Monday, February 11, 2013

The Life and Times of Don Rosa!

 
 
The next Animaniacs Update will be delayed another day or two, because you MUST read this fascinating piece by Don Rosa on the reasons for his retirement. 

It comes to us via a link from Mark Evanier's great Blog -- HERE!

Please read everything Mark has to say, and then take his link to Don Rosa's writings.  

I've had the pleasure of meeting Don Rosa many times at conventions. He is a gentleman and a fine fellow -- and I'm truly sorry to learn of a number of the things he discuses.  And discusses with great candor, I might add. 

The Disney related stuff is of little surprise.  I'm just happy we had Don's work to enjoy IN SPITE OF IT! 

Thanks to Mark Evanier for bringing this to my attention. 

And more thanks than I could ever express to Mr. Don Rosa for a ride I didn't believe could be possible in the Post-Barks era of Disney Duck comic books. 

23 comments:

Ryan Wynns said...

And, in turn: Joe, thank you for alerting me to Mark Evanier alerting you of this! I've clicked your link to Evanier's post, and am about to click his link to what Rosa's written on the matter of his retirement ... and I'm getting chills ...

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

Ryan:

This is a first… someone commenting BETWEEN links!

Please let us know what you think of Don Rosa’s account. There are things you’ll know, of course… but quite a bit heretofore unknown information.

Dana Gabbard said...

Very ambivalent. As the guy who put together the definitive interview on Don's early career it is rather strange to note over time I stopped liking his work. Really disappointed at its regression. Maybe a strong example of the difference of amateur vs. professional.

scarecrow33 said...

Rosa's article was very readable...I especially appreciated his method of introducing his six reasons in order of increasing importance. His writing inspires empathy; one can really feel his heartaches. It is somewhat painful reading, yet very enlightening and very worthwhile. No real surprises, because anyone going through what he went through would doubtless arrive at the same conclusion. He needed to step aside from what he was doing, and yet he felt extreme reluctance to give up a life's dream. But it was not in vain, because without Rosa, there would be no "Son of the Sun," or "King Scrooge the First," or "Return to Plain Awful," to name just a few. And his supreme masterwork has got to be his "Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck," which is eminently satisfying to read, and which lends itself to multiple re-readings. While some critics have complained about the "busy" quality of his detailed drawings, and others have carped about his shaping and molding of Barks' stories to make them more consistent, claiming it really is unnecessary, Rosa succeeded in carving his own niche in the Duck comics legacy. While founded squarely on Barks, Rosa's version of the Duck universe is uniquely his own. I for one applaud his efforts at retroactively re-shaping Barks' vision and giving it more cohesion, but Rosa made his own contributions along the way as well. His unique drawing style and his sense of genuine humor and drama make him truly one of the giants of modern comics creators. Don, we understand and we wish you the best, but it will be a long time before another talent comes along that can match yours.

Joe Torcivia said...

Dana:

We’ve had countless hours of comics discussion… in person, e-mail, over the phone, and even back when we wrote postal letters to each other, but I’m not sure I’ve ever asked you why you feel Rosa’s work “regressed”? Honestly, I felt it became stronger and more uniquely “his”, built on Carl Barks’ foundations, of course.

Did it become too “Scrooge-centric” for you? Too mythical? Was it a dividing line of “Pre and Post-Life and Times”? I have heard that last one expressed.

…Or, did WE, as a whole, simply have more pure fun with the comics in general in those early days of fandom (You being one of the key figures who ushered me INTO said fandom, from having merely been an avid “reader”) – the Western and Gladstone I days, before Disney stepped in and changed our more “innocent and enthusiastic” outlooks?

Whatever it is, I don't quite see it that way and am curious to know more.

Joe Torcivia said...

Scarecrow:

It’s easy (and almost clichéd) to say “I feel his pain!”, but that *IS* the feeling I take away from this. Clearly, this applies to you, as well.

As it was Don Rosa’s “dream” to guide the characters in his favorite comic books, so was it mine. …At least from the age of nine, when I realized that actual people “wrote these things”.

