Carl Barks’ Duck: Average American, by Peter Schilling Jr. – book review by Fred Patten.
by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Carl Barks’ Duck: Average American, by Peter Schilling Jr. Illustrated.
Minneapolis, MN, Uncivilized Books, January 2015, trade paperback $12.95 (122 pages).
Furry literature is all well and good, but it’s important to remember that furry fandom did not invent it. One of the most important influences that led to furry fandom, and furry literature today, was the Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck stories written and drawn by Carl Barks (1901-2000) during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, those comic-book stories are all being reprinted, and are the subject of serious literary analyses. Here is something that is a little lighter.
“Critical Cartoons is a series of books on comics with a new approach. Cut loose the smartest writers on the whole of comic book history: classic comic strips, superhero epics, independent masterpieces, underground transgressions, obscure gems by well known masters, and more. Each volume of Critical Cartoons is long-form criticism that’s passionate, idiosyncratic, provocative and entertaining.” – (publisher’s blurb)
From this example, Critical Cartoons is a series of small, thin books of literary criticism about comic books, each by an expert of sorts. Peter Schilling Jr. is the author of Mark Twain’s Mississippi River: An Illustrated Chronicle of the Big River in Samuel Clemens’s Life and Works, a combination 19th-century travelogue and third-person nostalgia piece, and The End of Baseball: A Novel. Schilling identifies himself in the Introduction as a lifelong hater of “comic books”, but as a youth he made an exception for the Donald Duck comics by “the Good Artist”. Eventually, as he grew up and comic-book scholarship began to be published, he learned who Carl Barks was.