on 22 July 2012
This is the second published volume of Fantagraphics Complete Barks series. It will be the 12th volume of the completed series.
I'd gotten the impression that the series was going to present the stories in chronological order (although the volumes would be published out of order), but it seems like they've loosened a bit up on that promise for this second volume. This book presents the early Uncle Scrooge stories produced between 1952-1954. The ten page Donald Duck solo-stories Barks produced within the same period have apparently been moved to the adjacent volumes. Oh well, I'm not really complaining. Uncle Scrooge is a popular character, and I can see the attraction of producing a 'definitive' first Scrooge volume that includes the early 'origin'-stories*. This book certainly feels very much like a complete and attractive entity for new readers.
The coloring is still excellent. There were some complaints about the yellow color in the first volume, and it's been tweaked a bit for this second volume. It's less 'golden', and there are no stories in which this color dominates too much. The coloring still sticks pretty much to the original coloring - which was mostly very good - and my only real complaint is that they've chosen to keep the inconsistent colors used for Uncle Scrooge's clothes (I assume this was done by different colorists for the original books). This was before his jacket had been established as being red in later stories. It's not a major problem, though. I'm nitpicking here.
So basically this book presents some of the greatest comic book stories ever produced in an attractive no-nonsense manner which is slightly (and fashionably) 'retro' and mirrors the way they were originally published in the 1950s, but which should still appeal to modern kids. I approve!
A LOOK AHEAD
Based on me having borrowed the European Barks edition from my local public library, here's what you should (approximately) expect from the series in the future:
- About 12 or 13 glorious five star volumes from the 'golden' era, in which Barks was on a roll, and pretty much every story was an amazing classic. I assume Fantagraphics will publish these volumes first, so you can expect pretty much pure gold for the next few years of publication. Best comics ever made! Seriously!
- 2 initial volumes of early stories. These stick pretty close to the formula used in the Donald Duck animated shorts Barks had worked on previously. They frankly feel a bit slow and dated. But still... it's fascinating to see how Barks personal vision quickly evolved from this. And around volume 3 Barks starts to get REALLY funny and REALLY dynamic REALLY fast.
- maybe 4 or 5 volumes (worthy of maybe 3 stars) in which Barks was experiencing creative burn-out (particularly around 1958-59) or was writing second-rate Junior Woodchucks stories for other artists. I assume the stories written for other artists will be published in the redrawn versions by the great Daan Jippes (these were redrawn a few years ago for the German/Scandinavian Barks Library), so the art will certainly be attractive enough, but these stories aren't particularly inspired efforts.
- the rest (approx. 11 volumes) will feature a mix of classic stories and some lesser works, in which Barks was repeating himself a bit. I'd probably rate most of these volumes four starts or four-and-a-half-stars - the beautiful cartooning still makes them very much memorable.
The volumes in this series aren't numbered on the spine, and each book works as a stand alone item. So if you aren't a completist or collector you'll be able to pick and chose between the volumes based on which periods you find interesting.
*) note: the earliest stories in this volume ARE sort of 'origin'-stories, but only in the loosest sense of the term. They aren't the earliest Scrooge stories, but they define Scrooge as a new main character for his own comic book series. They also include a few brief flashbacks to his youth.
This volume reprints the Donald Duck spin-off 'Uncle Scrooge' series of comic-book stories by Carl Barks. It is in a new `Carl Barks Library' dedicated to reprinting his comic book stories of Donald Duck and his Uncle Scrooge. It contains 215 pages of comics, along with an Introduction by George Lucas and Story Notes, biographical details, etc. The stories, varying in length from 1 page to 32 pages, are reprinted from
Dell Four Colour #386 - March 1952 (4 stories)
Dell Four Colour #456 - March 1953 (5 stories)
Dell Four Colour #495 - September 1953 (5 stories)
Uncle Scrooge #4 - December 1953 (4 stories)
Uncle Scrooge #5 - March 1954 (4 stories)
Uncle Scrooge #6 - June 1954 (5 stories)
The stories will be collected in chronological order, but the volumes will be released `out of sequence', so this is actually volume 12, though not identified as such on the cover.
For more than 30 years I have read comics fans, reviewers and commentators praising Carl Barks stories, but until this volume and its Donald Duck predecessor came along, I had not actually read any of them, being more of a superhero / adventure comics' reader since childhood. Being now in my 50s and having more mature tastes, and (I haven`t stopped collecting stuff) seeing that this was a collected edition, I was tempted to buy them to see what all the fuss was about. Well, now I have. It is simply just superb storytelling and artistry. You soon forget these are talking animals you are reading about, and just get caught up in the storytelling. Start collecting now! And your children and grandchildren can also read them.
... and to old fogeys, too. Very nicely produced, at the original size or near enough; excellent, slightly 1950s colour; and a very good mix of stories, too.
The long stories: Only a poor old man; Back to the Klondike; the horse-radish treasure; the Menehune mystery; the secret of Atlantis; Tralla La
The short stories: Somethin' fishy here; the round money-bin; out-foxed fox
plus eighteen single-page gags.
Great stuff - full of memories and still very enjoyable for old folks! And I reckon pretty enjoyable too for people new to these stories, be they young or old.
What a treasure!
on 18 May 2013
The second volume in Fantagraphics' release of the complete Carl Barks works is as brilliant as the first one. The colours are lively, the paper quality is excellent, and the book's binding is very well done considering the price. In the first book we had the long stories first, followed by the short ones, then the one pagers. In this second volume though the three types are mixed together throughout the entire book, which makes reading much more fun in my opinion. Highly recommended.