The Don Rosa Library

Sat 1/26/2019

My new year's resolutions were to read more and to write more. I've been making some progress on my "to read" pile and have been writing at least one blog post a week, so far mostly for my resurrected illustration blog. I guess this post will kill two birds with one stone!

Since 2014 I have been dutifully buying the beautifully-produced box sets of The Don Rosa Library that Fantagraphics has been reprinting. Last year the tenth and final volume of the series was released, thus bringing all of Rosa's duck comics into print in bound form, in America, for the first time ever (these comics have been widely available in collected form all across Europe for many years now). It has been one of the great reading experiences of my life going through this body of work.

Phase 7 readers may remember the moment in Phase 7 #010 when my Dad found a copy of Uncle $crooge #219 at a comic shop in New York. To this day it is my most cherished individual issue of any comic book - Don Rosa's first story, "The Son of the Sun." As detailed in Phase 7 #010, I stopped reading Disney comics in my teen years to briefly dabble in super hero comics before focusing intently on Bone by Jeff Smith.

So as I read through this chronological reprinting of Rosa's entire run of duck comics, an amazing thing happened. Around Volume 6, I hit the point in time where I had stopped reading Rosa's work. Suddenly, there were NEW Don Rosa stories - some of them amongst the best stories he ever crafted! Before now the only way to access this work would be to go back and buy individual issues of the comics from the early 2000s, and even then, I wouldn't have access to many of the bonus materials listed in the back of the collections, which were only ever published in Europe.

Reading volumes 6-10 and savoring these new comics was such an incredible experience for me. It was akin to the time in college when my girlfriend put on the album Let It Be by the Beatles which I had somehow never heard before. Suddenly, magically, at the age of 22, I got to experience 12 new songs from one of my favorite bands. Only this time it was hundreds and hundreds of unread pages by one of my favorite cartoonists.

I hope someday I'll get a chance to meet the series editor, David Gerstein, to thank him in person for all his hard work putting these collections together. Fantagraphics, of course, has my utmost respect and admiration for their continued impeccable editorial taste.

I have met Don Rosa a number of times now and have had a chance to communicate to him the importance of his work in my life, and its influence in me becoming a cartoonist. I give an annual lecture about Carl Barks and Don Rosa at The Center for Cartoon Studies, and Mr. Rosa has actually gone through my slideshow to make a few corrections! Previously, I would educate students (99.99% of which had never heard of Rosa) about his career, but then I would only be able to point them to one or two collections of his work which barely skimmed the surface of his accomplishments, so it feels amazing to finally be able to point them to his entire body of work. I look forward to the day when I will not need to give a Barks/Rosa lecture to American cartoonists, because they will know and respect their work as other cartoonists do around the world.

Anyway, all ten volumes of Don Rosa's work have a place of honor on my "best" bookshelf, right next to the thirty volumes of Carl Barks's life work. Like most kids who collected comics, I used to have the thought, "What if I owned a copy of every comic book ever made?" For me, the only comics worth collecting were those by Barks and Rosa, so it really feels like I'm now living that childhood dream!

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