From that time forward, I wanted to “be” Carl Barks, even though I wouldn’t even know his name for another seven years. Or, alternatively, I wanted to “be” Michael Maltese, whose name I’d increasingly noticed on many of the best animated cartoons, both theatrical and made-for-TV.

To this day, that kind of writing remains the ONLY thing I have EVER actively wanted to do for a living. The only thing I have ever had THAT level of enthusiasm about. Of course, “real-life” tapped me on the shoulder and convinced me this was not to be, and pointed me in another direction. A career I will have been with 31 years, come this summer.

I enjoyed its freshness, newness, and (seemingly) limitless potential at the start but, over time, the field morphed into “something very different”, which I no longer enjoy. But, it still provides a living, so there I remain.

This point of this long digression is to say that, quite naturally in such a situation, one’s thoughts often turn to “The Road Not Traveled”. Don Rosa DID decide to “travel that road”, and I admire him for it – and respect the hell out of his decision to abandon what most would consider an enviable life situation to follow his dream. If I were anywhere near as solidly established as he was in a field of endeavor, I can’t imagine being brave enough to turn things over, as he did.

But, if this was to be the result for one as spectacularly talented as Don Rosa, what chance would there be for someone like me? The metaphorical Hell-Touring Snowball would doubtless fare better.

Still, as you will see in my next Animaniacs post, I sit more-or-less safely on my Blogger’s perch and sigh, while appreciating the talents of individuals who did get to live the only dream (profession-wise) I ever had – and remain very grateful that I got to toe-dip into the realm of Disney comic books, even if as no more than a sporadic freelance dialogue writer.

And, to Don Rosa, I can only wish a very happy and satisfying retirement!

Dana Gabbard said...

Joe, compare Carl Barks 1942 with Barks 1952. The work has grown in depth. The drawing is sharper and the scripting is subtle and complex.

Frankly Rosa started great and than allowed fannish impulses to overwhelm his work until it is unreadable to me. I remember transcribing the interview when Don confessed to his excesses thinking "Yeah, I don't like that" only to witness it grow and overtake his output. And this from the guy who came up with the key gimmicks that underlie "Return to Plain Awful". I'm sorry. Fannish excess and detachment from real world issues just ain't my thing. And so I stopped reading his work. That is about all I can say.

Joe Torcivia said...

Hmmm… That’s certainly one way of looking at it, Dana. And, I DO get your point.

But, couldn’t you say that about ALL comics and the creative folks behind them? …Certainly after the Silver Age, at least?

Before, during, and not very long after the Silver Age, it was just a “job” to people, who might as well have been writing copy for the back of cereal boxes as writing for beloved comic book characters. You and I both know that, because we’ve talked to a number of such folks over the years. It was a “job” to them, and not a “dream”.

Don Rosa was, unabashedly, a fan of Carl Barks. Carl Barks was not a fan of anyone who preceded him… because pretty much NO ONE preceded him.

Mort Weisinger, Julius Schwartz, Stan Lee, and the writers and artists who worked for them in the Silver Age and prior were just doing a “job”. But after that, they were pursuing a dream.

When did this begin, exactly? Who can say. Maybe with Denny O’Neil? Or before that with Roy Thomas? It’s a shame there wasn’t more of that in the realm of Western Publishing. Mark Evanier being a stellar exception, with his lively and humorous writing for Gold Key, when most else there was dying a slow death!

If there WERE such persons to turn up at Western, as they did at Marvel and DC, perhaps the seventies and eighties comics would have been MUCH BETTER than they were.

Given the narrow focus comic books have had over the last three decades, at least, I cannot imagine anyone BUT “fans” entering and further influencing the field.

I’d like to know what the rest of you think… Fascinating stuff.

Chris Barat said...

Joe and Dana,

I've read Rosa's piece and have been giving it a good deal of thought. I can certainly relate to Don's problems with depression and myopia, and I can guess how much the battle with Disney sapped his enjoyment of his work, even as that work was getting international acclaim. But I agree with Dana that "Life and Times" represented a tipping point of sorts... Not aesthetic so much as psychological.

