Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Disneyland Comic Art of Carl Barks & Q&A with Joseph Cowles, Author of Recalling Carl

Slipcase Cover Art for Another Rainbow Publishing's Carl Barks Library Vol. VIII 
Artwork by Carl Barks
© Disney, Image Courtesy of I.N.D.U.C.K.S.

The series that's been unfurling around here on Western Publishing's Disneyland/Walt Disney World comics books has been getting some nice attention and significant traffic. Whether you're a frequent visitor, or the original posts Part I & Part II brought you this way, here's some good news: a Part III is in the works. For today, we're going to circle back in time a bit to spin off on a detour of Part I.

The focus this time around should help slake the thirst of fans seeking fresh information on a pair of prominent icons: Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, and Carl Barks, the world-renown artist and writer of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic book stories. The unlikely thread that further intertwined these two icons is a gentleman who spent an enviable amount of time around both.

Nope, not Walt Disney... this gentleman goes by the name of Joseph Cowles. As per the usual format, let's have a bit of background on our subjects, followed by an exclusive Q&A that Mr. Cowles has been very gracious to participate in.

Carl Barks Greets Fans at the 1982 San Diego Comic Con 
Image © and Courtesy of Flickr User Alan Light

"The Good Artist"

Upon the passing of Carl Barks in August 2000, tributes flowed from around the globe in the form of articles, notes, and illustrated cartoons. The accolade that stands out most prominently was supplied by fellow duck cartoonist, Don Rosa, one of Barks's most devoted successors. Rosa's concluding paragraph tots up a lengthy list of solid criteria on the impact, influence and astounding worldwide appeal of the work of Carl Barks—sharply punctuated with the following statement, free of hubris and without a scrap of irony:
"...I say (and I am not the first) Carl Barks is the greatest storyteller of the 20th century. And notice I did not include the word "arguably." If you disagree with that, you are simply wrong. He was born early in the first year of that century, and he died in his 100th year of life during the final year of that century. It was his."
Don Rosa, The Comics Journal #227 (September 2000)
A bold proclamation regarding a man who wrote and drew comic book tales about anthropomorphic ducks. But Rosa's praise is pinpoint accurate and not a product of hero worship. Barks fleshed out Donald Duck and his world to an expansive level that eclipsed any other cartoon character that transitioned to the comic book page.

Barks Kept the Spirit of Donald's Screen Persona, While Tethering Him With Relatable Family Responsibilities and All-Too-Human Desires and Weaknesses
From Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #145 (October 1952) 
Story and Art by Carl Barks
© Disney, Image Courtesy of Thad Komorowski

Not only did he root the comic book duck into a more complex "everyman" while retaining the feisty core personality from the silver screen, Barks repositioned nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie from bratty hellions to noble and wise preadolescents, while gradually populating the city of Duckburg with a memorable assortment of characters of his own creation, the most prominent being Uncle Scrooge McDuck.

 Barks Drew This Special Illustration of His Original Creations
For The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #7 (1977 Edition)
Artwork by Carl Barks
© Disney

From 1942 to 1966, Carl Barks chose not to "churn out" comic book stories, but took great care in spinning yarns with factual references to technology, history and science. While some of his contemporaries viewed the "funny animal" format as a free pass to craft imaginary and implausible situations and locales, Barks chose a self-imposed high road, frequently referring to his library of National Geographic magazines for inspiration of settings for exotic locales or far-away quests for treasure.

Carl Barks Utilized National Geographic Magazine as a
Source of Inspiration and Reference for Decades
Image © & Courtesy of Frank Stajano

His drafting held no bias: arbitrary objects such as farm equipment or fence posts were rendered accurately through his hand, in equal cadence with detrimental plot devices like sailing ships or an Aztec temple. His later, more fantastical tales dealing with science-fiction or magic always held practical applications and outcomes: Barks never stooped to a deus ex machina. That level of respect for his audience set his work far above and apart, compared to many other simplistic, more mundane humor comics on the stands.

 The Use of Readable Silhouettes and Carefully Crafted
Wordplay Are Clear Indications of Carl Barks's Stories
From Dell Four Color #1025 Walt Disney's Vacation in Disneyland (August 1959)
Story and Art by Carl Barks
© Disney

Today, there are uncountable resources available on the life and work of Carl Barks in print and online, since his identity was revealed to the public over forty years ago. Prior to then, the children of WWII and the Baby Boom era recognized only the distinctive artwork and writing style of a nameless artist, due to the individual anonymity and credit-free policy of Western Publishing's Dell and Gold Key comics. Thus, for 20+ years readers thumbed through their newsstand selection of Walt Disney comic books, keeping an eye open for stories written and drawn by "The Good Artist."

