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Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trail of the Unicorn" (Complete Carl Barks Disney Library) [Hardcover]

Carl Barks , Jeff Kinney

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Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trail of the Unicorn" (Complete Carl Barks Disney Library) + Walt Disney Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: "The Son of the Sun" the Don Rosa Library Vol. 1 + Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Christmas on Bear Mountain" (Complete Carl Barks Disney Library)
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gem From Carl Barks and Fantagraphics 17 April 2014
By E. David Swan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the sixth published book in the Complete Carl Barks Collection and the eighth volume (the volumes are not being published in order). This one spans August of 1949 to March 1950 and includes some classic stories including `Luck of the North', `Land of the Totem Poles' and of course `Trail of the Unicorn'. Almost every Carl Barks volume contains at least one Christmas story and here we get one of the best in `Letter to Santa' where Santa Claus himself puts in an appearance and if that doesn't satisfy your Christmas fix we also get `New Toys'. Carl Barks writes three kinds of stories; 24 to 32 page adventure tales, 8 to 10 page stories that are more relaxed and tend to take place in Duckburg and the 1 page gag. It doesn't matter whether Barks is writing a globe spanning adventure or a 1 page gag he nails it all.

When Carl Barks took over Donald Duck he radically changed the childish, hot tempered duck into the classic everyman, the lovable loser who can never catch a break. Barks continued to refine Donald taking him from a bit of a self-absorbed jerk, in previous volumes, to more of a good hearted hero in these stories. Interestingly Donald comes out a big winner in the first two stories even coming out ahead of the preternaturally lucky Gladstone Gander. One of great ironies of Donald's frequent money woes is that he lives in the same city as the richest duck in the world, Uncle Scrooge, who never ceases to liven up a story. Lucky for us Scrooge makes frequent appearances in the stories in this collection. We also get a handful of comics featuring Donald's greatest foil, Gladstone Gander. The beauty of Carl Barks is that he maintains such a high level of consistency that there is almost never a dud in the batch and this volume is one of my favorites.

If you're considering buying these stories for a child let me assure you that Carl Barks stories are for readers of all ages so buy one for yourself too. A lot of writers who write stories for kids and adults tend to appeal to the older crowd by adding in humor that would go over a youngsters head. That is not Barks technique. Barks appeals to adults because his writing is clever and thoughtful. In one story Donald and his nephews have a truck and they need to get up river so they hire some men to build a raft. In the story the rear tires of the truck are lifted off the ground and the axle is attached to a paddle for propulsion. Barks doesn't even bother mentioning the locomotion of the raft because he had enough confidence in the reader that they could either pick it up themselves or simply not care how the raft was going upstream in which case an explanation would have been an extraneous detail. The themes of Barks stories, including many that feature the ducks going on vacations outdoors or enjoying the winter, are simple but appeal to readers of all ages.

If you're a Carl Barks fan you simply cannot do better than this collection by Fantagraphics. At about two volumes a year we're going to be at this awhile but to have the entire Carl Barks Disney comics is a dream come true. At the conclusion of the series there will be 30 volumes with around 6000 total pages. The artwork has been computer-recolored which I know is a contentious decision. As far as I'm concerned the printing limitations of the 1940's and 50's do not add to the charm. They only distract from Barks amazing drawings and if I had my choice I'd rather have the color completely removed than see all the printing errors inherent in comics from that era. This collection has the look of something produced by people who really cared about presenting the material in the best light possible but if you're an absolute purist who has to see the comics as close to the original as possible this may not be the collection for you.

Fantagraphics always goes above and beyond so besides getting almost 200 pages of Carl Barks stories in a lovely hardbound book with high quality paper you also get fascinating analysis of all the stories. I have given every volume thus printed five stars and I'm not stopping the trend now. The material is five star and the presentation is five star. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys Carl Barks and/or comics or quite frankly anyone who enjoys good writing and quality artwork.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barks and Quacks! 5 May 2014
By Andre Ricardo - Published on Amazon.com
”You kids!... You and your tricks!” Donald Duck quacks. Who doesn’t immediately wonder what situation Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald’s impish three nephews, have set up for their ‘Unca’ Donald’ this time? "Walt Disney’s Donald Duck 'Trail of the Unicorn'" by Carl Barks is a series of stories focusing on the well-known and beloved antics and adventures of Donald Duck and a cast of characters. I grew up listening to my Grandpa Phil making his imitation Donald Duck voice. We have visited Disneyland over a hundred times and rubbed elbows, er... wings, with the mighty duck. Now, having the works of The Duck Man, Carl Barks, in my hands is magical.