Prior to "Life," Rosa was close to being that ideal for which he strove -- the talented fan who'd gotten a chance to follow in Barks' footsteps and taken full advantage of it. Sure, he did sequels to Barks tales, but he kept their ramifications self-contained and under some control. "Life" changed everything. That massive project has followed him around ever since like Bombie the Zombie. Not only did creating it (and then taking on the interstitial tales) feed his own obsessive compulsive instincts, but "Life" bred a whole new group of hyper-fans for whom Rosa's trips to Europe really MUST have seemed like "missions from God". Seeing phrases like "mission from God" and "sacred duty" still popping up in this epilogue suggests that Rosa may STILL not fully comprehend the degree to which his post-"Life" career starting running HIM, as opposed to the other way around.

I think that Rosa actually did some of his most accomplished work after completing "Life." In some cases, such as the Three Caballeros stories, he actually seemed to be having FUN, as he did in the early Gladstone years. But "Life" set such a high standard for attention to detail that it became harder and harder for him to simply craft a "fun story." I think that Rosa and JK Rowling could have a very interesting conversation as to how one's creations can come to overwhelm one's aesthetic sense so completely that what was once a joy comes to seem like a chore. Don's dispute with Disney just added to his own burden.

Somewhere, I think, Carl Barks is shaking his head and thanking his (or Gladstone's) lucky star that his career began and ended when it did...

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

I hear what you’re saying and appreciate that “Life and Times” has pretty much become a universal line of demarcation (at least in the eyes of fandom) when it comes to Don Rosa’s career. I’m not sure I agree with that completely, but it is there, nevertheless, and will probably always stand as such in the minds of many.

We just like segmenting the things we love, I suppose. Flintstones Pre-and Post-Pebbles is a good example, often cited by Hanna-Barbera Blogger Yowp. Black and white vs. color Lost in Space. Superman: Pre-Byrne, Byrne/Carlin Era, and Post-Byrne/Carlin. That’s why we EVEN HAVE “Ages of Comics” such as Gold, Silver, and the many disparate designations that follow.

“Life and Times” will dominate any survey or analysis of Don Rosa’s career, and will be the item he will be best remembered for. Gene Roddenberry was a talented writer for HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL (I’ve seen a few of them on DVD lately), but mention Roddenberry’s name and you don’t think of Paladin.

Where I don’t feel as fervently as Dana (and perhaps you) is that, the many sequels notwithstanding (some requested by his publisher?), I don’t feel that Don Rosa’s work was THAT profoundly different after “Life and Times”. Certainly not the type of “Pre-and Post-Pebbles” difference, anyway.

The “Three Caballeros” stories you cite, the Black Knight stories, the attack story with a wonderful Black Knight cameo, the Money Bin Invasion, Traveling Quarter, and Dream-entering stories. Magnificent stuff! It evolved, as one would expect a talented creator to evolve.

I also note that you are considering the “psychological” over the “aesthetic”, but didn’t Carl Barks’ work reach its absolute pinnacle during difficult (or at least unsettling) times for him? Everything you mention would (and should) have its impact on Don Rosa the man, but does this, rather than the natural evolution of the process of creation, account for the changes you and Dana cite? I wouldn’t know how to answer that.

As I noted above, Rosa’s work became more Scrooge-centric, and more mythic. I suppose there are some that missed the fun of Rosa’s early ten-pagers, but lots of folks could do good ten-pagers. I was honored to dialogue one such effort that I called “A Game of One Cupmanship”. A GREAT story long before I had anything to do with it! But, few creators, if any, could equal what Don Rosa did in the long form, and I’m glad he chose to concentrate on that type of story in his later stages.

But, again, I’m not completely blind to your line of reasoning. And, yes, I’ll second your’ thought on Carl Barks being better off in “his time” than in “Don Rosa’s time”… and anything that follows. Glad to see the discussion continue.

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

"Where I don’t feel as fervently as Dana (and perhaps you) is that, the many sequels notwithstanding (some requested by his publisher?), I don’t feel that Don Rosa’s work was THAT profoundly different after “Life and Times”. Certainly not the type of “Pre-and Post-Pebbles” difference, anyway. The “Three Caballeros” stories you cite, the Black Knight stories, the attack story with a wonderful Black Knight cameo, the Money Bin Invasion, Traveling Quarter, and Dream-entering stories. Magnificent stuff! It evolved, as one would expect a talented creator to evolve."

