Though Barks was pigeonholed as a "duck man", he worked briefly with Chuck Couch and Ken Hultgren on «Bambi», but then was ordered back to work on duck pictures. Barks seems to have protested ("I felt that I was in with the guys who were really producing the future"), but no avail. Couch and Hultgren continued to work on the story for «Bambi», but little of their material reached the screen.

When Barks and Barrier were talking in 1973 about his work on Bambi, he described a gag that he and Couch had devised. It is apparently the gag that is reproduced in Robert D. Feild's 1941 book, «The Art of Walt Disney», as Plate 26, «The Way to Crack a Nut». Hultgren, as a "story sketch man," made the nine finished sketches for this gag from rough sketches by Barks and Couch. This was a luxury that Barks had not enjoyed on the Duck shorts, where his own rough sketches were used on the storyboard.

Hultgren's sketches depict a squirrel instructing a chipmunk how to use a forked branch as a nutcracker. The simple-minded chipmunk attempts to follow the squirrel's advice, but without first removing the nut from his jaws.
When Barks and Barrier were looking at the plate in the Feild book, he suggested another reason why his departure from the Disney studio was inevitable. "These guys who could visualize stuff in action," he said, "they were much better at thinking up that type of gag than I was."
What type of gag came most naturally to him? Barrier asked.
"Well," Barks said. "I would have thought of the gag, but I wouldn't have seen all of these sketches as being necessary in putting it over." He would have drawn one sketch, he said, "and that would have been it."


Nonetheless, a series of caricatures sketched by Barks's colleagues attests to his dilligent work on «Bambi». One lampoon shows him bent over a drawing board while squirrels and chipmunks peer suspiciously over his shoulder; another portrays Barks himself as a sly-looking squirrel.

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