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Don Rosa

Don Rosa

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Keno Don Hugo Rosa, known simply as Don Rosa, (born June 29, 1951) is an American comic book writer and illustrator known for his stories about Scrooge McDuck
Scrooge McDuck
Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon character created in 1947 by Carl Barks and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Scrooge is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a red or blue frock coat, top hat, pince-nez glasses, and spats...

, Donald Duck
Donald Duck
Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Productions and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie. Donald is most...

 and other characters created by Carl Barks
Carl Barks
Carl Barks was an American Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck , Gladstone Gander , the Beagle Boys , The Junior Woodchucks , Gyro Gearloose , Cornelius Coot , Flintheart Glomgold , John D...

 for Disney comics, such as The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is a comic book story by Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck. Originally, the story had twelve chapters totalling 212 pages...

.

Early life


Don Rosa's grandfather, Gioachino Rosa, lived in Maniago
Maniago
Maniago is a town and comune located in the Province of Pordenone, Friuli-Venezia Giulia . It is known principally today for its production of steel blades which are used by the big name producers of knives, scissors, and shears which are exported worldwide.-External links:...

, a town at the foot of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 in Northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

, in the province of Pordenone
Pordenone
Pordenone is a comune of Pordenone province of northeast Italy in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.The name comes from the Latin "Portus Naonis" meaning the port on the river Noncello - History :...

. He emigrated to Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 around 1900, established a successful tile and terrazzo company, then returned to Italy to marry and start a family. In 1915 just after the birth of his son Ugo Rosa, Gioachino returned to Kentucky with his wife, two daughters and two sons. Ugo Rosa grew up and was later married in Kentucky. His wife was born to a German American
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

 father and a mother with both Scottish and Irish ancestry.

Don Rosa was born Keno Don Hugo Rosa on June 29, 1951 in Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

. He was named after both his father and grandfather. Gioachino was called "Keno" for short. Don's father was named Ugo Dante Rosa, but used the name "Hugo Don" Rosa in America.

Don Rosa was exposed to comics at a very young age, as his 11-years-older sister was a comics hoarder, and had thousands of comics for Don to look at and later read. Rosa began drawing comics before being able to write. Until high school, of which he attended Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky his featured characters were a large cast of stick figures featured in comedy-adventures like the Barks comics and old movies Don enjoyed most. He never tried to draw more than stick figures because the drawings, for him, were illustrations to get the story told. Only the story was important to him, not the actual drawings. His favorite comic books growing up were Uncle Scrooge
Uncle Scrooge
Uncle Scrooge is a comic book with the stingy Scrooge McDuck "the richest duck in the world" as the main character. The series also featured Donald Duck and his nephews as supporting characters. The first 70 issues mostly consisted of stories written and drawn by Carl Barks, the creator of Scrooge...

 by Western Publishing
Western Publishing
Western Publishing, also known as Western Printing and Lithographing Company was a Racine, Wisconsin firm responsible for publishing the Little Golden Books. Western Publishing also produced children's books and family-related entertainment products as Golden Books Family Entertainment...

 and Little Lulu
Little Lulu
"Little Lulu" is the nickname for Lulu Moppett, a comic strip character created in the mid-1930s by Marjorie Henderson Buell. The character debuted in The Saturday Evening Post on February 23, 1935 in a single panel, appearing as a flower girl at a wedding and strewing the aisle with banana peels...

 comics from Dell Comics (Western Publishing), and his sister's collection of MAD comics and magazines. When he was 12 years old he also discovered and enjoyed the Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

 titles by DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

 of the editor Mort Weisinger period, drawn mostly by his favorite Superman artists Curt Swan
Curt Swan
Douglas Curtis Swan was an American comic book artist. The artist most associated with Superman during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books, Swan produced hundreds of covers and stories from the 1950s through the 1980s.-Early life and career:Curt Swan, whose Swedish...

 and Kurt Schaffenberger
Kurt Schaffenberger
Kurt Schaffenberger was an American comic book artist. Schaffenberger was best known for his work on Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family , as well as his work on the title Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane during the 1950s and 1960s.-Early career:Schaffenberger was born on a farm in the...

