In the golden age of Disney's comic books and newspaper strips Arthur Floyd Gottfredson was considered the artist of the mouse universe, just as Barks was considered the artist of the duck universe. Although they both worked for the same companies (first Disney then Western), they rarely met until in their own golden years when they had long since retired from drawing their main characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. As it turned out, Barks admitted to have had an eye on Gottfredson's characters and drawing style throughout all the active years.






Barks on Gottfredson

I didn't become acquainted with Gottfredson until I met him at a dinner in 1982. We had never met during the seven years I worked at the Disney Studio.

I found Gottfredson's way of building stories very educational. The artwork, the dialogue, the plots all hung together properly.

Well, look at my ducks and all those other characters. I've been trying to imitate Floyd's work. It's plain to me, and I hope it's plain to other people.

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.

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.

He and I might have worked together as a team, but we would have needed other characters than ducks and mice. Mice and ducks make cute leading characters ... but there wasn't room for Mickey and Donald to be stars in a single story.

Gottfredson's greatest contribution to comics was quality. He will be remembered for making complex continuities easy to understand and read.




Gottfredson only drew newspaper strips, mostly stories that continued from edition to edition. Barks only drew comic books with whole, finished stories.

Barks invented a whole gallery of new characters, while Gottfredson hardly ever invented any. One he did invent was the famous Phantom Blot, but he was only used in one single story, though other artists have kept the character alive to this day.

Although Gottfredson wrote many stories himself, he was depending on other writers and gagmen to help him with the storylines. Barks, who always worked alone, wrote almost all of his stories himself.

Barks would occasionally use characters such as fat ladies and dogfaced policemen taken from Gottfredson's universe in small roles. In MOC41 Race to the South Seas he even paid tribute to Gottfredson by naming Scrooge's good lawyer Sylvester Shyster, which was the name of Gottfredson's evil lawyer character. Gottfredson never used any characters from Barks' universe.


Barks was - in the company of Disney bigwigs Julie Andrews, Fess Parker, Ken Anderson, and Sterling Holloway - given the prestigious Disney Legend Award in 1991 from the heads of the Disney company Michael Eisner and Roy Disney. (The prize depicts Mickey Mouse holding a magic wand.) Gottfredson received his award posthumously in 2003.



Both had European ancestors. Gottfredson's came from Denmark, Barks' from Holland and Scotland.

Gottfredson was born in Utah, Barks in Oregon, but they both lived in California for the greater part of their lives.

They both had impairments from childhood incidents; Gottfredson injured his hand in a hunting accident, Barks wound up with bad hearing due to measles.

They attended the Landon School Mail Order Drawing Course simultaneously in 1915-1916 without knowing of each other.

They were both great fans of Harold Foster's art (Tarzan and Prince Valiant).

They drew cartoons before they began at Disney's. Gottfredson for the Salt Lake City Telegram newspaper, Barks for the Calgary EyeOpener.

Gottfredson heard that the Walt Disney Company was hiring artists and he presented his portfolio and applied for a job. He was hired as an apprentice animator and inbetweener in 1929. The exact same things happened to Barks in 1935.

Both worked for Western Publishing: Gottfredson between 1949 and 1956, Barks between 1942 and 1966.

Both drew their respective characters for about 25 years: Gottfredson from 1930 to 1955, Barks from 1942 to 1966.

Barks was allowed by the Disney Company to paint ducks for a long period of time in his golden years. So was Gottfredson, who made 24 Mickey Mouse watercolours from 1978 to 1983. His paintings were not as complex and detailed as Barks' - the composition of  the scenes, the lighting, and the texture of  the characters are much simpler.   Date 2005-08-14