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A Month of Art Stars – Don Rosa

Every day this month I’m going to feature a current comic book art “star,” someone whose work I absolutely love.

I’m mostly going to try to keep from the biggest names as much as possible, because, really, do I need to talk more about the awesomeness of JH Williams, Frank Quitely and Darwyn Cooke? Here‘s the archive of the artists mentioned so far!

In honor of not re-inventing the wheel, this is basically a reprinting of a Reason to Love Comics fill-in I did last year.

Enjoy!

Don Rosa is one of the most popular artists in all of Europe, yet for whatever reason, does not get as much attention as you would hope in the United States, which is where Rosa was born and where he lives!!

Born Gioachino “Keno” Don Hugo Rosa, in Kentucky, in 1951, Don Rosa did not start working on Disney comic books until the mid-80s, mostly because it took until then for Gladstone comics to begin producing them again (there was a lull in American production of Disney comics from the 70s until the mid-80s). As soon as he heard about them, he auditioned for the role, and his very first Uncle Scrooge story, “Son of the Sun,” was nominated for a Harvey Award.

Rosa continued working for Gladstone until 1989, when he parted ways with them over their policy regarding returning original artwork (said policy was “we do not return original artwork”).

Since then, he has worked for European publishers of Uncle Scrooge comics (although Gemstone Comics has reprinted most of the comics here in America).

Don Rosa is a lifelong admirer of Carl Barks, known as the most popular Disney comic book artist ever, and the creator of Uncle Scrooge.

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Rosa’s most notable comic book work is the epic storyling, the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which is an elaborate retelling of Scrooge’s history, using both older Barks’ comics as well as actual world history (Rosa is known for intertwining actual facts into his stories, often meticulously so).

Meticulous is a way to describe Rosa’s artwork, too. Rosa graduated college with a civil engineering degree, and you can see his engineering background evidenced in his comic book work, as he is quite detailed with his linework – it gives the work a lush, incredibly deep feel.

Check out the line work on this poster…

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Here is an amazing resource on Rosa’s career.

They have a staggering amount of awesome information about Rosa, including a ton of quotes from the man himself.

For one example, check out their feature on Rosa’s “D.U.C.K” dedications.

D.U.C.K. is an acronym that stands for “Dedicated to Unca Carl from Keno” (which is Rosa’s given first name). Rosa hides this acronym in the splash page of every Uncle Scrooge comic book he draws!!

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Isn’t that pretty darn cool?

Click this link to search for some D.U.C.K. dedications.

Hugely popular in Finland, here is a poster Rosa did when the Olympics took place in 2000.

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Here’s just a plain ol’ cool poster…

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Last year, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Uncle Scrooge, Rosa did a series of posters (one a month) commemorating the event, starting with, appropriately enough, a meticulous depiction of how Uncle Scrooge changed visually as Carl Barks’ developed the character’s look…

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Stunning, no?

Duckmania has all 12 of the posters here.

Sadly, Don has had some severe eye troubles, requiring more than one surgery so far, and in a post he made here a couple of months ago, it sounds like it is extremely difficult for him to maintain the same level of quality he has lived up to for his career, so while we certainly have not seen the last of Don Rosa, I fear we may have seen the last of REGULAR Don Rosa work, which is a damned shame.

Feel better, Don! To paraphrase Woody Guthrie, this world was lucky to see you draw!

12 Comments

Excellent choice, life and times of Scrooge is in my top 10 favorite comic stories of all time.

I just read Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck about 2 weeks ago. It was fantastic, and I’m not even a big Scrooge or Disney fan. While it’s weird he’s so much more appreciated in Europe than here, at least he gets the recognition he deserves somewhere. Good choice for today.

That first one ain’t a poster, Brian; it’s the cover to one of the chapters of Life & Times. (The DUCK dedication is pretty easy to find.)

It’s both.

Having not been exposed to Scrooge McDuck as a child, I find it difficult to associate him with beautiful artwork ( I never read the Carl Banks stories ), but Don Rosa’s artwork proves that it’s possible, and for that he gets my compliments.

Then again, I never really got the appeal of Scrooge. Given his massive wealth and his lack of desire to share it with anyone ( outside of the moral ending of a story, where he sometimes develops a heart of gold that will certainly revert to stone by the beginning of the next story ), isn’t he really just a G-Rated, avian version of Caligula?

I prefer Don Rosa to Barks, actually…it’s the line work you mentioned…gives his art a depth that I just really dig.

I exchanged email with him once…wrote him when L&T’s was coming out in the US after running across a post of his on USENet. Just to tell him how fabulous the comic was. I mentioned that I really only knew Scrooge from Duck Tails. He wrote back thanking me..then went on effusively about Carl Bark’s work. Truly a big fan, he is.

I must be in need of an eye operation myself…

I can’t spot D.U.C.K. in any of these pictures….

Any hints? (I can’t get onto Duckmania, as our IT system blocks it…)

He’s a great artist, and very personable. I grew up reading Scrooge McDuck since my father was one of the biggest Uncle Scrooge fans around. When I was younger, I followed Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck in single issue form, and then was delighted to pick up the trade collection a few years ago and meet Rosa. I’m hoping he recovers too, we need more Duck!

The Goddamn Skateman

September 11, 2008 at 11:48 pm

I was totally blown away by Don Rosa when I was a kid–I had just devoured Gladstone’s republished Barks stories, and Rosa’s were the only that truly built upon them. Now, looking back, I see his work as both good and bad: he never really attempted anything different with the character (kind of a John Byrne to someone else’s Grant Morrison?) since every story I read was some kind of sequel to a Barks romp, but he brought an incredible love that embodied everything great about Scrooge. Nitz, it’s the sheer wackiness that always gets me about Scrooge: the money bin, the constant attempts from the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold to win against him, the lucky dime, etc. Return to Plain Awful and His Majesty McDuck will always be my faves, especially their heartfealt endings.

BTW, Rosa’s lush drawing style always reminded me of a cleaned-up (Disneyfied in more ways than one?) version of Crumb. Lots of hatching (ducks, hatching, ha!), every tiny detail cartoonish yet believable.

It’s *NOT* a “lucky” dime.

BlackJack, try to look for it in places where there are lot’s of lines. He usually hides them in places that you wouldn’t even look at if you weren’t searching for them.

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