This is a page about Carl Barks' own favourite stories among the hundreds he made in his comic book days between 1942 and 1966. The word Favourite is to be taken loosely, because how do you define the term? Is a favourite story one with a brilliant plotline, an intelligent dialogue, interesting locales, social angles, sparkling names, gripping atmosphere, good technical qualities? YES, all of the above and more!
During most of the interviews he gave and in many of the letters he answered, Barks would be confronted with the more or less intelligent question of which of his stories he regarded as his favourite. Considering that any story contain a broad variety of ingredients Barks would name different stories as he saw fit at the particular time, thus making it fairly impossible for us to zero in on the one story he really considered the best. The truth would be that Barks had a number of favourite stories depending on many aspects, but the ones mentioned in this page - in chronological order - are the ones, that he would mention most often. You might say that they were his Favourites.





FC0223 Lost in the Andes - 1949

My best story, technically, is probably the square egg one, I guess. 1949. That was about the time I hit my peak in stories. I couldn't say for sure whether that was the peak in art, but I remember I felt more interested in art at that time. I mean, I tried a little harder, although some of the stuff since that time has probably been better.

Apart from the inventive and adventurous story it is strewn with direct and psychological gags, a few of them are even running gags such as for the nephews' constant use of bubble gum: It was puffed up in the studio's story department as being a very good gimmick if you could get a running gag going to connect sequences. Look how the chewing gum gag holds the Andes story together.

When you analyze the structure of the story, you see that it was built on little short sequence gags. Almost every page had a gag or two in which the characters moved through a bit of action to a short climax, and then switched to another little action and another climax. It just stepped up and up. All of these little situations had to deal with moving them along the main story plot.



WDCS112 'Rip van Winkle' - 1950

The tale of Rip van Winkle always intrigued me. I tried many times to use the long sleep gimmick in a duck situation before I came up with this plot arrangement. Even so, the powers of suggestion had to be stretched to incredible lengths.



WDCS126 'The Money Crib' - 1951

I always considered this story technically well done. It had a rhythm that could almost have been set to music ... I'm sure the lesson I preached in this story of easy riches will get me in a cell in a Siberian gulag someday.



FC0328 In Old California! - 1951

The story is set in a special, non-typical environment and it does not even have very much action. It is Barks' only romantic story, and it became one of his favourites because of its sentimental qualities: The one I always liked best for sentimental value was In Old California! I created an atmosphere and then kept that atmosphere through the whole story. Composing these stories is like writing music. You've got to have the beat and keep the whole thing going.

Barks' interest for the old California began when he and his family moved to Santa Rosa for two years from 1911: That's when I started reading about it. I'd always had a desire to go along that old Camino Real (a historic trail linking Mexico with the USA - Editor's remark) and just follow it from one mission to another and maybe make photographs and drawings of it. I've always been fascinated by California history.

I was able to present a little love story in that and also got in a great deal of nostalgia and a little history and a little bit of villainy, and some crazy names like Don Porko de Lardo. And I have a love for the Old West, the wide open spaces.



WDCS146 'Omelet' - 1952

It seems that the 10-pager Barks recalled most frequently was the story in which Donald worked as a chicken farmer - as was Barks briefly at the time of the story - and everything turned out wrong to such an extent that the unfortunate town in which the story takes place was renamed Omelet. Barks would shudder when remembering the huge (a)mounts of eggs that had to be drawn, though.



FC0495 'The Horseradish Story' - 1953

I liked the story about Uncle Scrooge's search for the horseradish down under the sea in the sunken ship. That gave me a chance to show his character where he was up against a situation where he could dissolve all of his troubles by just leaving a guy to drown out there in the ocean. But he perpetuated his troubles by rescuing the guy and saving his life. It gave me a chance, too, to show that villains don't reform just because you do them a favor. They don't turn around and do you a favor in return. They remain villains right through to the end.

I liked stories that gave me a chance to draw water and ships sailing into storms, and big pictorial panels. In this one there's a whole page in which I have a ship wallowing around in the waves.



U$05 'Atlantis' - 1954

The art I was doing about the time Scrooge discovered Atlantis under the sea that was probably as good as I've gotten, art-wise.



U$18 Land of the Pygmy Indians - 1957

This was one of the first ecologically founded stories in the comic book world, and it was close to Barks' heart, because he was always an environmentalist. Later on, Barks would make harsh comments on the way we treat the environment in his stories, culminating in the early 1970s when he wrote biting environmental stories about the decline of ecology for the Junior Woodchucks magazine.

Barks added great ambiance to the Peeweegah Indians' speech by letting them speak in pentametres, a type of poetic verse borrowed from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic The Song of Hiawatha: About the 8th grade, I had to read it and recite it in school. I thought it was a tiresome way of telling a story back then, but the meter lends itself very well to the comments of the Peeweegahs when they talk about what they're going to do.



U$29 Island in the Sky - 1960

In 1983 two of the greatest Disney legends, Floyd Gottfredson (mouseman) and Carl Barks (duckman), were interviewed together and asked to name the favourite story they had written. Gottfredson explained that his favourite was Island in the Sky (ran as a newpaper strip from 1936 to 1937 - Editor's remark), a story based on a secret atomic-power formula. Then Barks astonished everyone present by announcing: The one I like best now after all these years in looking back over the whole chain of them that I did, was Island in the Sky! Barks was referring to his own story in U$29 which, by pure chance, had the same title as Gottfredson's story...



U$65 Micro Ducks from Outer Space - 1966

I liked that story! I felt that I had touched on something that was a little different than just about any other space-type story that's come around. Creatures from outer space are villainous characters usually, and they have not rung a bell with me, because I have felt that out in outer space there are good people as well as bad, so in that story I did a little preaching, I guess.

Of course, that micro-duck story is something that I just grasped out of thin air. It's a fable, you might say...




In his numerous interviews Barks mentioned the above stories on several occasions, but he also acknowledged several other stories once or twice. Examples are FC0159 Ghost of the Grotto (also Barks' wife Garé's favourite!), FC0263 Land of the Totem Poles, FC0275 Ancient Persia, FC0408 The Golden Helmet, and CP01 Vacation Time. It is plausible that they were just mentioned, because they connected with subjects in the interviews, and that Barks just mentioned them to reinforce and illustrate a certain point he was making.

Anyway, there can be little doubt that Barks liked all of his stories, but it is impossible to tell for certain, if he, in his heart, did have A favourite. After all, would a mother be able to choose her favourite child amongst her own children?   Date 2007-01-04