. Shortly after starting to collect Superman comics he started to trade the collection of his older sister for Superman Comics, since a comic book shop in his area traded 2 old comics for 1 new, he only had 2 Duck comics left from is sisters collection by the 70s, one of them being The Golden Helmet
The Golden Helmet
The Golden Helmet is a Donald Duck comic strip story written by Carl Barks in July 1952. Donald and his nephews go on a treasure hunt for a mythical helmet that apparently gives the possessor legal claim of North America.- Plot :...

. When he became a serious collector of older comics, he particularly enjoyed the classic E.C. horror and science fiction comics of the 1950s, Will Eisner
Will Eisner
William Erwin "Will" Eisner was an American comics writer, artist and entrepreneur. He is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium and is known for the cartooning studio he founded; for his highly influential series The Spirit; for his use of comics as an...

's The Spirit
The Spirit
The Spirit is a crime-fighting fictional character created by writer-artist Will Eisner. He first appeared June 2, 1940 in "The Spirit Section", the colloquial name given to a 16-page Sunday supplement, distributed to 20 newspapers by the Register and Tribune Syndicate and reaching five million...

, Walt Kelly
Walt Kelly
Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. , or Walt Kelly, was an American animator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip, Pogo. He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio and Fantasia. Kelly resigned in 1941 at the age of 28 to work at Post-Hall Syndicate,...

's Pogo, and most comics of the 1940s onward.

Rosa entered the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, also known as UK, is a public co-educational university and is one of the state's two land-grant universities, located in Lexington, Kentucky...

 in 1969. He graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in civil engineering
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

.

Career


In 1969 while still in college, Rosa won an award as "best political cartoonist in the nation in a college paper".
His first published comic (besides the spot illustrations in his grade school and high school newspapers) was a comic strip featuring his own character, Lancelot Pertwillaby entitled “The Pertwillaby Papers”. He created the strip in 1971 for The Kentucky Kernel
The Kentucky Kernel
The Kentucky Kernel is the daily student newspaper of the University of Kentucky.The Kernel is distributed free on and around the University of Kentucky campus. It claims a circulation of 17,000 and readership of more than 30,000. Its sole source of revenue is advertising...

, a college newspaper of the University of Kentucky which wanted the strip to focus on political satire.

Rosa later switched the strip to comedy-adventure which was his favorite style of comics, and drew the story Lost in (an alternative section of) the Andes. (The title is a reference to Lost in the Andes!, a Donald Duck story by Carl Barks, first published in April, 1949.) The so-called Pertwillaby Papers
The Pertwillaby Papers
The Pertwillaby Papers is an adventure comic drawn by the famous Donald Duck artist Don Rosa in the 1970s. The comic is about the adventures of Lancelot "Lance" Pertwillaby and his friends and colleagues around the world....

 included 127 published episodes by the time Rosa graduated in 1973.

Meanwhile Rosa participated in contributing art and articles to comic collector fanzines. One contribution was An Index of Uncle Scrooge Comics. According to his introduction: "Scrooge being my favorite character in comic history and Barks my favourite pure cartoonist, I'll try not to get carried away too much."

After his bachelor degree, Rosa continued to draw comics purely as a hobby, his only income came from working in the Keno Rosa Tile Company, a company founded by his paternal grandfather and which had been taken over by Hugo Rosa.

Rosa authored and illustrated the monthly "Information Center" column in the fanzine "The Rocket's Blast Comicollector" from 1974 to 1979. This was a question-and-answer feature dealing with readers' queries on all forms of pop entertainment of which Rosa was a student, including comics, TV and movies.. He also revived the Pertwillaby Papers in this "RBCC" fanzine a comic book style story rather than a newspaper comic strip from 1976 to 1978.

By now having become a locally known comics collector and cartoonist, Rosa accepted an offer from the editor of the local newspaper to create a weekly comic strip. This led to his creation of the comic strip character Captain Kentucky for the Saturday edition of the local newspaper Louisville Times. Captain Kentucky was the superhero alter ego of Lancelot Pertwillaby. The pay was $25/week and not worth the 12+ hours each week's strip entailed, but Rosa did it as part of his hobby. Publication started on October 6, 1979. The comic strip ended on August 15, 1982 after the publication of 150 episodes. After three years with Captain Kentucky, Don decided that it was not worth the effort. He retired from cartooning and did not draw a single line for the next four years. Years later, as his fame grew, his non-Disney work was published by the Norwegian publisher Gazette Bok in 2001, in the two hard-cover "Don Rosa Archives" volumes, The Pertwillaby Papers and The Adventures of Captain Kentucky
The Adventures of Captain Kentucky
Captain Kentucky was a weekly comic-strip by Don Rosa, in the Saturday edition of the local newspaper Louisville Times. It ran from October 6, 1979 to August 15, 1982 after the publication of 150 episodes....

