lions in the poppy patch

Harry Gladstone, head of the Character Merchandising Division at Walt Disney's New York office, decided in 1975 to try his hand at writing a comic book. He approached Carl Barks for advice, and Barks responded with a sample layout and suggestions for submitting a sketch script to the editors at Western Publishing. "I no longer know what stories they are buying there, nor what prices they are paying," he wrote. "They print a whole family of comics such as Baby Snoots, Woodsy Owl, Daffy Duck, etc. Perhaps you should inquire first about their needs. However, if you have a good script about any character and present it in a quickly readable way (like above), you will get their attention."

The "above" reference is to a sketched half page example which shows Donald calling to the nephews that there are lions in the poppy patch. In the second panel of the nephews says that Donald "has been smoking those poppies again!" The third, closing panel shows Donald running through the nephews and their marble game, saying: "Never mind, kids! Just run for your lives!" In the first panel and below the half page, Barks wrote the advice: "Follow format of title pages for first page of script. Then rough out other pages in 6, 7, or 8 panel breakdowns. The above type of rough pencil layouts with dialog and sound effects are the best way of presenting a story. A sample of your finished ink work on good Strathmore paper should accompany. Your whole script and sample drawings should be able to fit in a 9 x 12 manila envelope, along with stamped return envelope." Then Western's address followed.

Even though Barks' half page was never intended to be a story, it is interesting to see the liveliness of his ducks, his sense of pacing, and the easy charm of his dialogue being present. Even the outrageous gag about Donald smoking opium rolls smoothly off the page.

Western accepted Harry Gladstone's story script. He drew the final ink art himself, and "Birthday Bugaboo" was published in December in "Donald Duck" No. 169.

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