Monday, July 16, 2012

Tougher Than the Toughies, Smarter Than the Smarties, and They Made It… Authentic!

Here at TIAH Blog, a recurring theme when classic material is newly packaged is “Authenticity of the Experience”. 

For both theatrical and television animation, you can read about it HERE and HERE. 

For comics, true “experience authenticity” is nearly impossible to achieve because publishers are not going to recreate the “original feel” of comic book reprints, given the advances in printing, coloring, and the like. 

Fantagraphics’ Carl Barks hardcover volumes are among the very best at “authenticity” because they endeavor to recreate the ORIGINAL COLORING of the stories as they first appeared in Dell Comics editions. 

I happen to LIKE that because, since 1981 and the magnificent Celestial Arts Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge hardcover volume – and through Gladstone Series II and Gemstone, Barks reprints have been subject to all manner of golly-wow modern printing and coloring techniques.  So, to see them as they were seen in the ‘40s and ‘50s is, ironically, actually a treat! 

Fantagraphics’ latest release “UNCLE SCROOGE: ONLY A POOR OLD MAN”, which reprints the first six issues of Dell’s UNCLE SCROOGE title, goes ONE BETTER in the “authenticity department”. 

It not only reprints the second issue’s ultra-classic “Back to the Klondike” in its original colors – but ADDS the then-editorially-excised material of “Sourdough Scrooge’s Ultimate Bar Fight” (which HAS been seen in all modern incarnations of the story, but sporting equally contemporary coloring) with the color CONSISTENT with Dell’s original coloring. 

And, yes… Scrooge REALLY had a GREEN COAT inside the original Dell FOUR COLOR # 456! 

Oddly, these "four-and-two-halves" pages have never been seen that way before!  So, we now have the deleted sequences, restored to the way we WOULD HAVE SEEN THEM all those decades ago! 

That, in MY book, is “Authenticity-Plus-One”!  Bravo for Fantagraphics!     


Will Poneck said...

Joe, I have the first volume in this collection (the one with "Lost in the Andes") and I was impressed with how FantaGraphics made the stories look like they did years ago. I am also glad that they are releasing the old stories in hardcover format.

Joe Torcivia said...

Welcome aboard, Will:

I went into this Barks project thinking: “Though this will be GREAT for those who don’t have the stories, the last thing *I* need is yet another series of Carl Barks reprints.”

I was a veteran of Abbeville (amazing by late ‘70s standards), Celestial Arts, “The Carl Barks Library” hardcovers AND softcovers from Gladstone, and a few decades of regular comics reprints.

But, I’ll admit to being impressed by the quality of the first two volumes – to the point where I’m Blogging about it here.

Even in its original form, “Back to the Klondike” was never seen exactly like this. And, we’ve reached a point in time where there may be more modern-colorings of this story than not – so this is very refreshing… at least to those who can appreciate “Old-School” production values.

Speaking of “Old-School production values”, I hope you rejoin us later in the week for the “Gold Key Comics 50th Anniversary” post. I will welcome your comments.


Adel Khan said...

I applaud Fantagraphics for maintaining the level of authenticity. The choices the colorists explored were interesting. The tone of Uncle Scrooge’s coat was inconsistent before settling with red.

It was a treat reading Abbeville’s “Uncle Scrooge” anthology
(I will elaborate later upon), as the color scheme of Uncle Scrooge’s coat was consistent with that on “DUCKTALES”. The simple palette of colors is good in regards to the coloring of stories in that anthology.

Already own Celestial Art’s collection of Uncle Scrooge stories. I borrowed this album from the library, to see what the coloring looks liked. I loved how the pages struck from “Back To The Klondike” were colored the way Dell Publishing would have published it. Having seen Bark’s stories subjected to “golly gee techniques” as you described. It is a treat to witness how the stories were to be read. The tone Dell Publishing applied to his comics was done nicely, with the technology of the time.

I feel that every colorist has there own liberties, when deciding what to color in the panel. There is no specific way. I prefer the simplistic coloring, as it does not take Carl Barks’ stories out of their own element. Hope you know what I am referring to.

I am contentious as to the number of reprints I have in stock. To a certain degree, in your collection, you can have a limit to the number of copies of a particular Barks’ story. Being a latecomer to Carl Barks’ works when “Gladstone II” folded up. My incentive of selecting Gemstone’s “Uncle Scrooge” was either a reprint of Carl Barks or a new story by Don Rosa. I desperately wanted to own stories by “The Duck Man”.

Fantagraphics is doing an awesome job releasing his works!

Joe Torcivia said...


Back in 1981, when the Celestial Arts book was released – and we were still in (or at the very end of) the age of “old-school”, flat comic book coloring, it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen in that area!

Now, those ”Golly Gee Techniques” are commonplace – and Carl Barks reprints, many of them once an impossible dream, became commonplace as well.

Now, incredibly – thanks to Fantagraphics, we’re achieving the “impossible dream” of an eventual complete collection of Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse newspaper strip continuities.

And, because they were originally printed as such a disorganized hodge-podge, a complete Don Rosa collection is a very desirable thing as well.

Hooray for Fantagraphics!