Three Cheers for Bill Van Horn

Santiago Ceballos, William Van Horn, Paul Murry, Don Rosa, etc.

Postby Doctor Witchie Britchie » Fri May 05, 2006 3:51 pm

I've never seen much written about William Van Horn here or on the Disney Comics Mailing List, so I'd like to start a thread about him. For my money, he's the greatest living American Duck artist/writer, and the second greatest Duck artist/writer of all time (Barks is Number One, of course). His ten-page stories by and large are comedic gems, very much in the Barks tradition but completely his own. And his longer stories (such as "The Pauper's Glass," "A Tuft Luck Tale," "The Black Moon," and his recent Scrooge vs. Rumpus story (can't recall the title, but it's the one where Rumpus tries to claim a third of Scrooge's fortune) are less frequent, but just as good.

I think the thing that makes Van Horn a great storyteller in the Barks tradition is his complete lack of self-consciousness. His tales are simple and compelling trips into the Duck world, and aren't dedicated to building up a chronology or expanding upon other stories. In addition, he has a good streak of the slightly cantankerous conservatism that Barks always displayed, giving his stories an additional satiric twist from time to time without submerging them in heavy-handedness (unlike Geoff Blum's recent stories). I know most Americans prefer Don Rosa, but I think Van Horn will endure as a giant of the Duck genre as Barks has endured. I only wish his stories were available in collected form somewhere--of course, he hasn't finished writing them yet.
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Postby Robb_K » Fri May 05, 2006 8:46 pm

Doctor Witchie Britchie wrote:I've never seen much written about William Van Horn here or on the Disney Comics Mailing List, so I'd like to start a thread about him. For my money, he's the greatest living American Duck artist/writer, and the second greatest Duck artist/writer of all time (Barks is Number One, of course). His ten-page stories by and large are comedic gems, very much in the Barks tradition but completely his own. And his longer stories (such as "The Pauper's Glass," "A Tuft Luck Tale," "The Black Moon," and his recent Scrooge vs. Rumpus story (can't recall the title, but it's the one where Rumpus tries to claim a third of Scrooge's fortune) are less frequent, but just as good.

I think the thing that makes Van Horn a great storyteller in the Barks tradition is his complete lack of self-consciousness. His tales are simple and compelling trips into the Duck world, and aren't dedicated to building up a chronology or expanding upon other stories. In addition, he has a good streak of the slightly cantankerous conservatism that Barks always displayed, giving his stories an additional satiric twist from time to time without submerging them in heavy-handedness (unlike Geoff Blum's recent stories). I know most Americans prefer Don Rosa, but I think Van Horn will endure as a giant of the Duck genre as Barks has endured. I only wish his stories were available in collected form somewhere--of course, he hasn't finished writing them yet.

I agree with a lot of what you stated. Van Horn's stories are very funny. I prefer them much to Rosa's. His artwork is a lot better than Rosa's to my taste. It is much looser, freer, and more animated. But, he still has a lot of improvement to make in my eyes, to become a lot more on model, and get anywhere near the quality of jippes, and Branca during the heights of their careers. He's been improving since his start at drawing the Disney figures, but they still are very distorted at times, and still look a lot like his own non-Disney characters. Both he and Rosa are doing what I had hoped to do, which is to write and draw final drawings of Disney Duck stories, and to produce a lot of stories showing the history of Duckburg and The Duck/McDuck families. Perhaps i'll still get a chance to do more than write stories and storyboard them. But the years are passing by quickly.
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Postby Rockerduck » Sat May 06, 2006 7:17 pm

Bill van Horn was one of my favorite artists in the mid- and late-1990's. I still enjoy his work from that era, but his current work is for the most part not even worth looking at, in my opinion. I miss that great sense of humor he put in his stories in the period 1987-2000. He was a master in short tenpagers and in showing Donald's ever-lasting struggle for life, in the most absurd situations. I never liked his longer stories. Somehow, his work has gotte rather dull over the years... or maybe we need a better translator? I once compared a story of his in German and in Dutch with the original English text. The German translation was much closer to the original-- and funnier!
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Postby WB » Sat May 06, 2006 11:01 pm