Carl Barks at His Home Studio, Circa 1963
Image Courtesy of Helnwien Comic

The Legacy of Carl Barks
The lasting impact of Carl Barks cannot be ignoredfor his influence spreads as far as the four corners of the globe. His comic book work is admired, studied and taught by literary scholars around the world. He has been showered with awards and honors of every kind. His post-retirement original oil paintings of the Disney ducks sell for hundreds of thousands at auction. Classic reprints and new Barks-inspired Donald Duck comics outsell copies of Batman and Spider-Man across Europe. Admirers include Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the two men responsible for one of Hollywood's most iconic scenes: Indiana Jones running through an ancient temple from a humongous boulder. In fact, the entire opening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark was adapted from scenes pulled from Barks stories. George Lucas himself wrote the foreword to a luxurious 1981 collection of Barks stories published by Celestial Arts titled Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life & Times.

George Lucas Praised Barks in the Foreword of
Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times (Celestial Arts, 1981) 
Image © & Courtesy of Marvel Masterworks Fan Site

It should also be noted that Walt Disney characters traditionally made the leap from screen cartoons to comic books, but Barks's creation of Scrooge McDuck became so popular through comic book exposure alone, that the old Scottish duck soon found his way into several animated productions at the Disney Studio. This culminated in the 1987 animated television series DuckTales, which revolved around Scrooge and pulled a generous amount of Carl Barks plot outlines and characters into the fold.

The Syndicated Television Series DuckTales Was Directly
Inspired By the Comic Book Stories of Carl Barks
© Disney, Image Courtesy of Financial Post
DuckTales was a smash hit from the premiere episode, earning high ratings and high financial returns, resulting in a whopping 100 episodes, a feature film, and several successful video games during the show's initial broadcast.

Meanwhile, at the Happiest Place on Earth...

The July 1956 Disneyland News Heralds the First Year of Operation
Image Courtesy of The Sacred Tree of the Aracuan Bird

Disneyland was already a considered a success by the park's first anniversary in July of 1956. Naysayers withdrew their criticisms, and an era of themed amusement enterprises began. Many years earlier, Walter and Cordelia Knott had expanded their chicken dinner business and established Knott's Berry Farm a few miles up the road from Anaheim. As Disney's park quickly grew in popularity and scope, the Knotts wisely continued to expand their own offerings, fully aware that prosperous business at Disneyland meant prosperous business at Knott's. The pair of Walters, Knott and Disney, always shared an amicable "good neighbor" relationship.

Founders Walter and Cordelia Knott in a Replica of Their Original Berry Stand:
Knott's Berry Farm is Officially Recognized as North America's First Theme Park
Image Courtesy of JoeFood

As the 1950s drew to a close, businesses and partnerships began to form around the United States to construct and design their own versions of Disneyland: the notion to capitalize on such a financially successful new model of entertainment was too good to pass up. There were successes, however, many of the projects were constructed hastily, below code and without proper budgets. Others fell victim to bad business practices and poor site research—resulting in short-lived theme parks such as Frontier Village (San Jose, CA), Pacific Ocean Park (Santa Monica,CA), Pleasure Island (Wakefield, MA) and Freedomland U.S.A. (Baychester, NY). Interestingly, the latter two were spearheaded by C.V. Wood, who played a prominent role in the construction and management of Disneyland. Following an acrimonious and everlasting parting of the ways with Walt Disney, Wood loudly boasted his new amusement endeavors as "the Disneyland of the east."

New York's Short-Lived Freedomland U.S.A. Was
Constructed by Disneyland Expatriate C.V. Wood
Image © & Courtesy of The Bronx Historical Society

Beyond Disneyland, there were some significant high points dotting the initial growth of domestic theme parks. Technology played a key role in their evolution, as more and more televisions found their way into homes around the Unites States at this timethe world was becoming smaller, and tourism promotion found a bright new outlet. Live and recorded broadcasts of entertainment venues held to potential to reach a wider audience versus static newspaper and magazine photos.

Development activity of themed spaces was further augmented and influenced by the forward-reaching exhibits, transportation and architecture of the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle, WA (a.k.a. the1961/1962 World's Fair.)

