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Top Five Carl Barks Creations (Not Named Scrooge McDuck)

Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) continues with a look at the comic book genius of Carl Barks, through a look at the top characters he created over the years (not counting his most famous creation, Scrooge McDuck, because, well, what’s the fun in saying “Scrooge McDuck is the top creation by Carl Barks”?)!

Enjoy!

Thanks to Peter Kylling, editor of one of the best Carl Barks web sites around (you can visit it here), for the images!

DISHONORABLE MENTION

Flintheart Glomgold

The evil opposite of Scrooge McDuck, the second-wealthiest duck around is a real jerk. Oddly enough, Barks did not use him that often.

5. Gladstone Gander

The luckiest duck alive, Gladstone Gander was a good character because he was good for different types of stories. Need a foil for Donald with Daisy? There’s Gladstone! Need someone to move the plot along? Here’s Gladstone’s crazy luck powers!!

4. Magica De Spell

An excellent nemesis for Scrooge, Magica has an obsession with Scrooge’s first dime that fueled a great many great stories.

3. The Junior Woodchucks

The Junior Woodchucks, though, were a particularly clever invention by Barks. They provided him with both a way to get the nephews their own naturally occurring adventure stories, but it also provided the greatest plot device a writer could ever ask for – the Junior Woodchuck GUIDEBOOK, which would always hold the answer whenever needed to get the duck gang out of a jam. Man, Barks really knew how to create an ever-sustaining plot-driven universe.

2. Gyro Gearloose

What separates Gyro from a lot of the other seemingly one-note characters (like Flintheart and Gladstone) is that he had a distinct personality APART from his plot-driven usage, which was to invent things when the plot requires them. He was such an interesting character that he got his own series of back-up stories for a number of years!

1. The Beagle Boys

Where you have Uncle Scrooge, you have the Beagle Boys, his most prominent bad guys and the second-most prominent characters created by Barks!

There you have it! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

19 Comments

What was the name of Gyro’s little humanoid companion with the light-bulb head? Looked like a streamlined cousin of Reddy Kilowatt. I liked that little guy. Bernie Wrightson had a pair of characters in a strip that ran in Epic Magazine (80′s Marvel anthology) that seemed to be heavily based on Gyro and his little homonculus, they had something to do with time travel….

L’il’ Bulb.

He was just called “Helper.”

It amazes me how much Ducktales drew from the Carl Barks comics.

I’m sure that Banks would prefer any character at 5 to Gladstone Gander.

(Yes he created him and used him a decent amount. He also grew to hate him.)

Gladstone only appears like twice in the Ducktales cartoon; once as a Macguffin to make Scrooge by something, and once where Magica uses his luck powers to steal Scrooge’s dime, which makes him have bad luck powers for most of the episode.

I would have put Gyro first, but it’s hard to argue with the Beagles.

I think another dishonorable mention should go to “Generic Villain McSwine” and his frequent compatriot “Ratface McBadguy.”

And the residents of Plain Awful. And Glittering Goldie.

You guys should just do a whole thing on Barks and Ducks. Barks books are the most important comics ever.

What I liked about the Junior Woodchuck stories was how Donald would always try to one-up the guidebook. It led to grand physical comedy, of course, but it also showed how important the boys’ opinion of him was to the character.

Also, the increasingly pompous and insane acronyms.

Great list. I gotta dig out my old Gold Key/Western digests and read through ‘em again. Barks ducks are amazing.

Who created Ludwig Von Drake? Was that more a cartoon character than a comics one? I just like saying it the way Ludwig does on an old Disney record I’ve heard.

What about Gizmoduck?????

I’d also have bumped Gyro to top spot, but Beagle Boys are good too.

Gladstone Gander is a good foil for Donald but also tricky character to write, it is too easy to slip into full hate mode or treat him as a force of nature, with that luck of his…
Oh, and Junior Woodchuck guidebook…forget the philosopher’s stone, Holy Grail and such small stuff, guidebook is the thing anyone should want. But Junior Woodchucks was indeed an interesting development in the group dynamics, allowing the sort of grand adventure stories Barks did in later years, and drove also those Donald-trying-to-one-up stories, but I do like the occasional boys-as-rascals stories which don’t really fit the Woodchuck ethos.

