Barks's working methods

creator of Duckburg and Scrooge McDuck

Postby Egg » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:44 pm

A topic dedicated to Barks's working methods.
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Postby Daniel73 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:54 pm

Scan taken from a private email sent to 'A Guidebook'-site on 30 April 2006, by someone who wants to stay anonymous:
http://img.mcduck.nl/strip/onbekende-bron/lbg.jpg
The scan shows a portion of original, scrapped art of 'Land Beneath the Ground' (US 13).

It's the tier in which Donald says: "More speed! It's growing PITCH DARK up here! We can't be FAR from the shaft!"
Only this panel can fully be seen on the scan. The second one is only partially visible.

Working method: Note how Barks has used white paint to add depth to black parts.
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Postby Egg » Fri Mar 30, 2007 5:43 am

Don Rosa and recently Daan Jippes have done an attempt to fill in the gap in a reconstruction of 'How Green was My Lettuce' (US 51).

In its first publication in summer 1964, the story was cut down from 17 to 15 pages to make room for ads. Of these two pages of material, 1 3/4 pages have survived. One tier worth of material (1/4) is lost.
http://coa.inducks.org/coa/c1/story.php/0/W+US+++51-01

The survived material is published in The Carl Barks Library - Set V by putting it back in the story. To make this possible, changes were made to art that was possibly altered / added by the Western editors. The word balloon "Wak! Gophers!" in panel 4 of page 2 has been deleted because the next sequence in the excised portion reveals that Scrooge does not yet know about the gophers. The words "Now what?" in Scrooge's dialogue in panel 5 of published page 2 have been changed to "Suddenly," because he has just exclaimed "Wak! Now what?" in the cut previous panel. A small black dot, intended to represent Scrooge running from his bin, has been whited out of panel 7 of published page 2. In this panel, an additional dialogue balloon has been given to one of the nephews. He now asks "Where's Unca Scrooge?" because Donald's dialogue in the cut next panel is, "I don't see him, but there's a two-ton sack of money coming out of the door!" The still missing quarter-page is represented by a blank box in between first and third tier of restored page 2, where it logically seems to have been.
http://www.seriesam.com/barks/comicsus048.html#ccus_us0051-01

Rosa's and now Jippes's attempts show two remarkably different interpretations of what could be inserted into the reconstruction, to smooth over Barks's missing art.

Don Rosa:
Image
http://coa.inducks.org/s.php/x/ARC+US++241B
published in Uncle Scrooge 241

Daan Jippes:
Image
(no COA link available)
published in box 6 of the Carl Barks Samlede verk hardcover book series, translated from Norwegian by Sigvald of DCF

Differences in art and staging:
- Rosa has two panels viewing the outside of the bin, as on the rest of reconstructed page 2.
Scrooge discovers having taken no lettuce after taking in his pincers, but the reason why is to be discovered in the Barks art that follows.
The camera angle is straight in both panels.
- Jippes has a panel viewing the inside of the bin, followed by a panel viewing from the outside. The indoor panel is based on some indoor panels of reconstructed page 3, and it adds variation to the outdoors staging of reconstructed page 2.
The reader discovers that the lettuce is glommed, but Scrooge is looking behind him and has yet to discover what happens.
The camera angle in the second panel is looking up from the ground.

Differences in dialogue:
- Rosa has Scrooge mentioning a farmer's market, adding a second advantage to the matter of Scrooge having a garden in his barren minefield that guards his money bin. This makes Scrooge not only using the lettuce for his own appetite (Barks), but also for consumers on the market (Rosa). So, in Rosa's interpretation, Scrooge not only saves money, but also makes money.
- Jippes focusses on the mine field. Two nephews, one filling out the other's sentence, mention the possibility that no would be trampling in the salad in Scrooge's mine field. Scrooge answers that he loves the green and crispy leaves of these salad/lettuce, apparently hinting at Scrooge's love for banknotes.

Differences between the versions, in comparison with Barks's remaining art:
- Rosa keeps the art of the panels open, as in the rest of reconstructed page 2 and as in Barks's general 1960s style.
- Jippes uses camera angles that seem to be inspired from Barks's late 1940s and early 1950s styles. Also the dialogue seems to be inspired from that area. Jippes uses fragmented dialogue for the nephews, a habit that Barks dropped long before the 1960s. In the remaining art of 'How Green Was My Lettuce', the nephews use complete sentences. (Or are there exceptions?)