The Space Needle Was the Signature Icon of Seattle's Century 21 Expo
Image © & Courtesy of The Seattle Times

The northwest spectacular was highly publicized and well-received, immediately followed by buzz surrounding the northeast's more expansive production: the1964/1965 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY. To bring us full circle, Walt Disney himself provided the most groundbreaking entertainment for the two operating seasons of the New York World's Fair: four unique, separate attractions and the massive Tower of the Four Winds kinetic sculpture.

The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair Won Over The
(Perceived) More Sophisticated East Coast Audience
Image © & Courtesy of Papergreat

This outgrowth of theme parks and mammoth expositions resonated within a pop culture that was already bursting at the seams at the timethe influence and bombastic flair of these spaces were tough to ignore. Especially by someone who got a kick out of gently teasing society and passing trends.

Someone like Carl Barks...

Barks Poked a Little Fun at Disneyland in the 1960s, Placing Uncle Scrooge
Among Those Upping Their Ante in the Themed Amusement Business
From Uncle Scrooge #46 (December 1963)
Story and Art by Carl Barks
© Disney

Carl Barks and The Candy Kid
While Barks did provide some material for the Dell Disneyland comics, his stories within those specials were not set within the park itself—at most, they occasionally depict a particular gateway, icon or locale in opening panels to frame the story within the realm represented. Barks's stories from those Dell Disneyland comics can easily be reprinted in a non-Disneyland book with very minor editing.

 Uncle Scrooge and Grandma Duck Admire the View
Off the Deck of Disneyland's Mark Twain Riverboat
From Dell Giant Uncle Scrooge Goes to Disneyland #1 (August 1957)
Story and Art by Carl Barks
© Disney

In fact, the slipcase cover art at the top of this post (drawn circa 1982) is one of the few direct renderings of a Disney theme park that came from Barks himself (Florida's Walt Disney World Resort, in this case.) Note, however, that the setting is tertiary to the pleasant family portrait, which is secondary to the primary gag of Scrooge's straying pupils gazing towards the orphan coin. This heirarchy is even more obvious viewing the image below of Barks's original black and white ink drawing before cropping or the addition of colors and logos (click the image below to enlarge):

 Barks's Original, Unedited Slipcase Cover Art For
Another Rainbow Publishing's Carl Barks Library Vol. VIII
Artwork by Carl Barks
© Disney

Two decades prior to drafting that slipcase cover, Barks did do a drawing of the ducks centered within Disneyland. A special drawing for an audience of one: a local Orange County teenager named Joseph Cowles. Cowles worked at Disneyland from 1957 through 1962 under several positions, and his early aspirations for cartooning were compounded by the fluid work of "The Good Artist." The identity of the anonymous comic book artist began to unravel for young Joseph through casual conversation with another icon of Walt Disney Productions in the 1950s: story sketch artist & gag man, Roy "The Big Mooseketeer" Williams.

"PopNuts"The Original Cartoon Barks Drew For Joseph Cowles
Artwork by Carl Barks
Donald Duck & Nephews © Disney, Image Courtesy of Joseph Cowles

Thus began a journey in which Cowles would be amongst the initial core group of fans who actively sought out "The Good Artist"closely following the first fans to contact Barks, John Spicer and Malcom Willits (read Jim Korkis's detailed account of their first contact HERE

Joseph managed to obtain not only Barks's name, but his mailing address, which began a correspondence and series of visits to the Hemet, CA home of Carl and Garé Barks. In 2012 Cowles collected his memories of those interactions, and several related essays on the influences and legacy of Carl Barks in the book Recalling Carl which is available to order HERE

Recalling Carl by Joseph Robert Cowles and Barbora Holan Cowles
(Event Horizon Press, 2012)

Recalling Carl is a refreshing look at the work of Carl Barks and at the man himself shorn from a unique perspectiveCowles's recollections are well-detailed and written with the confidence of a world view adult, deftly balanced by maintaining his point of observation as a teenager.

The following Q&A keys off of what you'll find in Recalling Carl. Keeping to the mission of keeping the contents of this blog unique, Mr. Cowles has generously provided a treasure trove of new information, images and insights on our subjects. My questions are formatted in blue text, his responses are formatted in red text.