This collection of Donald Duck stories spans Mr. Barks’ work from 1949 through 1950. These stories include the one-page gag, ten-pager stories and 24-page adventures. The first story in the book is “The Trail of the Unicorn”, where Uncle Scrooge asks Donald Duck to go and find the one animal, real or myth, that is not in his zoo; the Unicorn. Huey, Dewey and Louie follow Donald to the Himalayas where the beast is sighted. Little do the Ducks know, someone else has stowed away on Donald’s plane… Ah, the suspense! Carl Barks created many new characters for his comics, two of which make appearances in this book. Mr. Barks thought up Uncle Scrooge, The richest person in Barks’ fictionalized Duckburg and the whole world. Also Gladstone Gander, Donald’s impossibly lucky cousin, came out of Barks’ creative mind. For Daisy fans, she makes several appearances but they are all super duper short. My favorite story in the book is “No Place To Hide”. Donald starts the one-page gag with, “The kids’ presents will be safe here until Christmas!” Huey, Dewey and Louie unknowingly manage to foil Donald’s plans, of course! Not only are all the characters comical, the stories follow the ‘Everyman’ life of Donald Duck to unexpected endings.

Carl Barks was an interesting person and much of his life reflected on Donald’s personality. Born in 1901, he grew up in Oregon and California on farms and listened as cowboys, farmers and businessmen talked about their lives and hardships, yet with humor and sarcasm. His own young adult life was hard working with its share of successes and failures. Mr. Barks would show his sarcastic point of view through Donald and Uncle Scrooge. Since Barks had a troublesome childhood and early life, many of his characters have their own troubles to deal with. Barks used to own a chicken farm, and his favorite comic focuses on Donald managing a chicken farm. Carl Barks worked for Disney from 1935 until 1942. He continued his Donald Duck comic books with Western Publishing. Until around 1960, he was working anonymously, which was the case for all Disney artists. Barks retired to Oregon with his third wife and lived to the ripe old age of 99. Passing away in 2000, his caretaker summed up Mr. Barks well by saying he was, “Funny up to the end.”

I like everything about this book except the fact that it had to end. Barks’ writing is so captivating that after one page you want to see what happens next, and then the cycle goes on until before you know it, you have finished the book. I was totally immersed in Donald Duck’s world. I enjoy Barks' creative humor of where the least likely outcome of failure will come upon poor Donald, and then the least likely outcome of success will save him in the end. My best friends gifted "Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse 'High Noon at Inferno Gulch' and 'House of the Seven Haunts'" by Floyd Gottfredson to me for my birthday. This collection had me hooked on Disney comics. I prefer the way Carl Barks draws and colors Donald Duck compared to other Disney artists. Bark’s interpretation of Donald is easier to relate to being more human-like and less duck-like and easily more comical and cheerful. Barks’ Gladstone does seem to have a beak similar to Gottfredson’s Donald. On top of the genius of Carl Barks, the book itself is a high quality hardcover book with durable paper printed in color. The book includes almost 200 pages of comics and ends with over a dozen pages of notes on the comics and on Carl Barks. Even though I have read the complete book, I keep going back to enjoy it again.

The same friends that gave me the Mickey Mouse collection last year presented me with "Walt Disney’s Donald Duck 'Trail of the Unicorn'" by Carl Barks for Easter, which was published May 2014. I love Donald Duck! I love the humorous stories and Carl Barks is amazing. "Walt Disney’s Donald Duck 'Trail of the Unicorn'" will make a great gift for anyone, young or old, or even yourself. I’m going to order Grandpa Phil his own copy!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous collection from Barks' prime period 11 Aug 2014
By Christopher Barat - Published on Amazon.com
This sixth volume in Fantagraphics' Carl Barks reprint project presents us with our first "split decision" cover -- by which I mean cover images taken from two stories collected herein, as opposed to just the headlined tale -- and, probably not coincidentally, the first truly questionable choice of a cover-featured story. It's not that "Trail of the Unicorn" (FOUR COLOR #263, February 1950) is a bad story; during the years 1949-50, the period from which the long and short matter in this volume are taken, Barks arguably didn't do ANY bad stories. In terms of sweep and/or storytelling prowess, however, I would have to award either "Letter to Santa" (CHRISTMAS PARADE #1, December 1949) or "Luck of the North" (FOUR COLOR #256, December 1949) the palm as the book's most distinguished effort. Since this collection wasn't published at holiday time, "Luck of the North" probably deserved the cover all to itself... and, wouldn't you know it, there's a scene from that story on the cover's upper half. I'd like to have heard the debate over how this cover came to be arranged.


