Carl Barks was keenly fascinated with the art of drawing all of his long life. He started as a toddler drawing with small pieces of coal on the walls of his childhood home, and when he reached manhood his skills had been thoroughly developed, although he had had to work with all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet. Since he was 18, Barks had been drawing cartoons in his spare time in an effort to sell them to local newspapers, but his work was in no great demand until he, as late as in 1928, was contacted by the adult girlie magazine Calgary EyeOpener*.It was just one of that time's several raunchy, pocket-sized men oriented magazines filled with cartoons featuring voluptuous, long-legged blondes and lecherous men, as well as jokes of the often sexually and racially discriminating kind. Barks started out by selling one cartoon for 2 dollars. Now he had a foot in the cartooning world, and he continued to work for the EyeOpener the next three years as a free-lancer, until he, in November 1931, took the plunge and moved to the magazine's office in Minneapolis - in the prairie state of Minnesota - for a permanent appointment at a very respectable monthly salary of 90 dollars. It enabled me to move from laborer to starving artist, he later smiled. Carl Barks
At first Barks worked for a good editor, Ed Sumner, who allowed him to practically run the magazine single-handedly, because he was surrounded by several incompetent colleagues. But already the next year the magazine was bought by Annette Fisher Fawcett who quickly fired Sumner and several of the good cartoonists in order to replace them with another staff of her choosing. Fawcett was an inept owner and editor who spent her days sucking money out of the magazine for her private - and extravagant - purposes and soon the magazine was in big financial trouble. The staff was not longer paid on a regular basis; some months Barks only got half of his paycheck, but he endured, because he loved his work.But, of course, the number of staff members thinned, and Barks had to work even more to make up for the lack in manpower. He drew lots and lots of cartoons and he would sometimes alter his drawing style or draw under various pseudonyms to give the impression of a booming magazine. Still, he found time to provide a few other magazines with cartoons on a freelancing basis!
Much later Barks jokingly said: I started up there as staff artist and joke writer and eventually wound up as editor. But his years in Minneapolis was no joke. Fawcett's attitude resulted in the rapid degeneration of the company to such an extent that Barks was eager to leave: I was writing and drawing more than half the book, editing it, and composing stalling letters to contributors to gloss over the fact that no money was in the bank to pay for their stuff. Freelancing and work on the EyeOpener kept me out of the bread lines until 1935.By then Barks was fed up with things, and not even promises of a substantial raise in salary would make him stay on the sinking boat any longer. He packed all his gear and headed for the Disney Studios in far-away California. But that's another story...
Below you are presented to a limited number of Barks' numerous cartoons. The small pictures (thumbnails) are links to pages containing larger versions of the cartoons. You will also be able to find many more of Barks' EyeOpener cartoons scattered around in this site. Try typing f.i. Calgary in the Search Engine to get to the pages.
Barks wrote a full synopsis covering the story's 24 pages. He dedicated a sheet of paper to each page and every sheet was divided into - mostly - 8 panels. For the panels, Barks made detailed remarks on graphics, narration, and dialogue. Above you are presented to 2 of Barks' synopsis pages (numbers 1 and 16) along with the corresponding, finished pages to the right.
It is truly awe-inspiring (uncanny, really) to see how Barks' very first synopses survived almost unchanged to the published product. He demonstrates that he was indeed a trained professional in his field by being able to collect his thoughts and ideas already in the first go without the need to have to alter much later in the process.
Because Barks was not directly involved in the graphic process, it was only natural that he would have a few critical comments and suggestions for alterations, when he was first presented to van Horn's graphic sketches. Barks had, of course, envisioned his story in a certain way, so he just jotted down a few comments to van Horn of panels that needed to be corrected or strengthened. This is one of Barks' comment pages. Notice that he even sketched a nephew holding an ancient helmet in order to achieve the correct proportions in the panel. As for proportions Barks also pointed out that van Horn had initially sketched the proportions between the horse and the people incorrectly in the opening panel.