Q&A With Joseph Cowles, Author of Recalling Carl
Joseph Robert Cowles:
Author, Editor, Designer, Publisher and Futurist
Image © Joseph Cowles & Courtesy of

You started working at Disneyland at 16, starting as a Busboy and ultimately moving through food services up to Popcorn Vendor. How many years in total did you work at the park? Did you hold many positions in between?
I began work at Disneyland on my 16th birthday in June 1957. My mother was one of "Walt's Girls" who ran the Disneyland PBX* switchboards, answering all phone calls and connecting them to the correct parties via cables, like those one might see in old movies. Mother had me file an application with UPT Concessions (the division of United Paramount Theaters that was licensed to run many of the snack stands throughout the Park.) One could work for a concessionaire at age 16, but had to be 18 to work directly for Disneyland.
July 1955: 14 Year-Old Joseph Cowles Drives the
Disneyland Autopia About Ten Days After the Park Opened,
Note the Absence of Vegetation: Those Open Areas Would Soon
Be Landscaped With Flowers, Shrubs and Trees
Image © & Courtesy of Joseph Cowles
I worked full time during the summers as a busboy at the Dairy Bar in Tomorrowland (sponsored by the American Dairy Association, operated by UPT) full-time through the summer months and on weekends and holidays during the school year. I "retired" in June 1959 to begin a sort of nitty-gritty internship in the screenprinting shop of an ad agency in Los Angeles on the Monday after high school graduation. About fifteen months later I returned to Anaheim to work at Disneyland as a popcorn peddler during the winters and as night manager of the Malt Shop (again UPT) in Frontierland during summer, until late March or early April 1962. During this time I also did a Monday through Friday 8:00 p.m. to midnight shift on one of the first FM radio stations in Southern California, KFIL, spinning jazz and big band records. Throughout both periods in Anaheim, beginning in early 1959 and continuing through mid-1962, I worked part time doing ad layouts for a small local magazine, This Week in Orange County.
Young Joseph Cowles Helms a Main Street U.S.A.
Popcorn Cart at Disneyland, Circa 1960
Photo by David Cowles, Image © & Courtesy of The Good Artist