.

Gladstone


In 1985, he discovered a Gladstone Publishing
Gladstone Publishing
Gladstone Publishing was an American company that published Disney comics from 1986 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1998. The company had its origins as a subsidiary of "Another Rainbow", a company formed by Bruce Hamilton and Russ Cochran to publish the Carl Barks Library and produce limited edition...

 comic book. This was the first American comic book that contained Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 characters since the 1970s. Since early childhood Don Rosa had been fascinated by Carl Barks' stories about Donald Duck
Donald Duck
Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Productions and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie. Donald is most...

 and Scrooge McDuck
Scrooge McDuck
Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon character created in 1947 by Carl Barks and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Scrooge is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a red or blue frock coat, top hat, pince-nez glasses, and spats...

. Artist Carl Barks
Carl Barks
Carl Barks was an American Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck , Gladstone Gander , the Beagle Boys , The Junior Woodchucks , Gyro Gearloose , Cornelius Coot , Flintheart Glomgold , John D...

 was an especially big idol for him and would remain so for the rest of his career. He immediately called the editor, Byron Erickson
Byron Erickson
Byron Erickson, born February 3, 1951 in Tucson, Arizona, works at Egmont, and is Don Rosa's editor. He started working in Another Rainbow Publishing in 1983, and when they received the license to publish Disney comics in the United States under the name of Gladstone Publishing, he became the editor...

, and told him that he was the only American who was born to write and draw one Scrooge McDuck adventure. Byron agreed to let him send a story, and Don Rosa started drawing his first Duck story: Son of the Sun the very next day.

Son of the Sun was a success and Rosa’s very first professional comic story was nominated for a Harvey Award
Harvey Award
The Harvey Awards, named for writer-artist Harvey Kurtzman and founded by Gary Groth, President of the publisher Fantagraphics, are given for achievement in comic books. The Harveys were created as part of a successor to the Kirby Awards which were discontinued after 1987.The Harvey Awards are...

 “Best Story of the Year”. The plot of the story was the same as his earlier story Lost in (an alternative section of) the Andes. As Don Rosa explained it, he was just "(...) turning that old Pertwillaby Papers adventure back into the story it originally was in my head, starring Scrooge, Donald, the nephews, and Flintheart Glomgold
Flintheart Glomgold
Flintheart Glomgold is a fictional character in Disney comic books. Glomgold is one of Scrooge McDuck's main rivals, and also holds the title of being The Second Richest Duck in the World...

."

Rosa did a few more comics for Gladstone till 1989. He then stopped working for them because the policies of their licensor Disney did not allow for the return of original art for a story to its creators. This was unacceptable to Don Rosa, since a part of his income came from selling the originals, and the original art is the property of the freelance artists unless otherwise agreed upon. Without that extra money, he could not make a living drawing comic books.

After making some stories for the Dutch publisher Oberon, the publishers of an American Disney children's magazine called DuckTales
DuckTales
DuckTales is an American animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. Based on Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge comic book series, it premiered on September 18, 1987 and ended on November 28, 1990 with a total of four seasons and 100 episodes...

 (based on of the animated series of the same name) offered him employment. They even offered him a much higher salary than the one he received at Gladstone. Don made just one script (Back in Time for a Dime). The publishers never asked him to make more, and due to problems with receiving the payment, he didn't care.

Egmont


After working with the DuckTales magazine, Rosa found out that the Danish publisher Egmont (at that time called Gutenberghus) was publishing reprints of his stories and wanted more. Rosa joined Egmont in 1990. Two years later, at Don's suggestion, Byron Erickson
Byron Erickson
Byron Erickson, born February 3, 1951 in Tucson, Arizona, works at Egmont, and is Don Rosa's editor. He started working in Another Rainbow Publishing in 1983, and when they received the license to publish Disney comics in the United States under the name of Gladstone Publishing, he became the editor...