Egg's OPINION:
Jippes attempt is disappointing in the sense that he just uses some loose Barks tricks, even in an anachronistic way. Jippes's attempt looks as if he just thew in some gags, about the mine field and the sound of lettuce being eaten. Nothing significant happens, storywise.
Jippes may have a good reason to use a variation indoors panel, as Rosa's version makes the overall reconstructed page visually repetitive, having only outdoors panels. However, repetitiveness could be a reason for editors to cut down that page, so it's matter of guessing whether Barks had only outdoors panels (Rosa) or an indoors variation (Jippes). The only hint of what Barks must have done is that it somehow must have been something that editors found missable enough to be cut for advertisement room.
Rosa's attempt is closer to Barks's 1960s style of storytelling. His attempt flows better in the reconstructed Barks page. The gag of Scrooge making profit on the farmer's market adds a character motivation to the reconstructed story. And the farmer's market associates with the storypoint of the ducks disguising as farmers later in the story.
Overall, Eggs thinks Rosa has the most Barksian ingredients that logically fit. Eggs thinks the idea of Scrooge making profits of the lettuce, is something that emphasizes to a new reader what the old rich duck is about. A Barks habit is that in each story, characters are introduced understandably to new readers. Rosa shows that Scrooge isn't just a lettuce-lover, but also explains how the duck manages to have a money bin.

Question about the reconstruction as published in the Carl Barks Library:
Is it 100% sure that the gap in 'How Green Was My Lettuce' should be the second tier of reconstructed page 2? Is there any solid proof that Rosa and Jippes are really filling in a gap on the exact, proper place? Or could the cuts originally have been elsewhere?

So far Egg's review for now.
Corrections and other cmments are welcome.

sources: pictures and reference to Carl Barks Samlede verk by Sigvald, posted to DCF on 2007-03-24 03:53
http://dcf.outducks.org/viewtopic.php?pid=186#p186
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Postby Egg » Fri Mar 30, 2007 6:12 am

Here's a redrawn version of Jippes's attempt, as sketched by Robb_K:
Image

Main differences seem to be that, in the first panel, one nephew has a neutral expression and is put further away from the camera. On the background, the building fits better with Scrooge standing in front of it. Egg thinks the staging looks more 1960s Barks than what Jippes did in the equivalent panel. In the second panel, Scrooge's head is shown completely, and the window has no slanted perspective.

In general, I think Robb makes Jippes's attempt look visually more believable. But what keeps missing is any significant story-content.
What does Robb think of a best-of-the-best combination of Jippes's and Rosa's attempts, both sketched into one new sketched tier? Using both an indoors variation and the reference to Scrooge selling lettuce at a farmer's market? Could that be closer to what Barks might have done?

source: picture posted to DCF on 2007-03-25 01:31
http://dcf.outducks.org/viewtopic.php?pid=209#p209
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Postby Robb_K » Fri Mar 30, 2007 9:47 am

Egg wrote:Here's a redrawn version of Jippes's attempt, as sketched by Robb_K:
http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j56/Robb_K/Lettuce2-1.jpg

What does Robb think of a best-of-the-best combination of Jippes's and Rosa's attempts, both sketched into one new sketched tier? Using both an indoors variation and the reference to Scrooge selling lettuce at a farmer's market? Could that be closer to what Barks might have done?

source: picture posted to DCF on 2007-03-25 01:31
http://dcf.outducks.org/viewtopic.php?pid=209#p209

Egg: Your idea is plausable. All we can do is guess. But we all would often disagree about how Barks would have staged missing panels. But, I certainly think all of the panels were NOT outside, as the story needs to keep some connection to the inside, when we see Donald and The Nephews once again. Also, I do believe that the second panel with the lettuce disappearing down the hole is necessary. While I believe that Rosa's panel of Scrooge looking at the tongs with no lettuce held in them, is useless.
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Postby Egg » Sun Apr 08, 2007 2:18 am

Robb_K wrote:Egg: Your idea is plausable. All we can do is guess. But we all would often disagree about how Barks would have staged missing panels. But, I certainly think all of the panels were NOT outside, as the story needs to keep some connection to the inside, when we see Donald and The Nephews once again. Also, I do believe that the second panel with the lettuce disappearing down the hole is necessary. While I believe that Rosa's panel of Scrooge looking at the tongs with no lettuce held in them, is useless.