Of Flintheart Glomgold and Generic Villain McSwine (nice name), it is rather interesting to look at the development of Barks’ ideas by other, contemporary or later artists…those two are quite important for Barks, but are largely ignored by other artists (well, Don Rosa has used Flintheart couple of times). Meanwhile, both Beagle Boys and Magica de Spell are very popular by all, and have even become protagonists in a number of stories (while still keeping them as sort of villainy, Beagle Boys try to pull a variety of crimes, usually failing, and Magica still pursues the dime…). Also a character who was a throwaway for Barks, John D Rockerduck, has become a major antagonist for Scrooge in other artists’ stories…

Ludwig von Drake was not a Barks creation, I think he debuted in cartoons or tv shows but has occasionally appeared in comics too, including one Barks one-pager. Some artists are not interested in using Ludwig since in looks he is too close to Scrooge and as a character too close to Gyro, which has placed him in a sort of character limbo.

I miss all of my old Gold Key comics. I foolishly traded them off for back issues of Uncanny X-Men when I was 16.

Anyway, my favourite Gladstone Gander story was one in which Donald was trying to win a Thanksgiving turkey, but Gladstone kept winning instead. Donald’s nephews pointed out that he had spent more on raffle tickets than a turkey costs, but he said it was not the turkey he wanted but to win over Gladstone.

Donald poked holes in his raffle ticket to make it “sticky” so that his name would be drawn. And, a random porcipine tail-butted Gladstone’s ticket. And, Donald rigged up his own raffle, sold Gladstone one ticket and entered a dumptruck full of other tickets on top so that Gladstone had no chance, and then a random earthquake upturned the giant bowl, giving Gladstone the chance for his luck to kick in and for his ticket to be drawn.

Finally, Donald gave up. But, the story ended with Gladstone lamenting the fact that he had 4 Thanksgiving turkeys and no use for them.

Theno

I thought that turkey story was the one where the nephews changed all the tickets to Gladstone’s name and put only one in Donald’s, resulting in Donald winning, because the odds of Gladstone LOSING were 500 to 1, and he ‘always beats the odds’. Or was that a later Rosa story?

I really enjoyed the story in where Rosa made the Junior Woodchuck’s Guidebook a distillation of the lost library of Alexandria. Brilliant.

What? You think that the Beagle Boys are the second best Barks creation? Are you kidding me?

Sure, as disposable mooks for stories they were useful, but they had no personalities of their own (beyond “dumb thief”) they were all identical (except for the numbers on their shirts) and compared to everybody else on this list (even the Woodchucks!) they come across as pathetic!

In my opinion it is Magica who deserves the honor. I never quite understood her obsession with the First Penny, but she was sinister and had strange abilities. My favorite story is the one where she replaces Daisy Duck as part of a plan… only to end up charmed by Donald’s treatment of her (!) who of course thought he was being nice to the real Daisy. :)

Magica believed Scrooge’s number one dime was the source of his entire fortune. That it was a mighty luck amulet that would make her rich and powerful.

@Ninjazilla: Gizmoduck wasn’t created by Barks. He debuted in the DuckTales cartoon along with Launchpad McQuack, who was basically filling in for Donald in adaptations of Barks’ classic, full-length adventure stories.

I greatly enjoyed the humorous, non-Scrooge shorts such as the turkey raffle, Omelet, and Donald’s various run-ins with Gladstone or the nephews themselves.

Rockerduck appeared frequently as Scrooge’s arch-nemesis in many European comics of the 60′s through 80′s. He often employed the Beagle Boys as his henchmen. I’ve yet to see any of that material reprinted here since I first read them in the 70′s.

@caanan, that changing-the-tickets story was by Rosa (I think it was the one with the fish balloons).
Rosa moved Gladstone’s power level to absurdly high (phrasing makes one to wonder how Gladstone-type character would work in superhero comics…) which also meant that there weren’t that many stories to tell about him, even if those few appearances were funny.
Though also with Barks there is an evolution of the character, he started as just a regular antagonist for Donald, a bit dandyish mooch with some added cruelty, the luck thing came up later (and that turkey story is indeed one of the best Gladstone stories)

Funny – I only knew ‘em from Ducktales, but they’re all there, even the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook. Never learned these folks’ name as a kid. Just bashed in Magica de Spell’s head with my cane.

John D. Rockerduck is very popular in Europe, from what I’ve read.

i have english copies of junior woodchucks guidebook purchaseded in late 70′s—contacted dave smith at disney an he wrote me a letter stating that disney ever authorized the book and none had ever been published. is there anything you can tell me abt the guide or the value, i have never found any info until a few days ago at acastleofbooks.com,they have not yet contacted me and it is in spanish or italian. any info would be helpfull thank you glenn

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