Thanks to Rev. Ed Bergen for the information.

A Basic Biography of Carl Barks

1901 - 2000



Carl Barks was born on March 27, 1901, in Merrill, Oregon. The son of a father, he always said that his father barely eeked out a living from the hard Oregon soil. Carl himself tried his hand at many jobs, such as cowboy, riveter, and railworker, but always had an interest and skill for drawing. This motivated him to take correspondence courses in art. His brother would often call him a "sissy" as he pursued his interest in drawing and cartooning.

One of Carl's first real jobs was as editor of a men's magazine called The Calgary Eye-Opener, which had its headquarters in Minnesota. He wrote and drew most of the rather racy (for the time) cartoons that appeared in the magazine and eventually became the editor. He held this job until a Disney ad for working in Disney's animation department coaxed him to California.

At Disney, Carl started out as an "in-betweener", a beginning animator who would draw and color in minor poses between the major animated sequences. In order to earn some extra money, Carl would submit gag and story ideas, and Walt Disney soon began to recognize him as a gag and storyman. Several of Carl's ideas were used in the Donald Duck shorts. He was eventually assigned to the story department where we worked until 1942, when he left the Disney Studio to pursue other interests.

Carl hoped to create his own cartoon strip and characters, but Western Publishing was looking for artists to draw and script original Donald Duck stores for comic books. Carl first teamed with Jack Hannah, a fellow Disney animator, and together they produced the first original Donald Duck story, "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold", published in Four Color #9 in 1942. This was the first Disney Duck comic book story that wasn't simply reprinted from newspaper comic strips.

Carl specialized in doing Donald Duck "one shots", comic books that contained one long story, though he also did ten-page stories for "Walt Disney's Comics & Stories", as well as the "Donald Duck" series of stories. Over the years, Carl created many duck characters to help give texture and balance to his stories. Some of his most well-known creations include Gladstone Gander, The Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and Gyro Gearloose. However, his most famous character creation is Uncle Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge made his first appearance in the 1947 story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" as an antagonist for Donald.

Carl found that Scrooge opened other possibilities and as a "rich old coot" could fund the ducks' many expeditions. Expeditions in search of treasure and artifacts of antiquity that held such a fascination for a duck of Scrooge's means. Scrooge's money bin itself held many possibilities for drama and intrigue as Scrooge tried to outwit those after his trillions.

Scrooge became so popular that in 1952 he was given his own comic book title. The first issue featured the story "Only A Poor Old Man". However, it was Carl's story in the second Uncle Scrooge comic book, "Back to the Klondike", that explained where Scrooge's fortune had come from. In the story, Scrooge revisits his old claim on the banks of White Agony Creek just outside of Dawson City, where Scrooge had discovered his famed "Goose Egg Nugget" in 1898. That nugget became the foundation of his entire money bin fortune and was always remembered by Scrooge as the start of it all.

Over the next 25 years, Carl both wrote and drew approximately 500 duck stories for the comic books. When he retired in 1966, he thought he was going to enjoy a well deserved rest. However, his growing legion of fans had other ideas. Carl had always written and drawn anonymously, under the Walt DIsney name. But as persistent fans continued to inquire as to the identity of the "good artist", fan Malcolm Willits finally broke through the secrecy barier to discover that it was a fellow named Carl Barks who had written and drawn those duck stories loved and cherished by millions around the world.

Fans requested Carl to do paintings of his most famous comic book covers. Disney initially agreed to grant Carl a license to paint which allowed Carl to create, on a commission basis, over 100 paintings for his fans. But when one fan reproduced one of the images and started selling it at a comic book convention, Disney withdrew the license. The existing paintings began to skyrocket in value as it appeared that there would be no more.

However, in the eighties, Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran successfully negotiated a contract with Disney for a new license for Carl (and for their company Another Rainbow/Gladstone) to paint and for AR to reproduce these new duck mages as fine art lithographs. These images were released from 1982 to 1999, when AR lost the license and Carl was too old to do many more paintings.