For over twenty-five years, Disney artist Carl Barks (1901–2000) created some of the most brilliant and funny stories in comic books. Gifted and prolific, he was the author of over 500 tales in the most popular comic books of all time. Although he was never allowed to sign his name and worked in anonymity, Barks’s unique artistic style and storytelling were immediately evident to all his readers. Barks created the town of Duckburg, and a cast of characters that included Donald Duck’s fabulously wealthy Uncle Scrooge, the lucky loafer Gladstone Gander, the daffy inventor Gyro Gearloose, the rougish crooks the Beagle Boys, and the Italian sorceress Magica de Spell.
Carl Barks and the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity is the first critical study of Barks’s work in English. From a cultural studies perspective, the author analyzes all phases of Barks’s career from his work in animation to his post-retirement years writing the Junior Woodchucks stories.
Andrae argues that Barks’s oeuvre presents a vision strikingly different from the Disney ethos. Barks’s central theme is a critique of modernity. His tales offer a mordant satire of Western imperialism and America’s obsession with wealth, success, consumerism, and technological mastery, offering one of the few communal, ecological visions in popular culture. Although a talented visual artist, Barks was also one of America’s greatest storytellers and, Andrae contends, lifted the comic book form to the level of great literature.