Animation News ARCHIVE

Thursday, August 31, 2000





Disney Releases Carl Barks Press Release
Walt Disney Studios has issued a press release on the life and death of Disney animator Carl Barks that appears directly below:

Carl Barks, the most famous of all Disney comic book artists and the creator of Scrooge McDuck, passed away at his home in Grants Pass, Oregon on Friday (8/25) after a long illness. The legendary Barks wrote and illustrated almost 500 Donald Duck comic books between 1942 and 1966. At its peak in the 1950s, Barks' Donald Duck stories as featured in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories sold over three million copies a month in the U.S. Another 20 million copies a month were sold in foreign editions.

Commenting on Barks' passing, Roy E. Disney, vice chairman of The Walt Disney Company, noted, "Carl Barks was one of the most gifted artists and inventive storytellers ever to work for Disney and the undisputed 'Comic Book King.' When it came to creating imaginative tales for Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and the other classic Disney characters, no one ever did it better. He challenged our imaginations and took us on some of the greatest adventures we have ever known. His prolific comic book creations entertained many generations of devoted fans and influenced countless artists over the years. Carl's joyful humor and stylish storytelling will certainly be missed but his timeless tales will stand as a legacy to his originality and brilliant artistic vision."

Born on March 27, 1901 and raised on an Oregon farm, Barks worked at various vocations before becoming a freelance artist in the late 1920s. In 1935, he started at The Walt Disney Studios as an in-betweener, drawing frames between action in animated cartoons. Within a few months, he was transferred to the story department, where he helped create stories for the animated shorts. His favorite character was Donald Duck and he went to work providing animation for some of "the duck's" earliest films. In all, Barks collaborated on three dozen Donald Duck shorts -- including "Modern Inventions," "Good Scouts" and "Timber" -- and helped the temperamental duck skyrocket to superstardom.

Donald's popularity extended to comic books. In 1942, Western Publishing, producer of the Disney comic books, hired Barks to draw the first original Disney comic book, "Donald Duck Finds Pirate Gold." The following year, Barks illustrated the lead story for Western's monthly Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. For the next 24 years, he wrote and drew almost every Donald Duck story in that publication. He focused on the everyday adventures of Donald and his nephews -- Huey, Dewey and Louie -- and added a colorful cast of supporting characters that included Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose and the unforgettable Scrooge McDuck.

Uncle Scrooge, the eccentric globetrotting "jillionaire" first appeared as a bit player in the 1947 story, "Christmas on Bear Mountain." Barks recalled, "Scrooge's wealth generated so many gag situations he was soon upstaging Donald."

In 1966, Barks retired from full-time comic book work but continued his association with Disney's ducks. Five years later, in 1971, The Walt Disney Company granted him unprecedented permission to paint Donald Duck in oils, bringing the Duckburg clan to the world of fine art. At age 70, the artist attempted his first oil painting and went on to paint nearly 150 works.

Barks' work has been collected in several hardbound coffee-table books -- "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" (1981), "The Fine Art of Walt Disney's Donald Duck" and the 30 volume "Carl Barks' Library."

His comic book creations took on a whole new life when they became the basis for the popular Disney animated television series, "DuckTales," which premiered in 1987 and ran for many years in syndication and on network TV. A feature film starring Scrooge McDuck, called "DuckTales: The Movie, Treasure of the Lost Lamp" was released in 1990.

Barks was honored by the Studio in 1991, when he became part of select group to receive the "Disney Legends Award."

Barks is survived by his daughter, Dorothy, from Bremerton, Washington; as well as a granddaughter, a grandson, a niece and several great, great grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for next week in the artist's hometown.


More Animated Films Coming From Phil Roman
Three classic RKO films, "Sinbad the Sailor," "Blackbeard the Pirate" and "The Fourth Musketeer," as well as three other films to be selected from RKO's vast library, will be jointly developed and produced as feature-length animated films in an agreement completed between Ted Hartley, RKO chairman and CEO, and Phil Roman, the award-winning president of Phil Roman Entertainment.

RKO and Phil Roman Entertainment intend to adapt these well-known RKO movies for release as family entertainment titles.

These animated films will be executive produced by Hartley and Roman with Roman serving as animation producer and director and RKO handling their worldwide distribution.

The original version of "Sinbad the Sailor" was produced in 1946 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Anthony Quinn and Maureen O'Hara starring; "Blackbeard the Pirate," originally produced in 1952, starred Linda Darnell, Robert Newton and William Bendix; "The Fourth Musketeer," the 1952 version of the "Three Musketeers," starred Maureen O'Hara, Cornell Wilde and Lewis Allen.

Roman, a six-time Emmy winner, formed his new animation company last year, after departing Film Roman, a company he founded 14 years earlier. He began his career in 1955 at the Walt Disney Studios.

Afterwards, he worked for Warner Bros. cartoons, and this was followed by stints with a string of other major animation companies including MGM Animation, UPA Film, Bill Melendez's production company, and Ralph Bakshi's company.

He has served as executive producer of "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill," and the "Garfield" series and Specials, and has directed numerous "Charlie Brown" features and TV Specials. Roman also produced and directed the full-length animation feature, "Tom and Jerry: The Movie" for Miramax and Turner.

Phil Roman Entertainment's upcoming slate of films includes "The Gaudins: A Christmas Special" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," slated for release Christmas season 2000; the animated segments of the live action/animation feature, "Cyber Quest"; "Soap on the Range," a new prime time 26 episode animation series; and "The Gaudins," a 26-episode animated kids series.

Under Hartley's aegis, 100 year old RKO Pictures, once one of the most renowned motion picture studios in the world, has been revived from a moribund state to that of an active producer of television and motion pictures. The company finances, produces and distributes film and television projects and has a full slate of projects scheduled for production.

RKO produced "Mighty Joe Young," and recently completed filming a remake of its classic thriller "I Walked With a Zombie" on location in Jamaica for its Radio Pictures division. RKO Television will begin production in Ireland next month on the prestigious four-hour miniseries, "The Magnificent Ambersons," based on Orson Welles' original screenplay, and headlined by an all-star cast.

The agreement between RKO and Phil Roman Entertainment was negotiated by Roman VP Rick Ramirez and RKO Executive VP Art Horan and VP David Marko.


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