Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

September 20, 2000

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

He invented Donald Duck's rich, irascible uncle, Scrooge McDuck. He also invented Duckburg, the town where Scrooge, Donald and Donald's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, have been living in a brightly colored comic-book eternity since 1947.

But when I hear his name, Carl Barks, I don't see the greatest artist in the history of comic books, which is what he was. I see a bomb-throwing Duckburg anarchist with floppy dog ears and a black button nose, maybe an ally of "the terrible Beagle Boys,” those doggish malefactors who are always trying to steal Scrooge's money (and who are yet another unforgettable Barks invention).

Barks died recently at age 99, Just about a century past the time when Scrooge, his most brilliant creation, made his first pile of money digging for gold in the Klondike.

In flashback episodes in the Uncle Scrooge comic-book tales Barks wrote and drew for Walt Disney, he showed that Yukon world: rickety houses and muddy streets, melting snowfields, vast forests, shabby miners and their stubborn mules.

Mainly, though, the stories took place in Scrooge's elder years, after his gold-digging and other ventures turned him into an uncountabillionaire with a subterranean money bin overflowing with greenbacks, coins, jewels and doubloons that he loved to swim in.

Scrooge in his money bin is a fitting analog for Barks at work: the old duck and the man who made him both liked to dive as deep as they could - Scrooge into money, Barks into dreams.

Steven Spielberg admits that the Barks tales that show Scrooge and his nephews searching for treasure in exotic African, Asian, Latin American or Oceanic locales, with big panoramic panels showing shipwrecks and temples and jungles and volcanoes, was a major influence when he went to make movies featuring the adventures of Indiana Jones.

When he died, Barks did get his due from scribes and pundits, who hailed him as the best of the funny-animal comic-book guys and maybe the best comic-book artist, period. Such was his due - but not his full due. To give him his full due you have to place Barks alongside artists like Pablo Picasso, Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka and P.G. Wodehouse.

Artistically, it isn't even much of a stretch to compare him with Picasso: each of them could draw a line so appealing you want to put it between two pieces of bread and eat it like a sandwich.

But when you think of Scrooge, you think of Dickens - not because the author of "A Christmas Carol" was there first with his Scrooge, first name Ebenezer, but because of the Barks-like high adventure and good cheer of Dickens novels like "The Pickwick Papers” (and you don't have to look at his resume to know that Barks had read them).

Kafka was a different story - a famous pessimist and existentialist who wrote stories in which strange things happen to humans, like "The Metamorphosis," about a young man waking to find himself turned into a cockroach. But Kafka was more than a pessimist: he was also, like Barks, a dreamer with the uncanny ability to make his dreams take on a visible life of their own so the rest of us can see them.

Famous for turning a boy into a bug and (in "Report to the Academy") a gorilla into a savant and (in "Investigations of a Dog") a canine into a philosopher, Kafka might be the first to admit that he had nothing on Barks, who turned all us humans into ducks and dogs.

But the literary artist who really puts a cap on Barks comparisons is P.G. Wodehouse, the British creator of the butler Jeeves and his hapless upper-crust master, Bertie Wooster.

The world of Bertie and the world of Donald have one big element in common besides all the lighthearted fun they're filled with: There is no such thing as procreation. There are no mothers and fathers to speak of. The adult figures in Bertie's life are aunts and uncles. And just where are Donald's parents, to say nothing of Huey, Dewey and Louie's? Duckburg is like Wodehouse's England: a world of delight in which flirtation runs rampant but sex plays no part.

Barks did what all the great tale-spinners, painters, filmmakers and fireside fabulists back to the beginning of time aim to do: divert and entertain by fanning the flames of imagination.

He left behind a radiant world filled with funny animals and dramatic shipwrecks, sweeping storms and mysterious landscapes. Those luminous comic-book adventures are like Scrooge's money bin: all you have to do is dive in.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

back to top