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The Baltimore City Paper reviews Scrooged a show of Carl Barks art at the Geppi Entertainment museum. And you will cry:

And “Yukon” is not an example of Barks’ best work, coming as it does from very late in his career, when his art had atrophied into generic Disneyness, unlike his more idiosyncratic, Hal Foster-influenced art from the 1940s and early ’50s. Nor does it contain the satire or hard knocks of his Donald Duck stories from the ’40s-’50s, which were more stories done with kids in mind rather than kids’ stories.

Not that Scrooged’s curators, Arnold T. Blumberg and Andrew Hershberger, had any choice. Nearly all of Barks’ original artwork is gone, tossed in the trash by his publishers–in fact, “Yukon” is the only full story known to exist, the curators say.

The rest of the exhibit is filled out by a number of the oil paintings Barks made in his later years and some other miscellanea: statues, toys, and the like. Unfortunately, those paintings are mostly awful. While they feature good compositions, and some of the later ones do some nice things with lighting and backgrounds, it’s clear that Barks was a cartoonist, not a painter. He could effortlessly express movement and emotion with a few lines, but those same ducks become lifeless dolls–kitsch, and bad kitsch at that–when delineated in another medium.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is a very sad review. For the largest exhibition of Barks’ work in the U.S.A. or perhaps anywhere after so many years of neglect, to get such a negative review, seems culturally criminal.
    The paintings in fact, are reflective of Barks’ earlier style of the 40’s and early 50’s era. If they were painted in something closer to the Disney animation style, then they would look more like a Disney studio creation. That his eccentricities are present in his paintings, is certainly what we treasure about these works. How could the master’s work, looking like the master’s work be a bad thing?

  2. The reviewer has the gall to say “His stories aren’t that different in tone or execution than most children’s comics, and while he was an effective artist, he wasn’t a great or distinctive draftsman.” Has this bozo ever READ any other children’s comics? Barks not a great draftsman? What a moron.

  3. Well, I too never understood the perceived genius of Carl Barks’ art. It’s competently done but nothing spectacular. Has Barks ever drawn something not in the Disney style?

  4. Barks is the uncrowned king of comics, in my opinion.

    I have the Carl Barks Library hardcovers that Another Rainbow put out years ago. They feature Barks’ artwork in crisp black and white which made his pages even more impressive.

    Mario, you may not like Barks’ style, but he was far from a pedestrian artist. Occasionally Barks would get a chance to really cut loose (especially in his Uncle Scrooge stories) with half splash illustrations of lost cities of gold, stunning mountain ranges and even a spectacular shot of a dam bursting from water mixed with gold coins. Those are just the ones off the top of my head…

    Barks abilities as a writer are also overlooked at times. His adventure stories were top notch. And as I recall, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg
    both cited Barks’ work as influence for the boulder chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    I think the closest thing we have to a modern day Barks is Jeff Smith. I’ve always suspected that his unseen Boneville would greatly resemble Duckburg, money bin and all.

    Though as far as Duck artists go, Don Rosa is pretty good too.