Carl Barks made quite a few stories, in which he used locales from his own neighbourhood as the basis for his drawings. This was especially true when the ducks travelled around near Duckburg in the 10-pagers, but the most well-known - and most often dissected - story in that respect is undoubtedly FC0328 In Old California! from 1951, which mostly took place near San Jacinto Valley and Hemet, where Barks lived at the time. This particular story is filled with real locations and buildings as well as personal in-jokes, which were not at all 'decipherable', when the story came out. Barks later referred to the story as being 'partly an introductory prop to establish the locale and historical period of the main plot, and partly to amaze my San Jacinto neighbors, few of whom knew that the duck comic books they saw on the newsstands originated in their little town.
Although Barks had had free hands to draw his story as he saw fit, he was not entirely satisfied with the published version. In an 1951 interview for the local
Hemet News shortly after the publishing of the story he expressed his vexation over the colouring of his story (which was out of his hands as he 'only' delivered his stories to the publisher in black and white). He pointed out that the tile roofs of the Spanish-style houses all turned out blue, and the later-to-be-named Pinnacles National Monument (page 20, panel 8) was transformed into a clump of bright green shrubbery.

On this page you are treated to a small selection of Barks' more or less recognizable hidden hints (they are not necessarily presented in the same order as they appear in the pages). If you put your mind to it you will be able to find several more examples for yourself. Just go ahead and re-read the story...





LEFT: The corner of Lake Park Drive (to the left) and Soboba Road today. The photo was taken from approximately the same angle as Barks' panel. RIGHT: Nothing much has changed since 1951 when the Ducks drove by.



LEFT: Close-up of a portion of the junction panel mentioned above. Barks immortalized another good friend, H.E. 'Jeff' Divine, who was a real estate agent in the vicinity. RIGHT: Barks satirized the massive use of signs containing advertisements in this panel, one of which is of yet another realtor from the area nicknamed Iowa Ike.



LEFT: Donald steered straight on instead of turning to the right on Soboba Road in order to go to the nearby Indian Reservation (his attention had been on the signs in the junction shown above, one of which pointed to the nearby Hot Springs. The massive rock is no longer present in the junction. RIGHT: The Ducks pass a sign to the famous Ramona Pageant Bowl, where annual, historic festivities are held in April and May.



LEFT: The Soboba Indian Reservation just outside Hemet was 100 years old when Barks made his story. An Indian woman sits outside her brick and straw house forming a pot from clay. The photo is from 1901. RIGHT: Barks found the territory practically unchanged when he visited the reservation - same type of houses and pottery making.



LEFT: The mansion was built in 1884 by Francisco Estudillo, a rich landowner as well as responsible for no less than 32 Indian reservations in the region. The photo was taken after a much needed restoration was finished by the County of Riverside, which purchased the building in 1992. RIGHT: When Barks saw the mansion in 1950 it was in a poor state, which probably partly accounts for his not too exact rendering in this panel.



LEFT: California is teeming with Spanish mission churches from the colonial days, and the photo is from the Mission San Francisco de la Espada. One of the missions' specialties was the facade with single bells hanging from open niches. RIGHT: It is uncertain which church Barks used for his panel, but he made sure that a fundamentally similar facade was present.



LEFT: The San Jacinto Mountain range with Tahquitz Peak is shown more than once in the story. RIGHT: The Ducks seen at approximately the same spot as the photo. Notice that the forest areas have been felled in the years after 1848.



LEFT: Players impersonating the lovers Ramona and Alessandro (the photo is from Garé Barks' archives). See more about the pageant HERE. RIGHT: In Barks' version the couple was renamed Panchita and Rolando.



LEFT: In this panel Barks made clear references to the area by giving two male Indians telling pullovers; SJ for San Jacinto and H for Hemet. RIGHT: Donald asks to see the owner of the ranch whom Tina, the housekeeper, identifies as Don Gaspar Fernando Ignacio de Sepulveda y Verdugo y Buenaventura. Barks used contemporary names taken from the area's geography: San Fernando Valley, Sepulveda Boulevard, Verdugo Hills, and San Buena Ventura.



The Ducks also travelled further in the story or referred to modern subjects. Here are a few examples:



Sutter's Fort at Sacramento, California


Los Angeles, California



LEFT: The nephews say: That guy is as good as Autry Mack Brown Rogers, which are modern references to Western film heroes from the time of the story such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. RIGHT: Donald says: Just like cars at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, which is a reference to one of the best known and busiest intersections in Los Angeles named Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.   Date 2009-02-08