In my comment, recall that I opined that Rosa DID do some of his best work post LATOSM. I picked (on?) the 3 Caballeros tale because it had a lightness of tone that was lacking in quite a lot of Rosa's later stuff (even the more accomplished tales).

About the gags and ten-pagers... Had Rosa continued to do those on occasion, I think it would have helped him psychologically. If everything you craft MUST BE EPIC, then you might wind up getting some aesthetic priorities out of whack!

"I also note that you are considering the “psychological” over the “aesthetic”, but didn’t Carl Barks’ work reach its absolute pinnacle during difficult (or at least unsettling) times for him? Everything you mention would (and should) have its impact on Don Rosa the man, but does this, rather than the natural evolution of the process of creation, account for the changes you and Dana cite? I wouldn’t know how to answer that."

The difference between Barks and Rosa here is that Barks' problems in the early 50s were (as far as I know) mostly brought on by the actions of others, in this case his alcoholic second wife. Rosa had his disputes with Disney, of course, but many of his problems were tied directly to the way he chose to operate, interact with fans, etc. It was probably a bit easier for Barks to compartmentalize his personal and professional lives than it was for Rosa to do so, especially after the fan e-mail began to accumulate.

Chris


Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

And, that’s why I tried to phrase the comment on Rosa’s “Post-Life and Times” work to be more of a response to Dana, than to you. Sorry, if I was less successful than intended. I could see the difference in your POVs. (…or is that “PsOV”?)

On Barks vs. Rosa situation-wise… Barks didn’t have all that much peace and quiet over his last 20-or-so years. Fans certainly seemed to want an ever-increasing piece of him – though maybe e-mail and Internet activities did exact more of a toll on Rosa. I NEVER understood why he participated in DCML, for instance, to the extent he did. He’d have been no less “historic” for not having done so, and maybe saved himself some needless aggravation. I’m sure it was all in the interest of being nice to the fans. Gotta commend that, in any form. But, yes, there can never be a true comparison between Carl and Don on that score.

Finally, you make a GREAT point on “Everything MUST BE EPIC!” Perhaps that quantifies the difference that Dana argues about the body of work “Post-Life and Times”! He’s welcome to confirm or deny. Dana?

Lots of things eventually fall into that trap. TV shows from VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA to LOST have done so. Eventually, they lose the ability to tell a “smaller, quieter story” and, instead, ratchet-up the bombast each week. Now, knowing my tastes as you do, and given the two TV examples I cite, it’s clear that I *LIKE* that approach, despite its overall-limiting shortcomings.

And that may go a way toward explaining why I like Rosa’s “Post-Life and Times” work as much as I do. I tend to like “EPIC”… but, I’ll also concede that it can be taken to an extreme. Any comment that causes me to ponder my own perspective is a great one! Thanks for that!

…Say, has RYAN ever gotten back from taking the link in our first comment? We never heard from him since daring to click on Evanier’s link! I hope he hasn’t become trapped between links… “lost in cyber-space”, if you will. …We may have to “ratchet-up some bombast” to get him back safe and sound!

Ryan? …You out there? Whadda ya think of all this?

Ryan Wynns said...

...I'm here!

Gotta do some catching up, but, some preliminary comments:

Rosa's article -- with its account of having to spend months face-down, only being able to draw by keeping his face pressed to the drawing board, and how widely celebrated his work is in Europe but by comparison how little compensation he's received or it -- made my heart sink, and made me want to give the man a hug. (Preferably one that would fix everything.)

Dana's comment, "over time, I stopped liking his work", is interesting ... and in my own way, I understand. Rosa's earliest works -- "Son of the Sun", "Last Sled to Dawson" -- were meticulously crafted stories that managed to be Barksian, to pay homage to Barks, and to give a the duck universe a fanfic-type realism.

But over time, I found that Rosa's stories could seem like PURE fanfic, with indiscretionate taste and craft and far too indulgent. I have to admit, the first time through, I didn't really enjoy "Life and Times". I've come to appreciate it more ... but even so, some of Rosa's subsequent works (that one about the dinosaur valley...) have left me cold. But others have been ingenius ("The Black Knight"), and others still were "fanfic" done PERFECTLY. ("A Little Something Special"; "A Letter from Home" ... )

As I catch up on all the comments ... there *might* be more to come! :)

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

WHEW! It’s a relief to know you’re safe and well, Ryan!

