Carl Barks is best known for his work on the “Disney Ducks”, mainly Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie and his most famous creation, Donald’s super rich uncle, Scrooge McDuck. Known by many of his fellows as the “Duck Man” Carl was born on March 27th, 1901 on an Oregon Farm. He spent his childhood studying agriculture and drawing. In fact, Carl had just a rudimentary artist’s background, consisting of an unfinished mail-order course from the Landon School and studying the Sunday comics sections. He traveled to San Francisco in 1918 to become an illustrator, but that did not work out. He returned to Oregon, working at various jobs until 1928 when he sold his first cartoons to the “Calgary Eye-Opener” a men’s-orientated magazine which featured sexuality and racial jokes.
In 1935, Carl heard that the Walt Disney Studios was looking for artists; he joined the animation department in that year. His job at the studios was that of an “In-betweener” an artist who draws the animation frames between the two action drawings that the animator draws. Since he was almost single-handed drawing and writing the whole magazine at the “Eye-Opener” for the last 5 years, he was not happy with this assignment. But after 6 months, he submitted a story for a Donald Duck cartoon (The Barber Chair-climax of Modern inventions-1937) he was promoted to the story department. He worked for six years contributing many ideas and sketches for many Donald Duck and his nephew’s cartoons. The ironic part of Carl’s story is that when he was first introduced to Donald Duck, he thought that because of his temperament, he would be hard to find roles to suit it.
At the time, Disney had licensed Oscar Lebeck of Western Publishing to produce comic books with the Disney characters. While on a visit to the Walt Disney Studios, Lebeck ran across a script for an unmade cartoon with Donald Duck and a pirate treasure. He spoke to Carl Barks, Jack Hanna and Bob Clark to make it into a strip for his four-color comic book series. The strip called “Donald Duck Finds Pirates’ Gold” appeared in August 1942. With this, Carl now knew what he wanted to do.
Unfortunately, Carl quit the Disney studios in 1942. The combination of the studio’s air-conditioning and his sinuses and allergies were no match for each other. Oscar Lebeck contacted Car; he wanted to add new stories to his Disney Title, “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories”. Carl agreed and the legend had begun. It was during this time that Carl began to add to the Donald Duck family. From his fertile mind came “Duckburg” and added to its population his most famous character, “Scrooge McDuck”. In addition there was Grandma Duck, Gus Goose, Gladstone Gander, and the Beagle Boys. The whole universe of Donald and his life in Duckburg, the lucky dime, the money bin, the Junior Woodchuck guide all came to life in the pages of Donald Duck comics, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories and in 1952 Uncle Scrooge Comics. All the stories and art came from Carl.
Throughout his career, no one who read those tales from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s never knew who was behind them, for Carl never signed his work, ever. It was not until the early ‘60’s that he was recognized as the genius behind the “Duck Tales” Today Carl is most remembered for his comic books. His comics are still recalled in one of Disney’s most popular TV series “Ducktails” His comics are valuable collectables. And for all his brilliance, on October 22nd, 1991 at the age of 92 he was awarded the Disney Legends Award. Carl passed away on August 25th, 2000 at the age of 99. He will always be remembered as the “Duck Man”