Carl Barks Comic Book Art


What happened to the original artwork ?

"The Carl Barks Fanzine" cover for the "Duckburg Times" issue # 7 - 1981 explains what happened..

What became of Carl Barks original Comic book pages. 

- Back in 1975 Carl Barks was asked the very same question, and this is a part of his response :

Carl Barks : ”The original artwork was destroyed at the publishing house. They simply couldn`t store all the drawings that came in for all their 15 or 20 comic book and none of the editors, none of the artists felt that the stuff was ever going to be worth anything anyway, so all these thousands of pages of drawings were taken out to the incenerator and burned.”

Carl Barks : ”I happen to have a few that I have been selling lately. They are very rare, I have been told, and I recently learned why. The publishing company usually burned all the art after they had made their engraving plates. A few pages got carried out by employees or somebody over the years..”

Most art produced for ALL comic book publishers was systematically destroyed by the publishers. Once it had been photographed, it had supposedly served its purpose; it was the property of the publisher and not the artist, so it couldn't be returned; and storage of such an ever-growing number of large inked pages (usually 18 x 24 inches) was impractical and posed threats of bootleg reproduction by potential thieves who might discover vast storehouses of copyrighted artwork. Consequently, the original Photostats were generally the closest to the original artwork that survived.

Carl Barks : ”..I got the original art from 5 Uncle Scrooge comics and a ten-page WDC Donald Duck story for a retirement present from the Western editor in 1966. He saved the pages from the burner because he thought I might like them for souvenirs.”

Today we may find some consolation in the fact that only about 3% of Barks' artwork has been saved for posterity. There are several reasons for this: some of the artwork was rejected by the publisher (and consequently stayed with Barks), some pages or panels were scrapped (and then filed by Barks), and some pages were rescued from the incinerator by employees at Western. Most of the surviving artwork was later published in various organs such as the Carl Barks Library. Very few of Carl Barks`original comic book pages have survived to the present day.

After Carl Barks delivered his new comic book artwork to his Disney publisher, Western Publishing, they were out of his hands in the sense that he had nothing further to do with them. He did not own the pages, and the publisher unceremoniously burned the pages in the company's furnace after they had been transformed into the required formats. Only a few examples of Barks' vast original production survived, and those are mainly panels that for some reason had been rejected by Western.

Over time Barks sold most of these few unpublished panels, but when he retired from comic book work Western presented him with 6 full adventure stories of his own artwork as a retirement present. They had been saved from incineration thanks to a thoughtful publisher. Now, Barks, had full stories to enjoy, but he was also aware of the rapidly growing interest for his drawings, and he decided to sell the stories, mostly one page at a time, to dedicated fans in order for them to enjoy his work first hand. Today the surviving artwork is still highly sought after by collectors of comic art.

The 5 full 24-page stories that Barks received as a token of appreciation from his publishing editor and friend, Craig Chase, were the following ; Uncle Scrooge adventures: U$59 : ”North of the Yukon”, U$60 : ”The Phantom of Notre Duck”, U$61 : ”So Far and No Safari”, U$62 : ”Queen of the Wild Dog Pack”, and U$63 : ”House of Haunts”. Also a complete Donald Duck 10 pager and 3 Uncle Scrooge one pager was given to Barks by the editor.

When Carl Barks died in August 25, 2000, a great public interest was focused on his estate possessions, especially the Disney related property. According to his will it soon became clear that Barks had decided to auction everything away in public auctions except for a few personal effects that were distributed to the family. The auction sales from the estate took several years to complete.

In these auctions there was manuscripts, lay-outs, preliminarys, drawing tools and personal belongings to Carl Barks. There was no original comic book pages on the auctions. These was sold by Carl himself many years before.

Very few people seemed to have noticed that among the many items put on auction was also C.B.`s personal lists with notes to whom he had sold his original pages from the the 5 published stories of U$59 – U$63.

With the finding of these lists I suddenly was given a unique chance – and obligation - I felt, to try getting in contact with the first buyers of Carl`s original comic book pages. The majority of the persons on the lists had off course resold their pages through the years – but a few had still kept the page they bought more than 40 years ago..!

By starting searching the archives from the most popular auction houses in the US and Europe  ( Heritage, Bonhams, Hakes, Sothesby, Christies etc.) it came clear to me which pages from the list I had a chance of finding – and which I didn´t. Pages sold from auction houses was all to be disclosed immediately for further investigation. There simply would be no leads to the new anonymous owners.

Also a great part of the pages from the lists was bought by well known collector, publisher and auction holder Russ Cochran who resold the pages on his own auctions in the 1970`ies and 1980`ies.

But what about the pages that I could not find to be sold on auctions or by Russ Cochran..? Who and where was these people..? I asumed that these pages obviously still could be at their first owners – but also might have been sold privately later or simply just lost over time..The truth was actually a mixture of all 3 options. Some was sold private, some was lost and some was still with their first buyers.

The ”search” for first owners of comic book pages from the list began back in 2007 and seem to have ended in 2017. In this period of years I had the luck to find many different clues to the ”first buyers” ; A homepage, an e-mail address, a linkedin or Facebook profile, or maybe a person who knew ”something about someone” from the collector society back in the early 1970`ies.

These were all valuable sources in the search of finding and contact the owners of original pages. Even though, to this day - I still have some few names on the list which seems impossible to find any information about, I did managed to purchase and discover 8 of the first buyers..

8 persons who - after more than 40 years - still own the original comic book page they once bought directly from Carl Barks. Those persons - whose names I  keep secret because of the ”peace of privacy” is still to this day very connected and passionated to the original artwork they once bought.

