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The Complete Carl Barks Coming in All New Color at Fantagraphics

Yesterday, Fantagraphics announced that they will be publishing the complete work of Carl Barks, the acclaimed cartoonist best known for his work on the Disney “duck books” like Donald Duck and stories in the larger Duckburg universe, including the creation of Scrooge McDuck. Known by fans as “The Good Duck Artist” because of his standout work at a time when most Disney cartoonists were anonymous, Barks ultimately became a name onto himself, drawing Donald Duck from 1942 to 1966 in stories that would later inspired Will Eisner to call Barks “the Hans Christian Andersen of comic books.”

In an interview at Robot 6, Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth called the announcement a “get” comparable to their publication of the work of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, and said that the publishing contract with Disney had been in the works for a couple of years. Groth says he hopes the new Fantagraphics editions of Barks’s work will give American audiences a greater appreciation for Barks’s work, which is highly regarded by European comics fans:

“What I want to do is publish books that will find a general readership, because he deserves one. He deserves as wide a readership as possible. He’s accessible enough. He’s not one of those arcane, obscure cartoonists that the general public wouldn’t understand. His stuff can be read by children or adults, it can be understood on different levels. One of my goals is to publish it in a format that will reach that wider readership. I’m hoping parents buy it, read it themselves and also give it to their kids to read.”

One of the greatest and often underappreciated cartoonists of the 20th century this side of the Atlantic, Barks currently has a great deal of work that currently out of print, while the rest had been released sporadically in black and white paperback editions by Gemstone, the publishing arm of Diamond Comics Distributors. Groth says these treatments of the material didn’t make “much of an impression” on most readers, and now, Barks is slated to get the full Fantagraphics treatment, including a series of 30 hardcover editions that collects his work chronologically, each with a combination of short and long stories and background material, priced at $24.99 for 240 pages with complete recoloring by Rich Tommaso.

The first edition of the series is expected in fall 2011.

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