When I was a kid, my dad had a bunch of old Disney comics. (I was obsessed with Disney animation, and was determined to work as an animator for Disney until about the age of 10.) I don’t remember when he first told me about Carl Barks, but I knew who he was at a very early age.
Carl Barks was the guy who created Uncle Scrooge. He basically started doing Donald Duck comic books in the 40s and was so good at them that he basically was granted the freedom to do whatever he wanted with these characters in several different publications. He created a world that had almost nothing to do with the Donald Duck of Disney animated shorts. This version of Donald Duck had adventures all over the world, adventures so cool that Spielberg & Lucas would draw on them for inspiration for Raiders Of The Lost Ark. (That boulder at the beginning? Almost a direct lift from a Barks Uncle Scrooge comic.)
Barks invented “Duckburg” and in many ways it’s like an early version of The Simpsons’ Springfield— the populace is quick to riot and falls for all the latest modern fads.
If you watched the TV show DuckTales, it was largely inspired by the world Barks created, though it was a little bit less sophisticated, and they had to ship Donald off to the Navy in the pilot episode because Donald’s actual speaking voice was too annoying to deliver the amount of dialogue the Barks Donald would have to deliver.
Barks didn’t start doing these comics till he was over 40, by which time he’d labored at every menial, backbreaking job in the book. He’d had tons of life experience, which enriched the comics he wrote— he actually knew about stuff.
He never got credit for these comics as they were being published— they were all just “Walt Disney’s Donald Duck”— but after he’d retired from comics people started to find out who he was, as people sought out “The Good Duck Artist.”
The 2nd book of Fantagraphics’ “Complete Carl Barks Library” series is just out, and it features the earliest full-length Uncle Scrooge adventures. I already have all these in a 10-volume B&W slipcase edition of Barks’ collected works that came out in the 80s, which I spent the better part of two decades gradually collecting, and I am STILL jazzed to have these new editions. They are unbelievably great.