Old stuff

Mattias Hallin Mattias.Hallin at jurenh.lu.se
Mon Nov 1 13:15:54 CET 1993

Quack, quack! to one and all!!!

Over the last couple of weeks there's been a few letters to and discussions on
this list that I haven't had the time to get involved in until now; so here are
some comments to the backlog in my "ANSWERMAIL" folder:


I don't know how much of what Even Flood translated from Norwegian paper
"Dagbladet" actually reflects Geir's attempts at analyzing Donald's "secret"
sex-life; or if the paper, as papers are wont to do, misunderstood and/or
garbled the intended message - anyhow, I certainly DON'T agree with Geir's
analysis as it was presented on this list!

I accept as the basis for this kind of analysis that the ducks procreate
sexually - i.e. that they DO have mothers and fathers. The fact that this is
not shown in the comics doesn't make duck sex-life "secret", however. That
Donald has some kind of sexual urges would seem logical in this context, if
nothing else because that would be less remarkable than the opposite; and that
he is interested in girls on some kind of level would seem evident from the
fact that he regularly engages in at least the outer rituals of courtship, like
dating, and that he seems able to feel jealous. This is however, to my mind,
about the extent of what we can learn about these matters from the comics of
Carl Barks!

Before I defend this statement, I must make some amends: in 1988 I wrote an
article, "Sexual Crisis of a He-Duck", that was subsequently translated and
published in the German journal "Der Donaldist". This article was an attempt at
psychoanalysis of Donald Duck based on WDC 101, "Terrible Nightmares". It had
it's good points, I think myself, and was not badly written; BUT today I no
longer think I should have written it as it stands, if indeed at all. It was
intended to spoof the kind of psychoanalytical approach that it uses, but I am
alas not familiar enough with such matters, were even less so then; and thus I
pitifully fail at my objective. What I am about to write, Geir, therefore
applies just as much to what I am guilty of myself, as it does to your
statements in the "Dagbladet".

Geir: one of your major misconceptions, in my opinion, is of what should and
does constitute "adult" subject matter in a comic book, and in connection with
this your notion that Barks' comics was originally intended for an adult
audience. The latter is, I would say, completely wrong, even by Barks' own
statements. His comics were exclusively made for the comic book market, which
in it's turn was aimed at CHILDREN. The newspaper strips of, e.g., Taliaferro
and Gottfredson is another matter - the newspapers themselves were of course
primarily adult reading, and there was, I believe, no doubt at the time that
the daily comic strips were read by young and old alike. But this is not true
for Barks!

Now, your interpretations of the sexual content in Barks'  duck comics can
basically be viewed from three different, equally possible perspectives:

a) they are the conscious effort of Barks to make statements at the
allegorical/symbolical level about sex in general and duck-sex in particular.
If this is true, your analysis (and mine in that dratted article) is

b) they do, without any intent on Barks' part, reflect his subconscious - i.e.
they have something to tell us, not about the sexual attitudes of Donald Duck,
but of Carl Barks. This is of course entirely POSSIBLE, but how do you  think
Barks himself would feel about such an attempt at "shrinking" him? This is the
perspective I myself like the least, and it's because of these ramifications
that I now disapprove of my own article, too. I think it would be both RUDE and
also unscientific to try to psychoanalyse Barks as a sexual being on the basis
of comic books for children, made from 25 to 50 years ago;

c) they are projections of your (and in my case, my) dirty mind - what we
have been analyzing is with some probability, as is often enough I believe the
case, nothing but ourselves!

Now, I agree readily enough that Barks as a private person, and of course
during his tenure at "The Calgary Eye Opener", has often enough given examples
to show that he, too, could be dirty-minded (I use the word "dirty", not
because I think sex or related matters are actually just that, but because it
is the common expression for sexual jokes and innuendos) when he had a mind to,
but I don't believe that he intentionally carried that into his duck stories,
with the POSSIBLE exception of the abduction sequence in "Back to the Klondike"
which I also think has undertones of sexual tension between $crooge and Goldie.
IF this was intended by Barks, or if it is once again nothing more than what we
chose to read into it, I don't know. Your other examples, Geir, you'll have to
pardon the expression; but I find them unequivocal at best or (the "phallic"
interpretations in particular) even downright silly! Sorry!!!

Another thing, Geir, about this "Duck Comics Should Be For Adults" thing. I
don't see what is the problem with aiming comics primarily at children. Barks
did that, too. The (possible, almost certain) difference between him and the
policies of the Disney Corporation or e.g. Egmont, is that he never tried to
talk down to the kids, but rather tried to make stories that would satisfy
himself. I think this is one of the reasons his work still appeals to so many
of us, adults and children alike. The same thing could be said about any number
of writers of childrens books, for instance, of musicians and what-have-you.

I could go on, but for the time, this'll have to be it. And Geir: no personal
offence intended, I assure you! I just don't agree with some of the things you
have seemed to say recently; and I'm very eager to hear what you think about
all this.

Me best ta all o' ye!

Mattias Hallin

More information about the DCML mailing list