Fantagraphics Carl Barks collection

creator of Duckburg and Scrooge McDuck

Postby admin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:05 pm

Information from Chris Mautner, January 2, 2011 - 07:59 AM:
In what is sure to be one of the most acclaimed comics events of 2011, Fantagraphics has announced that they will be publishing a definitive collection of Carl Barks’ seminal run of Donald Duck comic stories. In an exclusive interview with Robot 6, Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth revealed that the company – which announced their plans to publish Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comics last summer – had acquired the rights to reprint Barks’ work from Disney and that the first volume will be released in fall of this year. The comics will be published in hardcover volumes, with two volumes coming out every year, at a price of about $25 per volume.

Although the stories will be printed in chronological order, the first volume, “Lost in the Andes,” will cover the beginning of Barks’ “peak” period, circa about 1948. The second volume, “Only a Poor Old Man,” will cover roughly the years 1952-54 and feature the first Uncle Scrooge story. Later volumes will fill in the missing gaps, including his earlier work, in a process somewhat similar to Fantagraphics’ publication of George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the name, the Barks library has been one of the great missing links in a time that many have dubbed the “golden age of reprints.” Acclaimed around the globe for his rich storytelling and characterization, as well as excellent craftsmanship, Barks has long been regarded as one of the great cartoonists of the 20th century, equal to luminaries like Charles Schulz, Robert Crumb and Harvey Kurtzman. He’s been one of the few major American cartoonists whose work has, up till now, not been collected in a comprehensive, manner respectful of his talent (at least not in North America), however, so this announcement comes as extremely good news for any who read and love good comics, let alone are familiar with Barks’ work.

Fantagraphics will release an official announcement about the project tomorrow.

source and more information:
Contains an interview with Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth.

Chris Mautner, June 18, 2010 - 01:15 PM:
It’s not as though attempts to collect his work haven’t been made before. The best known is probably the Carl Barks Library, published by the long-extinct Another Rainbow back in the 1980s. These enormous, slipcovered volumes collected Barks’ work in black and white.

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Postby admin » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:40 pm

Excerpts from the 'Robot 6' interview with Gary Groth

History of the Fantagraphics edition:
Gemstone, which was Diamond’s publishing arm, was evidentially contracted to publish a lot of Barks material and had published Barks throughout the years, but in various formats that I don’t think made much of an impression.

I thought we could do the right job. I’ve always lamented what lousy job publishers have done with Carl Barks. I like the Another Rainbow editions, but they are purely collector editions made for guys like you and me. What I want to do is publish books that will find a general readership, because he deserves one. He deserves as wide a readership as possible. He’s accessible enough. He’s not one of those arcane, obscure cartoonists that the general public wouldn’t understand. His stuff can be read by children or adults, it can be understood on different levels. One of my goals is to publish it in a format that will reach that wider readership. I’m hoping parents buy it, read it themselves and also give it to their kids to read.

To tie up that story, I contacted Disney and it took a couple of years to agree to a publishing contract. At first they told me they were going to publish it themselves, and I tried to talk them out of that without initial success. And then literally like a year later they called me back and said, “we decided not to publish it ourselves and that you’d be the right people to do it.”

The hardest thing I had to do was find somebody at Disney to talk to. That literally took me about a year. Once I did that it was pretty smooth sailing. I’ve been working with them pretty closely, I’ve been submitting proposals and formats and content and I have to say everything’s gone really, really smoothly. I’m hoping for the best.

Design, size and colouring:
I think Jacob Covey is going to be designing them. He’s our lead designer here. In fact literally at this very moment he’s designing “Mickey Mouse Vol. 1.” He’s designed a number of books for us, as you probably already know, like “Popeye” and “Dennis the Menace.” He edited and designed “Beasts!” So he was my first choice to design the books.

They’re going to be reproduced – I don’t have the exact size – but they’re going to be reproduced at about 90 percent of comic book size. I don’t have that size off the top of my head, but it’s approximately 90-92 percent of comic book size. We are going to be recoloring every page. We’re using the original comics as our color guide. We’re going to be trying as best we can to reproduce the same colors. The reason we didn’t scan the comic books is we didn’t want it to be a facsimile edition like some of our reprints are. When you do that, it’s obvious that you are reproducing from the comic and there is a specific reason you do that, because you want to capture that old comic book look. Neither Disney nor we wanted to do that, but we both thought it would be best reproduced in color, so the question was how do you go about doing the color? So we’re using the original comics coloring, which is quite good, as a color guide, and an artist by the name of Rich Tommaso is going to be recoloring every page.

