Carl Barks didn’t actually appear in the funny papers — he drew comic books — but he is one of the finest of all comic strip artists.
His style of visual narrative is deceptively simple. His panels rarely draw attention to themselves — they’re well-crafted but straightforward — and yet his stories pop from frame to frame, with a speed and economy that are thrilling. You might call him the Howard Hawks of comic strip artists, with a technique so masterful that it disappears in the beguilements of the tale.
Barks’s humor is gentle, more amusing and charming than funny, but the sweetness draws you into his adventure plots with Donald and his nephews and his Uncle Scrooge in an oddly powerful way. His is a cozy and consoling art, pleasurable in ways that seem to bypass the conscious mind and return you to the innocent diversions of childhood, like pretending to be a jungle explorer in the blackberry thickets down by the river.
It’s art of a very high order.
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