barks paintings

john garvin jgarvin at
Tue Jun 12 18:21:24 CEST 2001

Mr Bowcock:
<Am I the only one who found Mr. Garvin's remarks about Don Rosa to be
especially ironic considering how he calls Don arrogant, and then
proceeds to tell us how he suggested the idea of a Barks painting to him
on one of his "many visits" to his home. much more arrogant can you get?  Like Mr. Garvin's
opinions are more valid than the rest of ours because he met Carl Barks?
Your opinion is just that.  Your opinion.  So somebody doesn't like
Barks' paintings.  Get over it. >

You don't like Barks paintings? Fine.  Don Rosa doesn't like Barks paintings? Fine.  I didn't see you coming onto a public forum
telling the world what Barks should or should not be remembered for.  Don Rosa did.  You don't make your living in the shadow of Carl
Barks.  Don Rosa does.  Does he have a right to his opinion?  Certainly.  Is expressing a negative opinion about the work of a man he
owes so much to arrogant?  I stand by that.

And I brought up my visits with Barks not because I was using them as some kind of authority, but to demonstrate that there are those
who came to Barks through his paintings, not his comics.  I went to his home to discuss painting with he and his wife Gare', not comic
stories.  I discovered Barks through the paintings in the 77 price guide.  I decided to become an artist that year, when I was 17,
because of those Barks paintings.  I spent five years doing copies of Barks paintings, just for the joy of it.  When Barks moved to
Southern Oregon in the early 80s (my home at the time) he invited me to come show them to him.  Here I was this geeky 20 year old kid
with a bunch of ripoffs of Barks paintings, and they were thrilled, I think in retrospect, that someone took an interest in the work
itself, and not in "Carls name attatched to some pretty pictures of Disney Ducks."  Those early paintings of mine were terrible, all
washed out with no depth.

So he took me under his wing.  They spent hours with me, talking about technique, and tools, and paints.  I still have a sheet of
paper, in Carls hand, showing me his recipe for mixing oil and turps and varnish, to get a slick oil suitable for the smooth masonite
surface.  Gare' showed me how to prepare, gesso, and sand the masonite surface (Carl learned most of the nuts and bolts of painting
from his wife Gare', who was a professional landscape artist.).  Carl gave me his palette schemes for making gold, and feathers, and
duck bills.

But mostly what Barks showed me was his incredible imagination and sense of humor.  Yes, I have several Barks lithographs hanging in my
home. Not ONE of them is of Disney Ducks.  My two favorites are Xerxes and Harem, and Caliph of Bagdad.  I still smile everytime I look
at these collections of exotic, half naked anthropomorphic duckbilled harem girls.  The sheer audacity of the image!  Here's a famous
Disney artist painting nude disneyesque ducklings.  And the playfullness of it.  Xerxes, surrounded by beautiful women, ignores them
and plays cats cradle with a handful of string.  And the coloring!  Subtle shades of the same primary colors used in the comic books,
but such mastery of them.  And the composition and drawing.  Each frame filled to the brim with interesting detail, but not
overpowering the central figure.  And each painting getting its humor from a different source: Xerxes essentially a "gag" in which the
humor derives from a juxtaposition of images (Xerxes, surrounded by naked girls, ignores them to play with his string); where as Caliph
is essentially a "story panel" in which the magic carpet riding Caliph hovers above the thumbs-out hitchhiking naked girls, inviting us
to wonder where he is going, or where he is returning from, and which of the girls is he taking with him.  And what kind of a world
view is it, anyway, that can have two closely related paintings take such diametrically opposed viewpoints of masculine power?

These are masterworks of art, not fanboy pictures.  I really believe that Barks was onto something here, a new way of painting, a new
way of creating images that mesh comic book sillyness with the rendered reality that a well painted oil can achieve.  It could be, as
Mr. Ault points out, that Barks did it instinctively, but the achievement is there nonetheless.  I have spent the last 25 years of my
life studying and learning from the paintings of Carl Barks.  Barks paintings are how I got my career as art director in the computer
game business (currently working on SyphonFilter 3, for the playstation.)  Barks paintings have driven me creatively for 25 years. (see to see my latest work.)

So no Mr. Bowcock, I won't "get over it."  If someone wants to discuss the merits of Barks paintings, after having seen them, fine.
But don't tell me we should pretend that this part of Barks's career should be forgotten because it is not as important as his comic
book work.  And don't, as Mr. Rosa does, dismiss an impressive and varied and complex body of work as "collectibles endeavors," as if
they were cheap hack work that should sit alongside the made-in-hong-kong plastic Daisy Duck drinking cups in a cheap Disneyland
souvenir shop.

>And Daniel.........we all know very well how you don't like Don.  Your
comment was really uncalled for. <

Again I disagree, Mr. Bowcock.  Daniel's comment was entirely called for.  He has every right to point out Mr. Rosa's penchant for
calling into question the "emotional stability" of anyone who disagrees with him.  I personally feel sorry for not having publically
defended Daniel from Mr. Rosa's attacks in the past.

And I'm still looking for that Comic's Journal with the Barrier article.  When I find it, look for a letter from me to Blood and
Thunder, the Journal's letter section.

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