Carl Barks Comic Book Art

SURVIVING ARTWORK

Surviving Covers


Carl Barks drew some 256 covers for Dell/Western in the period 1948 - 1976.

Only 26 of these original covers are known to have survived.

In this section you can see and read about these very rare covers.


WDC 96 - September 1948

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The cover was sold on Heritage Auction on August, 11 - 2006 for $29,875.

Spring 1948.

This is the earlist surviving comic book cover art by Barks.

The original for the final, published version of the WDC 96 does not exist anymore but, fortunately, the rejected, unpublished version does.

Western Publishing accepted the published cover on March 4, 1948, so this art must also date back to early 1948. The publisher asked Barks to redraw the cover to make Donald larger and eliminate the shadows.

Barks : ”I drew the cover twice because I didn`t get the proportions right the first time. I had the tub too high in the picture and needed more room to show the nephews and what he was doing”.

The art is the only surviving cover from the 40's. The only other surviving pieces of art from this decade are the 5ifth page from the Trade Rat story ( WDC 52 ) and 9 1/2 pages from the unpublished Silent Night story from 1945.

Unpublished artwork. The original is in a private collection.




WDC 133 - October 1951

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May 5, 1951

Published artwork

The original artwork is in a private collection.



 

 

 


WDC 135 - Dec. 1951

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Oct. 5, 1951

Surviving original artwork. Private collection - U.S.A.

The authentic story from the owner :

..>A good friend of mine (………) who owned a store in New York, bought it when it turned up in Poughkeepsie, NY. He was at a local comic book show, and a local fellow walked in with an armful of artwork..This was in the early 1990's. Poughkeepsie, of course, is where the Dell printer was located that printed all the Dell comics. The fellow who brought in the artwork`s grandfather was a printer there at Dell. He told that his grandfather watched all the art being printed there, and how everyone just tossed the art on the floor for people to walk on, or threw it out each day in waste bins after it was shot. One day, he grabbed a handful of art from the waste bin as he left work to take home to his kids. There were 8 duck covers in the lot of art. Four were non-Barks cover from this same period, and four were by Carl Barks. All from the end of year 1951 period. The four surviving covers by Carl Barks was : WDC 133, WDC 135, DDFC 356 and DDFC 367. When Carl many years later went to sign the WDC # 135 cover he commented directly to the page : “Oh..! – I never expected to see YOU again”..!




DDFC 367 - November/December 1951

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"A Christmas for Shacktown"

May 24, 1951.

Published artwork. The artwork was later, in 1995, colored by Carl Barks.

Private collection.




DDFC 356 - November 1951

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”Donald Duck in Rags To Riches”

May 24, 1951

Published artwork

Landesmuseum Mainz, Germany.




USFC 495 - March 1953

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The cover was sold on Heritage Auctions on November, 16 - 2011 for $10,157.

Alternative version. 

Rejected artwork finally published 45 years later as the cover for Uncle Scrooge # 312 in 1998.

The artwork has found its home in Denmark.




US # 7 - September 1954.

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August 8, 1953.

Published artwork.

Private collection.

 


Note the typical editorial nitpicking. Apparently, the editors sometimes felt that they needed to justify their existience and simply changed details from the original artwork to the published product. In this case, the two lower row of bricks inside the well and the string to the coin were redrawn. As usual, the shadows were also removed by the editors..

 

 


WDC # 165 - June 1954

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December, 31 - 1953.

Published artwork. Private collection.

Sold at Heritage Platinum Auction May 16th, 2019, for $50,400.


 

..Even more editorial nitpicking. The original shadows was all removed. Because of the removal of the shadows under the nephews feets they were replaced further down and the legs of the chair simply vanished on the published cover..

 


US # 20 - December 1957

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May, 29 - 1957.

Published artwork.

Private collection.


 

 

 

 

 


WDC 214 - July 1958

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The cover was sold on Heritage Auctions on August, 2 - 2007 for $18,522.

