Through the years Barks created a unique duck universe that contained all sorts of funny animal characters, complete with very human faults and strengths. Hundreds of anthropomorphic animals wandered in and out of the stories - some to be used only one time - but many were so well-made that their characteristics almost automatically made the stories. The miserly Scrooge, the lucky Gladstone, the inventive Gearloose - just to name a few - and Barks used them with great virtuosity. He also introduced the tiny spot on earth where the majority of stories unfolded: Duckburg, USA!
But his stars were Donald Duck and the nephews and even though he did not actually invent them he gets the full credit for transforming them into what they are today. Before Barks started at the drawing board Donald was just a choleric and cackling hothead who always got himself into absurd situations.
The addition of the nephews to Duckburg was to provide Donald with antagonists, but they were only intolerable hooligans. Barks immediately altered the ducks into mellower characters and his scripts were given almost pedagogical qualities which made them more readable to children, as well as to adults in different levels. The Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen comes to mind.

Below are a few examples of characters which Barks used several times in his comics. They have been loosely divided into two main groups for clarity.





Donald Duck

Donald from a loose sketch from Walt Disney's own hands - made his debut - who originates in the cartoon Wise Little Hen' on June 9th, 1934, and this date is considered his official 'The birthdayhe would not have been such a long-lasting character if Barks had not got . However hold of him and changed him from a mindless nobody into a personality.
Barks' debut with Donald was in FC0009 'Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold' released in October, 1942. He drew the comic story with Jack Hannah. Bob Karp served as the script writer.
From there it took off in long, epic adventures covering 22 to 32 pages and ten-pagers. WDCS031 'Victory Garden' was the first.

Through the years Donald has had many different jobs but he was succesful at very few of them. Not necessarily due to lack of talent and skill, but usually due to bad luck and stubbornness on his part. If all else fails it seems that he can always count on a job polishing coins in his uncle's Money Bin.

His two prime joys in life would be his girlfriend Daisy and his little red car with the licence number 313. The two foremost irritations would be Gladstone and neighbour Jones.
Into which of the above categories the nephews might fit would depend on the current situation.

Barks slowly through the years altered the appearance of Donald. He began with a long neck and a long beak but both were shortened. Barks also reduced the number of buttons on Donald's shirt starting with 4 small ones, and ending with 2 big ones.

But his personality never changed radically. He was happy and he was sad. Penniless or with a coin to his name. Lucky or extremely unfortunate. A bit like you and me, eh?

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Huey, Dewey, Louie

The three boys are generally known as the nephews and they were created by the phenomenal Donald Duck one-pager artist Al Taliaferro in 1937. When Barks got hold of them he changed their unruly personalities so that they were quite a bit less naughty in the ten-pagers, and even quite stolid in the long adventures.

Their strange American names derive from live models hence Huey P. Long was a politician from Louisiana, Thomas E. Dewey a presidential candidate from New York and Louie Schmidt worked as a cartoonist at Disney's.

The fact that they each wear different colour caps (red/blue/green) has no practical bearing at all as they function as one organism without special characteristics. Barks had no special relation to the differences in colour either as he drew in black and white. The colours were added later in the comic book publishing process. A colourist would choose the colours for the panels in the stories and if the colourist wasn't paying attention, Dewey might wear a blue cap on the first page and a red cap on the fourth page.

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Junior Woodchucks

The Junior Woodchucks (with Huey, Dewey and Louie as prominent members) is a parody of the Boy Scout. They first appeared in WDCS125 'Operation Rescue'.

Since The Woodchucks is strictly a boys' club, Barks quickly invented a girls' club by the name of The Chickadees.

The Junior Woodchucks has a tradition for posh and elaborate titles. The drawing shows the nephews as Exalted Hightails which means that the tails are placed on top of the caps. Later they received the title of Commandants of the Hightails' Hall of Heroes' (WDCS150). Finally they rose to 'Ninety-Star Generals' (WDCS221). Nothing less...

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The Guidebook

The official name of the 'bible' is The Junior Woodchucks' Book of Knowledge but it is usually just referred to as The Guidebook.

The nephews first used it in U$05 'Ten Skyrillion Quarter' and it has ever since been a solid - and extremely valuable - piece of equipment in numerous adventure stories. It has an answer to everything. EVERYTHING. And it often saves Uncle Scrooge, Donald and the nephews themselves from terrible predicaments.

