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About his work:

"I was trying to draw... from the time I can remember, I was trying to draw. First I'd draw with some charcoal that I'd pick up off the hearth, and write on the walls of the little shack we lived in. And... soon as I was able to understand what paper was for, and pencils, I began using those things, and I loved to draw, from the time I can remember, and I had quite a talent for it, I guess."

Taken from an item in the Dutch television-program "Nova", recorded and broadcasted on 14 July 1994. Transcribed by David Gerstein.

"The early jobs I had, as a ranch hand, farm boy, and later, laborer in a riveting gang, and such things, why, I had a wonderful easy job, cartooning. That was just heaven. Working indoors, out of the hot sun and the cold, and doing the things I liked... why, that was half of my wages. I didn't need a hell of a lot of money to make me happy."

Same source as previous.

"At the Disney Studio, we worked out our stories by putting all the little story sketches in continuity up on Celotex boards. Then we could sit ten feet away and see the whole story, just read it through, one sheet of drawing paper at a time. You could pick up the momentum of a story very easily by following the sketches on a storyboard.

Before I started drawing a comic, I would read my script for it ten or twenty times. Then, when I made my drawings, I'd put up a page - that was eight panels - and alongside it another eight panels. I would put about eight pages on one of those big storyboards, pin them up there with push pins. Then I could analyze whether I had carried some sequences too far or whether I needed to add a little bit of guts somewhere else.

First I put up the blue-pencil sketches to see whether I needed to enlarge on a sequence or cut it down. I would read those storyboards over and over. Then, when I got it all inked, I would read it again; and oftentimes I would take a whole page and throw it away. I tried to boil those stories down to include only the nescessary things. That's why they always appeared so tight and read so quickly. I even tried to strengthen the end of each page with a little cliffhanger."

From an interview by Bruce Hamilton (questions by Hamilton, Geoffrey Blum and Thomas Andrae) on 24 June 1984. Carl Barks Library, page 3B-525. BTW: Barks didn't litterally throw his art away. He kept a 'scrap pile' of discarded art.

"The thing that I consider most important about my work is this: I told it like it is. I told my readers that the bad guys have a little of good in them, and the good guys have a lot of bad in them, and that you can't depend on anything much; nothing is always going to turn out roses.

In fact I laid it right on the line. There was no difference between my characters and the life my readers were going to have to face. When the Ducks went out in the desert, so did Joe Blow down the street with his kids. When Donald got buffeted around, I tried to put it over in such a way that kids would see it could happen to them. Unlike the superhero comics, my comics had parallels in human experience."

Interview-compilation from interviews conducted on 29 May 1973 and 4 August 1975. Carl Barks Library, page 6A-007.

"I've always looked upon the Ducks as caricature human beings. Perhaps I've been years writing in that middle world that J.R.R. Tolkien describes, and never knew it."

Carl Barks Library, page 1B-476.

"I always felt myself to be an unlucky person like Donald, who is a victim of so many circumstances. But there isn't a person in the United States who couldn't identify with him. He is everything, he is everybody; he makes the same mistakes that we all make".

About Donald Duck. Interview by Donald Ault and Thomas Andrae, 4 August 1975. Carl Barks Library, page 8C-597.

"I broadened his character out very much. Instead of making just a quarrelsome little guy out of him, I made a sympathetic character. He was sometimes a villain, and he was often a real good guy and at all times he was just a blundering person like the average human being, and I think that is one of the reasons people like the duck."

About Donald Duck. Quoted in Edward Summer (article?) "Of Ducks and Men: Carl Barks Interviewed". Panels no. 2, spring 1981 (page 4)

"I began making them into sort of smart little guys once in a while, and very clumsy little guys at other times, and always, I aimed at surprise in each story so that nobody could pick up a comic book and say, 'Well, the nephews are going to behave thus and so.' They wouldn't know until they had read the story just what those little guys were going to be up to..."

About the nephews. Same source as previous.

"I couldn't have the little kids get squashed or kicked around. Once in a while they would get themselves in some pretty bad messes and then Donald would have a chance to rescue them. But mostly it was Donald who got clobbered and the kids who rescued him. It worked out better, and it appealed to more people that way, because the readers were kids themselves. They liked to feel a little bit superior to the uncle who was strutting around."