When one of my readers says he’s going to click on a link – and DISAPPEARS… Well, it gets a fella to worrying! :-)

As an avid LOST IN SPACE fan, I cannot avoid visions of your taking that link and vanishing into some nether-region of “The Celestial Department Store” (a forerunner to Amazon.com, if ever there was one), as we frantically search for ways to retrieve you! But, I digress…

Fanfic? Really?

I never associated that term (with all it brings to the metaphorical table, good and bad) with Don Rosa’s work!

Honestly, I regarded the Boom! Darkwing Duck and original serialized DuckTales comics more as glorified fanfic, with their winding, twisting, and sometimes unsatisfying nature (Clichéd COUGH! “DuckTales” Clichéd COUGH!), then as traditional Disney comics tales. But not Don Rosa’s work!

You can fairly say he brought more modern storytelling sensibilities to Duck comics, but not the full baggage of what I regard as fanfic.

Somewhere that I cannot cite, Rosa said he introduced “continuity” to his stories, but it was a kind of “Mort Weisinger continuity” – where we CAN refer to something that happened in a previous story if it works in context, but not be slave to all continuity as modern comics do. I can only paraphrase what I recall him saying, but you get the drift. He DID invoke the name of Mort Weisinger to make his case. Of that, I’m certain.

So, do we have a new debate? Is it fanfic? Or just an amazing expansion of what one can do with talking ducks? I side with the latter!

…And, don’t EVER disappear into “link-land” again without leaving us a note! We worry about the people we like ‘round here! :-)

Dr. Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

This exchange has been very interesting. I read the Rosa piece, of course, and as I noted on the Disney Comics Forum, I thought it was quite moving, even while the behavior of the publishers is kinda reprehensible.

"Fanfic" is a word I've probably employed in the past in relation to Rosa's work, but I don't necessarily consider it a pejorative. Even though Barks was obviously the huge, massive inspiration, I think his stories pretty clearly took on their own distinct, extra-Barksian life. In spite of this, however, I feel like Rosa always felt himself to be working in Barks' shadow, and that this kind of circumscribed the sorts of things he was willing to do--though when you look at stuff like the Black Knight and Caballeros stories, you can see evidence that in the last phase of his career he was maybe sort of moving beyond that a little. Which I think is a good thing!

Like most people, I enjoy material from all phases of his career, but I do think Chris gets what appears to be Rosa's mindset (conscious or not) with the "EVERYTHING MUST BE EPIC" formulation. Don't get me wrong; most of this "epic" material is good. But I have to imagine that that compulsion must ultimately be exhausting. I ask you: what sane man would think writing a story like "The Quest for Kalevala" was a normal, sensible thing to do? Again, I like "Kalevala," but when you're setting the bar at that level, it seems kind of inevitable that you'll wear yourself out sooner rather than later. And I feel like even when he was, in theory, doing something slightly less monstrous in his later career, like "AtaaaaaawhoknowshowmanyA'sareinhereaack!" he was still operating under the same mindset, meaning that it could never just be a fun, little story. It had to be a fun little story that is nonetheless kind of huge and hyperactive.

At any rate, while there was a time when I was just depressed by Rosa's retirement, but these days I'm feeling a bit better: given how obsessive and time-consuming cartooning was for Rosa, it's amazing that he was able to create a corpus of work as substantial as it is. I wish he had been able to do it in better conditions, of course, but what's done is done, and the fact is, he wrote a hell of a lot of great stories that we'll always be able to enjoy. Wishing for more starts to seem kind of ungrateful.

Joe Torcivia said...

Glad to see you adding to the debate, Dr. Geo! Your perspectives are always interesting—and always welcome here.

I guess I tend to attach a pejorative quality to the term “fanfic” as a result of my time in a particular APA. There, would-be writers engaged in all sorts of personal indulgences, appending them on to Disney TV characters, well in excess of anything ever considered or sanctioned by the studio itself.