That's an impressive and varied resume by age 21! Your connection to Disneyland doesn't stop with your Mother, either: I think everyone would like to know some background on the photo of "Mitch" you've provided.
The actual Fire Chief of Disneyland at that time, Thomas Jefferson Mitchell. The real Disneyland fire department was staffed by firefighters employed by the City of Anaheim Fire Department, whose salaries were paid by the Park. This photo of "Mitch" was a transparency taken by, I believe, Amador Acosta, who in those days was the official photographer of Disneyland. I've heard that few of Acosta's photo archives of the park have survived, having been discarded during the "housecleanings" the Disney organization undergoes from time to time. The reason I have the photo is because Mitch became my stepfather when he and my mother married in 1958. In the photo he's dressed in a gaslight-era uniform, which he wore while going about his business of looking for fire hazards. Like the Disneyland security/police force, these guys were all professional and dead serious about protecting Park and Guests from all harm.
Thomas Jefferson Mitchell:
The Actual, Working Fire Chief of Disneyland, Circa 1955
Image Courtesy of Joseph Cowles
You can also see the newness of the vegetation in this Main Street photo of Mitch, which was probably taken soon after the Park was opened in late July 1955. The larger of the trees visible in the background are actually located in Adventureland, which that time had received the most landscaping. Walt was under a great deal of pressure to get Disneyland open and paying its own way, so he decided to push ahead even though the vegetation was lagging behind.
During your time there, the park was experiencing substantial growth—especially during 1958 and 1963. Seeing construction progress, that anticipation must have been deliciously palpable.
The Park was still being developed at the time I began working there. The Matterhorn was being built, the Flying Saucers in Tomorrowland, and some things in Frontierland. They added another ship on the Rivers of America, the Columbia, in 1958. I believe it was a replica of a windjammer. I was no longer at the Park in 1963, so don't know what was going on at that time. I think it was in the winter of 1961-62 that I was working the popcorn wagon in Frontierland (might have been the preceding winter; I'm not certain) and watched the Chicken Plantation being torn down with a wrecking ball. I wrote to Carl about the experience, and that inspired his Donald Duck 10-page story "The Master Wrecker" which appeared in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #264 (1962).
Did you ever encounter Walt or Roy O. Disney, or did your scheduling not jibe with their walk-throughs/visits?
Walt was often at the Park. I don't recall ever seeing Roy. There was one brief occurrence in late 1961 when Walt asked me for a cigarette (in those days most everyone smoked). I was working the wagon at the Hub (where Main Street linked to the four "Lands"). Walt had become sort of an ambassador for foreign dignitaries, including some whose culture or religion eschewed smoking. He was a chain smoker. He'd developed a routine where he took these guests to the front entrance of the Monsanto House of the Future, left them there to go through the exhibit, dashed over to the Hub to sit on one of the park benches and smoke a cigarette, then dashed back to meet them as they were exiting the Monsanto House. On this particular day he discovered he was out of cigarettes and I was just a few feet away so he asked if I had one (employees in uniform or costume did not smoke in front of guests.) I dug a pack out of the pocket of my jacket, which was in the big red box where we kept the popcorn, salt, oil and boxes, then handed it to him. He shook one out, handed the pack back to me, ripped off the filter and put it in the trash bin, lit the cigarette, and went back and sat down, puffing happily. (I quit smoking several years later.)
Walt Disney Observes Early Morning
Main Street U.S.A. Cleaning and Maintenance
Image © and Courtesy of Vintage Disney Parks 
The only other interaction I had with Walt was also in late 1961, I think. Mother received invitations to preview a new Disney movie at the Studio in Burbank—Moon Pilot. It was a decent bit of fluff, although it was rather a long drive to take to see a movie. Walt and other Studio execs were there. After the showing he shook hands and chatted with some of the folks in the audience, said "Hi, Jess" to my mom, reached over and shook my hand, and asked if I liked the movie. I said yes, and he smiled and asked, "What did you like most?" I answered, "Dany Saval." He smiled and said, "Yeah. Me too."
 Poster Art for Walt Disney's Moon Pilot (1962)
Image Courtesy of The Disney Films
© Disney
Walt's hideout was above the firehouse at the head of Main Street. Mother told me that Walt knew who I was, and if I ever wanted to talk to him I could sit on the landing of the stairwell leading up to his apartment, and that he might come outside and sit next to me to talk while he smoked a cigarette. I was rather shy in those years, and never got brave enough to chat with him personally, even though at the time I was considering a career in cartooning.
I wrote about Western Publishing's presence at the bookstore in the Main Street Arcade, and Jim Korkis added that Dell/Gold Key comics were available at the newsstands flanking the front entrance tunnels. Do you have any memories of the bookstore? Do you recall the comics being sold anywhere else in the park at that time?
During the years I was there, the place I went for comics (and where I bought the foreign editions of Disney comics I sent to Carl) was a shop in the back part of the Emporium on Main Street, called "Bell, Book and Candle." I don't recall there being any comics other than Disney titles, and have no recollection of any other place in the Park where there were comic books.
I should also mention that virtually every ride, attraction, restaurant and store at Disneyland had a commercial tie, as that is how Walt raised the capital to build the Park.
Indeed, that participation was vital to the formative years of the parksomething a lot of current-day critics don't seem to realize, or care to absorb.
The conventional financial investors were oblivious to the potential of the Magic Kingdom. The E.P. Ripley and other passenger trains were created through sponsorship of the Santa Fe Railways; the Rocket to the Moon attraction was sponsored by Trans World Airlines; Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Carnation, Sunkist, Bank of America, Wurlitzer, Yale and Towne (all locksets at Disney were Yale), American Dairy Association, Crane Plumbing, Richfield Oil Company (Autopia Cars), Swift & Company, American Motors, Monsanto... these are just a few of the sponsors that come to mind when I think of Disneyland as it was in the 1950s. Sponsors come and go, of course, and some of these firms are no longer in business, while the Disney Parks continue to thrive.
Soon to be Occupied By Starbucks Coffee in Late 2013, The Market House on
Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. Was Originally Sponsored by Swift Premium Meats
Images © and Courtesy of Stuff From The Park

