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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CARL BARKS LEAVES DISNEY - Thank Goodness!

As many of you faithful readers have seen, my first "official" historical post was dedicated to Ken Anderson (The Moods of Walt Disney by Ken Anderson), due to his influence in my life and my Disney history career. My second post was going to be for another individual I consider influential to my interest in Disney, Carl Barks. Unfortunately, the post was holiday sensitive, as I had planned to put up some unpublished Barks' Halloween gags (for which I'll have to wait until next year). However, as time went by I felt I needed to return to posting something on Barks. You see, I started reading Disney comic books as a child and discovered "the good duck artist". That was my introduction to Disney (although my dad did take me to Fantasia when I was four), so perhaps not my "introduction" but the idea that I wanted to learn more about Disney ... to know why some Donald Duck stories were brilliant (even to my nine-year old mind) and others seemed to be "missing something". Thus, I brought something with me to Los Angeles to post and offer my thanks to the Good Duck Artist for his part in my mania.

Because of my interest in Barks, and my O.C.D. for Disney history and research, I have collected quite a bit of historical material regarding Carl and will be happy to share it here at the Institute in the future. The first item I have selected is, I believe, somewhat scarce. I asked Didier Ghez if he had seen this item before, and he had not (see his vital Disney History Blog). Thus, I hope this is as rare as I think it is, but always the chance that this has been published before, because there is a wealth of Carl Barks material out there.

Therefore, in honor of the part Barks played in my madness, I present his resignation letter. Briefly the story is Carl worked for Disney in the 1940s and decided to resign to pursue cartooning (or chicken ranching, take your pick). Barks had some success as a freelance artist, having published numerous cartoons in magazines, as well as working on Four Color #9, Donald Duck Finds' Pirate Gold. Who knew that following his resignation, his career would explode as it did?

For more information on Carl Barks, I can not recommend highly enough Michael Barrier's book Carl Barks and the Art of the Comic Book (where knowing Barrier's meticulous and painstaking research brilliance, you will probably find this letter--and while I am on the topic, my favorite Disney history blog--with so much more than Disney--belongs to my guru [shared guru with Didier] Michael Barrier, Mr. Funnyworld himself. If you are not familiar with this, I suggest you take a visit at: Michael Barrier.)

The following is the text from Carl's hand-written resignation letter from the Walt Disney Studios. It is addressed to Hal Adelquist, who was in charge of Studio personnel at that time. It features Barks' trademark humor, and also a nice thought about his boss, Walt Disney. Enjoy!
Box 193, Ramona Blvd.,
San Jacinto, Calif.

November 19, 1942

Mr. Hal Adelquist
Disney Studio

Dear Sir:

I tried to see you last Friday to tell you that I have decided to leave the studio and try farming at my San Jacinto estate (five acres of Russian thistles). I had not planned to leave so suddenly, in fact, I might have stuck around indefinitely had not gasoline rationing forced me to move while it is still possible to do so. My reasons for leaving are several, the chief one being that I spent too many years in too dark a room. Walt could make money growing mushrooms in 2-D 1.

Seriously speaking, I have become tired of working for wages and have decided to make one reckless effort to survive on my own. I hope that my farm and chickens will support me while I build up an income from free-lance cartooning. I feel that with more time to develop my long-neglected knack for drawing human figures I may be able to break into the comic magazine field. Probably I won't have enough on the ball to click in that racket, but if I don't give it a try I will never know.

Certain of the boys have the mistaken idea that the little job of drawing that I did on a duck one-shot last summer gave me comic-strip delusions and accounts chiefly for my itchy feet; such however is not the case. I was working nights to develop a comic-strip technique long before I even heard of the Whitman Publishing Co. I have no promises of work from the Whitman people in the future, and I doubt very much that they would offer me any lest the studio feel that they had in some degree lured me from the fold.

I hope that Walt wont [sic] be inconvenienced by my leaving. He probably knows that I haven't earned my wages the past year and that actually I am doing him a favor by taking a powder. I wish to say here that he is the best boss that I ever had. It has taken a lot of courage to leave his employment.

So suppose that we consider my services terminated as of Friday, November 6th. I will leave my badge with the gateman when I pick up my check the latter part of the week. I haven't yet checked with the mailman here to see if the above is my correct address. I shall let you know if it is or isn't with in the next few days. I have some bonds or parts of bonds to be sent me from the studio.

I suppose the circumstances of my leaving precludes the possibility of my wheedling a letter of recommendation from the studio. Well, thanks anyways.

Yours Truly,
Carl Barks

2 comments:

  1. Oh my little stars and comets! How wrong Unca Carl was! "Comic-strip delusions"? Doubting Whitman (Western) would offer him anything? (Beyond the "duck one-shot", which I am assuming was Pirate Gold?). Thanks for posting this Paul, some amazing insight in the man and his personality.

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  2. I agree. I about died when I read that passage. I suspect that since Carl sort of overstates the fact that Western was not offering him something, that there probably was some discussion with them about Carl doing comic-strip material. Who knows, maybe he had delusions of being the "Good Chicken Rancher"?

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