5 rare drawings by Disney’s Carl Barks surface in Chino Hills – The Press-Enterprise

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In writing a while back about the beloved Disney comic book artist Carl Barks, I mentioned that Barks drew a few editorial cartoons for a former Hemet neighbor who had relocated to Rancho Palos Verdes and was fighting with City Hall over a helipad he wanted to build.
This prompted a message from reader Doug Evans.
Wrote Doug: “Hokey smoke, I have some of those Carl Barks helicopter cartoons you mention in today’s column!”
Yes, he really talks like that. And yes, he owns the original pen-and-ink illustrations of some of those obscure cartoons, and a couple of other Barks rarities too.
Doug, who lives in Chino Hills, isn’t a Barks collector. He just happens to own these items. Doug knew of Barks, who died in 2000 at age 99, but hadn’t understood how the unusual helicopter cartoons fit into the artist’s story until my column.
I am here to serve.
Coincidentally, Doug is a good friend, and here he is providing me with column material, which I guess is what friends do. We got together over lunch in Chino Hills to catch up, look at the drawings and discuss how he got them.
To refresh your memory, from 1942 to 1966 Barks wrote and drew comic book stories featuring Donald Duck, his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, and Donald’s Uncle Scrooge — a character Barks created — that were read by millions of children. And he did all this while living in Hemet and San Jacinto.
He owned a chicken ranch, but he made his living from ducks.
Although his work was uncredited, as was the Disney custom, discerning children could tell Barks’ stories apart for their quality. It was only in retirement that Barks’ name became known and his stories were collected in lavish reprint editions with his name as a selling point.
In fact, to mark November’s 75th anniversary of the first Scrooge story, Fantagraphics published a 384-page, $100 hardcover titled “Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: The Diamond Jubilee Collection.”
OK, back to Hemet and San Jacinto — and why did we ever leave?
In the 1940s Barks got to know a neighbor in San Jacinto, industrialist Shelley Stoody, who had bought a 1,500-ranch there.
Stoody had a nice house in Whittier, then traded up to Hacienda Heights, Palos Verdes Estates, Balboa Island and Carbon Canyon as his wealth grew, according to a history column by Paul Spitzzeri in the Chino Valley Champion.
When Stoody, an aviation buff, got into a beef with Palos Verdes officials in 1948 over landing his private helicopter there, Barks supported his friend by contributing some editorial cartoons to the Palos Verdes News.
Using animals rather than people, as in his Disney work, Barks depicted the mayor as a billy goat in suit and top hat who was blocking progress. Baa-aa-ah!
I don’t know how that battle turned out, but Stoody would have been better off if he hadn’t taken up aviation, or had at least practiced basic safety measures.
He died in a notorious 1961 accident in which he crashed his Beechcraft plane into the side of a hill in Carbon Canyon below his landing strip as his wife, Corinne, watched in horror. Three passengers were killed, as was Stoody, who was determined to be intoxicated, Spitzzeri wrote.
Now, back to Doug Evans.
He grew up in Whittier, where the widowed Corinne Stoody was a neighbor and friend of his parents’. In the early 1980s, Stoody was talking with Doug when she brought up Barks as a former San Jacinto neighbor.
Doug, then about 15, said he knew the name. Corinne Stoody told the youngster that was impossible since Barks worked anonymously.
Doug went into his house and returned with “Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times,” an oversized 1981 book with Barks’ name on the cover. Stoody was astonished.
Soon afterward, she cleaned out her house in preparation for downsizing into an assisted living facility. She gave Doug a present: five illustrations by Barks.
These included two of those pro-helicopter cartoons and copies of the newspaper they appeared in. Three other Barks illustrations were part of the cache, at least two of them done specifically for the Stoodys.
One was a New Yorker-style cartoon of a male driver — probably meant to be Barks, paper maps fluttering out of his car — who had stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. The station attendant points to a house across a ravine and says: “Yes! That’s Stoody’s place right over there! You remember that turn-off about 13 miles back!”
Another is a now-faint pencil sketch of Donald Duck, chest puffed out, with such terms as “vigor!” “vitality!” and “pep!” radiating from him. The title: “The morning after at Shelley’s house!”
It was done for the Stoodys’ guestbook and, Doug says, was the “after” of a before-and-after series of two sketches. Corinne Stoody gave the “before” to someone else, but Doug had seen it, and it showed a bedraggled, baggy-eyed Donald before his invigorating stay with the couple.
The final piece is a hand-colored ink drawing of Lena the Hyena signed by Barks. He had submitted it, or a duplicate, to the famous contest by “Li’l Abner” cartoonist Al Capp to depict his off-panel character Lena the Hyena, the world’s ugliest woman. (Basil Wolverton won the contest and became famous overnight.)
This cache includes a manila envelope addressed to the Stoodys in Barks’ characteristic printing with this return address: “C. Barks, Rt. 1, San Jacinto, Calif.”
Doug isn’t selling the art, which he considers a keepsake, but he’s grateful to know more about it. Hey, that’s what friends are for.
I emailed Michael Barrier, a Barks scholar whose “Carl Barks and the Art of the Comic Book” was published in 1982, and attached photos of the find. Was this news to him?
“A trove of five Barks originals is self-recommending in interest,” Barrier replied in part, calling my message “wonderful.”
Good to know I wasn’t barking up the wrong tree.
Chino Hills being a bucolic but low-news city, I used to joke in this space about “my annual Chino Hills column.” Taking the pressure off early, consider today’s column my 2023 submission.
David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, and annually about Chino Hills. Email dallen@scng.com, phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.
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