On the the creative side of your experience, Studio story man Roy Williams directed you to Western Publishing initially. Jack Kinney's book Walt Disney and Other Assorted Characters paints Roy as a playful, yet rowdy "wild card" in the early years at the Studio. His TV notoriety and age likely mellowed Roy a bit by the time you met him, did Williams speak candidly with you, or was he more avuncular?
I of course knew Roy as the "Big Mooseketeer" cartoonist from The Mickey Mouse Club on television, but knew little else about him beyond what he looked like, and that he'd had cartoons published in The New Yorker. From time to time he was working in Tomorrowland (I think at The Art Corner), drawing Disney cartoon characters on large sheets of newsprint with felt-tip pens. Roy would sometimes stop by my wagon for a box of popcorn and we would chat a bit. He was always very nice.
Longtime Studio Story and Gag Artist Roy Williams Became Well-Known as
"The Big Mooseketeer" on Television's The Mickey Mouse Club
Image Courtesy of Kevin Kidney's Miehana Blog
© Disney
One day he showed up after not being around for a couple of months. I said something like, "Haven't seen you for a while, Roy. How've y' been?" He told me he'd been recuperating from a medical procedure; he'd had to have his varicose veins "stripped," because he'd messed up his legs playing football in high school. The football field was where he picked up the nickname "Moose." 
Roy's suggestion to visit to Western's Beverly Hills office certainly paid off. Was it through (Carl's editor) Chase Craig that you obtained Barks's identity and address? Did you witness anything significant during that visit to Western?
Although I later knew the name Chase Craig, I am not certain who the people were that I met at Western. I do know one was an editor, and the person told me that Walt Disney's Comics and Stories was the most popular of all comic books being published at the time, and was a magazine second in circulation only to Reader's Digest. I believe the annual circulation of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories was upwards of 25 million.
Chase Craig, Western Publishing's Walt Disney Comics Editor, Circa 1969
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Recalling Carl goes into some fine detail of your meetings with Carl and his wife Garé—your genuine admiration of his work in progress that first meeting must have been one of the very first he experienced outside of his own social and family circles. What did you take away from your interactions with Carl and Garé that you hold onto today... advice, attitudes, ethos? Things you use in everyday life?
Interesting questions. We spoke mainly about his work, and he told me of various problems he had in dealing with the Western/Disney editorial notions, how little he was paid for his work, how bad the coloring and printing was, the awful deadlines, and other "pitfalls of a hack cartoonist's lowly, lonely existence." I actually thought he was pulling my leg quite a bit, although I didn't come right out and say so. I simply couldn't imagine that the world's greatest cartoonist was being paid peanuts, even though I could see that his lifestyle was far from lavish. I'd heard Walt Kelly and Al Capp and Charles Schulz were earning well into six figures per year in those days, and figured Carl's work should have been worth far more. It's really too bad Carl never got anything into newspaper syndication.
 Joseph Cowles Poses With Carl and Garé Barks
During His First Visit to their Hemet, California Home
Photo by David Cowles, Image © & Courtesy of The Good Artist 
Something Carl told me that I absolutely use in everyday life has to do with writing well. At the time we met, my spelling was unfortunate, my thoughts jumbled, and my ability impaired by the nonsense of what people sometimes refer to as writer's block. (Well, I was only nineteen.) His advice was essentially, "Just crank it out. Don't worry about whether what you're writing is perfect, or even good; get your thoughts onto paper. Once you've done that, you can go back and edit, fix your spelling, rearrange things, polish your grammar, detangle your modifiers. Eventually, over time, you'll develop skills that enable you to come pretty close to getting what you want in your first draft." (It's been over fifty years since we spoke about this type of stuff, so obviously the above isn't an actual quote. It is however an accurate representation of what he advised me.)
Carl's own writing was generally quite clean; his artwork loose and flowing, yet impeccable. A couple of years ago my now late brother, David, sent me the original handwritten draft of a story Carl crafted based (very loosely) on some of my Disneyland popcorn boy antics, "The Candy Kid" (named after a silent Oliver Hardy film Barks saw as a teenager). Except for the revised ending, the draft shows no rewrites and only the most modest of tweaks.
Barks Crafted the 10-Page Story "The Candy Kid" Based on Cowles's
Anecdotes as a Disneyland Employee in 1962: The Influence of
Seattle's Century 21 Exposition is Front and Center
From Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #263 (August 1962) 
Story by Carl Barks and Joseph Cowles, Art by Carl Barks
© Disney, Image Courtesy of The Good Artist