"Luck of the North," to me, is pretty much flawless. The drawing is more attractive than that seen in, for example, "Lost in the Andes," the Gladstone/Donald rivalry plot is among the better ones of its kind (including "Trail of the Unicorn," in which Gladstone actually cheats at one point to get the upper hand on his cousin), and the psychological complexity of the adventure, with Donald creating a phony treasure map to get the obnoxious Gladstone out of his hair, only to succumb to guilt and take off to the "great white North" to make amends, should be much more iconic than it arguably is. The (spoken) dialogue-less page in which Donald "cracks" and realizes the gravity of what he's done is one of Barks' most famous sequences. There are many more arresting images sprinkled throughout the story, some of almost sublime subtlety.

"Letter to Santa" is most famous for its eye-popping opening splash page and the interior no-holds-barred steam-shovel battle between Donald and Scrooge, but the story itself is quite good, featuring plenty of slapstick and an interesting early portrayal of Scrooge. At this early stage, Scrooge isn't unwilling to spend money (in this case, for HD&L's desired present of a steam shovel), provided that he gets due credit for his efforts. This bespeaks a certain level of promotional ego that would wither over time, though never die completely. The Scrooge of a story like "North of the Yukon," who would rant and rave over the idea of being featured in a magazine, might look a bit askance at a version of himself that declares, "What's the use of having eleven octillion dollars if I don't make a big noise about it?" The Scrooge of "Letter to Santa" is also a bit more Donald-like in his displays of temper and his ability to give as good as he gets in a slapstick fight scene. It is clear at this point that the sclerotic, somewhat querulous Scrooge of such earlier stories as "Christmas on Bear Mountain" and "The Old Castle's Secret" will never be coming back.

The "small works" in this collection, all of which date from just before the short period in which Barks temporarily stopped producing "ten-pagers" for WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES in order to concentrate on longer stories, feature such distinguished fare as "Super Snooper" (WDC&S #107, August 1949), Barks' swipe at the superhero genre, and "Rip Van Donald" (WDC&S #112, January 1950), with its peculiar conceit of an ether-addled Donald visualizing a "future Duckburg" of wobbly buildings and piecemeal people. And, yes, to give them their due, "Trail of the Unicorn" and its FC #256 companion story, "Land of the Totem Poles," are also first-rate, though a little lighter in heft than "Luck of the North." Impeccable production values and one of Barks' VERY best adventure stories... what could be a better selling point?
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of The Greatness of Carl Barks and the Best All Ages Comics Ever Done 19 April 2014
By Jonathan Balofsky - Published on Amazon.com
Carl Barks is one of the most legendary names in comics that ever lived. Arguably greater than even Jack Kirby. This collection contains even more of the great Donald Duck Comics he was known for.

In this collection we have stories instigated by Uncle Scrooge ( not yet as big a character at this point that he will be) where Donald and the nephews seek out a unicorn. The story is fun to read and excellent for appreciating classic comics. The dynamic between Donald and his nephews is a fascinating one as you are never sure who is actually in charge, Donald, or his nephews.

The other stories contained within have a variety of themes, including 3 Christmas stories where Barks gets to stretch his storytelling muscles. Don't forget it was within a Christmas story that Uncle Scrooge first appeared and Christmas stories were always a high point of Barks' comics including the story "Christmas for Shacktown".

As stated Barks was a genius with comics and could do so much with the art form. He inspired numerous artists and writers ad his work went out to be the basis for the cartoon Ducktales. These stories are not children's comics anymore but rather all ages comics that can be appreciate by anyone not matter how old or how young. These stories are timeless and even while some parts have admittedly not aged well at all and some can be considered racist in some ways these stories by Barks were written between the 40's and 60's and must be read in that context in case people feel something isn't right by today's standards. Indeed, Barks' later comics showed a much more enlightened view of the world.
That being said there is so much to love about these stories, the way Barks drew the characters and seamlessly made everything flow. Under him Donald became the everyman who always got messed up but still kept on going.
The collection is a sturdy one and will hold up for multiple readings over the years. The colors were fixed up by comic historians who closely studied Barks' work to present them as true to Barks' desire as possible. All in all this is a must have collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 July 2014
By claudia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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