Mise à jour
1 novembre 2002
University Press of Missisippi
Donald Ault
Helnwein-Interview in new book about Carl Barks
Carl Barks - Conversations
Disney artist Carl Barks (1901-2000) created one of Walt Disney's most famous characters, Scrooge McDuck. Barks also produced more than 500 comic book stories. His work is ranked among the most widely circulated, best-loved, and most influential of all comic book art. Although the images he created are known virtually everywhere, Barks was an isolated storyteller, living in the desert of California and preferring to labor without public fanfare during most of his career. The influence of Barks's work on such filmmakers as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and on such artists as Gottfried Helnwein has extended Barks's significance far beyond the boundaries of comics.
Carl Barks - Conversations
is the only comprehensive collection of Barks's interviews. It ranges chronologically from the very first one (with Malcolm Willits, the fan who uncovered Barks's identity) to the artist's final conversations with Donald Ault in the summer of 2000. In between are interviews conducted by Gottfried Helnwein, J. Michael Barrier, Edward Summer, Bruce Hamilton, and others.
Several of these interviews are published here for the first time.
Ault's friendship with Barks, ranging over a period of thirty years, provides an unusually intimate resource not only for standard q&a interviews but also for casual conversations in informal settings.
"Carl Barks - Conversations" reveals previously unknown information about the life, times, and opinions of one of the master storytellers of the twentieth century.

At the same time that Barks was touring Europe 1994 with his Carl Barks Studio managers, Gottfried Helnwein’s traveling retrospective exhibition of Barks’s artwork was beginning its four year journey through Europe. One elegant answer to the question with which I opened this essay – “Who is Carl Barks?” – appears in Helnwein’s catalogue for the exhibition. “Wer ist Carl Barks?” reproduces page after page of Bark’s drawings – revealing an astonishing variety of the expressions and bodily postures that Barks concocted and executed for the situations he put his characters into – often blown up to full-page size to reveal the energy of Bark’s pencil work and the intricacy of his variable pen line and brush strokes. For those wanting to see immediately Barks’s genius as a visual artist, the drawings in this book speak for themselves across all linguistic barriers.
Perhaps, since, at the time of this writing, Barks’s comics are no longer published in their native United States, the last words of the answer to the question with which I opened, “Who is Carl Barks?” should go to two European artists whose lives and work have been irreversibly transformed by Carl Barks, and who have answered the questions better than I ever could.
First, Romano Scarpa, one of the most famous Italian Disney comic-book artists, wrote, at the time of Barks’s passing on 25 August 2000:
“So, we are left on our own, and lost. We have lost the star that was guiding us through the streets of the Disney comic: the unique, unreachable Carl Barks. But with days passing by, we will realize more and more that the artistic and literary patrimony whose heirs we are ourselves, is such as to keep inspiring us always with new stories, on the track of his star, which will keep on shining, showing us the right paths to take.”
And finally, from Gottfried Helnwein, artist extraordinaire:
“In the Donald Duck of Carl Barks we recognize our fears, our uncertainties and weaknesses – our stupidity, our vanity, our depravity, our jealousy and our simple-mindedness. But also the very same stubbornness with which we stand up again and begin freshly after every defeat and every catastrophe.
“In retrospect I would say that from Donald Duck I have learned more about life than from all the schools I ever attended.”
Gottfried Helnwein conducts an extensive interview with Barks (11 July) at Grants Pass

Helnwein organizes the first retrospective museum show, “Die Ente ist Mensch geworden – Das zeichnerische Werk von Carl Barks” (And the Duck Became Flesh – The Art of Carl Barks), consisting of more than 400 original art works, 290 from the collection of Helnwein, which opens in Münchner Stadtmuseum, in Munich; the exhibit appears in ten different museums in Europe and is seen by more than 400, 000 people.
FEBRUARY, 6 x 9 inches, 248 pages (approx.), chronology, 25 b&w illustrations, index
ISBN 1-57806-500-3, unjacketed cloth, $46.00S
ISBN 1-57806-501-1, paper, $18.00T
Conversations with Comic Artists Series
BISAC SOC022000 Photo credit: Courtesy of Barbara Boatner
Carl Barks at his working desk

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