The Don Rosa Library: Volume One
Published by Fantagraphics Books, July 2014. Hardcover of 208 pages, at $29.99.
The cover: A collage of scenes from the classic story “The Son of the Sun” has a plane plummeting, it’s engines on fire, a giant Incan temple with a circle of diamonds and jewels behind it, and two parachutes falling to the ground, one is what one would expect, while the other is makeshift, carrying the lives of six individuals in its giant eye. Below the title is Uncle Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold refusing to release a golden artifact. This cover takes images from the Don Rosa illustration from French Picsou Magazine 315, 1998. This is a perfect tease of what readers can find within. Overall grade: A+
The stories: This collection has the first thirteen stories Don Rosa illustrated. Three of these stories, short gag stories, were written by Gary Leach. The Rosa written stories begin with “The Son of the Sun,” the first Duck story by Rosa and the one that rocketed him to fame. It’s easy to see why this story is so well regarded: Scrooge and Glomgold are in a race to see who can find the bigger Incan treasure. What follows is an adventure that would inspire Indiana Jones, just as some of the Carl Barks’s stories inspired Steven Spielberg. “Nobody’s Business” has Scrooge pitting Donald Duck against lucky Gladstone Gander to see who can earn the most by investing his money. This is very funny with Gladstone being undone in a very creative way. “Mythological Menagerie” has Donald putting Huey, Dewey, and Louie through the wringer by trying to prove their Junior Woodchuck Guidebook isn’t all inclusive. “Recalled Wreck” has Donald trying to put his car back together after a tragic error is made by his neighbor. “Cash Flow” has the Beagle Boys trying to get into Scrooge’s Money Bin. This is a fantastic 25 page story with science being used and abused in the piece. Fantastic stuff! “Fit To Be Pied” is a fun Halloween short with Donald versus his neighbor. “Oolated Luck” has Gladstone return with his lucky helping him when Donald can’t catch a break. “Last Sled to Dawson” is a massive story with Scrooge revealing a bit of his past while trying to regain an item he thought long gone. All of these stories are funny, with the longer ones being absolutely epic. They are unpredictable and a joy to read. Overall grade: A+
The art: The detail in Don Rosa’s artwork is amazing. There is no dead space, there is no wasted space. Every nook and cranny is filled with art. Yet, it does not overwhelm. Instead it brings to life the world of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, showing a world that is busy, wonderful, and crazed because of what these protagonists do. When Rosa has a large panel dominate the page it’s because something immense happens, not because two heroes are pummeling each other. Outstanding panels can be found on every page, but if a reader were to look at only the bigger panels, take a look at Page 25’s temple, the find on 31, the inevitable on 34, the hilarious punchline on 57, the unthinkable on 87, the speed in the first panel on 90, the beauty of 125 and 138, the arrival on 145, and the memories on 148. The emotions on his characters’ faces continually bring a smile to my face as I can relate to their fear, joy, and heart that they wear on their sleeves. I never tire at looking at this artwork. Overall grade: A+
The coloring: Nea Aktina A. E., Rich Tomasso, David Gerstein, Scott Rockwell, Mike McCormick, Susan Daigle-Leach, and Gary Leach do a great job coloring Rosa’s work. The colors are crisp and bright and full of life. Overall grade: A+
The extras: There are also three additional sections to the book besides reprinting Rosa’s stories. Behind the Scenes contains commentary by Rosa on what went into the creation of each story and little hidden treats inserted into each. It is very interesting to see what he still finds amusing and what he thought was just adequate. I consider myself a Rosa fan, but I didn’t know half the things he reveals. This Should Cover It All focuses on different versions of the covers he created for the books. I didn’t know that Disney edited some of the content for the books, so I was very happy to see what they originally looked like. The Life and Times of Don Rosa is a biography of Rosa by the man himself, starting with his birth and stopping just before 1986, when “The Son of the Sun” was first printed. It includes family photos and early drawings. Highly informational and fun. Overall grade: A+
The final line: This is a collection of the early work of one of the greatest comic book creators. This belongs in every fan’s collection. You can’t call yourself a comic book fan unless you’ve read Don Rosa. This is for anyone that enjoys comics, the ducks, action, adventure, history, writing, art, and fun. I’m so happy that Fantagraphics Books is doing this series. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.