Model Sheets are pages of drawings of characters done by the leading artists. They are done for two reasons. First, the sheets enable the artists to control the characters' appearances, specific features and relative heights. Second, they provide a platform for new artists to start out from. Barks did several model sheets but he did not produce them for the first reason, (as he once announced that he never followed them anyway.) He made them because he was asked to by his employers. Barks made his first model sheets when he started at Disney's, some of which portrayed Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Just for the sake of nostalgia the model sheet which he made for his second cartoon titled Donald's Ostrich from 1937 is reproduced below.
The Accident Saturday the 4th of October, 1952. Place: The San Jacinto Valley, California. Incident: A car accident involving two persons, Carl Barks and Margaret Williams.Margaret, whom we all got to know as Garé, was on her second date with Carl when the car crashed and she injured her back. The incident cost her several months as a convalescent, much of the time in a hospital bed. Carl was, of course, devastated, but somehow it turned out to be somewhat of a blessing after all. From the bed Garé was unable to pursue her career as a painter and Carl suggested that she could help him with his work instead. So she did for the next 14 years! Later, they could both laugh about the accident, and Carl made two satirical sketches in his special, amusing way. Here they are with a few comments added for enlightenment. It is important to underline that some of the comments are based entirely on educated guesswork.
OCT 4 SAT:Here we get to know the exact date of the accident. Potted Bosoms of Caledonian Chickadees:There is no such species as a Caledonian Chickadee. It was just a figment of Carl's imagination, but he had just the same year used a similar expression, Broiled Bosom Of Caledonian Chickadees, in a story when Donald ordered it in a restaurant (WDCS144 'Billion Dollar Spree').Later on, beginning with WDCS181 'Bridge Building Contest', Carl introduced the name Chickadees for his girl scout organisation. After having named the boy scout organisation Junior Woodchucks after the lively woodchuck he probably might have felt that a quiet bird would be perfect for the girls. Souffle of Apples of Paradise:Again, Carl invented a non-existing dish. Normally, the term Apples of Paradise stands for Tomatoes. Could it be that Garé was very fond of tomatoes? Johnny RayRay was a very popular American singer and songwriter at the time. The Little White Cloud That CriedOne of Ray's greatest hits that made it to second place on the hit lists that year. Incidentally, the record's flip side, Cry, made it to the top. This might be a contributing reason why Carl is seen sitting in a sea of tears... TEARS Carl also drew this 'after-rationalising' sketch displaying an apparent mish-mash of different ideas. Still, when you read the plausible explanations to the individual texts, you might agree, that Carl could back up most of them. The texts are as follows (from left to right): Some secluded rendezvous:Presumably taken from the lyrics of one of the USAs strangest musical orchestras, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, who wrote these lyrics for the orchestra's probably greatest hit, Cocktails For Two:In some secluded rendez-vousThat overlooks the avenueWith someone sharing a delightful chatOf this and that with cocktails for two. Imported Vin de el Diablo:The Spanish name of the wine and the fact that it is imported suggests that it may have come from Mexico. Carl actually visited the nearby Mexico on occasional pleasure trips, and he might have 'imported' a few bottles himself that were to the couple's liking.
Episcopal Church, Hemet, Cal.Circa 1960Gouache on illustration board190x165mm (7.5x6.5")
Unity Church, HemetCirca 1960Acrylic on illustration board250x210mm (10x8")
(Untitled)Mid 1960sWatercolour on illustration board225x180mm (9x7")
Barks made three almost identical oil paintings on board in 1966. They were all titled Christian Science Church, Hemet, Calif. and received the unofficial numbers of 566, 666, and 766. It is plausible that Barks painted the same motif in an attempt to experiment with different lightings - as he would do much later with some of his duck motifs. The measurements for all three paintings are 210x160mm (8.25x6.25").
05-69 With All Their Possessions1969Oil on canvas750x500mm (29.50x19.50")