Comics Speculator: Interest in Vintage Carl Barks’ Disney Duck Titles Spike with New ‘Ducktails’ Cartoon

Life is like a hurricane, here in Duckburg. Lasers, race cars aero-planes it’s a duck-blur. Don’t act like you don’t know the words. In a recent press-release, Disney announced its bringing back Ducktales, the animated adventures of Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, Huey, Dewy and Louie along with a whole cast of other ducks. Disney XD, the company’s animation network, ordered a season of the new Ducktails slated for air in 2017.

Donald Duck #9, Dell, 1940 (first Barks Donald Duck)

Donald Duck #9, Dell, 1940 (first Barks Donald Duck)

The Emmy-winning Ducktails originally ran from 1987-90 as part of the Disney Afternoon which included other beloved shows like Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Talespin and Darkwing Duck. Ducktales was inspired by the comic book work of Carl Barks and brought his anthropomorphic world of adventure to life in each episode. Barks, who is lovingly referred to as “The Good Duck Artist” is considered the king of Disney Duck comics and the man who made Donald Duck a house-hold name. Barks worked on countless duck comics in 1940s and ’50s and went on to paint an entire series of duck-themed oiled paintings.

With news of the Ducktails revival expect to see another spike in Barks Duck comics and original art. Unfortunately, first printings of the 1940s Dell Four Color Comics with Barks art are very hard to come by.

Donald Duck #9, Dell, 1940 (first Barks Donald Duck)

Why it’s hot: This was the first Dell Four Color to feature Barks art on a Donald Duck story titled “Donald finds Pirate Gold.” The story was adapted from an un-produced cartoon and was the first story to feature Donald and his nephews on a treasure hunt. These treasure hunting stories would go on to be a theme in Bark’s later Ducktales, which would eventually become the Ducktales cartoon I watched as a kid. Oddly, this wasn’t his first comic work but it routinely sells for more than the Pluto Saves the Ship comic he worked on earlier that same year.

How Much? This one is going to cost you. There’s no real info out there for print-runs on these 1940s Dell Comics but, like the other comics of the day, they were printed on very cheap paper that degraded badly if not kept in perfect storage conditions. These issues are almost impossible to find and sell for upwards of $10,000 in 9.4 Near Mint condition. Back in 2008 a copy in CGC 9.4 condition (one of only two copies in that condition on the CGC census) sold for $31,070 at Heritage Auctions. Even in 2.0 condition, this comic sells for $800 but good luck finding a copy in any condition. If you can find it… buy it!

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #31, Dell, 1943 (Barks’ monthly duck stories begin)

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #31, Dell, 1943 (Barks’ monthly duck stories begin)

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #31, Dell, 1943 (Barks’ monthly duck stories begin)

Why it’s hot: This issue contained the first 10-page Donald Duck story written and drawn by Barks and began his monthly duck stories. This story saw Donald battling three pesky crows that keep stealing the seeds from his garden.

How much? Not much cheaper here, unfortunately. The beginning of Barks’ Duck run will cost you $8,000 in 9.4 condition and, again, it’s nearly impossible to find. Heritage Auctions sold one of the three copies listed in 9.0 condition (there’re none listed in higher condition) for $6,572.50 in 2012. If a copy in higher condition were to go up for sale there is no telling how much it would go for. Again, pick this one up in any condition. Buy it!

The real prize for any true Disney Duck fan is one of Barks’ original Duck oil paintings. In the early 1970s, Carl Barks produced more than 120 oil paintings starring the Disney Ducks and today they sell for huge prices. In 2011, an original Barks oil painting titled “The Sport of Tycoons,” featuring Scrooge McDuck diving into his vault of gold coins while Donald and his nephews look on, sold for $262,900 at Heritage Auctions. These original Barks Duck paintings don’t trade hands often so when they do prices tend increase exponentially.

If you can’t afford these collectables, you can still pick up and enjoy Barks’ Disney work in beautiful hardcover reprints currently being printed by Fantagraphics and available at quality comic shops everywhere.

This Barks oil painting titled “The Sport of Tycoons” sold for $262,900 at Heritage Auctions.

This Barks oil painting titled “The Sport of Tycoons” sold for $262,900 at Heritage Auctions.


Matt Baum is Worthpoint’s comic book Worthologist and Co-Host of the Two-Headed Nerd Comic Book Podcast. If you have questions about these comics or any others feel free to post them in the comments section below or hit him up on Twitter, where he’s constantly yelling about stuff even nerdier than what you just read.

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