Uncle Scrooge Adventures by Carl Barks in Color 33

Writer / Artist
Uncle Scrooge Adventures by Carl Barks in Color 33
Uncle Scrooge Adventures by Carl Barks in Color 33 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Gladstone -
  • Volume No.: 33
  • Release date: 1997
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Adventure, All-Ages, Humour

There’s a big editorial change with Uncle Scrooge Adventures 33 as publishers Gladstone increase the page count and from this point package two original issues of Uncle Scrooge per volume, here supplying two fourteen page stories and two at ten pages. While Barks produced many great works at ten pages for Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories, in both cases here subtracting pages from the lead feature to have ten pages for the back-up means ideas aren’t as well explored as they might have been.

For all the admiration adults around the world have for the work of Carl Barks, he always knew he was producing stories for children, and there’s an example of his storytelling brilliance over the opening pages of ‘Billions in the Hole’. As Scrooge explains the miniaturising technology that later misfires spectacularly, Barks draws the attention of readers to a cleaner they’ll instantly recognise as one of the Beagle Boys disguised. Scrooge and company remain oblivious, while every youngster recognises the danger. He even underlines the joke by having Scrooge note the cleaner can be trusted as five different prisons vouch for his character. Shortly thereafter the Beagle Boys use the shrinking ray to reduce the size of the money bin, which is then carried off by ants. What plays out is by some distance the best of this volume, expressively drawn and funny.

A miniature problem is also the rather strained payoff to ‘Bongo in the Congo’, but arriving there is fun, if allowing for an uncharacteristically stiffly drawn cast in places. The other short ‘Chuckwagon Derby’ reworks a Donald Duck story Barks produced years before, factoring in vintage cars. It adheres to Barks’ rule of cheats never prospering.

That the change in page counts was unknown to Barks is exemplified by ‘Mythic Mystery’, from which significant amounts were cut to bring it down to the now required fourteen pages. According to correspondence from Barks, several elements would have been better foreshadowed with the missing art, but it’s never been found, so unlike some other stories, no restored version exists. It opens with another world encroaching on Duckburg, blotting out stars, and Barks has fun having Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie inadvertently hitching a ride on Thor’s chariot to Valhalla. Barks mixes Norse and Greek gods, and there are some fun moments, but the idea is generally stronger than the result.

This is still Barks, so even when not on top form most of the art is impeccable, and there are plenty of enjoyable moments. The page count experiment for the original comics was short lived, and Uncle Scrooge Adventures 35 sees longer long stories and shorter shorts restored. The content of both is available in the more recent Fantagraphics hardcover The Golden Nugget Boat.