Sunday, November 08, 2009

Barney Bear by Carl Barks

When I was a boy there were many cartoon characters that frustrated me terribly. Characters like Hong Kong Phooey, Jabberjaw, the Great Grape Ape...I liked those characters. They were, in my opinion, successfully realized: the design and voice casting were top-notch. But the shows themselves were so badly written they infuriated me! Alas, Barney Bear was another character that caused me such distress in my cartoon-consuming youth. He would show up in the middle of the Tom & Jerry show, win me over with his great design and appealing persona, then proceed to bore me to tears. Why, Barney, why???

A lot of mind-numbing mediocrity can be forgiven when you happen to have the Duck Man drawing your comics, however.

I mentioned in an earlier post how Barney and Benny act like an old radio comedy team. In this story that comedy team is Abbott and Costello. Benny acts as Bud Abbott, the straight man/instigator to Barney's Lou Costello, the patsy and victim of all the cartoon violence. Although the ending, with Barney coming out on top, doesn't come from the Abbott & Costello dynamic, but rather from Barks' trademark sense of ironic comeuppance.

Here is Barney Bear and Benny Burro from Our Gang Comics #24 (July 1946):


Mykal said...

Doug: Great post. Thanks for sharing this non-duck Barks! You make such a good point about this story having the Barksian ( a pompous word, I know) sense of irony. Also, the panels of them driving into the park on the second page had so much of the Barks sense of accuracy and reality. I bet there was an actual sign like that in Bark's day, welcoming visitors to Yellowstone.

Bark's lettering was so unique. That "crash" on page 5. If I remember right, his wife did his lettering.

I really enjoyed this. -- Mykal

November 8, 2009 3:04 AM

Doug said...

Thanks, Mykal. I would bet you're right about the accuracy of those drawings. I believe Barks had quite a file of reference photos, made up of mostly issues of National Geographic. There certainly would have been photos of Yellowstone in there!

November 8, 2009 3:20 AM

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