Thanks to your generous contribution, both your draft and Carl's outline are going to be posted as a downloadable PDF for readers to peruse at the end of this post. Your experience turned "The Candy Kid" into one of Carl's most madcap 10-pagers for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. In fact, I realized today that it was featured in the last Dell Comics issue of that title before transistioning to the Gold Key imprint the following month.
One thing I wanted to point out was that my original and rather jejune tale that Carl turned into "The Candy Kid" had Disneyland as its locale, and in fact the character of "Mr. Stumble" [Donald Duck's suffering Boss in the story] is a caricature of Frank Stabile, the person who managed all of the food concessions operated by UPT Concessions. Carl was afraid someone would get upset if the story took place at Disneyland, so the locale became the Duckburg World's Fair, inspired by the Seattle World's Fair and its "Space Needle," which plays an important role in the finished story. On one of their "seldom vacations," Carl and Garé did get to visit the Seattle event.
 The Space Needle at the Duckburg World's Fair
Supplied the Perfect Comic Climax in "The Candy Kid"
From Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #263 (August 1962) 
Story by Carl Barks and Joseph Cowles, Art by Carl Barks
© Disney, Image Courtesy of The Good Artist
The three typewritten pages are my story notes from which "The Candy Kid" was developed; these I wrote after Carl and I had discussed the basic idea and agreed it shouldn't take place at Disneyland (also after he'd made the "PopNuts" drawing for me). If there are any gags in this tale that Carl used in the final version, I'm sure they originated with him. "How are ya?" was Mr. Stabile's standard greeting. In the comic book, Carl had Mr. Stumble saying, "How're you doing, duck?"
Donald's Frustrated Boss, Mr. Stumble in "The Candy Kid" Was
Based on Cowles's Sharp, Real-Life Disneyland Boss, Frank Stabile
From Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #263 (August 1962) 
Story by Carl Barks and Joseph Cowles, Art by Carl Barks
© Disney
The Disneyland setting for "The Candy Kid" was my notion because that was the only such setting I was familiar with. Carl's concern about changing that locale was expressed as "avoiding lawsuits" or something of the sort. It may have been because I'd based my character of Mr. Stumble on that of my boss, Frank Stabile (who was often take as a double for Walt himself). When the comic book finally came out, seven or eight months after I'd sent my rough story idea on to Carl, I of course bought a few copies to give to folks, including Mr. Stabile, who was delighted with it. He was a nice guy and a brilliant manager who stayed directly involved with all the concessions he ran, and knew all of his dozens and dozens of employees by name and sight. He of course had major-domos to take care of the grunt work, and there were corporate types somewhere up the line to whom he reported (back in New Jersey or somewhere), but Frank Stabile was autonomous in his position and a major major-player in the Disneyland of that era. The man had, literally, a sixth sense for trouble. He could be walking halfway across the Park from some concession he'd just left, would suddenly feel something was wrong, turn on his heels and walk all the way back to find that, indeed, there was something out order.
At the time I didn't realize how much I was learning by observing him in action, and I can see some of it in myself now from the way I've learned to juggle and handle lots of varied projects at one time. It's a skill I mastered throughout the years, of course, interacting with thousands of clients (and always under some "impossible deadline"), but the foundation goes straight back to those several years I worked at the Park in concessions managed by the ubiquitous "Mr. Stumble."
You mentioned to me that Carl didn't visit Disneyland more than two or three times, despite his relatively close proximity in Hemet, CA. I imagine days spent away from the drawing table or easel wouldn't be enjoyed waiting in lines or meandering about artificial facades of particular eras he'd actually experienced. Would you agree with that premise?
That's a satisfactory premise, and likely on the mark. Another factor may have had to do with Carl's hearing difficulties, which would have been exacerbated by the high noise level of the Disneyland environment. In addition to personal time being a precious commodity
he avoided trivializing, it may be that for Carl the expense of a day at
Disneyland wasn't that inviting. He'd been there once, seen and
enjoyed it and satisfied his curiosity, and perhaps was complete with
it, not feeling a need to return. He was in his mid-50s when the Park
first opened, had no youngsters around, hung out with friends his own
age, and enjoyed the adult social scene there in the San Jacinto and
Hemet area.
Long Before Fans Uncovered His Identity, a Profile of Barks Was
Showcased in a Local Southern California Publication The Hemet News, 
For Which He Occasionally Provided Artwork
Image Courtesy of Joseph Cowles

Your career path eventually strayed from cartooning, but you obviously possess a creative muse and an eye for design: your writing style flows beautifully, and the skills incorporated in your design of the PDFs at are elegant yet dynamic. Did Carl's advice give you trepidation about a career in cartooning, or were there other factors (e.g. the shifting trend of simplification in cartooning during the mid to late 1960s)?
Thank you for your kind kudos. Yes, at the time The Big Mooseketeer suggested how I might track down "The Good Artist," I was still giving some thought to cartooning as a potential career, and doing quite a lot of drawing. I also enjoyed that radio gig, had close friends in the business, and would perhaps have enjoyed a career in broadcasting—especially news broadcasting. But I also came from a family with a publishing background, had studied journalism, and had a bent for advertising, marketing and design, which eventually won out as my occupation. In addition to Carl Barks, my personal heroes include Edward R. Murrow, Condé Nast, David Ogilvy, and Art Paul.