About the nephews. Interview by Donald Ault and Thomas Andrae, 4 August 1975. Carl Barks Library, page 8A-219.

"I was never a Boy Scout, but oh, I wanted to be one when I was a kid about ten or eleven years old. But there wasn't anyplace where I could ever join the Boy Scouts. I patterned the Junior Woodchucks after the Cub Scouts, really, the little bitsy guys... who were supposed to be so much smarter than their older brothers."

About the nephews as Junior Woodchucks, and how he got the inspiration. Quoted in Boatner magazine (?) "Comic Book Price Guide, page A-54.

"I carried in my head the idea that there was a whole town and a whole family of characters around these ducks at all times," he recalls. "There were cousins and nephews and nieces, and villains and bankers and all kinds of people that they dealt with in everyday life. So whenever I needed a character, I would create one that apparently had been around but just hadn't been used yet. The way I presented these characters was the way they were in my head: they had been there all the time".

Carl Barks, interview with Donald Ault and Thomas Andrae on 4 August 1975. Taken from the Carl Barks Library (page 8B-494).

"I enjoyed doing the gag covers better than the story ones because they were usually simpler. A cover based on an incident in the plot took a great deal of staging to tell a little story that was still part of the book. And it had to make sense on its own."

Interview with Carl Barks by Bruce Hamilton (questions by Hamilton, Geoffrey Blum and Thomas Andrae), 8 January 1983. Carl Barks Library, page 8A-117.

"I often liked to put the ducks into situations where they could be at sea. There is something romantic about harbors and sunken ships that appeals to all kids. I found it more pleasant to grind out the plot lines and 'sight gags' for such stories."

1983 notes for the Carl Barks Library, page 8C-666

"When struggling for a story, I would often ask myself: what locale do I want to draw? Do I want to draw a forest, the sea with sailboats, or would it be down in the mines and caves? As soon as I thought of a locale, I could come up with a reason for putting characters in that locale."

1976/1983 interview-compilation. Carl Barks Library, page 1B-417

"I was letting the story build up to a certain point in which the reader would be expecting the conventional end, and then I would fool the reader by dragging in something that was completely ridiculous, making it look plausible."

Quoted in Boatner magazine (?) "Comic Book Price Guide, page A-46.

"I read some of my stories recently and thought, 'How in the hell did I get away with that?' I had some really raw cynicism in some of them."

Interview by Donald Ault and Thomas Andrae, 4 August 1975. Carl Barks Library, page 8B-289.

"I didn't expect any great rosy things out of life for my characters and it's a good way to be, I think. If you get too darned optimistic, your stuff gets sweet like Pollyanna".

About reality in his stories. Quoted in Boatner's introduction in "The Fine Art of Walt Disney's Donald Duck, page 24.

"Ideas generally come in a very complicated form, and you've got to strip them down to make them usable. Boil a gag down to its simplest form, and it is readily discernible to anybody who sees it."

Interview with Carl Barks by Bruce Hamilton (questions by Hamilton, Geoffrey Blum and Thomas Andrae), 8 January 1983. Carl Barks Library, page 8A-117.

"I see that you tried to use too many ideas in your story plot. You have to be selective. Be mean. Throw perfectly lovely gags in the waste basket."

Letter to Donald and Lynda Ault about scripting a Junior Woodchuck story, 25 October 1970. (Which source?)

"I didn't experience [many instances] of small censorship, because I was careful to censor myself. I didn't know much about the comics code, and Western didn't give me much direction. It was years after I'd made a few mistakes that I found out that they had a list of taboos. Alice Cobb got the sheet one time and showed it to me. You couldn't use the word "kill" or use a gun in a dangerous way; you couldn't have poison or sickness or crippled people. But after six years in the Disney Studio story department, I had already absorbed quite a few of those do's and don'ts."

About trying to avoid censoring, taken from a 1976/1983 interview compilation. Carl Barks Library, page 1B-362

"I also knew that I was not to glorify crime. I could have the Beagle Boys always stealing, but I tried to do it in a very comical way. It had to be a fantastic kind of crime that a child could not imitate."

