the WDC&S ten-pagers (also in "Big-Top Bedlam", "Christmas for Shacktown"), as a secondary character.
Donald Duck first appeared in a "Silly Symphony" cartoon, "The Wise Little Hen", on June 9, 1934; the cartoon was adapted into a Sunday "Silly Symphonies" comic strip, starting December 16. Donald was a very secondary character at that point, but reappeared in following Mickey Mouse cartoons as a foil, before starring in his own shorts from 1937 onwards. With the end of the "Silly Symphony"s, which always featured different original characters, there were no more shorts to adapt into strips. Existing characters were then used, namely Pluto and Donald; all "Silly Symphonies" strips from August 1936 to December 1937 featured Donald. Believing the Duck would do great in his own strip, Al Taliaferro convinced Roy Disney to let him have a try at it. Taliaferro, then Merrill de Maris, submitted several scripts to the syndicate, but they were all rejected. Bob Karp eventually wrote the ones that got the series started. Karp and Taliaferro would write and draw the strips for then on. It is them who created Donald's nephews.
In the meantime, Donald had started appearing in the Mickey Mouse strips (drawn by Floyd Gottfredson), as from Sunday, February 10, 1935. Their adventures started the next week, as they (well, Mickey) tried to solve "The Case of the Vanishing Coats" (February 17 - March 24). Donald joined Mickey and Goofy in the Mickey Mouse dailies on March 14, 1935, in "Editor-In-Grief", and left them at the end of "The Seven Ghosts" (last appearance: November 26, 1936).
When he shared the strip with Mickey, Donald was a nervous, bad-tempered, and easily-scared foil to the heroic Mouse; on his own, he was a comic vehicle. It is in comic books that Donald evolved into a rounder character. This would be the job of yet another author and artist.
A few one-shot "Donald Duck" comic books were published, introducing the title on newsstands before venturing into original material. Donald Duck Four Color # 9 (August 1942) opened the way with "Pirate Gold", an original adventure based on the script and storyboards for an unproduced cartoon starring Mickey, Goofy, Donald and a parrot. It was adapted and drawn by Jack Hannah and Carl Barks. The latter eventually became the author and artist of the Duck comic books until 1966. Despite their success, the Donald Duck comic books graduated from one-shots to a regular series in November 1952 only. Donald rapidly outstarred Mickey and remained the favorite until the advent of Uncle Scrooge, to whom he became a foil when the rich duck got his own comic book-- and before Donald, too (March 1952)!
140, May 1952)
Flintheart (U$ 15, Sept 1956)
Glittering (U$ FC 456 / # 2,
Floyd ( May 5, 1905 - 1986
Although he wished to work on comic strips, it is as an in-betweener that Floyd Gottfredson started work at the Disney Studio on December 19, 1929. The Studio was working on the whole new Mickey Mouse strip (starting January 13, 1930); it would be scripted by Walt Disney himself and drawn by Ub Iwerks. Shortly after the strip was launched, though, Iwerks left the Studio to start one of his own. With the Syndicate strongly asking him to make the strip a continuity, along the line of the other newspaper strips, Disney asked Win Smith, who had taken over the drawing chores, to do the writing as well; Smith refused and quit. It then befell to Gottfredson to do the whole strip, at least until Disney found someone to replace him-- Gottfredson by that time had decided he liked animation best. Gottfredson eventually worked on the strip till his retirement, in October 1975.
The very first adventure ("Lost on a Desert Island", Jan 1-March 31) was essentially a string of gags, around a theme. The next one, the first entirely by Gottfredson, was already much more coherent and introduced what would be major features of the strip: adventure and desperate cliffhangers. Barks would later acknowledge Gottfredson's strips as influential on his approach of the Duck comic books.
