Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Don Rosa and the Disney Ducks

If you are a Disney fan and also a reader of comic books and graphic novels, then you likely are already aware of a gentleman named Don Rosa. If not, well, let me just tell you what you’ve been missing.

Don Rosa has been writing and illustrating Disney “duck” stories for nearly twenty years. Inspired by Carl Bark’s extensive library of Disney stories from the 1940s and 1950s, Don has created his own rich legacy of tales that continue the adventures of Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and the many other denizens of the “duck universe.” Don is a master storyteller and an amazingly talented artist. I’ve followed his duck career from the beginning, with the publication of his first story, “The Son of the Sun” in 1987. While remaining relatively unknown in the United States, Don is a household name in many countries across Europe, where Disney comics are still wildly popular. In fact, his new stories are typically published first overseas, and then later reprinted in the U.S. by Gemstone Publishing.

Tracking down the comics that feature his work can be a bit challenging. Gemstone’s website offers most of their back issues for sale, but older issues published by Gemstone’s predecessor Gladstone are more difficult to find. Most comic shops shy away from this type of non-superhero fare, and the Gladstone issues did not have substantial print runs.

The good news is that Gemstone is reprinting many of these earlier stories in their current publications. They have also over the past year, released two trade paperback compilations that feature some of Don’s most outstanding efforts.

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is Don’s 12-part masterpiece and definitive biography of the “world’s richest duck.” It chronicles Scrooges life, from humble beginnings as a youngster in 1877 Scotland, to his days as a miserly recluse in 1947, when his thirst for wealth and adventure is suddenly rekindled upon meeting Donald and his nephews. Each chapter is crammed full of historical events, exotic locations, and even Teddy Roosevelt shows up in a couple places.

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion features a collection of stories that supplement and expand on the material in the first volume. Especially fun are a number of stories that detail Scrooge’s adventures in the Yukon, where he made his first fortune, and also encountered Glittering Goldie, his one true, but ultimately unfulfilled love.

I’ve met Don a few times, most recently at last year’s Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s a truly genuine person, who is always happy to do a quick sketch for a sincere fan.

One last interesting bit of trivia: Don scripted two of the early episodes of the Disney Afternoon program Talespin back in 1990.


Anonymous said...

I'm getting the Donald Duck on Saturday for the past 28 years. Donald Duck comics are fun to read. They have humor are entertaining, full off adventure and some have an underlying message to tell. Even though the outcome of a story is predictable when Donald thinks he can get rich quick with his lastest job you know it will backfire to him.