Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Carl Barks Library -- Take Two!

The "Golden Age of Comics Reprints" just keeps getting "spanglier and flashier." Fantagraphics, which is already planning to launch a Floyd Gottfredson MICKEY MOUSE reprint project later this year, has now unveiled a new hardcover Carl Barks Library series, with the first volume scheduled to be published in Fall 2011. FG boss Gary Groth clearly intends for this to be a collection that immediately grabs the attention of a mass audience, much as the COMPLETE PEANUTS did (remember how the first PEANUTS volume cracked the best-seller lists?). In lieu of a chronological reprinting schedule, the first several volumes will draw upon Barks' strong suit -- his DONALD DUCK and UNCLE $CROOGE stories of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

For me personally, "things Ducky" have now come full circle. I started the Duck-phase of my comics-collecting career in the mid-1980s with the Another Rainbow Barks library. I've often said that, if I were forced to sell my comics collection for some reason, then those oversized black-and-white volumes would be the last things to go. For the most part, I eschewed buying the various softcover Barks albums put out by Gladstone, even though they were in color. The FG volumes, however, I think I will buy -- though I do hope that there is plenty of ancillary material present to offset the familiarity of the reprinted material. Now, if FG could only get the COMPLETE POGO off the ground...


Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

That interview claims that forty-odd pages will consist of supplementary material. I just hope there's no dumbing-down of the scholarship in pursuit of a larger audience.

Chris Barat said...


I hope so too, but Fantagraphics' record regarding ancillary material is mixed at best:

COMPLETE PEANUTS: Repeating the same Schulz bio in every issue, no real attempt to trace the development of themes in the strip.

COMPLETE SEGAR POPEYE: Some decent extra material, but Donald Phelps' clotted-prose essays are tough for even a dedicated fan to read.

COMPLETE POGO (the aborted paperback version): Some really great essays by RC Harvey fronting each issue. This is what I would like to see in the Barks and Gottfredson libraries.

By and large, IDW's Library of American Comics has done better by the creators it has been reprinting than has FG. There are plenty of Barks experts out there, though, to help turn this trend around.