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When at the end of 1929 the young Walt Disney (1901–1966) was offered to create a comic book based on his short animated films about a mouse, the artist was…

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The story of Donald Duck and his nephews

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck know everything. But not everyone knows who invented and painted them as we know them. Many mistakenly think that all Walt Disney characters were invented by Walt Disney. Most screenwriters and artists worked at Disney Studios anonymously. It happened with Karl Barks – a farmer from a poor family who fulfilled his dream and became a comic book artist and a “duck man”.

“How did I manage to become a comic book illustrator?” For me it’s a mystery. There were no artists and writers in my family, my parents were not interested in art. They had no education either. I was born in Oregon into a family of farmers and went to a school where there was only one class and there were no drawing lessons, ”Barks admitted in an interview. Barks’s parents were very busy people, his brother was also not up to him. As a child, he did not read Treasure Island and did not hear the name of Jules Verne. But he liked to consider comics in the newspapers that his parents brought, and then redraw them. And also talk with animals on the farm, humanize them and compose stories about them.
Karl Barks, 1982
“By age 16, I knew for sure that I want to be a comic book artist more than a farmer,” Barks said. But I did not have to choose. Barks had serious hearing problems, he could no longer study. Mother died, and there was no one nearby who would believe in his dream. So Barks began to work. He took on everything that was just tucked into his arm: he looked after cattle, worked as a lumberjack and riveted metal rivets. I tried to attach my drawings to magazines. At 17, he came up with a comic book series about an unlucky detective. But he was refused everywhere.

For whatever he then undertook, he did not succeed. And a few years later he portrayed Donald Duck as well – a good-natured slapdog with unsuccessful attempts to earn money. Barks learned irony from the workers and said that he did not meet a better sense of humor than ordinary laborers. Because without laughter, their life would be very hard. Barks had enough of this experience to come up with hundreds of comic stories for Donald Duck.

In 1928, he sent several of his comics to a satirical magazine. Suddenly they were published. “It turned out that I can make good jokes,” Barks recalled. So he began to sell his humorous sketches to various publications. And in the beginning of the 30s he got a job as an editor in a men’s magazine with a dubious reputation. His colleagues loved to drink, and Barks had to do the work for himself and for them. In addition, it was during the Great Depression, the salary fell sharply. In 1935, Barks decided to try his luck again and sent the drawings to Walt Disney Studios.

And they took Barks. He worked as a phaser artist, that is, he drew the phases between the frames that the animator created. It was a watch of monotonous and boring labor. To earn some more money, Barks began to invent “gags” (comical, ridiculous situations that should make the audience laugh) for the script department of the studio. And it turned out so cool that the scriptwriters lured him to him.

Donald Duck was born in the studio a year before the arrival of Barks: the drake appeared in separate cartoons about Mickey Mouse. And in 1937 he became the protagonist of the short film. A year later, he overtook Mickey Mouse by rating. Mickey was a good hero, the scriptwriters decided not to change his character and came up with a bruise friend who would be in contrast with him.
The first appearance of Donald Duck happened before Barks came to Disney in the short animated film “Little Smart Chicken”
After some time, Barks wanted to change the character of Donald Duck and endowed him with his own traits. Instead of continuing to use the image of a bully, Barks made him an attentive, indifferent character. Dodgy but awkward. The audience recognized himself in him: they laughed at the troubles of Donald and at the same time sympathized with him.
In 1938, the film “Donald Duck” was released with a new image of Doand Duck. Karl Barks took an active part in changing the character.
To overshadow Donald himself, the scriptwriters came up with his nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louis. As planned, they were just mischievous children who quarreled with their uncle. They came with a note from mom, sister of Donald, who asked to take care of the children while she was away. True, the mother of the ducklings never returned.
Huey, Dewey, and Louis nephews first appeared in Donald’s Nephews in 1938
When, after a few years, Barks began to draw comics, he realized that such a boring role for ducklings is not enough. And he made them clever, who, thanks to the “Encyclopedia of Young Marmots” can find a way out of any situation. And at the same time, accidentally ruining everything. “I always tried to make their behavior unpredictable so that no one, opening the comic book, could guess how the ducklings would behave this time. They were damn hard to draw! ”Said Barks.
In October 1942, the comic strip Donald Duck Looks for a Pirate Treasure was released, in which Brax painted about half of the illustrations.

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