I can see where one might view what Don Rosa did as something similar. I don’t agree, but opinions can and will vary. Ultimately, I suppose the only TRUE definition of “fanfic” is whether or not you were PAID as a professional for your work… or just churned it out in an attic somewhere for your own amusement and fantasies. And that just might be all that separates some of the original Boom! material I cite previously from “fanfic”. So, maybe we’ll let that one lie.

Your introduction of “The Quest for Kalevala” into the proceedings may be exactly what crystalizes the point of view of those who see two very different stages of Don Rosa’s career for me. During the reading of that one, even I wanted to shout “STOP!”, unleash the Animaniacs to run through the thing, and say “What are you doing, man?!” It was a combination of sheer awe and a feeling of “How did we ever get from Barks’ Ten Pagers to THIS place?!” There’s probably not another person in the universe who could have pulled that off!

“Kalevala” and Chris’ brilliant observation that, after a certain point, “EVERYTHING MUST BE EPIC” are certainly “earth-movers” in this discussion!

This is what I LOVE about Blogging, folks! Thank you, one and all! Let’s keep moving earth…

Ryan Wynns said...

Joe,

Sorry about that! It was always somewhere on my mind that I needed to follow-up, but the days always go by so fast for me ... in the words of Marty McFly, "I seem to havea real problem with that." And (speaking of time travel), while I may not have gotten lost in "The Celestial Department Store", one could say that I did fall into a time warp, or wormhole, of sorts.

I likened Rosa's work to fanfic because of two traits prevalent throughout it that I find are common to fanfic (whether or not the fanfic authors live up to their grandoise aspirations): 1. An overt, magnified focus on continuit. 2. Heavy-on-the-pathos explorations of characters' psyches and/or personal history; life-defining moments -- especially if it's some sort of personal crisis -- often preferred.

Now, of course, we can all agree that there's lots of bad fanfic out there ... and I don't by any means consider Rosa's work to be bad. Nay, they're practically my favorite comics ever. But as Rosa asserted in the article that spurred this thread, he considers himself a fan ... so, he has fannish inclinations naturally similar to those of fanfic authors, so they share some priorities and objectives. (Again, regardless of the quality of the work. And, again: Rosa's work. Lots of fanfic isn't.)

Now, "is it fanfic[,][o]r] just an amazing expansion of what one can do with talking ducks?" I'll definitely join you on the side of the latter, Joe, but with the qualification that it has clear commonalities with the former. (And I really don't consider that an inherently bad thing.)

-- Ryan

Joe Torcivia said...

Ryan:

Aside from the obvious and literal definition of “fanfic” as whether or not one was PAID for one’s work (by a publisher who releases it to the public), perhaps another defining aspect of “fanfic” is whether or not it conformed to an established set of editorial regulations or conventions.

Fan writers don’t have any such concerns, but Don Rosa certainly did, or his work would never have been seen in authorized Disney comic books. But, I can also clearly see the points you make in leaning in the “fanfic” direction to a greater degree than I do.

Who’d imagine we’d have a roundtable discussion (or its Blog commenting equivalent) on this topic! Wonderful!

Dana Gabbard said...

I pretty well agree with Chris Barat's comments. And I should add I found Life of Scrooge psychologically false. The guy who we saw in the Barks stories never could have come from the backstory Rosa concocted. Scrooge couldn't have been driven as he was if he had in his early years a happy but humble family -- the real Scrooge escaped dark and hideous poverty that propelled him the rest of his life and motivated his relentless quest for success and to seek comfort from the accumulation of wealth. That is my feeling and why LOS just feels false. And by then the self-absorption made Rosa's stories more about Don Rosa and less about anything related to real world concerns. It makes me appreciate why Barks was leery of celebrity. Rosa started to buy his own hype and it fed his worse impulses -- the excess just grew and grew. The last story that I enjoyed was the origins of the Jr. Woodchuck Guidebook. After that there was no fun reading his work any more -- it was a chore. And so I stopped making the effort.

Elaine said...