, the former editor at Gladstone also went to work for Egmont and has been working there as an editor and later as a freelancer.

In 1991 he started creating The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is a comic book story by Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck. Originally, the story had twelve chapters totalling 212 pages...

, a 12 chapter story about his favorite character. The series was a success, and in 1995 he won an Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

 for best continuing series. After the end of the original series, Don sometimes produced additional "missing" chapters. Some of the extra chapters were turned down by Egmont because they were not interested in any more episodes. Fortunately, the French magazine Picsou was eager to publish the stories. From 1999, Don started working freelance for Picsou magazine as well. All of these chapters were compiled as The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion is a 2006 trade paperback by Don Rosa published by Gemstone Publishing for The Walt Disney Company.It is a companion to The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck volume that was made in 2005...

.

On strike


During early summer 2002, Rosa suddenly laid down work. As an artist he could not live under the conditions Egmont was offering him, but he did not want to give up making Scrooge McDuck comics either. So his only choice was to put down work for a while and try to come to an agreement with Egmont. His main issues were that he had no control over his works. Rosa had discovered too often that his stories were printed with incorrect pages of art, improper colors, poor lettering, or pixelated computer conversions of the illustrations. Another matter was that his name was used in promotion of books and collections of stories without his agreement and without sending royalties to him. Rosa has never, to this day; as with any other Disney artist, received a penny in royalties for a single use of any of his stories worldwide.

He came to an agreement with Egmont in December of the same year, which gave him a bit more control over the stories and the manner in which they were publicized.

Retirement


Rosa's eyesight had been very poor since his childhood. In 2006 and 2007 he began having new difficulties which made drawing a very slow and tedious process for him, even more so than normally. In March 2008 Rosa suffered a severe retinal detachment and underwent emergency eye surgery that ultimately proved to be not completely successful. Further surgery in both eyes made drawing even more difficult. On June 2, 2008, during an interview at the Danish Komiks.dk fair, Don stated that he would not do any more Disney comics, citing eye troubles, low pay, and the constant use of his stories in special hardback or album editions by international Disney licensees without any payment of royalties or requests for permission for the use of his name.

Rosa is popular with readers in Europe. He considers himself rather obscure in his native United States. According to him, even his next-door neighbor does not know his profession.

Personal life


Rosa married schoolteacher Ann Payne in 1980. They have no children. They live in a log house on a 25 acre (10 hectare) nature preserve in the Kentucky hills near Louisville, the maintenance of which now takes up most of the retired couple’s time.

His work



In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Rosa is recognized as one of the best Disney comics creators. Carl Barks
Carl Barks
Carl Barks was an American Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck , Gladstone Gander , the Beagle Boys , The Junior Woodchucks , Gyro Gearloose , Cornelius Coot , Flintheart Glomgold , John D...

 and Rosa are some of the few artists who have their name written on the covers of Disney magazines when their stories are published. His stories are very easily recognized due to his unique drawing style, his pictures being extremely detailed. Rosa enjoys including subtle references to his favorite works of fiction as well as his own previous work. He normally uses about 12 frames per page, instead of the more common 8. He needs to use the extra frames because his stories usually are too long to be published if he does not minimize them.

Rosa has an especially large following in Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, and in 1999, he created a special 32-page Donald, Scrooge, Gearloose & nephews strip for his Finnish fans; Sammon Salaisuus (translates to The secret of the Sampo
Sampo
In Finnish mythology, the Sampo or Sammas was a magical artifact of indeterminate type constructed by Ilmarinen that brought good fortune to its holder...

, but it is officially named The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala is an Uncle Scrooge comic book story written and drawn by Keno Don Rosa in 1999.The Quest for Kalevala is based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala, assembled and partly written by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century...

 in English), based on the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala
Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

. The publication of this story created a national sensation in Finland where Donald Duck and the Kalevala are important aspects of culture. It was published in many other countries as well. The cover for the comic book was a spoof of a famous painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic . His work was considered very important for the Finnish national identity...

.