Here's a version by McDuck Menu, in Dutch:
Image

The layout of this version, combining Jippes (first panel) and Rosa (second panel), is how Egg imagined it.
The dialogue misses Rosa's idea of Scrooge selling lettuce at the "farmers' market", a textual idea which Egg finds superior to what Jippes has.

source: picture posted to McDrake Nederland Disney, 7 April 2007 13:45:31
http://bb.mcdrake.nl/neddisney/viewtopic.php?pid=2500#p2500
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Postby Daniel73 » Sun May 13, 2007 5:56 pm

Two messages taken from a discussion at DCF, copied here to McDrake because of too enthusiastic banning there:

- - - - - - - - - -

12-05-2007 18:42, DCF, Olivier wrote:

"The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long." How does this saying fit with Barks then? Barks shone like the sun, for about 60 years.

Barks himself admitted he was running out of ideas in the last decade and had to recycle earlier plots; there are some good stories in the '60's, but his peak was definitely the late '40's - early '50's (roughly, of course), both narratively and artistically.

- - - - - - - - - -

12-05-2007 19:22, DCF, Daniel73 wrote:

Olivier wrote:Barks himself admitted he was running out of ideas in the last decade and had to recycle earlier plots; there are some good stories in the '60's, but his peak was definitely the late '40's - early '50's (roughly, of course), both narratively and artistically.

Still, in the 1960s and also 1970s, bright Barks was at a peak in comparison to many other artists. A lot of Disney artists fall down with 10 years.

I doubt that Barks's peak was "definitely" in the late 1940s and 1950s. In later stories I see a more mature creator, who knows better how to tell a story more fluently. Some stories of Barks's peak are greatly over-estimated, if you ask me.

If there was a peak then I'd say it went down when the comic book title Uncle Scrooge started, in the early 1950s. I see a lapse in quality when Barks starts writing for that milch cow title. I think the Donald Duck stories, like 'Race to the South Seas', 'Lost in the Andes', 'The Magic Hourglass', 'Pixilated Parrot' are of a better quality than some long-winded Uncle Scrooge adventures. 'Back to the Klondike' has much less adventure than 'Lost in the Andes', for example. And they're both 32 pages.

In especially the first Uncle Scrooge comics, Barks seems to be searching how to treat Scrooge as main character, instead of the developed secondary character Scrooge was in Donald Duck stories.
Just look at how the Atlantis-story is filled up with gag sequences. Even the much-praised 'Back to the Klondike' has long-winded sequences of average gag sequences. These stories just go on and on and on, until the plot is finally saved by a remarkable finale. Just read how awful long it takes before the ducks get to see Goldie or Atlantis.
I think that later Uncle Scrooge stories are better told. I think these stories use less pages to still have an exciting long adventure.

To me, Barks is one of the very few Disney comics creators, or maybe the only one, who kept on growing and developing himself as story-teller. Getting better and better. Despite the well running dry. Despite the frustrating cut down of expenses by the publisher.

- - - - - - - - - -

http://dcf.outducks.org/viewtopic.php?pid=607#p607
http://dcf.outducks.org/viewtopic.php?pid=608#p608
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Postby Rockerduck » Sun May 13, 2007 6:25 pm

Do you really think of the Uncle $crooge-series as a 'milch cow'? (I doubt that's an actual expression in English, by the way. Egg means it was a product only designed to make a lot of money from in a short period of time.) I have to disagree. I'm glad Barks made those stories, which have become classics --and rightfully so, in my opinion.

The artwork in these first long Scrooge-stories is fabulous! I like this art much, much better than his later work in the 1960's. He's done some awful work in those last years before retirement when it comes to the drawings, like 'The giant robot robbers' (is this title correct?). There's nothing attractive in this story. Not script-related, but also not related to the artwork. It strikes me as boring. I like the extraordinary artwork in e.g. 'Only a poor old man', 'The secret of Atlantis', 'Seven cities of Cibola' etc.

I won't say Barks was doing bad stories in the 1960's, but they were certainly not as good as his 1940's and 1950's work. Maybe it's due to all the cuts the editors at Western made. I understand a favulous half-page was cut from 'Mythic mystery'? But a story like 'Lost beneath the sea' had an awful motivation (buying the Tai Mahal and then accidently getting in contact with Martians?) and 'The many faces of Magica de Spell' had an ending that was terribly rushed. Not to mention the worthless solution Barks came up with: using water and soap to rub of the spell of Magica the sorceres. 'The unsafe safe' had a similar worthless ending and a lame joke at the end.
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