Carl Barks had strong political opinions. He was registered in The Republican Party and claimed he disliked Democrats. He once said: My own political philosophy is that we've got a pretty good thing going, and we should just leave it damn well alone. But he was always very conscientious not to bring his own political views into his work as he felt that politics was an uninteresting subject for kids. Still, he commented on a variety of political aspects in some of his work.





  Personal views on war (1940s)

In the first half of World War Two - which was instigated by the German dictator Adolf Hitler - Barks worked for the Disney Corporation. In 1941 a big union strike broke out and Barks made a sketch of the dictator during one of the first regular union meetings after the strike had ended. He later recalled:
That was after work in one of the buildings in Hollywood. After the Disney strike we founded a union, and this was supposed to be a union meeting. But instead of talking about salaries and working conditions there were a bunch of war agitators, who advocated that America should declare war on Germany and who wanted to send our boys into battle. Most of us didn't like it at all that America entered the war. Why for heaven's sake? We had already been over there once and had fought the Germans in 1916-1917, and supposedly this was to bring about peace for the whole world and for all time. And now we were at it again, sending our boys to death. For most of us at the Studio it looked like the repetition of a senseless tragedy. Besides we were disturbed by the fact that Melvyn Douglas, a notorious communist, told us this. He said we had to go to war in order to save Russia from the Nazis who were standing at the gates of Stalingrad. But we didn't give a damn which side won as long as we could stay out of it.

In 1942 Barks did a synopsis and storyboard sketches for an animated short to have been titled Donald's Tank. In it Donald Duck accidentally drives a tank into German lines in order to get away from sergeant Black Pete. Barks did a memorable parody of Hitler for this cartoon which, sadly, was never produced.



  Personal views on war (1950s)

In 1950 Barks drew a 10-pager in WDCS127 'April Fool' in which the nephews try to make Donald an April Fool. In the first panel of the second page there is a book with a cover reading Mein Kampf. This is a book written by Hitler written when he was imprisoned prior to the war. Barks placed the book on the trash dump to make a statement about Hitler who belongs in the lowest of places - the trash.
This action by Barks was very uncharacteristically for a children's comic book, and it was the only instance where Barks made a direct political statement in his stories.



  Personal views on war (1960s)

Barks drew a few stories in which real wars were fought either openly or in the background. MOC4 Maharajah Donald, U$25 'The Wishing Well', and WDCS297 Monkey Business are examples. But the most memorable one was U$64 Treasure of Marco Polo. Here Barks created a satirical story that has the subject of war as the main background theme.
It would probably not be fair to state that the story had the then current war in Vietnam as its background - which Barks always categorically denied when asked - but the publisher censored it in certain places for the same reason.
However, it would be fair to be considered as part of Barks' political dissociation from war as a whole.



  Views on the Cold War

The so-called Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was raging most of the years when Barks was writing his stories. Barks contributed to the common concern about the Communists in a few stories such as FC0029 Too Many Pets, U$17 A Cold Bargain, U$57 The Swamp of No Return, and WDCS278 Have Gun, Will Dance.

His version of the Russians were called Brutopians and they were shown as pig-faced villains fixed on abolishing people's personal rights and freedom. Barks was undoubtedly displaying the average American's fear of 'the red menace' at the time.



  Politics in Duckburg

Barks introduced both politics and politicians on a small scale in Duckburg:

When portraying a suspicious - or downright villainous - character Barks would almost always use pig-faced characters (as with the Brutopians mentioned earlier). And it is probably no coincidence that he also used pig-faced characters for mayors that he must have thought of as being of a greedy nature.

In a few stories we are presented to various politicians; FC0386 'The Car Raffle' (a poster announcing Vote for O.U.Drip), WDCS245 Sitting High (Gasmore Gravytrain), U$38 The Unsafe Safe (a poster announcing Joe Snake for Congress). The individuals' names leave us with little uncertainty as to how Barks perceived politicians!

U$08 'Election Campaign' had the election of a new treasurer in Duckburg as its theme. Here we are confronted with Fungus Enzyme, candidate Fogmore, candidate Oilymitt, and ... Scrooge McDuck! The old miser comes forward to compete for the job, but he lacks supporters. But in the world of politics, money talks, and soon Scrooge lands the cozy little job. Welcome to politics...
   Date 2006-05-07