Although the Guidebook and The Junior Woodchucks are naturally connected they seldom appear in the same stories.

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General Snozzie

Barks used very few real animals in his comics and the few that occurred usually behaved as animals, too. One is The Junior Woodchucks' official bloodhound known as General Snozzie.

The dog made its entrance in WDCS213 'Dodging Miss Daisy' and started right off being a phenomenal track dog. He can even track under water!
In the drawing General Snozzie is equipped with a balloon jacket consisting of a folded balloon and two helium containers. When the dog activates the contraption, he can track Donald's scent high above the ground!

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Gladstone Gander

The goose came onstage in WDCS088 'The Frozenbear Lake'. From then on Donald's life would never be the same again. They both courted Daisy but the worst part was Gladstone's incredible luck. He was able to find diamonds and wallets everywhere and he never neglected to brag about it to Donald in great detail.
He is commonly known to have actually worked one day in his life and he felt so ashamed about it that he hid his wages - a dime - in his safe. However, Barks actually showed him working as a camp guard in an earlier story.

Gladstone functions as an ingenious counterpart to the frequently unlucky Donald but Barks never succeeded giving him any human values or redeeming features as he did Scrooge and Gyro.

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Gyro Gearloose

The chicken was created for WDCS140 'Gladstone's Secret' and he is another example of Barks' genius. Originally he was intended to be of secondary importance (or I would have drawn him much simpler, Barks once sighed during an interview), but luckily he realized the vast potential hidden in the inventor.

Gyro is a gentle, absent-minded character who invents for the purpose of making the world a better place to live in. Often the inventions backfire. He seldom receives adequate payment but he always pushes on.

One method of getting ideas is banging himself on the head with a hammer.

The drawing shows Gyro in his first story jumping along on his pogo stick trying to churn a quart of cream into butter but in later stories he would be much more inventive.

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Little Helper

The metal man might just be Gyro's most ingenious invention as the little fellow is certainly alive, but we are never told how Little Helper came about. He simply entered the stage in U$15 'The Cat Translator' and he never left Gyro after that.
We do know, however, that he is a male, because he once dreamt of a matching metal girl.

Little Helper - also known as Li'l Bulb - wears leather shoes and has a light bulb for head. He runs on batteries, and he is always active.
Not being able to speak he is seen mostly wandering in the background ... acting silly, but occasionally he rescues Gyro from dangerous situations ... mostly without the inventor even realizing it!

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The Saint Bernard dog is not an invention of Barks'. It was used sporadically by Al Taliaferro starting in 1938 but Barks introduced the animal in several of his earlier stories as Donald's lump of a pet. He is stupid but kindhearted and usually he has no clue as to what is going on.

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April, May, June

Daisy's three nieces were introduced briefly in WDCS149 'Flipism', the story in which Donald bases all the decisions in his life on tosses of a coin.

The nieces are, of course, meant to be a counterpart to the nephews - the resemblance is obvious - and the two parties tend to alternate in the leading role.

The girls are probably members of The Chickadees, which of course parodies the Girl Scouts.

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J. Jones

This is Donald's neighbour with whom he is in eternal conflict. One suspects Barks had a heyday when dreaming up the nasty battles between these two. The stories are really just compilations of hilarious gags that are put together in a farce which resembles an out-of-control cartoon. It rarely dawns on us who is actually the instigator of the mischiefs but does it matter? It is f-u-n.

To us, the Jones' stories make for a nice break in the restful neighbourhood between Donald's many exotic adventures.

See more HERE.




Scrooge McDuck

Although Uncle Scrooge is considered Barks' best invention he was created as a one-shot character. Barks needed a stingy relative for Donald and the nephews, who would celebrate their Christmas holidays in the uncle's mountain cabin in OS178 Christmas on Bear Mountain. Barks remembered the old, ill-natured Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and both the character and the name presented themselves ... almost on a silver platter. A minor difference is the fact that McDuck's first name is spelled with a dollar sign on the front covers and the splash panels.
Click here for a view of the story's first page.

