Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Classics - Uncle Scrooge #219

While I'm fairly certain that Walt Disney comics (and more specifically, comics that starred Donald Duck) were among the very first comics I read, by the time I was six or seven years old I was hooked on super-heroes and I largely turned away from "kiddie" comics.

Yep, I was a dumb kid.

Some years later I learned about Carl Barks and his work and I tracked down some of his comics - and I had to admit, they were very good. Then I found out about Don Rosa - but not in the comics.

At the time this issue of Uncle Scrooge was released (it's cover dated July 1987) I was working at a TV station. My assignment was to do a mini-documentary about unique artists, and I heard about this guy who was writing and drawing new stories about the Disney Ducks.

His name was Don Rosa, and through a mutual friend I set up an interview at his home. It ended up being one of my all-time favorite interviews - he was funny, enthusiastic about his work and a rabid fan of the work of Carl Barks.

I immediately set out to track down his work, and that led me to this issue of Uncle Scrooge, which was Rosa's first full-length Duck tale.

Titled "The Son of the Sun," it's an incredible, rollicking adventure that pits Scrooge, Donald and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie against Scrooge's evil nemesis, Flintheart Glomgold.

They launch into a competition to find the lost gold of the Incas, and what follows is equal parts adventure, humor, history and discovery. Like the best Barks stories, it's thoroughly researched, loaded with surprises, twists and shocking events.

(And let me just say: if Disney ever wised up and created an animated Uncle Scrooge feature for the big screen, this would be a heck of a story to base it on.)

Rosa's art manages to live up to the story - it's amazingly detailed, loaded with great action sequences and (literally) Earth-shaking events. He manages to get the maximum out of the incredibly expressive (and virtually animated) ducks.

In other words, this comic is just a pure delight from beginning to end.

And it was just the start for Rosa, who has spent the years since crafting terrific stories around the Ducks - it's a job he was born to tackle.

I can't urge you strongly enough to sample Rosa's work (especially his history of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck) - and it goes without saying that you should also read Carl Barks' stories, which are classics in every sense of the word.

Between the two, they've crafted a number of my all-time favorite comic stories.

So thanks, Don, for helping me see the light - I made my way back to those "kiddie" comics just in time.

Grade: A+



Kyle said...

Hey Chuck, I love Don Rosa's "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", unfortunately it is the only work of his I have... I really envy you being able to meet him. They did a Scrooge McDuck movie awhile back, it was based on the DuckTales afternoon cartoon... I don't believe I ever saw it, so couldn't tell you if it was any good or not... I did like DuckTales though.

By the way, picked up "Hellboy / Beasts of Burden" and loved it. I've always liked Hellboy and now will have to start checking out Beasts of Burden also. I'm more of a wait for the trade guy, so will have to see what they have out there so far...

Anonymous said...

Don Rosa is one of the greatest talents to come along in comic books in the last thirty years but he'll never get the acclaim of a Frank Miller or Alan Moore.
I don't have an Uncle Scrooge money
bin to dive in, but I have a stack
of Carl Barks and Don Rosa duck books which I'll be enjoying for the rest of my life!

Sam Kujava

-> Ray said...

This is a great one. My son recognized Don Rosa's genius at an early age; at 7 years old he could discern Rosa's style and he specifically sought out his stories in my collection.

Chuck said...

Kyle, I had forgotten that there was at least one (or two) Uncle Scrooge films based on the "Duck Tales" cartoon - I remember the "pilot" film being quite good. But I'd love to see Scrooge get the full Pixar treatment.

The "Beasts of Burden" mini-series has been collected, and I recommend it (with the caveat that some of the stories will break your heart).

Sam, I completely agree - just don't throw those comics up in the air and let them hit you on the head...

Chuck said...

Ray, those Duck stories were great bedtime stories - I read them to my kids until they were old enough to read 'em on their own.