Drawing style


With a bachelor of arts degree in civil engineering as his only real drawing education, Rosa has some unusual drawing methods, as he writes himself: "I suspect nothing I do is done the way anyone else does it." 
Because of being self-taught in making comics, Rosa relies mostly on the skills he learned in engineering school—which means using technical pen
Technical pen
A technical pen is a specialized instrument used by an engineer, architect, or drafter to make lines of constant width for architectural, engineering, or technical drawings. It has been also generally called "rapidograph", although that particular name is officially a trademarked line of products...

s and templates a lot. He applies templates and other engineering tools to draw curves, circles and ovals. He usually drew just under a page per day, but that depended on the amount of detail he puts in the picture.

Rosa's drawing style is considered much more detailed and "dirtier" than that of most other Disney artists, living or dead, and often likened to that of underground artists
Underground comix
Underground comix are small press or self-published comic books which are often socially relevant or satirical in nature. They differ from mainstream comics in depicting content forbidden to mainstream publications by the Comics Code Authority, including explicit drug use, sexuality and violence...

, and he is frequently compared to Robert Crumb
Robert Crumb
Robert Dennis Crumb —known as Robert Crumb and R. Crumb—is an American artist, illustrator, and musician recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream.Crumb was a founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded...

. When Rosa was first told of this similarity, he said that he "drew that bad" long before he discovered underground comics during college. He went on to explain these similarities to underground artists with a similar background of making comics as a hobby:
"I think that both my style and that of Robert Crumb are similar only because we both grew up making comics for our personal enjoyment, without ever taking drawing seriously, and without ever trying to attain a style that would please the average comics publisher. We drew comics for fun!"

Carl Barks


"Don Rosa has often been called the heir of Carl Barks, especially for the way in which he has carried on the Ducks' Family Saga. But I don't think so: in my opinion Don Rosa [...] is an author who has used Barks' characters to make stories that are completely new, 'Donrosian' rather than 'Barksian', just like Barks can't be considered the heir of Al Taliaferro
Al Taliaferro
Charles Alfred Taliaferro , known simply as Al Taliaferro, was a Disney comics artist who used to produce Disney comic strips for King Features Syndicate...

 only because he has worked on the Ducks after him." - Carlo Chendi, Italian Disney comics writer (see Italian Wikipedia: Carlo Chendi)


Rosa's idol when it comes to comics is Carl Barks
Carl Barks
Carl Barks was an American Disney Studio illustrator and comic book creator, who invented Duckburg and many of its inhabitants, such as Scrooge McDuck , Gladstone Gander , the Beagle Boys , The Junior Woodchucks , Gyro Gearloose , Cornelius Coot , Flintheart Glomgold , John D...

. Rosa builds almost all his stories on characters and locations that Barks invented. Many of Rosa's stories contain references to some fact pointed out in a Barks story. At the request of publishers in response to reader demands, Rosa has even created sequels of old Barks stories. For example, his Return To Xanadu is a sequel to Tralla La
Tralla La
Tralla La is a Scrooge McDuck comic book story by Carl Barks. The story was first published in Uncle Scrooge #6 . In the story, Scrooge searches for a utopia in which money plays no role.- Plot :...

, where the Ducks return to the same hidden country. To add more to his admiration and consistency to Barks and Barks' stories, Rosa makes all his ducks' stories set in the '50s. This is because Barks writes most of the stories about Scrooge, Donald and all people of Duckburg in the '50s (it also conveniently resolves potential continuity problems, such as Scrooge's age). As explained in text pages in the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and its companion volume
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion is a 2006 trade paperback by Don Rosa published by Gemstone Publishing for The Walt Disney Company.It is a companion to The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck volume that was made in 2005...

, Rosa does intense research of time periods to ensure not only that he gets the physical details right, but also to ensure that all characters could have been present.

Barks either created most of the characters used by Rosa or is credited for greatly developing their personalities. Rosa thus feels obliged to make his stories factually consistent. He has spent a lot of time in making lists of facts and anecdotes pointed out in different stories by his mentor. Especially The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck was based mostly on the earlier works of Barks. Rosa admitted however that a scene of the first chapter was inspired by a story by Tony Strobl
Tony Strobl
Anthony Joseph Strobl was an American comics artist and animator. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended Cleveland School of Art from 1933–37, with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who actually got some help from Strobl creating Superman...