Barks quickly realized Scrooge's potential, which - with his colossal wealth and exceptional stinginess - would be a tremendous counterpart to Donald. Scrooge was soon modified into a more humane and likable character.
His wealth was splendidly illustrated with the creation of the Money Bin. His stinginess is evident in his dressing which never changes during the years. 'I bought this hat for 2 dollars in 1910 and it will still last many years' he declares. Another aspect of his stinginess is the tarvation wages he pays Donald.

Scrooge is a multifaceted character who nearly always dominates the long adventure stories. Numerous times he stood up to The Beagle Boys. He often travelled around the world with Donald and the nephews, and these lavish adventures could not be contained within the constrictive ten-pagers.

Barks' Donald Duck would no doubt have had a hard time without a Scrooge McDuck as a player, but with the miser on the team Barks just sparkled.

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Money Bin

Scrooge's giant Money Bin - which also functions as office and residence - made its first appearance in FC0282 The Pixilated Parrot but it was first mentioned in WDCS135 'The Money Bin Freezes'.
It is a mistake to believe that all of the old miser's money is stored in the Money Bin as we are from time to time told that his money is overflowing Duckburg's banks and this might be the reason why he is forced to store the rest of his beloved money in the building.

It is uncertain how much money he really owns. Barks' best 'guess' is three cubic acres or 5 multiplujillion, 9 impossibidillion, 7 fantasticatrillion dollars and 16 cents. The splendid idea of the 16 cents really puts the uncomprehensible numbers into perspective.

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Number One Dime

The special coin was first seen in FC0495 'Money Bin Tank' when it was used to cut some rope that was tied around Scrooge and Donald.

The worn dime is the first the young duck earned as a 10-year old shoeshine boy. Nowadays it is usually exhibited inside a special glass dome. It is said to bring its owner good luck. This also accounts for the frequent attempts from the witch Magica de Spell to get hold of it for her own purposes.

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Emily Quackfaster

Scrooge's loyal secretary and receptionist was introduced in U$36 The Midas Touch. However, her name was not revealed until U$39 A Spicy Tale.
She is a stern and effective elderly woman wearing glasses fastened in her hair which is set in a bun. You might recall a prototype of a spinsterish schoolteacher from your own childhood. She is called Miss to boot.

A curiosity: she is also internationally known as Miss Typefast at the world wide Danish publishing company Egmont's.

See more HERE.

Flintheart Glomgold

Uncle Scrooge has to deal with many adversaries. One of them being the South-African plutocrat Flintheart Glomgold who appeared for the first time in U$15 The Second Richest Duck. He quickly proved a worthy opponent who sought the title of the world's richest duck.
When his own conceit and meanness are not enough to fulfil his wishful thinking he sometimes hires The Beagle Boys to help him reach his goal, but it is all in vain. He is - and stays - the world's second richest duck.

Glomgold is often mistaken for another of Barks' inventions, John D. Rockerduck, but they are two separate characters.

See more HERE.

Magica de Spell

This evil Italian witch lives in a shack on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius but that does not stop her from travelling around the world in search of Scrooge and his lucky dime. She is by far considered his strongest opponent with that end in mind. She actually succeeded in getting hold of it a few times ... but just for a moment.

She was introduced in U$36 The Midas Touch. She has the unshakable belief that when she eventually gets hold of the coin and melts it down into a medallion she will be the world's richest and luckiest duck. To accomplish this she sometimes employs The Beagle Boys. She also has a black raven as a helper.

See more HERE.

The Beagle Boys

This bunch of beagle hounds, who are Scrooge's main worry, seem to be entirely focussed on stealing the old duck's money. What they actually do for a living is hard to tell as we hardly ever hear of other 'jobs'.

They entered the scene in WDCS134 'Terror of the Beagle Boys' but their characteristic prison numbers were missing. The numbers appeared in the following comic story WDCS135 'The Money Bin Freezes'. The numbers all have six digits starting with 176- and a simple counting of all the boys throughout the stories reveals the existence of at least 40 gang members, although Barks never did draw more than 13 at one time.
They refer to each other by their numbers and they all seem to be copies of each other but from time to time small differences have been noticed. Thus 176-167 is the gang's poetic leader, 176-671 tends to be a tad dumber than the others and 176-761 is very fond of prunes.

One part of their uniform is the black mask which they always wear even if otherwise disguised. Still they are not recognized...

See more HERE.


   Date 2002-02-03