For several years, Western Publishing had no official model sheet showing how to draw the ducks for the comic books, and the artists had to refer to animation model sheets from the Disney Studios. Barks wrote and illustrated virtually all of the Disney duck stories until 1950, when other artists began illustrating the stories in Walt Disney's Comics and back-up stories in Donald Duck. Some of these new artists' work was markedly inferior to Barks's work, and it may be that Western's editors hoped to use these model sheets to bring them into line.
(In 1950, Barks was busy with longer tales in Donald Duck and the giant comics annuals.)
Ironically, Barks has admitted he "never could follow the model sheets
anyway. I was asked to do a model sheet of Donald and Uncle
From mid-1947 to mid-1950 Barks drew Donald with a long bill similar to that
in his first animated cartoons. Barks later explained his reasons for
shortening the bill: "I was very conscious of criticism from my readers or
friends. One of the women who lived up the road was an inker at Disney and
she told me that 'the word is out all around the studio that you draw that
beak too long.' So I started shortening the duck's beak, and then someone
either in the story department at Disney or in the editorial office said I
was making the beak too short and too much like Al Taliaferro's duck.
[Taliaferro drew Donald for the newspaper strips.] I hadn't noticed anything
wrong, but I kept making changes to try to please people."
About the differences between drawing comic books and animating, Barks said
the characters in animation appear "more uniform because the director tells
the artists exactly what to draw; and there are certain poses that cannot be
used. The characters always have to look good, in other words. We were
supposed to do that in the comic books, too, but I never followed the rule
closely. [...] One pose that has to be scrupulously avoided in animation is
the underside of Donald's beak; it looks like a continuation of his neck and
hides all the rest of his face. But I used it a time or