About the recolouring of the European collection produced by Egmont:
Personally, I can’t stand that kind of recoloring, where it looks like what used to be called airbrushed, with the gradations of tone and the sculpting and modeling and so forth. To me, that’s a betrayal of how they were originally published and how Barks drew them for reproduction. So we’re going to go with flat colors, but they’re going to be somewhat muted. What we’re trying to do is to reproduce as best we can not only the color scheme, but the chromatic intensity of the colors, so they’re not going to be bright and garish. We’re going to reproduce them on an uncoated stock. It’s obviously going to be heavier than the newsprint they were published on, but it’s going to be uncoated so it will be a very muted stock and the colors will be – they won’t pop off the page like they would with a glossy approach. The colors will be secondary to the actual art.

Retail price and contents:
I think the retail price is $24.99. They will be hardcover. They will be approximately 240 pages per volume, with a good 200 of those being comics and the rest being some text material — supportive, historical and aesthetic appreciations.

What I’ve done is I have mapped out the entire Barks collection chronologically. Eventually when we publish however many volumes it will be, which could be – let’s see, he did 6,000 pages – it will be almost 30 volumes of books. Eventually once we publish all of those, someone will be able to put every book in chronological order on a shelf. We’re starting with what will be the seventh volume in the series. It will be our first published volume. I know that will be a little confusing, but our first published volume will actually be the seventh volume in the series.

Well, I wanted to start off with the best stuff. That’s primarily it; I wanted to hook people on the best Barks. “Lost in the Andes” I think, is one of his best stories. It’s an iconic story. Among people who know Barks it’s their favorite.

This is a slightly sentimental point, and it didn’t hinge on this, but it was also Barks’ favorite story, so I thought that was a nice gesture. It also just happens to be one of the best stories he did.

My original thought was to do the 30 volumes and have a lead story that was a long story in each one and then fill the rest of the book up with shorter pieces. I actually consulted with five Barks scholars throughout the world because I couldn’t quite figure out if I used that as a template — if I used the longer stories as an anchor for the books — I couldn’t figure out how to organize everything else, how to choose stories that would then fill them. You couldn’t do it chronologically because he stopped doing the long stories sometime in the ‘50s. There was a period where he did a lot of long stories in, like, two years, so I couldn’t figure out how to do that and I was finally convinced that I should just do it chronologically, which made my job a lot easier.

About historical information included in the volumes:
Well, I don’t want to have too much text in each volume. There’s going to be a biography of Barks that I might rerun in every volume. And then I’m going to get three or four separate pieces that just discuss the particular stories that are in each volume and give a little historical context to the stories. So there will be between three and five text pieces looking at the stories from various angles, maybe sociological, maybe aesthetic. Not so much that it overwhelms the reader but enough to give them context as to what these things are and who Carl Barks is and why they’re as good as they are.

The only person I have really lined up is Donald Ault, who’s going to be writing the biography of Barks. Don edited a book called “Conversations with Carl Barks” that University Press of Mississippi published a couple of years ago. He’s been a Barks fan and admirer for quite a few years – 30 or 40 years. He really knows his stuff. He knows more than I do and he’s one of the people I’ve been consulting on this. He’s really very good and knows and loves Barks and is a good writer so he’ll be doing the biography.

About ancillary art material, like sketchbook material or other unpublished material:
I haven’t gotten quite far enough to know for sure but my impression is if the rights are clear, which I think that they are because I think everything is owned by Disney (which makes my job easier) I think we’ll probably be including a lot of photographs and sketches, model sheets he did and things like that. So there will be a lot of miscellaneous stuff will be included with the text. We’re aiming this for a general readership, so I don’t want this to get too wordy.

About marketing, promotion and reaching a general readership:
You know, those are great questions, but they’re great questions for Eric [Reynolds]. He and I and Disney have been exchanging emails about this but frankly I haven’t been paying that close attention to it. My main job has been to get the editorial down. So it would be best if I didn’t give you some half-assed answer about that. We’re hoping to get into Disney stores and Disney theme parks and all that. They have a very systematic grasp of where that is in the process right now.

Release schedule:
Two a year. The first one will be October or November of this year. Just in time for Christmas. [...] Two a year from then on, just like Peanuts and Mickey. Mickey, Charlie and Donald.

