Treasured Stories: “The Code of Duckburg” (1958)

« We never knew his name; we only knew him as “the good artist”. But his style spoke for him. He was instantly recognizable despite his anonymity — at once different from the other funny animal artists and better. » — Dwight R. Decker

The great Duck Man, Carl Barks, despite having little interest in the holiday, drew over two dozen Christmas-themed stories featuring Donald and his relatives (and wrote the bulk of them). Now, so very much has been written and said about Barks that I won’t bother to add much here. I’ll just let his work speak for itself and breathe. I opted for a lesser-known ten-pager, not coincidentally one of my favourites. “The Code of Duckburg” originally saw print in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories no. 208 (Jan. 1958, Dell), but I’m using a more contemporary issue boasting better printing and a commendably tasteful colouring job, from Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge no. 317 (Jan. 1999, Gladstone). It must be said that the folks at Gladstone did right by the ducks — it was more of a labour of love than a strictly commercial venture.

Here’s a closer peek at a panel from page 3: just look at the joy on Roscoe’s face. Unlike Donald, his nephews are unfailingly kind to (other) animals, great and small. That’s what makes them such sterling exemplars of the Junior Woodchucks.
The issue of WDC&S where our story first appeared didn’t have a Holiday-themed cover, but this one reprinting it did. This is Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories no. 376 (Jan. 1972, Western); pencils by Tony Strobl and inks by Larry Mayer.

And as a bonus (there has to be a bonus!), here’s a look at a Barks model sheet. « The Barks sense of whimsy extended even to the model sheets he drew for other artists to follow. » I made it a larger image so that all the small details remain discernible. Happy Holidays, everyone!

-RG