Monday, 6 March 2017

WDC 405

Recently this piece turned up:
Looks like an alternate version of the cover to WDC 405. But is it by Barks?

Here's  a screenshot of the original listing:

Some people said it was a trace and a fake.
Take a close look. What do you think?

Now, let's see what the *evidence* says.

1. The paper.
See the stamped image in the top left corner? Schoeller Durex was the paper used by Western publishing. The back has preprinted borders. (See image.) So this is done on a genuine Western Publishing board.

2. The stamp
It's stamped with the proper early (1970s) "WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS" stamp, lacking the (c) in the stamp. (Notice it's not stamped with the later stamp that says "(C) THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY")

On to what can be seen and judged:

3. The no-match
The drawing doesn't match the published cover or the painting. Stuff has been drawn differently. (If it had been a forgery/a trace why not try to make it as close as possible?) It's actually closer to the printed cover. I'd say this pre-dates the painting, but this version was used as a basis for the later cover.

See here how the drawing doesn't match the painting. So it's not a tracing. 

4. The handwriting.
The "To Denver Carl Barks" is written by Carl. No doubt about it. (If not this is the best Barks handwriting forgery I've ever seen.)

5. The nephews
Compare the nephews to the printed cover. You can tell that they have been cleaned up by someone else on the cover. (Possibly Larry Mayer.) What we see here is the real deal. You can't forge stuff like this. Barks quick sketches are extremely hard to fake. It's like handwriting.

Now, the tricky thing with this piece is the inking and the double signatures. Why sign a piece twice?

After having looked at this piece I'd say it's by Barks. At least the pencils. It might have been inked by Carl by the request of the fan. Remember that this was done in the mid 70s or later. Barks had not been inking regularely with a nib for many years. And he was in his mid 70s or older. Look at this inked piece from 1977.  Not exactly up to par with what he did in the late 60's.

Carl Barks 1977

Or... the inking and the extra signature might have been added at a later date by someone else to "enhance" the piece. I have to see the piece in person to judge that.

My conclusion:
The paper, the first signature, the stamp and the pencils is the real deal.
The inking I have to examine in person to judge it. To be really, really sure I'd probably have to see a photo with Barks holding the inked piece.


Here's the printed cover and the original art to WDC 405. (Courtesy of Inducks and Heritage Comics.)


Kim Weston said...


Your analysis sounds quite plausible, and I agree with you on the authenticity of the drawing. This could well be Barks first sketch of what later became the painting. Somewhere along the line he also painted the painting, which more closely matches this drawing in terms of shading and positioning than it does the final cover. And possibly sometime later he inked it and sold it, or possibly gave it to the owner. Also somewhere along the line he submitted it to Western as a cover idea. He may have just sent Western a photocopy of the un-inked sketch. The idea was accepted, and he refined and redrew the image. What I have heard and reported in my Carl Barks Index is that his wife Garé inked the final cover, and then Barks would have sent it in to Western for publication. As you note, Carl had not been doing regular inking for a number of years, and his inking was not what it had been a few years earlier. For sale to a fan, he might well have inked the drawing himself. But for publication, he might have preferred the more professional finishing of Garé's hand. I have tentatively dated the cover to September,1973, and it was published as the front cover of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, June, 1974. And the code date for the painting indicates that it was done late in 1973.

Kim Weston

Arnaud said...

You're right about the nephews - I've seen several Barks rough sketches inked that way, that would be something very difficult to fake, probably more than a finished artwork. Of course Donald's eyes look weird, but so did they on the finished cover, indeed his inking back then wasn't as accurate as it was before. About the two signatures - well I've seen Barks signature on many things, including daily strips that he obviously hasn't drawn, I guess he wasn't too picky about signing everything he was asked for, so why not his own rough sketch two times ? So in the end I have to agree with you.