When Floyd Gottfredson completely took over the "Mickey Mouse" strip (for May 5, 1930-- Ub Iwerks had left the Studio, Disney was busy with the films, Win Smith had quit), he was in charge of the whole thing but was helped by other artists (Hardie Gramatky, Earl Duvall, Al Taliaferro, Ted Thwaites, Bill Wright, Dick Moores), who inked his pencils-- it was, after all, a daily, and production had to keep the unrelenting pace. Everybody could and did contribute a gag, but the strip was supposed to be a continuity, which means it could not be improvised but had to be carefully thought through, planned, paced, broken into episodes and panels, with concise and witty dialogues, and a rapid (and as elegant as possible a) summary of the previous developments in the first strip. Gottfredson needed help, which he first got in late 1932, when Webb Smith helped him write "Blaggard Castle" (November 12, 1932- February 10, 1933). Other writers succeeded Smith: Ted Osborne and Merril de Maris (whom Disney switched a couple of times, unable decide which was the best for the movies' Story Department and which for the Comic Strips Department), Dick Shaw, and Bill Walsh, who eventually took over the whole writing process, initiating the plots as well.
The fact that Gottfredson remained the "plotter". A great change (not for the worst, thanks to the man's talent) occurred when Bill Walsh took over the writing and reintroduced strange and supernatural elements. Whereas in the early period these were always accounted for and turned out to be ingenious tricks, they were now simply part of the Mouse's universe: Walsh's ghosts were real. What with the settings, the zany characters and situations, the atmosphere grew quite weird and a lot darker while remaining very funny.
Like Barks, under the impulse of fans, Gottfredson was granted by the Walt Disney Company the right to do paintings of Mickey based on his strips; he thus painted 24 watercolors, from July 1978 to July 1983, mostly inspired from his 1930s strips (only two from the early 40s). Gottfredson's paintings are very different from Barks' in that they are not as complex and detailed: the composition of the scenes, the lighting, and the texture of the characters are much simpler, and this refreshing simplicity heightens their charm.
(U$ 15, Sept 1956)
Most of the Gyro stories are centered around Gyro's attempts to solve a problem and his reactions, with little interaction with other characters. Gyro was thus a lonesome character, which in terms of visuals meant he would most often be the only living and speaking (well, speaking to himself, or rather thinking) character for panels on end. Barks soon solved the problem by inventing a little assistant for Gyro, Helper, who just popped out of nowhere in the Gyro 4-pager of U$ 15.
Despite his names, "assistant" is not quite correct. Helper is quite independent; he watches Gyro and follows him, and he conducts his own experiments and invents his own machines on his own-- or simply plays around. Helper's antics make for more life and comedy, adding a little subplot to the story. This subplot in fact often mirrors the main one on a smaller scale (catching fireflies in U$ 27, for instance), and, though he sometimes accidentally triggers off a series of incidents (as in WDC&S 201), the relationship is sometimes reversed, with Helper giving a hand to Gyro (pushing his boat with his own in U$ 29, eg) or stealing the show and saving the day (when Gyro is incapacitated, as in U$ 41, or when he cannot solve a problem, as in U$ 21) or even saving him (from starvation in U$ 47, eg).
Ub ( c 1900 - 1975 )
Ubbe Ert Iwerks (of Dutch origin) met Walt Disney in November 1919 in the advertising studio they both worked for at the time. Though Disney is the creator of Mickey, it is Iwerks who is responsible for the final design of the Mouse, after his friend's sketches. Iwerks was renowned as an outstanding animator, who could do the job, including the in-betweens, three times as fast as a regular artist. When King Features Syndicate and Disney agreed to do a Mickey Mouse strip, Iwerks naturally was the man to draw it, with Disney writing the stories. Iwerks, however, quit the Disney brothers three weeks after the first three weeks of dailies, to set up a studio of his own. His cartoons were distributed by MGM (who had also hired out Disney's musical director Carl Stalling) but did not achieve the popularity of Disney's. Following this 6-year adventure, after short stints at Columbia and Warner Brothers, Iwerks eventually returned to the Disney Studio, where he developed new techniques, which earned him two awards from the Academy: a Scientific or Technical Award (Laboratory) citation / certificate in 1959, and a Scientific or Technical Award (Special Photographic) in 1964. In 1999, Image Entertainment released a 2-DVD anthology of Iwerks' shorts in its "Cartoons that Time Forgot" series, "The Ub Iwerks Collection"-- b&w and color; (32 cartoons, 236 minutes) & (26 cartoons, 190 minutes).