.

As most of the characters Rosa uses were created by Barks, and because Rosa considers Scrooge rather than Donald to be the main character of the Duck universe, he does not regard himself as a pure Disney artist, nor the characters really as Disney's. “Rosa prefers to say that the characters he uses are Barks’, Barks having reshaped Donald Duck’s personality and creating everything else we know of Duckburg while working as a freelancer in 1942–1967 for an independent licensed publisher (Dell/Western Comics). Barks even claimed to have also created Huey, Dewey and Louie while working as a writer on Donald Duck animated cartoons in 1937.” Because of his idolization of Barks, he repeatedly discourages his fans to use an absolutist way of saying his clearly different drawing style would be better than Barks's, and he found that notion confirmed when Barks himself spoke about Rosa's style in a critical tone though it is uncertain whether those comments were Barks' or those of his temporary "business managers" who filtered his communications.

"I usually don't like my stories. I mean I try really hard, but I know I don't draw that well. I know people like it because it's got lots of extra details, but art directors know good artwork, and they know mine is not good artwork. Now, people always say, 'You're being too modest, you're being too modest', and I say, 'What?' They just have to ask me the right question. I know it's not good artwork and I don't know if it's well-drawn, but I know it's entertaining." - Don Rosa, Torino Comics Festival, April 2011


"Don Rosa has a style that is a little bit different from the Disney style. I know that there is a great deal of people that like that style, which is extremely detailed. So there is room in the business for artists like Don Rosa and for others like Van Horn. They have a different style. But if they have a good story and tell it properly, then people are going to like it." - Carl Barks, interview given at Disneyland Paris, July 7, 1994


Beside Rosa's constant effort to remain faithful to the universe Barks created, there is also a number of notable differences between the two artists. The most obvious of these is Rosa's much more detailed drawing style, often with many background gags, which has been credited as being a result of Rosa's love of the Will Elder stories of MAD comics and magazines. While Barks himself discouraged the use of extreme grimacing and gesturing in any other panel for comical or dramatic effect, Rosa's stories are rich with colorful and bizarre facial renditions and physical slapstick. Barks had over 600 Duck stories to his name while Rosa only created 85 until his eye trouble set in, but whereas Barks made many short one and two-pagers centered around a subtle, compact gag, Rosa's oeuvre consists almost exclusively of long adventure stories.

Andrea "Bramo" Bramini identifies the following four differences between Barks's and Rosa's way of storytelling:
  • Rosa follows a very strict continuity, while Barks paid very little attention to continuity between stories.
  • Rosa's characterization of Scrooge is that of a much more sentimental person for often relishing his memories of past adventures.
  • Barks situated his stories in the present day of when he was creating them, and had a penchant for satire. Rosa strictly writes stories taking place in an era at least half a century prior to their creation, and mostly abstains from any political or social commentary.
  • With his engineering degree, Rosa often goes to great lengths to give scientifically plausible explanations within his stories, whereas Barks never cared much for any detailed scientific rationalizations to his stories.

D.U.C.K.


Most Rosa stories have the letters D.U.C.K. hidden in the first panel. Rosa's covers also usually have D.U.C.K. in them. This is an acronym for Dedicated to Uncle Carl from Keno. Because Disney would not allow for personal signatures in the comics, and thought that D.U.C.K. looked too much like one, Don Rosa has made a habit of hiding the letters in various unlikely places. Many of his readers have made a sport out of finding them. D.U.C.K. is in most cases hidden in the very first image, on the first page of the story. D.U.C.K. is also often hidden in Rosa's cover-art, which he makes for his own stories and reprints of old Carl Barks stories.
Almost every time Rosa gets an article about him in the weekly Disney comics (at least in European editions), the D.U.C.K. - dedication is mentioned.

Dutch Disney scholar and creator of the INDUCKS, Harry Fluks once joked that D.U.C.K. actually stood for "Donate US Currency for Keno" in relation to the conditions of the early internet when Rosa contributed to the Disney Comics Mailing List (the forerunner of today's INDUCKS), but was charged by the amount of e-mails he sent and received, a fact due to which the DCML (of which many members had free access to the internet as university students, at a time when internet access was still largerly restricted to universities and research facilities) had set up a tongue-in-cheek "DONation fund (pun intended!)" "to keep Rosa on-line".

