Most folks my age grew up reading comic books. Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck were among my favorites. If you are familiar with these stories, you know that some are superbly better than others. That’s the difference between the “Good Duck” and the rest.
Initially, Donald Duck jumped up and down and squawked a lot. When Carl Barks came along, he gave Donald a voice. He created Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Gladstone Gander, Duckburg, and all of its inhabitants. Not only was he an amazing artist (well known now as the “Good Duck Artist”), but a masterful storyteller. His comic book stories are legendary. Sadly, these stories (long out of print) are increasingly hard to come by and more and more expensive every day.
Reprints Now Available
Fantagraphics is producing a series of hardback books containing Carl Barks’ duck stories. I picked up one already and was so pleased with it that I’ve already ordered all those currently available and plan to get the rest as they come out.
The comics are reprinted at the original scale, so the books are comic book sized, although much thicker of course. They have been painstakingly re-inked and look, to me anyway, to be crisp duplications of the originals. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but they actually smell like the comic books I remember from 30-40 years ago.
Currently, there are four of these books listed on Amazon:
- Only a Poor Old Man
- Lost in the Andes
- A Christmas For Shacktown
- The Old Castle’s Secret (Coming soon)
I’m currently reading Only a Poor Old Man, which is 240 pages long and contains dozens of stories.
What Does This Have To Do With D&D?
What a silly question. Everything has to do with D&D. Inspiration is everywhere. Every one of these stories is an adventure that can be tailored to your game. Scrooge is often assailed by the Beagle Boys, who are continually after his fortune. Wouldn’t high-level characters in your world attract the attention of evil NPCs who have become aware of the riches those characters are amassing?
These stories are usually silly and light-hearted, which are perfect if you are running games with younger players. For an older crowd, it wouldn’t be hard to toughen them up and add a grittier feel. In any case, they comprise an amazing inspirational source.
Carl Barks had a protégé, Don Rosa. I’m not as familiar with Mr. Rosa’s work, but what I have seen is every bit as good as that of Mr. Barks.
Unlike Carl Barks, Don Rosa is still with us. In fact, in a few short weeks (March 1st – 3rd, 2013), Mr. Rosa will be a special guest at the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. I would love to go and meet him (as well as dozens of other amazing special guests and celebrities), but long drives and lengthy lines just aren’t my thing anymore. For those a little more resilient, it should be an incredible convention.