Woodchucks, The (WDC&S
125, Feb 1951)
The Junior Woodchucks of the World are a scout-like organization created by Carl Barks.
Uncle Scrooge built his money bin on this hill, on the ruins of old Fort Duckburg (first mentioned in U$ 21, "The Money Well"). The place used to be known as Killmule Hill, up to the automobile age (The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Part 10: "The Invader of Fort Duckburg").
Arpin (alias Le Chevalier Noir, aka The Black Knight)
"The world famous sophisticate and bon vivant" Arpin Lusene first appeared in Don Rosa's "The Black Knight" (U$ 314, October 1998). The Frenchman is "a mastair thif" that steals only the most precious things and has come to Duckburg for his grand finale: a raid on Uncle Scrooge's "Mooney Bean". Le Chevalier Noir is directly inspired from the French "gentleman cambrioleur" (gentleman burglar) Arsène Lupin, and like him, he leaves a name card to sign his deeds. His original black outfit is reminiscent both of The Phantom Blot's and of superheroes such as Spiderman (especially on panel 12 of p 7, in which he stands on the vault lock spider-like).
FC 178, Dec 1947)
Carl Barks created Uncle Scrooge for the story of the December 1947 issue of Donald Duck Four Color (# 178), "Christmas on Bear Mountain": the rich old duck was only there to get the plot started-- out of fun and as test, he offers his nephews a Christmas holiday in his cabin, with the intention of scaring them with a bear disguise. Uncle Scrooge reappeared half a year later, in DD FC 189 ("The Old Castle's Secret", June 1948), where he played a more active part throughout the story. Barks used him time and again in several ten-pagers, making him a mean old tycoon, and as he did so, started showing the extent of his wealth and thinking that this new character might be an interesting new source of plots and visuals. Uncle Scrooge eventually outstarred Donald and got his own regular comic book before his nephew (in March 1952).
135, December 1951)
The fiercely protected, $-adorned, square building in which Uncle Scrooge stores his money. In the earlier stories, the "three cubic acres" of money were stored in various places: in hangar-looking buildings (WDC&S 124, "Billions to Sneeze At"), in huge, bulging (if not bursting) vaults in the McDuck building (WDC&S 144, "Spending Money"; DD FC 367, "Christmas for Shacktown") or simply on the floor in his office (Christmas Parade 1, "Letter to Santa"), and even in a corn crib (WDC&S 126, "A Financial Fable"). Barks eventually came up with the square design for WDC&S 135 ("The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill"), in which Uncle Scrooge invites his nephews to visit the brand-new building.
At the time, Barks was simply adding characterizing elements and pieces of background history or architecture as he felt the need, with no concern regarding the overall coherence. Don Rosa set things straight in his stories: Uncle Scrooge bought Killmotor Hill from Cornelius Coot back in the Yukon (in Whitehorse, in 1899-- "Last Sled to Dawson", U$A 5 / AR 113), but did not set (web)foot in Duckburg until he was ready to settle for a time, in 1902 (The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Part 10: "The Invader of Fort Duckburg").
Whatever the exact sum is, the amount of money in the Bin is usually referred to as being "three cubic acres". This of course is no practical unit. Volume is a three-dimensional concept, and for such a thing as the Money Bin, it ought to be length * width * height, expressed in either cubic meters, cubic feet, liters or gallons. Acres is a surface unit, so that "cubic acres" are acres * acres * acres, ie an otherworldy six-dimensional figure! An impossible figure-- and you may remember that Uncle Scrooge's fortune is often expressed in "impossibidillion" dollars. A funny detail in relation to this enigma can be found in the first panel of U$ 60 ("The Phantom of Notre-Duck", November 1965): a cubic abacus (aka, a "no-limit adding machine")... Some fans have tried to assess the amount of money in the Bin, basing their computations on its square shape and the gauge that invariably reads "99 feet". There have also been interesting discussions regarding the counting system 4-fingered characters might use (octal rather than decimal).
