Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review of A Christmas for Shacktown

Book #13: Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown, by Carl Banks, hardcover collection of comic book stories, from 1951 & 1952.

Fantagraphic Publishing is producing The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library, a series of books that will collectiall of the comic book Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories written and drawn by Carl Barks. These were originally published between 1942 and 1966. When the series is complete, it will comprise approximately 6000 pages and an estimated 30 volumes.

The books are not being produced chronologically. As of this writing, three volumes have been produced. A prior volume, “Uncle Scrooge: Only a Poor Man,” was reviewed here. My interest in Barks’ work was sparked by a podcast conversation with Luke Jaconetti, host of Earth Destruction Directive and proprietor of the Hawkman-themed blog Being Carter Hall.

The stories in this volume range from three epic 32-page stories, to a good number of 10-pagers, and well as a dozen or so single-page, single-joke stories. Barks’ ability to tell entertaining stories over these various lengths is a testament to the skill that he brought to the comics page. Scripting and drawing are two distinct skills, and Barks’ ability to do both gave him such control over the strip that he was able to really make these works his own.

The 32-page stories are the highlights of this volume. They include “A Christmas for Shacktown,” “The Golden Helmet,” and “The Gilded Man.” Each of these weaves together multiple storylines, characters, and scenes to create epic-feeling adventures.

These volumes include 20+ pages of story analysis and biographies at the end. These items, written by professors, authors, and historians, add a sense of artistic value to the funny proceedings.

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