About most young people not being aware of Donald Duck anymore and thus the issue of trying to convince parents and adults: "Do you feel like you have a lot of convincing to do?"
I have to say I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. I guess not. There’s a sense in which we do because we’re dealing with two things that are a bit of a hard sell, comics and print. (laughter) Luckily we’re not Random House, we don’t have to sell 300,000 copies either. For us, I think we’ll sell quite a lot of copies but however many copies we sell constitute a mass market these days I’m not sure. In a sense sure, we have to convince people, but that’s our job. To some extent that was even true of Peanuts. The strip itself had become such a tiny proportion of its worldwide sales after merchandising, it was almost as if we had to reacquaint people with the strip.

source and more information:

Excerpts from the comments section

Groth, January 2, 2011 at 9:24 pm
Hello, and thanks for your comments — even those of you who’ve groused about the size. Which will be 7″ x 10″, but which I didn’t know that precisely when I gave the interview. Probably greater than 95% of the original size. So, it won’t be manga size, it won’t be close to TV guide size, believe me. Barks’ art reduces better than Gilbert Shelton’s art. Give us some credit here.

The color repros that ran with the piece, by the way, are not our color (but grabbed off the web, I think). We have about 50 pages colored now —by the terrific cartoonist-in-his-own-right Rich Tommaso— but Disney hasn’t officially approved them yet, so we couldn’t release them.

Kim Thompson, January 3, 2011 at 8:52 am
Nick, dude, pay attention, the 90% figure is obsolete, so stop harping on it. The size will be close enough to the original that unless you sit down with a ruler, you’ll never know. Relax. Personally I think the idea of reprinting comics larger than they were intended so as to “appreciate” the art is a bad idea in most cases because it makes the work less readable somehow. The great cartoonists knew what they were doing, and designed the work for maximum efficiency at the final print size.

Russ Cochran, January 4, 2011 at 8:58 am
…and I agree about the size. Old farts like me want to see the artwork at least comic-book size,
not smaller!! Go for something like 8 x 11″

Groth, January 5, 2011 at 12:15 am
Thanks for all your comments and well-wishes. And even your critiques.

First, here are is the list of stories that will appear in our first volume (Lost in the Anders). Please note that this, like many of our plans, is always contingent upon approval by Disney:

“Toyland” –
“Jumping to Conclusions”
“The Golden Christmas Tree”
“The True Test”
“Ornaments on the Way”
“The Crazy Quiz Show”
“Race to the South Seas”
“Truant Officer Donald”
“DD’s Worst Nightmare”
“Pizen Spring Dude Ranch”
“Too Fit to Fit”
“Lost in the Andes!”
“Tunnel Vision”
“Sleepy Sitters”
“Rival Beachcombers”
“The Sunken Yaht”
“Managing the Echo System”
“Plenty of Plates”
“Slippery Shine”
“Voodoo Hoodoo”

Second, I want to clear up the misapprehension that I said Barks had not been systematically or comprehensively published. As Chris mentioned, that was his comment in his intro and it wasn’t accurate. As Russ Cochran reminded everyone here, he and Bruce Hamilton reprinted every Barks Duck story in magnificent hardcover editions in the ’70s and ’80s. These were printed in an oversized formats, three volumes per boxed set, b&w, and terrific editions for the time. I bought every volume as they were coming out, still own them to this day (they’re all sitting in the Fantagraphics library) and continue to treasure them. Russ and Bruce were pioneers in the area of reprinting some of the best commercial comic books ever produced — Disney’s Barks work and the EC line, and they deserve great credit for that. When my now-16-year-old son was 4, 5, 6, I read him all the Barks stories from those books (as well as from the Little Lulu volumes that Bruce and Russ also published!). (This may go a long way to explain why my son loves b&w comics today — Love & Rockets being a favorite.)

These big hardcover books were clearly aimed at collectors and hard-core fans like myself. We’re doing something substantially different: creating a format that will reach a wider and deeper readership — in addition to the comics fan. One of our missions is to spread the gospel by attracting readers who have never heard of Carl Barks and aren’t even interested in comics auteurs or graphic novels necessarily. We want to attract the general book buying audience to these books while doing justice to and maintaining the integrity of Barks’ work.

