His father gives him one of the first German Disney comic-books
And Helnwein has his Damascus experience:
"Opening my first Donald Duck comic book felt like seeing the daylight again for someone who has been trapped underground by a mine-disaster for many days. I squinted cautiously because my eyes hadn't gotten used to the dazzling, bright sun of Duckburg yet, and I greedily sucked the fresh breeze that came drifting over from Uncle Scrooge's money bin into my dusty lungs. I was back home again, in a decent world where one could get flattened by steam-rollers and perforated by bullets without serious harm. A world in which the people still looked proper, with yellow beaks or black knobs instead of noses. And it was here that I met the man who would forever change my life - a man who, as the Austrian poet H.C. Artmann put it, is the only person today that has something worthwhile saying: Donald Duck."
Helnwein remembers this important moment in his early childhood that chnged his life forever, in his essay:
MEMORIES OF DUCKBURG
by Gottfried Helnwein
"At nights my room was plunged into a deep, red light - my toys, the furniture, my bed, my hands - everything had the same color and seemed to be made of the same soft material. As though the natural laws were suddenly suspended, all matter seemed to glow from the inside out. The explanation for this red magic was the large illuminated star of the Red Army on the roof of the factory across the street, which poured it’s fire nightly into my room..."