Theres something to be said for stories that end up losing something in translation. Unless you have someone who is wonderful at dialogue that isnt stilted or someone that can translate a story accurately, its always little things that may end up being lost for good. =

Having said that - I LOVE William Van Horn's work and fond of his longer stories as well. i wish he would partner with John Lustig more often like they did in the Disney comics run era here in the states - they complimented each other SO WELL. IMO he captures the simpler things and insanity/absurdity of Donald Duck's universe masterfully, plus his characters that he's introduced are bar none funny. I always get smiley when I read anything with Baron Itzy Bitsy, the Whistling Flea as that was my first exposure to his work. Theres just something about his work that I think Don Rosa can't/doesnt capture - but I suppose its like apples and oranges in that sense. I've always said that if you put the intricacies of Rosa together with the utter absurdity of Van Horn, you'd end up with something that would probably rival and/or equal Carl Barks on nearly every level.

I've never really seen a problem with the off modelness (except in his earlier work up through the Disney era where its obvious he was trying to get a feel for things) beecause considering some of the stuff that came from the pike and trickled here to the states from Denmark during the original Gladstone/Disney run I was of the opinion that unless it was Branca or one of the other artists who bucked the occasional trend to make everything stiff and unlikable then most of it was kind of garbage. = of course I have a FAR FAAAR different tone now that I've seen a lot of the good examples European stories but I didnt even like anything by Vicar until the second Gladstone run sadly. i suppose that there is something to be said for the quality of the stories and such but i am getting off topic.
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Postby Robb_K » Sun May 07, 2006 8:13 pm

WB wrote:Theres something to be said for stories that end up losing something in translation. Unless you have someone who is wonderful at dialogue that isnt stilted or someone that can translate a story accurately, its always little things that may end up being lost for good. =

Having said that - I LOVE William Van Horn's work and fond of his longer stories as well. i wish he would partner with John Lustig more often like they did in the Disney comics run era here in the states - they complimented each other SO WELL. IMO he captures the simpler things and insanity/absurdity of Donald Duck's universe masterfully, plus his characters that he's introduced are bar none funny. I always get smiley when I read anything with Baron Itzy Bitsy, the Whistling Flea as that was my first exposure to his work. Theres just something about his work that I think Don Rosa can't/doesnt capture - but I suppose its like apples and oranges in that sense. I've always said that if you put the intricacies of Rosa together with the utter absurdity of Van Horn, you'd end up with something that would probably rival and/or equal Carl Barks on nearly every level.

I've never really seen a problem with the off modelness (except in his earlier work up through the Disney era where its obvious he was trying to get a feel for things) beecause considering some of the stuff that came from the pike and trickled here to the states from Denmark during the original Gladstone/Disney run I was of the opinion that unless it was Branca or one of the other artists who bucked the occasional trend to make everything stiff and unlikable then most of it was kind of garbage. = of course I have a FAR FAAAR different tone now that I've seen a lot of the good examples European stories but I didnt even like anything by Vicar until the second Gladstone run sadly. i suppose that there is something to be said for the quality of the stories and such but i am getting off topic.

There is no doubt that Van Horn is getting better at drawing The Ducks. But I'd rather have him have the figures a little less distorted. But, I like his work better than most of Egmont's Spanish Studio artists, and Rosa. I still like Daan Jippes', Freddy Milton's, Jan Gulbransson's, Branca's, Verhagen's, Mau Heymans' and even Sander Gulien's work better (most of them at their peak time (several of them have fallen off in recent years).
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Postby Robb_K » Sun May 07, 2006 8:15 pm

Glad to see we have picked up another international poster here at McDuck.NL (unless you are an alter ego of Dr. Witchie Britchie - I hope not!)
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Postby Doctor Witchie Britchie » Sun May 07, 2006 9:21 pm

Oh no, Doctor Witchie Britchie no havee split personality! I thinkee this new member be Jonathan Gray, American DCML-member. That's just based on his opinions and writing style, though, so I could be wrong.
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Postby WB » Sun May 07, 2006 11:35 pm

Doctor Witchie Britchie wrote:Oh no, Doctor Witchie Britchie no havee split personality! I thinkee this new member be Jonathan Gray, American DCML-member. That's just based on his opinions and writing style, though, so I could be wrong.