Through the years I have had many interesting conversations with these "first owners" and most of them has also become very good friends of mine. I was happy and joyfull by the fact that most of the original pages still seemed to exist and were in the good hands of their first buyers. It has been a hard task to find these great fans and collectors and to this day I feel honored and priveleged getting to know some of them.

As one of the first owners of pages said to me when I succeded in contacting him ; ..> It is funny that Carl`s personal notes – after more than 40 years has been the “key” for connecting fans from 2 generations with each other”..I believe that Carl would have been thrilled by this fact..<

Unfortunately the search also resulted in some sad news ; and therefore one page seems to be lost forever..!Page 21 from U$61 – ”So Far And No Safari” was sold several times through the years. The last owner of the page was long time comic art collector Don Lineberger who sadly lost his life in a house fire on th 5`th of December 2010. Most of Linebergers world-class collection of art was believed lost in the same fire. Therefore I must conclude that page 21 from U$61 has been lost. It`s important to know that Western from page 17 in the margen wrote page 18 and so on up to page 24. Because of an advertising page after page 16 ( to become page 17 ) they simply changed the actual page number by one up to page 24 ( which then became page 25 ). The same procedure goes for US#63 from page 18 ( which then became book page 19 in the margen of the page ) and so on up to page 24, which again became page 25 in the margen. ) Barks noted these changes in his selling lists. 

Of the 5 Uncle Scrooge stories Carl Barks only made personal notes of the buyers names and prices to the 4 U$ stories ; U$60 – U$63. ( Though Barks was no book keeper he still managed to add notes with new  names to his lists if he found that pages was resold later on. )

Carl also made notes about the prices he sold the pages for.  Sometimes the editors wrote pagenumbers for the story in the margen. In several cases these doesn`t match the right page numbers. That situation happened when they calculated an advertising page within the story. Most sold pages by Barks was signed and sometimes dedicated in the lower right corner.

Carl Barks kept for himself the whole 24 pager from U$59 ; ”North of The Yukon” and some few other pages from the other 4 U$ stories. Mainly the opening pages and pages with a Splash panel. But later these pages was also sold and the 24 pager from U$59 was sold as complete to the american comic book distributor, publisher and former comic store owner Steve Geppi. ( Later on Steve Geppi sold the U$59 story separately on Heritage auctions ).

This article has been concentrated about the survived published comic book pages and not the unpublished artwork. ( There seems to be no existing lists, made by Barks of sold unpublished pages ).

It is well known that if editor Chase Craig had not made the decision to give back 133 pages of published pages back to Carl when he retired in 1966 there would only have been some very few unpublished pages and panels left by this legendary and highly productive artist.

Of the total of 133 pages Barks kept 41 pages for himself, and noted that 92 was for sale. 

From a note on the list we can see that Barks had the intentions to keep the whole Uncle Scrooge story U$59, the Donald Duck 10 pager and 3 U$ one pagers. He also kept 1 page from each of the 4 U$ stories ; U$60 – U$63. Mainly the first page from the stories.

Before the making of this article my guess is that most people was not aware that Carl Barks actually did made personal notes to whom, when and for how much he sold his original pages. 

Some other few published pages has survived to this day. These pages can only have been taken out from the publisher house by some employees.

Of Barks wide production of 6.745 pages only some +/- 210 pages have survived.

Page 2 from U$ 42  - 1962 :”Case of The Sticky Money”. Original survived artwork.

This page is an example of one of very few known published pages that Carl Barks never knew had survived. The page is from 1962 and was brought out from Western publishing house by some employee.

Page 2 is sadly the only known page from this 20-pager which survived from the story. The page has been trimmed and was glued up on wood. Later the page was removed from the piece of wood. The yellow color is because of the glue. The U$ 42 has some fantastic panels.; An angry Scrooge, a laughing Beagle Boy, The famous Money Bin and finally Donald and his nephews.

The upper half page is one of very few survived with a panel from outside of the Money Bin.The lower half page is the only one survived with most main characters on it ; 15 ducks on only 4 panels.

Page 13 from U$ 59 – 1965 : ”North of The Yukon”.

Original survived artwork.

Scrooge needed a sled team fast, but the only good team left was in Soapy Slick's possession. 

Upon seeing that the only two dogs left were "Kyoodies", Scrooge then discovered Barko in the snow.

The two instantly befriended each other, and thus, the quest began.

U$59 is the only story known where Scrooge did the unexpected, and saved the sled dog Barko instead of his own fortune.

Carl Barks saved the 24 pages story : "North of the Yukon" in his own archive. Later he sold the full story as complete. 

Original pages available March 1970.

In March 1970 Barks had only sold two original pages from the 4 Uncle Scrooge stories ; US-60, US-61, US-62 & US-63. 

On this early "Still available page list" from 1970, which was part of a letter to John Bullis ( Who bought a page from US-62 ), fans was still able to choose nearly which page the liked and for only 25 $ for a page. Carl made more specific selling lists for each story. ( Nearly all pages was for sale - except for the Title pages and the whole 24-page story from US-59 which Carl kept in his own archive.)

For the next 5 years that situation would change dramatically - with less pages to buy and increasingly higher prices over the period.

Yes - Carl Barks actually had some singularities with old Scrooge McDuck..!

Carl`s handwritten "Page sale list" March 1970.

The Selling lists !

Some of the names on the lists has been wiped out intentionally because of privacy. Some of these are still in the belongings of their first owners.

Page lines with visible names is no longer by their original owner ( Sold later ).

The visible names are all ready well known in the Comic art society of Carl Barks and is therefore harmless to be seen in public.

US-60 Selling list.

US-61 Selling list.

US-62 Selling list.

US-63 Selling list.