Same as previous

"I even tried to tone down the malicious streak in Donald's character. I resented it in Bugs Bunny; it just turned me off. I thought: why put that same character into Donald and turn off millions of readers? It was okay for the Ducks from time to time, provided there were reasons for it, like the bump on his head in "The Firebug".

Same as previous

"About Donald being less vital than he was in the old days, I can only point to the fact that tabu after tabu has been imposed on us scripters' freedom of material. My early stories were in many instances based on an intense and violent rivalry between Don and the kids. Can I do that now? Ha! "

From a letter to R.O. Burnett, 13 December 1960. Carl Barks Library, page 3B-523.

About Floyd Gottfredson:

"When you look at my stories in the comic books you'll see that I was trying to follow in the format that Gottfredson established, having Mickey and the other guys involved in funny situations at the same time as they were having serious problems. And [then] they solved their problems by funny means."

1976 interview. Carl Barks Library, page 1B-270.

"You could draw just so much violent action in a comic book before it began to get tiresome. I think Floyd Gottfredson put his finger on it one time when I was talking to him, sometime in the nineteen-forties. I'd gone to the studio for something. He said, 'In the strip, the reader can hold it up, and he looks at it for a long, long time, but when it's on the screen, he sees it for a twenty-fourth of a second, and it's gone.' There's no chance for him to look at it too long. I remembered what he had told me, and I toned down my action a little bit after having talked with him."

Quoted in Michael Barrier book "Carl Barks and the Art of the Comic Book", page 35.

To colleagues and fans:

"You have a very polished drawing style, and I am flattered that it is said to be inspired by the work I used to do. I am glad you enjoy your work enough to look forward happily to a career of drawing funny animals. That is the sort of attitude to have. It contributes to good workmanship."

Praise to Daan Jippes in a 70's letter, quoted in the Dutch version of Marcia Blitz book (what is the original title?).

About painting:

"Well, I do a little painting. Just about ducks, pretty girls... things like that. Anyway, I'd like to see what somebody else has done in the way of painting. I do [like Rembrandt]... yeah. I accidentally hit on a color scheme that's very much like Rembrandt's. Most of my successful paintings have been painted with the colors that look as if Rembrandt had painted them, so I want to see what it was that he did. When I get in there and look at them I may go dead silent and never open my mouth again."

Barks before visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where Rembrandt's "Nachtwacht" (Nightwatch) hangs. Taken from an item in the Dutch television-program "Nova", broadcasted on 14 July 1994. Transcribed by David Gerstein.

"It looks like he made his blacks with a mixture of dark green and dark red. And a little dark blue. You come up with a very vibrant black. [...] He took four years... The longest one I've worked on was five months. That was one of Scrooge McDuck's money bins, with millions of gold coins that I had to paint. Tedious little details."

About Rembrandt's "Nachtwacht" (Nightwatch), while visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Same source as previous.

"Well, in a mob scene like that, he did excellently." (laughs)

About the composition of the "Nachtwacht" (Nightwatch). Same source as previous.

Politics and environment

"I avoided politics mostly, because it's a very uninteresting subject to young kids, and one that can get you into a lot of hot water. My own political philosophy is that we've got a pretty good thing the way we've got it now, and we should just leave it damn well alone. We can have Watergates and all kinds of things, but nobody gets hurt, nobody gets destroyed, nobody goes to prison: we just have a lot of fun as we go along. Everybody's is robbing everybody else, but it's something you expect."

8C-563 Ault/Andrae interview (I've yet to fill in the details.)

"Clean air, clean water, clean, quiet environment. We think of those things as part of our birthright. They once were long ago, before we overran them with our brand of civilization. Now what have we got? Air so polluted we have to grind it before it will filter through our gas masks. Water so undrinkable it is safer to die of thirst. An environment so littered we cannot see the ground, and ground so caustic with chemical spills it eats the soles of our shoes. And quiet - who knows what that is anymore?"

So we dream that somewhere in the boondocks we can find a place that is still clean and quiet, as nature intended it to be. But if we find such a place, would it be safe to move in?

"Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times", page 242. (Quoted in Carl Barks Library in Color, Uncle $crooge Adventures, No. 18.)

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