A portion of Recalling Carl contains a proposal to adapt a Barks tale into a feature film. Your suggestion of "Old California" is a perfect vehicle, and I recall Barks mentioned it as one of his favorites on several occasions. Not only does it contain all the hallmarks of a major screenplay, I always felt it would be a perfect fit as an attraction at Disneyland's California Adventure: the ducks interact with actual California history, it contains respectful Latino depictions (and they could move a lot of merchandise through the ride exit, including a reprint of the original Barks story.) Have you gained any feedback or momentum since the book's release?
None that I know of. Well, Disney is a strange animal. It's all-powerful in some ways, and in others it's the Baby Huey of the film industry. For better or worse, the company's direction is entirely different than it was under Walt. In my opinion (and that of a number of others), no one at Disney—or Western for that matter—ever truly comprehended the Barks phenomenon. I think a marketing maven such as Kay Kamen (another of my heroes) would have guided the Disney company into an entirely different arena. I've read that Disney CFO Jay Rasulo is slated to step into the head seat when Bob Iger retires in 2015. This could be a very good sign, because the motion picture game all comes down to finances.
Cowles Proposes Developing Carl Barks's Book-Length Adventure 
Old California as a Hybrid Live Action/Animated Feature Film
From Dell Four Color #328 Walt Disney's Donald Duck in Old California (May 1951)
Story and Art by Carl Barks
© Disney
Understanding the ongoing popularity the Donald Duck of Barksdom has enjoyed for four generations, having being translated into a couple dozen languages, republished again and again, owning an already existing global audience, and all the other facts and figures that the motion picture industry traditionally relied upon to make sound business decisions before the notion of "formula" properties infected the studios—these are the things financial officers understand and know how to work with. Clearly, Disney is sitting on a franchise with the potential to net a modest $10 billion and up while investing a small fraction of that amount. And they already own it. Outright. Everything's already in place. It's simply a matter of hitting the launch button. Maybe George Lucas will set them straight.
Thank you so much, Joseph, for taking valuable time to participating to contribute such detailed answers and outstanding visual resources. I think a cross-pollination of early Disneyland and Carl Barks fans will be satisfied. We'll have created a nice overlap once this is posted in full—a most concise entry.

The topics touched upon in this post are just a taste of what Recalling Carl has to offer. When you read the book, you'll discover more details of what we've covered, as well as:
  • How the Cowles family connection to Walt Disney actually reaches further back to Kansas City and the Laugh-O-Gram Studio!
  • A look at Walt Disney Studio's original marketing genius, Kay Kamen
  • Joseph's recollections of open and casual visits with Carl and Garé Barks
  • Handwritten letters from Carl Barks
  • Solving the mystery of the artist "Homora" and the early art history of
    California that influenced the Donald Duck book-length tale "Old California"
It should be noted too, that Joseph Cowles has been busy creating attractive newsletters for The Carl Barks Fan Club, headed up by Ed Bergen which celebrates all things Barks, you can visit and join them HERE

 Celebrate All Things Ducky When You Join The Carl Barks Fan Club
Image Courtesy of CBFC
© Disney
He is also busy re-coloring stories for Fantagraphics Books for their high-quality and ambitious new Carl Barks Library-an ambitious, multi-year project reprinting the entire Walt Disney comic book work drawn by Barks (that's over 500 stories!) The first volumes have been released, which you can preview and order HERE

The First Volumes of the Ambitious New Carl Barks Library
Series From Fantagraphics Books Are Now Available
Image Courtesy of Fantagraphics Books
© Disney

As mentioned during the Q&A, thanks to the generous offering of the materials by Mr. Cowles, clicking on the text below will enable you to download/view a PDF of Joseph Cowles's original typewritten draft and Carl Barks's handwritten outline for "The Candy Kid":

* PBX: Private branch exchange, a telephone exchange that serves a particular business or office.