November 7, 1957.

Published artwork - In private collection.




FC 1140 - October/November 1960

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April 18, 1960.

Published artwork

The original artwork was for sale at Galerie Laqua in 2002 for $12.900.

Private collection.



 

 


FC 1239 - October 1961

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April, 8 - 1961

Surviving published artwork. In private collection - Germany.

The original artwork was for sale at Galerie Laqua in 2003 for $15,900. 

 




WDC 261 - June 1962

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April, 21 - 1961

Original surviving artwork published with some minor corrections.

In private collection. 

The original artwork was for sale at Galerie Laqua in 2003 for $4,800.



 

 


WDC 260 - September 1961

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Alternative cover version. 




US39 - November 1961

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The cover was sold at Heritage Auctions on August 11, 2006, for $21,510.

Original cover artwork. Overlay in colors.




US43 - November 1962

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The cover was sold at Heritage Auctions on November 22, 2013, for $53,775.

Original cover - later hand painted by Barks in color.




WDC 277 - October 1963

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The cover was first sold in 2004 from Galerie Laqua for $10,200.

It sold again at Heritage Auctions on May 18, 2017.

The cover has found it's home in Denmark (sale pending).

 


April 4, 1963

Published artwork

Private collection.

Oldest survived inked comic art featuring Gladstone Gander.

 

 


 

Original artwork for WDC 277.

Again, the editors removed the shadows from the published cover.

Try and see if you can find the missing shadows on the published cover by comparing it to the original..

 

 


WDC 279 - December 1963

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The cover was sold on Heritage Auctions twice : First on November, 14 - 2008 for 3.107 $ and again on February, 19 - 2015 for 10.157 $.

July 1, 1963

Published artwork

The original artwork are in private collection.




US 47 - February 1964

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”Thrifty Spendthrift”

August 21, 1963.

Published artwork. The original artwork are in private collection.

Go to Matti Eronen`s study of missing shadows HERE

 


 

Original artwork for US-47. Just like all other cover art from the 1960`ies the editors removed the shadows that Barks had inked. We don`t know the purpose of this - but it seems to be a quite odd thing to do..! 

 


US # 54 - December 1964.

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"The Billion Dollar Safari"

May 11, 1964.

Published artwork. The original artwork are in private collection.

Published cover.


 

 

The original cover art was sold on auction in the 1980`ies.

Note that the background was removed by editors on Western. 

Again the shadows was removed from the published cover.

 

 

 


WDC 306 - March 1966

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August 26, 1965.

Published artwork

The original artwork are in private collection.

The original artwork was for sale at Galerie Laqua in 2011 for 17.250 usd.




WDC 309 - June 1966

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January 2, 1966.

Published artwork

The original artwork are in private collection.




US 66 - November 1966

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”Heedless Horseman”

Published artwork

The original artwork are in private collection.




WDC 319 - September 1966

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Original artwork.

The cover was sold for 825 $ at Russ Cochran`s Comic Art Auction No. 1 in October 1980. It was sold again in 1989 for an unknown price.

The cover has found it`s home in Finland.


Original cover artwork for WDC # 319. According "The study of Shadows"  by Matti Eronen the editors removed the shadows for the published comic. ( See all the red circles ). It is, still to this day a mystery why the publisher house did so..! Western publishing house removed all shadows from covers from the 1960`ies.                             Go to Matti Eronen`s study of missing shadows HERE


WDC 321 - June 1967

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December 15, 1966.

Published artwork

The original artwork are in private collection.

 

 

 



WDC 405 - June 1974

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Published artwork

The only survived cover completely inked by Gare`Barks.

The original artwork are in private collection.




US 135 - Dec. 1976.

Published artwork.

Private collection.


A tricky one. Barks had stopped at Western but somehow this drawing made it as a published cover some years later after his retirement. The inking of this cover is not by Barks - but by another artist. Most probably Larry Mayer.