In defense of Kalevala....Rosa has said that it was essentially a thank-you note to his Finnish fans, who had been very, very nice to him. And the Finnish hardcover book collecting Rosa stories which begins with Kalevala was the *best-selling hardcover book in the history of Finland*, so it kinda looks like he successfully made *them* happy. The Kalevala epic is core to Finnish cultural identity, so it was a huge thing for many Finns to have the Ducks they loved enter into it. There is a Finnish stamp with a picture from Rosa's Kalevala, for heaven's sake! So what I'm saying is, the story served its main purpose (delighting Rosa's Finnish fans), and maybe we can give it a pass for that reason. And boy, do I wish we had a USA stamp featuring Rosa's ducks!

Personally, I enjoyed almost everything Rosa wrote, though naturally I enjoyed some stories more than others. If I were to list my favorite Rosa stories, they would be scattered throughout his career. No particular early/late division. I am not a huge fan of the L&T as a whole, though The New Laird is among the Disney comic stories I re-read every Halloween. I'm not always personally convinced by his continuity or his construal of the ducks' characters and personal history, but I find it a very satisfying world to enter into, one which continues to give me a great deal of enjoyment. Then when I've finished a particular story of his, I go back to living imaginatively in my own Duck universe, which has a whole lot of Barks (but not *all* of Barks!), a whole lot of Rosa (but not all), elements from other creators' work that have taken up permanent residence in my Duckburg, and a few aspects that are my own personal fanfic. I am pleased to know that Rosa thinks this is just great; for all his obsessive work constructing his own continuity, he has never suggested that everyone else should buy into it. That's a saving grace, for me, when it comes to how I feel about the "epic weight" lurking in the background of his stories.

Pan Miluś said...

Speaking from a Polish-fan point of view - I fell in love with Rosa stories way beafore Barks stories (for years we got his 10-pages but never long stories until recently but strangly we got planty of Rosa's)


On my blog (in Polish) I made a article about my top 12 favorite Rosa stories after meetig Rosa in person and geting a cool Jose Carioca drawing... The article is in Polish but You can still see the names on my top list - I did include the Life&Times series since I consider all 12-chapters a single story and It would be unfair to have Rosa's Opus Magnum agianst his indyvidual stories in my countdown...

http://panmilus.blogspot.com/2012/10/top-12-komiksow-dona-rosy.html

Elaine said...

Pan Miluś, thanks for posting the link to your blog here; I always find it interesting to see other people's "Top Ten/Twelve" lists. I think about five of the stories on your list would appear on my Top Twelve Rosa Stories list: The Treasury of Croesus, A Matter of Some Gravity, WHADALOTTAJARGON, The Three Caballeros Ride Again, probably The Dutchman's Secret. (By the way, I think you inadvertently left a "not" out of your last sentence: "I did *not* include the L&T series....")

I like your Jose Carioca drawing! The fan drawing Rosa did for me is of Matilda at the age she is in A Letter from Home, smiling (she doesn't get to look happy too much in the story!).

Joe Torcivia said...

Elaine and Pan:

I’m not sure I COULD arrive at a list of Top 10-or-12 Don Rosa stories. At least not until I’m finally in possession of a Complete AND Chronological Don Rosa hardcover series with features (which I hope we see from Fantagraphics someday).

In fact, I’m not even certain I could name my SINGLE favorite, as that almost changes with each reading of another of his stories.

My “traditional” favorite is “His Majesty McDuck” – the secessionist story of Scrooge’s all-time greatest tax dodge. A fable for our times (now, more than ever) if ever there was one! I also like that Rosa created an original villain for that one. Something he’d not done often (if at all) to that point).

But, so much great stuff followed that I WOULD need to see it all chronologically – and not scattered over two-plus-decades-worth of many different titles, with no consistency to WHERE the tales appeared.

It never occurred to me before, but tracking Rosa is much more difficult than tracking Barks, because Barks primarily appeared in WDC&S, DD Four Colors, and UNCLE SCROOGE. Rosa was anywhere and everywhere over five publishers and more titles than I could name without a reference guide.

"The Adventurous Uncle Scrooge McDuck", anyone?

Additionally, to Elaine: “Kalevala” was a great story! I just can’t imagine anyone in the entire cosmos, other than Rosa, ever attempting something like that!