For the first topic in this Web-site, the obvious subject for me to pick is "The Life and Times of $crooge McDuck", a series of 12 stories that I wrote and drew between, roughly, mid 1991 and the end of 1993. These stories appeared first in Disney comics as published by the vast, whiz-bang Egmont media company, which has the Disney publishing license over most of the planet. Their main comic audiences are in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Finland, Switzerland... and a few other small areas like all of the former Soviet Union countries (excluding Brutopia), as well as China (where I don't know what they make of $crooge). These same stories have more recently been reprinted to much acclaim in Italy, France, Greece, and other places for all I'm told, and to slight acclaim in the Netherlands (where they just won't seem to forgive me for that completely innocent "dike affair" back in '37). Oh, and the series has also been reprinted in particularly splendid fashion, with superb coloring and lettering, by Gladstone Comics in America in their UNCLE $CROOGE #285-296 in 1994 & 95. Coloring by the splendid Susan Daigle-Leach, lettering by the superb Todd Klein! Those are the issues which I have in hand as I write these entries (inasmuch as I can't read the gibberish they print in any of those other editions).
These pages will seek to tell interested Duck fans who have far too much spare time more than they would ever care to know about the writing and drawing of this series. I'll describe how each episode was mapped out and planned, what "Barksian facts" of $crooge McDuck's life each chapter sought to cover, what historical facts were interwoven into each tale, years covered, people involved, problems arising and various and sundry other topics of potential boredom. I'll walk the tightrope of fascinating narration over the morass of near-lethal tedium, and seldom keep a toe-hold. I'll present pages which were deleted from my original scripts by the editor at Egmont so you can see that you never knew how well-off you actually were. I'll present images from my Xerox files so that you can see that the original art had even more needless and irritating detail than you suspected or dreamed possible. In short, this will all be a classic case-study in anal-retentiveness.
The catch in all this is that the reader must have copies of the stories in hand as these entries are perused... preferably the Gladstone editions. Those are the only editions where I can assure you that it is the original script that is being used. There are some excellent translators in various other countries, but since I can't actually read those foreign editions myself, I can only attest to the American editions as being "authentic Rosa".
First order of business -- what was this series and why was it done? The purpose of the series, unlike most of what's done in comics, was not to make big loads of dough. The European editions of Disney Duck comics can't sell much better than they already do. In Norway, for example, the DONALD DUCK & CO. weekly isn't simply the best-selling comic book -- it's the best-selling anything. So, though this series may have boosted sales for Egmont a few times a year, it was probably a negligible nudge. And it wasn't undertaken to make myself big bucks off the worldwide printings, reprintings, album editions and hardback collections these stories are experiencing -- the writers and artists of these sort of comics are not part of the normal royalties system in effect in any other form of creative endeavor of arts or entertainment. The purpose of this series was just for the fun of it -- the fan-boy challenge of taking every "fact" concerning $crooge McDuck's early life that was ever revealed in one of Carl Barks' classic stories, no matter how minute or obscurely buried the morsel of history might have been. If $crooge made a comment about his youth in the third balloon of the 5th panel of the 7th page of the second story in some comic in 1957... as long as it was a story written by Barks... that fact is mentioned somewhere in this series. As different a sort of idea as this series is in the history of Disney comic books, it is not intended to change the Barks Duck Universe or to otherwise break tradition -- on the contrary, it is intended to reaffirm all the elements of all the great $crooge stories so many citizens of this planet grew up on... and to place $crooge's past life into a framework that can continue to be fleshed out in additional flashback episodes by myself or any other writers or artists. At the same time, this version of $crooge's life is not the "official" version... there's no particular reason why I or anyone else should expect other Duck writers to adhere to my vision of $crooge's history, as carefully and authentically as I sought to construct it... it was never intended to be anything but my personal telling of the Life of $crooge McDuck.
The why of it all? Jack Chalkers, a science-fiction writer, once devised his own version of $crooge's life based on facts found in the first 70 issues of UNCLE $CROOGE comics in a pamphlet titled AN INFORMAL BIOGRAPHY OF $CROOGE MCDUCK. I'd read that piece and thought it was a great bit of storytelling and a loving tribute to the Old Master's characters. Yet I never intended to undertake such a project myself until mid 1991 when certain Disney-licensee "politics" compelled my publisher (Egmont) to ask me to write and draw a series of stories about the Life of $crooge McDuck. Why me? $crooge isn't my character, no matter how much I might love him. *I* have no right to decide what his early life may have been like. So, the first thing I did was list all those obscure "Barksian facts" about $crooge which all we Duck fans have long been aware of. Next I assembled these facts into a timeline, then broke that timeline down into 12 logical segments, each dealing with one period of $crooge's life as already described by Mr.Barks. And since, as I said, $crooge is no more my property than that of any other Duck fan, I sent copies of this chart to noted Duck fans around the world for their comments and help. Here's the final outline of the completed series:
Some visitors may not know the origin of D.U.C.K. that can be found hidden on most of the covers and splash panels of the comics (or you can skip the joy of discovery by referring to the D.U.C.K. SPOILERS scattered throughout this site), so a bit of explanation is in order. If you know what the initials stand for and read the text on these pages, the reason for them being tucked away in the comics will be obvious -- Dedicated to Unca Carl from Keno (my full name is Keno Don Rosa). It's too bad we can't reproduce the covers and panels in such a fashion that the D.U.C.K.s can be plainly seen on these pages, but if you get hold of the actual comics, they're right where I say they are.
I had already written "Making of" texts for each chapter of "The L & T of $McD" which were printed in the corresponding issues of the Gladstone editions. Here we present expanded versions of those same texts. This is the Age of Information. Too Much Information -- more than you ever wanted! Send all complaints to Don Rosa.
Thanks for your interest. On to Episode 1.
--Takes you to original script pages for the current episode.
--Black and White art before it's touched by colorists or letterers.
--Go back to the cover page for the current episode.
--Move forward to the next episode.
--Return to the $crooge McDuck Home Page.