That do indeed be me. I didnt think anybody even knew who I was. ^^;
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Postby Robb_K » Sun May 07, 2006 11:55 pm

Doctor Witchie Britchie wrote:Oh no, Doctor Witchie Britchie no havee split personality! I thinkee this new member be Jonathan Gray, American DCML-member. That's just based on his opinions and writing style, though, so I could be wrong.

Now, now.... let's not get too anxious to answer fellow posters' questions. Telling us you don't have a split personality would have sufficed. I've been chastised already for just implying that I guessed the identity of a certain member's alias (and hadn't even written out my guess). According to others on this thread, it's better for role-playing to keep the true identities of the "characters" unknown! However, it's nice to see that the International Forum is growing in International membership. I'm sure that will add a bit more flavour to the discussions.
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Postby Egg » Mon May 08, 2006 5:11 am

A topic about Van Horn? Does Van Horn serve that? After screwing-up Barks's classic 'The Magic Hourglass' by framing it like a lousy pulp story, just to please some silly brainless feelingless readers and editors, because Rosa made one of his famous mistakes?
Who's responsible?

The anonimousity is to project you guys against ME.
Especially when holy Barks is sacrileged, I'll break out of my shell.

Let that be a warning to you all.
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Postby Egg » Mon May 08, 2006 5:17 am

I meant: Does Van Horn deserve that?
My answer is of course NO.

Van Horn should be sent outside the Barksian city walls forever. There he can go treading the desert sand and think about what he was thinking at the time. Andif Doctor Witchie Britchie not like that, he can join him!

Enough is enough. My patience is over with you all and everybody else.

I say this only once.
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Postby William Van Horn » Mon May 08, 2006 9:58 am

Boohooohhooooo......
Can I a least say 'goodbye', mister Egg?
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Postby WB » Mon May 08, 2006 3:31 pm

Hi Mr. Van Horn! I must say yet again that I love your work. :) I hope the previous insult by Egg doesnt drive you away. It's always nice IMO to see creators give input on thier work and being stateside with the Disney material I've discovered that its not often to find a place to discuss the comic books I've grown up with since childhood where the language isnt all something I don't really know. ^^;;

Having said that, I will probably regret this buuuut...

A topic about Van Horn? Does Van Horn serve that?

I think he does, yes - and other people have differing opinions too. No one has to always agree with the other person, and maybe I probably read it the wrong way as I'm just a newbie (maybe lost in translation?) but your phrasing of this comes off as more than just a wee bit rude.

After screwing-up Barks's classic 'The Magic Hourglass' by framing it like a lousy pulp story, just to please some silly brainless feelingless readers and editors, because Rosa made one of his famous mistakes?

A) How in the world did he screw up anything? To say that makes little or no sense. He did not change or rewrite the fundamental aspects of the story. He did not write any of the characters out of character, and he did not take the story (which is known as far as I've seen by people to be the only really apocryphal story that Barks has done in terms of continuity) and poo-poo on it.

Having read the story both with (recent Gemstone reprint) and without (old Gemstone reprint)his framing sequence, I kinda have to say that the framing sequence made it make sense (at least in my perspective) before Rosa's non-inception of it in Life and Times had even come to play. the way I see it, the framing sequence neither makes the story any more valid or invalid than it standing own its own or chosen to be left out of LaT. Its like one of those tall tales that can be interpreted any way you want it and IMO thats a creative way to go about it.

And just cause its Barks doesn't make it the be all/end all of comic books. :)

Who's responsible?

The anonimousity is to project you guys against ME.
Especially when holy Barks is sacrileged, I'll break out of my shell.

What do you mean by that? Cause the way it reads it seems like you're saying that if anyone talks ill of anything Barks that isn't anything but "pure like" then you'll flame them. (Not to mention it makes you come off a wee bit obsessed)

Again - maybe I'm wrong and your statement is probably lost in translation a bit, but if that is indeed true (at the risk of coming off a bit strong) I think you're being somewhat way too extreme.

