Carl Barks was keenly fascinated with the art of drawing all of his long life. He started as a toddler drawing with small pieces of coal on the walls of his childhood home, and when he reached manhood his skills had been thoroughly developed, although he had had to work with all sorts of odd jobs to make ends meet. Since he was 18, Barks had been drawing cartoons in his spare time in an effort to sell them to local newspapers, but his work was in no great demand until he, as late as in 1928, was contacted by the adult girlie magazine Calgary EyeOpener*.
It was just one of that time's several raunchy, pocket-sized men oriented magazines filled with cartoons featuring voluptuous, long-legged blondes and lecherous men, as well as jokes of the often sexually and racially discriminating kind. Barks started out by selling one cartoon for 2 dollars. Now he had a foot in the cartooning world, and he continued to work for the EyeOpener the next three years as a free-lancer, until he, in November 1931, took the plunge and moved to the magazine's office in Minneapolis - in the prairie state of Minnesota - for a permanent appointment at a very respectable monthly salary of 90 dollars. It enabled me to move from laborer to starving artist, he later smiled.

At first Barks worked for a good editor, Ed Sumner, who allowed him to practically run the magazine single-handedly, because he was surrounded by several incompetent colleagues. But already the next year the magazine was bought by Annette Fisher Fawcett who quickly fired Sumner and several of the good cartoonists in order to replace them with another staff of her choosing. Fawcett was an inept owner and editor who spent her days sucking money out of the magazine for her private - and extravagant - purposes and soon the magazine was in big financial trouble. The staff was not longer paid on a regular basis; some months Barks only got half of his paycheck, but he endured, because he loved his work.
But, of course, the number of staff members thinned, and Barks had to work even more to make up for the lack in manpower. He drew lots and lots of cartoons and he would sometimes alter his drawing style or draw under various pseudonyms to give the impression of a booming magazine. Still, he found time to provide a few other magazines with cartoons on a freelancing basis!

Much later Barks jokingly said: I started up there as staff artist and joke writer and eventually wound up as editor. But his years in Minneapolis was no joke. Fawcett's attitude resulted in the rapid degeneration of the company to such an extent that Barks was eager to leave: I was writing and drawing more than half the book, editing it, and composing stalling letters to contributors to gloss over the fact that no money was in the bank to pay for their stuff. Freelancing and work on the EyeOpener kept me out of the bread lines until 1935.
By then Barks was fed up with things, and not even promises of a substantial raise in salary would make him stay on the sinking boat any longer. He packed all his gear and headed for the Disney Studios in far-away California. But that's another story...


* There is a general uncertainty on how the magazine's name is spelled. The first half (Calgary) is, of course, pretty straightforward, but the last half is usually spelled in three different ways: Eye Opener, Eye-Opener, and EyeOpener. The magazine itself never brought any definite solution to the puzzle, because the editors used all three versions - often in the same issues!


Example: The July 1929 special issue...   ...and the One-Man-Army behind...



Below you are presented to a limited number of Barks' numerous cartoons. The small pictures (thumbnails) are links to pages containing larger versions of the cartoons. You will also be able to find many more of Barks' EyeOpener cartoons scattered around in this site. Try typing f.i. Calgary in the Search Engine to get to the pages.


If you still want to see more EyeOpener cartoons you should visit this site.   Date 2005-10-02