Mickeys


Another curiosity is his Hidden Mickey
Hidden Mickey
A Hidden Mickey is a representation of Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney theme park or elsewhere on Disney properties...

s. Rosa is only interested in creating stories featuring the Duck family, but he often hides small Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...

 heads or figures in the pictures, sometimes in a humiliating or unwanted situation. An example of this is in the story The Terror of the Transvaal
The Terror of the Transvaal
The Terror of the Transvaal is a Scrooge McDuck comic by Don Rosa. It is the sixth of the original 12 chapters in the series The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. The story takes place from 1887 to 1889.-Plot:...

 where a flat Mickey can be seen under an elephant's foot. This is mostly a gag done for the fun of it. Rosa has admitted to neither liking nor disliking Mickey Mouse, but being indifferent to him.

In the story Attack of the Hideous Space-Varmints
Attack of the Hideous Space-Varmints
Attack of the Hideous Space-Varmints or Attack of the Hideous Space Monsters is a 1997 Donald Duck story by Don Rosa.-Plot:Scrooge McDuck receives a shipment of space junk from his satellite business. The junk turns out to be an artificial meteorite-shaped probe containing an unknown device of...

, the asteroid with Uncle Scrooge's money bin on it crashes into the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 along with two missiles, creating a large Mickey Mouse head on the surface. When Huey, Dewey and Louie
Huey, Dewey and Louie
Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck are a trio of fictional, anthropomorphic ducks who appear in animated cartoons and comic books published by the Walt Disney Company. Identical triplets, the three are Donald Duck's nephews. Huey, Dewey, and Louie were created by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro, and first...

 tell Donald that the missiles hit the "dark" (far) side of the Moon, Donald is thankful no one is going to see it - "For a minute there, I thought we were going to have some legal problems."

In the second Rosa story featuring The Three Caballeros
The Three Caballeros
The Three Caballeros is a 1944 American animated feature film, produced by Walt Disney and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. The film premiered in Mexico City on December 21, 1944. It was released in the United States on February 3, 1945...

, Donald Duck is shocked by the sight of a capybara
Capybara
The capybara , also known as capivara in Portuguese, and capibara, chigüire in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador ronsoco in Peru, chigüiro, and carpincho in Spanish, is the largest living rodent in the world. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs...

 standing on its hind legs, with shrubs, leaves and fruit in front of its body, coincidentally making it look like Mickey Mouse. José Carioca
José Carioca
José Carioca is a Disney cartoon character drawn as an anthropomorphized parrot from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil . José was created in 1943 for the movie Saludos Amigos as a friend of Donald Duck, described by Time as "a dapper Brazilian parrot, who is as superior to Donald Duck as the Duck was to...

 and Panchito Pistoles
Panchito Pistoles
Panchito Pistoles is a cartoon character drawn as an anthropomorphized rooster. He appeared in the film The Three Caballeros. Later he appeared in several Disney comics, including Don Rosa's The Three Caballeros Ride Again and The Magnificent Seven Caballeros...

, never having seen Mickey Mouse, ask Donald what is wrong, but Donald replies he is just tired. Later in the same story the Caballeros free several animals from a poacher
Poaching
Poaching is the illegal taking of wild plants or animals contrary to local and international conservation and wildlife management laws. Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.It may be illegal and in...

 and one panel shows the animals flee. Mickey can be seen among them.

In The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala is an Uncle Scrooge comic book story written and drawn by Keno Don Rosa in 1999.The Quest for Kalevala is based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala, assembled and partly written by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century...

 this running gag can be seen on the original, Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic . His work was considered very important for the Finnish national identity...

 -inspired cover art. In the original work, Louhi
Louhi
Louhi is a queen of the land known as Pohjola in Finnish mythology and the mythology of Lapland.-In mythology:Louhi is described as a powerful witch with the ability to change shape and weave mighty enchantments. She is also the main opponent of Väinämöinen and his group in the battle for the...

 is depicted as bare-chested, but the Disneyfied version has been drawn a top, of fabric patterned with Mickey Mouse heads.