All of Uncle Scrooge's wealth is not stored in the Bin, nor does he spend a penny of it: he has many assets around the world, in banks and mines and various investments, which he occasionally tours (as in U$ 20). But the money in the Bin is there to stay. It is that which he has earned, not through speculation but through his own work, and this is what makes it so special to him. The paradigm of it is Old Number One, his first wages ever, which he keeps under a glass-- a miniature Money Bin, as it were.
To help him write the continuities, Floyd Gottfredson had writers who developed his plots and broke them down into episodes and panels with him. Osborne was one of those (the second, actually, after Webb Smith's work on "Blaggard Castle"). For some time, Disney was unsure whether Osborne or Merril de Maris should work with Floyd Gottfredson rather than in the movies' Story Department, and he kept switching them, until he finally decided (in 1937) that Osborne was better at doing the strips.
John D. (WDC&S 255, December
Barks created a couple of super rich characters for Uncle Scrooge to compete with (The Maharajah of Howduyustan-- WDC&S138-- and Flintheart Glomgold-- U$ 15) and Rockerduck is one of them. Of these, only Glomgold became a recurrent character in Barks' stories, but curiously enough, in Europe, it is Rockerduck who is the more recurrent of the two, when in fact he did not even play any part in Barks' story ("Boat Buster"), other than hiring Gladstone as his pilot in a motor boat race.
Al ( August 29, 1905 - February
3 1969 )
While Floyd Gottfredson was in charge of the Mickey Mouse and strips and Carl Barks would be responsible for the comic books adventures of the Duck, Charles Alfred Taliaferro worked (ie, drew and inked) on the Donald Duck comic strips and gave a hand on the Mouse strips: soon after joining the Studio, in January 1931, Taliaferro started inking for the strip of March 2, 1931 ("Mickey Mouse, Boxing Champion"); his last inking for the strip was that of November 11, 1932 ("Mickey Mouse Sails for Treasure Island"). When the "Silly Symphony" cartoons came to an end, Taliaferro did several weeks of Donald Duck "Silly Symphonies" strips before suggesting that the Duck get his own strip. With Bob Karp writing the stories, and Taliaferro drawing them, the Donald Duck strips were in good hands. Unlike the majority of the Mouse strips, which were continuities, and despite certain unifying situations that provided a new background for a certain number of days (visiting Gus at the farm, for instance), the Duck strips were gag-a-days. Characters from the Mouse's world were sometimes used, such as Clarabelle and Mickey's nephews. As for the Duck's universe Karp and Taliaferro contributed major characters: Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, who made their entrance in the Sunday strip of October 17, 1937.
Horn, William ( February 15,
1939 - ... )
Van Horn first worked in animation at Imagination, inc, then began writing and illustrating children's books. When Gladstone took over the Disney comics license in 1986, he submitted stories but these were not published at once, for fear his work was "too 'off spec'" for publication (WDC&S 603). However, editor Byron Erickson needed filler stories (one-pagers to four-pagers), and Van Horn provided some, which were first published in May 1988. Since then, Van Horn has been writing, drawing and lettering ten-pagers and adventures and doing covers for Gladstone, Disney, then Egmont. He even drew "Horsing Around with History", a story written by Carl Barks in 1995, thirty-two years after his retirement.
Van Horn's style is truly unique. His ducks are not model sheet ducks but
more loosely drawn. They are quite lively too, in a cartoonesque way. Van
Horn's strips display great humor and inventiveness, and the dialogues
are studded with very funny expressions.