In Praise of Don Rosa

©Disney Enterprises, Inc.

There are many reasons why I love the work of Don Rosa. Issue 372 of WALT DISNEY’S UNCLE SCROOGE, published by Gemstone, back cover above, has two of them. The poster shown is Don’s most recent work for European Disney comics publishers, combining his love of Uncle Scrooge with his love of Carl Barks’ stories about him. Inside the issue is another reason:

First published in the U.S. in 1996, “The Treasury of Croesus” is one of Don’s best Uncle Scrooge stories. It has everything from laugh-out-loud humor to thrilling adventure to fine historical research to intriguing plot puzzles to wonderful character bits. And Don’s art on this one is full of those fun details and small gags that give extra value to his stories. If you haven’t tried Don’s Scrooge stories, this is a good one to start with.

Long before he began drawing Disney Duck stories, I knew and loved Don’s work as a columnist and cartoonist in fanzines like RBCC (Rocket’s Blast Comic Collector), where his regular feature “Information Center,” sample page above, was a great compendium of things Don liked and collected, including old comics, but also detailed indexes of TV shows like Star Trek and The Avengers (Steed and Mrs. Peel), classic movies, pulp magazines, and all sorts of fannish culture. At a time long before the internet, it was information we fans could all use, and Don’s entertaining way of presenting it, writing with great personality and including many of his unique drawings, made it a must-read for me. I learned many things from his column! And as you can see above, he was already drawing Uncle Scrooge there from time to time.

©Don Rosa.

RBCC also ran chapters of Don’s lengthy humor/adventure comic strip “The Pertwillaby Papers,” another reason to love Don’s work. In a way it was his practice run for Uncle Scrooge, and he later adapted some of the Lance Pertwillaby stories for Scrooge. The strip is another fine mix of incredibly fun ideas, action, adventure and humor. This all came to mind because I’m selling my collection of RBCC this week and next week on EBAY. Time to pass them on, so have a look if you’re interested.

I had the chance to work with Don as letterer on some of his Uncle Scrooge stories, and I’ve written about it on my website, HERE. They were great fun, and working with Don made me even more of a fan. Sadly, it’s uncertain whether Don will do any more Scrooge stories, as he’s recovering from serious eye surgery a few months ago. I did read that he’s well enough to travel, and has recently been to Europe. There Don is as famous as a rock star for his Disney comics stories, which are widely read by all ages. They treat him like royalty, which is wonderful. Too bad he doesn’t have the same following here, but loyal fans like me continue to enjoy his past work and wish him well.

6 thoughts on “In Praise of Don Rosa

  1. joecab

    It’s funny, you can’t name many creators who are true successors when they take over another team’s character and mythos. Don Rosa is the only one I can think of. It makes perfect sense that overseas, where Unca Carl gets worshipped, that Don would also get the respect he’s earned so well. Here’s hoping his recovery continues.

    And, man, I would love to get all of Don’s stories collected in a really nice set of hard covers.

  2. Barry Branvold

    As a long-time friend of Don Rosa, I have heard him speak very highly of Todd Klein. Todd was always the letterer that Don wanted to do his stories. Todd has won numerous awards (Eisners) for his work. It is interesting how important the lettering can be and still go un-noticed. Because Don has spoken about Todd’s lettering, it has made me more aware of its impact. One example that comes to mind is from the Life of Scrooge when Scrooge’s riverboat is tipped over, Todd lettered in the word balloon upside down as well. Having met Todd I can agree with Don that Todd is also a very nice person. Thanks Todd for years of great work and for this informative and interesting Blog about Don.

  3. dux

    For the past two decades we Duck fans in America—and throughout the world—have enjoyed a marvelous renaissance of the highest quality stories since the vintage Barks of the 1950s.

    And we have Keno Don Rosa to thank for that.

    How many other living writers of Duck adventure stories have inspired the reader to utter words like “Amazing story!” over and over again?

    Don Rosa’s stories are truly amazing, both in their writing and their art.

    But now Mr. Rosa’s apparent retirement from “telling” stories, as quietly but as suddenly as a clock stops ticking, has triggered something fearful. It is the start of an expanding black hole in the Duck Universe, the early stages of which are only now beginning to be felt.

    It won’t be at all like that awful emptiness of content in American Disney comics that spanned the twin decades of the mid 1960s through the mid 1980s. Other creative talent will fill the pages of the Gemstone books as they will continue (hopefully) to churn out foreign works along with reprints of Barks and Rosa and some others. But gone is the epic talent that fostered such an exciting volley of classics as we’ve enjoyed since that first shot heard around the world:”The Son of the Sun.”

    No more.

  4. Todd Post author

    While I share your sentiments, I haven’t heard anything on this topic yet from Don himself, so will continue to remain optimistic until I do that he’ll one day return to telling Duck stories.

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