Let that be a warning to you all.

I'm not scared. :) In my professional years with Sonic I've dealt with crazy bonkers fans and tons of weird furries during my career that would make anybody all kinds of crazy. I've seen faaaaaaar worse. ^__^

Does Van Horn deserve that?
My answer is of course NO.

On what ground? He's pretty much assumed the mantle of successor of the Donald Duck 10 pager in many people's eyes and many people's opinion brings something to the table that has never been there before. But like I said earlier, your mileage may vary.

Van Horn should be sent outside the Barksian city walls forever. There he can go treading the desert sand and think about what he was thinking at the time. Andif Doctor Witchie Britchie not like that, he can join him!

Sometimes when you end up "expelling everybody outside the city walls", you end up finding that you're the only one left, both alone and unwanted, inside the city. ;)

just to please some silly brainless feelingless readers and editors,

This one statement shows me that you don't seem to know much of anything about the comic book process and how it works.

See - your editors give you a job. They ask you to do something. You do it. You don't do your own thing, defy them vehemently, or raise a stink about it. You have every right to disagree and present your own case and if you can convince the editor that this way isnt the best way to go then better for all parties. Sometimes you hit creative stumbling blocks but in the end its all about learning to work with people and doing your job.

Those brainless readers as you refer to them are many and ALL of them have differing opinions. Some of them valid, some of them just plain bonkers but never is one person just plain right without fail. Theres a valid difference between a critique and a tirade and if every creator took every fans tirade to heart then you would REALLY know the meaning of a creative quagmire and the duck books would probably (heaven forbid) look like every other superhero comic and/or every other superhero comic wannabe that turns into a convoluted soap opera and/or kiddie pap that talks down to its reader. Thankfully the duck and mouse books have very VERY **VERY** rarely ever ventured into any of that madness before retrieving its common sense. :)

So those editors that you call brainless do what they do for a reason. That does not mean that they are always right (I've worked with editors before that make something as simple as "okaying a framing sequence" seem like quantum physics) but I'm certain that even the oft revered Barks has had to deal with changes that were both GOOD (let's say the rewrite of Delivery Dillema, a story thats been said he didnt originally write that he made changes too) and BAD (the incredibly asinine and stupid idea of square block lettering by Gold Key/Whitman around the time of late 60's/70's)

I'm not trying to be condescending - excuse that if it looks that way - but understand the creative process of both sides past and present before you mock it, and learn how to lighten up a bit and not take everything so mad seriously. :)

Just my opinion mind you.
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Postby Rockerduck » Mon May 08, 2006 10:00 pm

WB wrote:What do you mean by that? Cause the way it reads it seems like you're saying that if anyone talks ill of anything Barks that isn't anything but "pure like" then you'll flame them. (Not to mention it makes you come off a wee bit obsessed)

Aaaah, I see you met Egg. Yes, he's obsessed with Barks. Yes, it is dangerous to say something negative about Barks or his work. Do not criticise him. Always praise Barks and never argue with Egg. It's for your own safety. ;)

And about artists and editors:
I just finished reading The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book and I've gained enormous respect for the things Bill Watterson fought the syndicate for. You could replace 'the syndicate' with 'the editor' here. He fought for a new Sunday Strip-format, the possibility to take sabbaticals, and most important, not having to exploit his creations to commercialism.
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Postby Doctor Witchie Britchie » Mon May 08, 2006 10:04 pm

I think good old Egg is being a little tongue-in-cheek when he says he'd send his old friend Witchie Britchie out into the desert (I sure hope so, anyway!). I don't hold the Magic Hourglass framing sequence against Van Horn--if he had done it someone else would have anyway; it wasn't his idea. Mr. Van Horn shows that he respects the Barks tradition by crafting all his stories entirely on his own and not piggybacking on Barks' work. He still has my highest respect as a writer and artist. And I still respect Egg, too, cantankerous as he can be (just kidding!)
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