Joseph Cowles, January 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm
I too am concerned about the size of reproduction. As someone who was privileged to watch Carl draw and ink his pages at 2.5 times the size they were reproduced in comic book format (before Western started doing reprints in an even smaller size), I can testify to the mastery of his technique. Holding his original Bristol boards (he worked in half pages, as full pages were too large to manage) was for me as thrilling as it would have been for a composer or musician to caress Mozart’s original music sheets. Except for the flashes of light in the ducks’ eyes, Carl’s panels were not covered with gobs of thick white tempera as is the work of many cartoonists. His finished art was just that — finished art. You would be better off to publish in a larger, standard trim size, which in the U.S is 8.5 x 11 inches, and if you do the math you’ll find the cost difference is negligible, with the increase in quality worth a buck or two extra to Barks aficionados. Also, an excellent and quite economical uncoated acid free paper stock to consider is Exact Offset Opaque, available in a 70 pound text, which affords virtually no show through. A natural rather than white sheet will give the pages a most pleasing appearance. You are quite correct to make the colors more subdued, tending toward pastels, as one of Carl’s ongoing rants (beyond the awful printing quality of the comic books), was about the grossly overstated palette used by the colorists, which obscured rather than enhanced his artwork. “And look at the (expletive) blue roof they put on Gaspar’s adobe hacienda,” he would exclaim, referring to the 1951 printing of his beloved tale, Old California. “Everyone knows Spanish tiles are terra cotta!” Everyone but Western’s color department, evidently. Give yourselves some latitude in adjusting those colors, rather than attempting to duplicate what was printed in the comic books, as the U.S. publishers were interested neither in quality nor accuracy.

Jay, January 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm
Hey, what i mean is that the original proof sheets for these particular stories ( Race to the South Seas, Darkest Africa and a few others e.g. Donald’s Atom Bomb) are missing and thus subsequent printings have been re-inked versions (reinked by others). Therefore, in order to present the most original editions of these stories the best way would arguably be to merely include them as digitally cleaned fascimiles. This was also done in the Skandinavian The Carl Barks Collection, which, btw, featured all of Barks’ stories uncensored.

Kim Thompson, January 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm
I bow to the wisdom of the posters who believe cartoonists were totally oblivious to the final reproduction size of their work, and that printers don’t charge you more when you use more paper, or that if books cost more to print publishers don’t have to charge more for them, or that if books are more expensive this won’t cut down on the audience. C’mon, “Lad,” do I come to your place of business and complain that the french fries aren’t golden enough?

I own a few books that include blown-up (relative to intended printed size) editions of cartoonists’ work — Moebius, Franquin — and while I treasure them as art objects, when I want to actually re-read the work, I never go to the oversize versions but to the “classic” versions.

The argument that the new edition should correct coloring mistakes or misjudgments of the original seem to me to be a very slippery slope. Short of having the original artist perched on your shoulder, this would all be wild conjecture. I mean, if we find a panel where the ducks’ beaks were colored green in one panel, I suspect we’ll fix that (although I assume the hardcore “respect the original printing as the text” fans would protest). Unless Joseph Cowles (at whom I was NOT aiming with the above crack, his was a fine, courteous, informative and sensible post with which we just don’t necessarily fully agree) has a ouija board we can borrow, those blue roofs will probably stay.

Kim Thompson, January 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm
I believe the art is going to be about 96% or 97% of the size it was printed in the comics, i.e. a differential so infinitesimal that no one who is not actually setting the two editions side by side and measuring them will ever notice. My cost argument was against those who were suggesting the blown-up 8 x 11 size or bigger, sizes of 110% or whatever, where yes, the costs can mount up very quickly.

There is no reason we can’t tweak the release schedule as we go, and get a sense of how the market responds. (In retrospect I believe, for instance, that the twice-yearly schedule for PEANUTS was just right, despite AAUUGHHs from ageing, impatient fans at the time.) There is a LOT of classic material being released, and seems to be even more day by day — as it is, Disney fans in general will already be forking over $110 a year just between this and the Gottfredson MICKEY.

Kim Thompson, January 13, 2011 at 6:53 am
There are no plans for reprinting the Barks-written-but-not-drawn stories per se (I think we can all agree they are among his lesser works), but in any event, if we were to do so it would be at the very tail end of the project so it’s not a bridge we have to cross for many, many years. It would be kind of a neat book, particularly since Daan Jippes is great. But I’d rather reprint Barks BARNEY BEAR stories, for example, before that. Barks trumps all!

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