DON ROSA and UNCLE SCROOGE
I first encountered Don Rosa in the pages of fanzines like RBCC and The Buyer's Guide, where he wrote with great enthusiasm about old comics, especially Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck stories. I was delighted when, in the 1980s, Don began writing and drawing stories about those characters for Gladstone Comics, and bought and read them all with pleasure.
Gladstone's editor and chief letterer at the time, John Clark, was an old friend, and in talking with him at the San Diego Comics convention in 1993, I told him I envied his working with Don, and wished I could do the same. John said he had a new big Rosa project coming up, and would I be interested in lettering it? Of course I said yes, and soon after began working on "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", a serial in 12 chapters that outlined the early life of Scrooge BEFORE his first appearance in the earliest stories of Carl Barks, but using all the many details that Barks had revealed about Scrooge's past in his own stories.
Working on these and other Rosa stories presented a few challenges I hadn't encountered often before. Don creates these stories for European publishers, putting in all the caption boxes and balloons based on the dialogue and text he has written, but leaving extra space so that the empty spaces can be filled in by lettering or type in the many different languages in Europe and elsewhere that use the stories in their comics. In my case, Gladstone sent me same-size photocopies of the art, and I lettered them on vellum overlays, making changes to the art as needed where the balloons were too large (as often happened) or too small. It's a credit to Gladstone's production department that these changes were combined with the art seamlessly, and I can rarely even tell myself where I added anything.
I really enjoyed working on the life of Scrooge series — in fact, I'd say it's one of my favorite projects, and I was sorry to see it end in 1995. Don was always helpful with anything that I needed in the way of reference, and he was fun to talk to. Fortunately, the series was so successful that Don has revisited it a number of times, filling in missing chapters between the original twelve. Some were done for Gladstone before that company folded. Others were lettered more recently for Gemstone Comics, who have taken up the Disney comics license. I've been happy to letter many of these, recently reprinted in a trade paperback by Gemstone Comics.
The above story, in fact, is the newest, having been created in 2005 for this collection.
Don's Uncle Scrooge stories are always full of action, adventure and humor, as well as a large amount of real historical background that make them informative as well as fun to read. In recent years I've also lettered a few other new Rosa Uncle Scrooge stories not in the Life of Scrooge series, such as this one from Uncle Scrooge #342, "The Old Castle's Other Secret, or, A Letter From Home".
I don't know what Don has planned for Uncle Scrooge in the future, but if there are more of his wonderful stories to come, I hope to be asked to letter them.
All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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