Awards



His work has won Rosa a good deal of recognition in the industry, including nominations for the Comics' Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Heidi MacDonald of Comics Buyer's Guide
Comics Buyer's Guide
Comics Buyer's Guide , established in 1971, is the longest-running English-language periodical reporting on the American comic book industry...

 also mentioned Rosa's 1994 story Guardians of the Lost Library
Guardians of the Lost Library
Guardians of the Lost Library is a comic book story made by Don Rosa for The Walt Disney Company, mentioned by Comics Buyer's Guide as "possibly the greatest comic book story of all time"...

 as "possibly the greatest comic book story of all time".

In 1995 he was awarded the Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

 for "Best Serialized Story" for The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck is a comic book story by Don Rosa about Scrooge McDuck. Originally, the story had twelve chapters totalling 212 pages...

.
In 1997 he won an Eisner for "Best Artist/Writer - Humor Category".

His story The Black Knight GLORPS Again! has recently been nominated for the Eisner Award 2007 in the category Best Short Story. While The Prisoner of White Agony Creek
The Prisoner of White Agony Creek
The Prisoner of White Agony Creek is a Scrooge McDuck comic by Don Rosa. The story takes place between King of the Klondike and Hearts of the Yukon in the series The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck making it part 8B. The story shows how Goldie O'Gilt was taken to White Agony Creek...

, Rosa's latest Duck story to-date, was published in 2006, he has also been nominated for the 2007 Harvey Awards in five categories (more than any other creator for this year) for Uncle Scrooge comics: "Best Writer", "Best Artist", "Best Cartoonist", "Best Cover Artist", and "Special Award for Humor in Comics."

International "Best Cartoonist of the Year" awards include:
  • Germany: International Grand Prize 2005 (Frankfurt Book Fair).
  • Denmark: ORLA Award (DR Television Network).
  • Sweden:
    • Svenska Serieakademins (Swedish Comics Academy)
    • Seriefrämjandets Unghunden (the Swedish Literary Society).
  • Norway: Sproing Award (Norsk Tegneserieforum / Norwegian Comics Forum).
  • Italy:
    • Yambo Award (Lucca Comics Festival)
    • Premio U Giancu Award (U Giancu & Rapallo Comics Festival).
  • Spain: Haxtur Award (Gijon Comics Festival).

Biographical works


In 1997 the Italian publishing house Editrice ComicArt published a lavish volume about Don Rosa's biography and work related to the Disney characters. It was titled Don Rosa e il Rinascimento Disneyano ("Don Rosa and the Disneyean Renaissance") and written by famous Disney and Rosa scholars, Alberto Becattini, Leonardo Gori and Francesco Stajano. This work not only discusses all of Rosa's creative life up to 1997, but it also gives a comprehensive biography, lists up to that date his Disney work (for updated list, refer to List of Disney comics by Don Rosa) and presents an extensive interview with Rosa.

In 2009, Danish director Sebastian S. Cordes shot a 75-minute documentary called The Life and Times of Don Rosa, consisting of exclusive interviews with Rosa himself on his farm near Louisville, Kentucky. According to the project's Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 group, the English-language DVD has been released in Denmark on April 16, 2011 and is available internationally through the website forlaget-afart.dk/.

In 2011, Italian Disney fan forum papersera.net published Don Rosa: A Little Something Special (edited by Italian Rosa fan Paolo Castagno), a large folio format, bilingual (Italian and English) book about Rosa's life and work, containing interviews with Rosa and articles by many Italian and European Disney artists, Disney scholars, and established art critics commenting on Rosa's work and career, also including many exclusive, rare Rosa drawings and illustrations. The book was originally made as a gift by papersera.net for Rosa himself upon the occasion of Rosa's April 2011 visit to Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, Italy, and is available as a print-on-demand book from Lulu.com (see link at papersera.net site on the book)

Collections

  • The Don Rosa Archives - The Pertwillaby Papers
  • The Don Rosa Archives - The Adventures of Captain Kentucky
  • The Don Rosa Library of Uncle Scrooge Adventures in Color Vol. 1-8
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Companion
  • Barks/Rosa Collection Vol. 1-3
  • Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol. 1, 2 (so far)

External links