DCML digest #920

Don Rosa donrosa at iglou.com
Thu May 9 18:17:06 CEST 2002

From: Thomas Pryds Lauritsen <thomas at duckburg.dk>
>>>>>>>Don Rosa:
Some time ago I received a mail from someone who thinks he has found the
D.U.C.K. dedication in "The Universal Solvent". However I not sure
whether this is it or not. According to this person it should be placed
in the shadow from the box with Abandoned Projects. Some darker parts in
the shadow should make out the D.U.C.K.

It should be, yeah, but it's not. More than even other covers or splashes
where my dedication does not appear, that one puzzles me especially because
I have such a vivid memory of putting it in there... but trust me, it ain't
there. I figure it was there in the pencil art, but then I inked over it
without noticing it again.
But *what* "shadow from the box"? I don't see a shadow. The box is casting a
shadow on the wall in back of it, but that's all but a corner hidden
*behind* the box.
Yeah, that's it! The dedication is on the wall in back of the box. But I
drew the box in front of it so now you can't see it!

From: Jussi Mantere <jmantere at niksula.hut.fi>
>>>Actually this brought a question in my mind: Don, does it ever bother you
(or even puzzle you) to be considered such a "star" and a celebrity at
least here in Finland? Wouldn't you rather be just a normal Mr.
Comic-artist who likes to draw ducks?-)

That is a perceptive question...
Yes, it both bothers me and puzzles me. And yes, I *would* rather have been
just another of the many people who write and draw these comics.
You should have seen how it was in Italy last week. In the 5 years since I
was last there, they actually started using my stories in Italy... my prior
visits to conventions there were due to my work at Gladstone or Egmont which
had been seen only by the collectors and researchers like our pal Luca here.
But now I am known to the general populace in Italy. And they refer to me as
somsortuva "living legend"... *already* (makes me feel old). They print
various collections of my stuff in Italy now... they have done 3 different
annotated collections of the "Lo$", one including all the 'B' chapters. And
I wonder why is this stuff so popular? Sure, it pleases me in one way, but
it also actually embarrasses me because I don't understand it and I wonder
what all those great, great Italian master Disney artists think of me. They
know my art is crude. Look at Cavazanno -- he can draw rings around me, in
37 different styles, design characters and new cartoon universes left and
I look at my art compared to all the *gorgeous* art that fills these comics.
I still wonder why my stories are so popular... I mean, why so wildly more
popular than anything else in these issues... but the unexpected evidence of
that is there from what they tell me and also from what I see when I
sometimes use Google to browse Internet mentions on websites or newsgroups,
even ones not devoted to comics. Discussions on 15 newsgroups, mentions in
over 2,000 websites? I never expected (and certainly did not *plan*) to
become this famous. When I was forced to quit working for Gladstone due to
Disney's policies, I did not think there was a place for me anywhere else in
comics. I mean, I was so sure that the European market would not want me
that I lost a full year before I sent an inquiry to Egmont. Whereas I was
the only American artist who wanted to do this sort of stuff for Gladstone
(rather than something that could potentially pay well), I could see the
fabulous art by *many* artists in the Euro-Disney comics and I knew I did
not fit in there.
But when I finally did start producing stuff for Egmont, I was sure that I
would be lost in the crowd of Egmont art (or just be considered the poor
crude-but-sincere American cousin). But no, that's not how it seemed to turn
out. After just a few years they started putting my name on the covers when
there was a story inside... and now they even put my signature (!) on the
covers of issues with my stories... like "Walt Disney's" signature appears
above the title. On one new "Gyro 50th" edition this week, my signature is
actually *larger* than Disney's! How bizarre that seems to me! Surreal!
And you (being there in Finland) see how my presence will jam shopping malls
and cause people to stand in lines at department or book stores for half a
day just to get a simple signature. There was a Helsinki newspaper article
about general booksignings and personal-appearances a few months back where
they were referring to ME as the national high-water mark for all celebrity
appearances to be measured against. I often think this is all some elaborate
practical joke being played on me, and everyone in Europe is in on it. What
And the work does not come easy to me... I overwrite everything, making it
far more complex and difficult to construct than it should be; and you can
see by the stiffness of my art that drawing is something that really
requires effort for me... I can't dash it off like the trained cartoonists
can. It really makes me almost sweat blood to slowly draw in my *single*
style while a Cavazanno or a Jippes can whip it out in 37 different styles
in circles around me. And I would have thought that I'd have gotten quicker
in 15 years of practice... but I've actually gotten *slower*... maybe
because I can more and more see the inadequacies of what I'm doing. I work
MUCH too hard at this.
So, to your question... why would this not delight me, even though I never
expected or planned it? Because after 15 years I still can't figure out why
I'm not making any extra money due to that fame! Somebody else is getting
the revenue from those Rosa album series and Rosa hardback books and Rosa
"Lo$" collections. Just today I had to borrow $ from my wife (a teacher) to
pay bills. On one hand, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, becoming
so famous for doing something that I love so much that I used to do it for
free... for being called the "successor" to my hero (yikes!)... getting to
travel around Europe, treated like a celebrity and meet the NICEST comics
fans and collectors and experts in the world. But on the other hand, I feel
like a world-class CHUMP for being part of a system that few other
cartoonists outside of studios in third-world countries want to have
anything to do with... and the others who do, only do it as a sideline to
their "real" work. You ask if it bothers me. My fame both delights and
frustrates me... I think I'd be happier if it had worked out as I originally
expected, just being "one of the crowd" of Donald Duck/Uncle $crooge artists
and writers, as you suggest. It's a frustration that sorta just builds year
after year as I see *nothing* in the system changing. Yeah... my wife the
teacher retires in two weeks... and that idea seems sooo tempting. I have so
many stories I want to yet tell, but... that seems sooo tempting.

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