The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Volume 1 // Review
Disney has some of the most recognizable comic and cartoon characters worldwide, hands-down. From Mickey Mouse to Goofy to Donald Duck, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t at least seen them in a toy store or in pop culture somehow. However, there is only one character in Disney’s pantheon who has a fully fleshed-out life, ready for any new reader to experience and see. That character is Scrooge McDuck, and publisher Fantagraphics Books has released one beautiful hardback (and digital) collection for the fans covering the legendary tale “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.”
All of these issues were written and drawn by Don Rosa, a near legend in the comics world outside of the United States. Originally published in the Danish comic Anders & Co, publisher Gladstone would republish these in English for the first time in the pages of Uncle Scrooge from issues 285-296 back in the mid-1990s. In fact, these comics have been published around the world, and even won Don Rosa an Eisner Award in 1997.
If you couldn’t tell, these are some highly sought-after stories.
Each piece of the story was based upon scraps of Scrooge’s past, as delivered by his creator Carl Barks in his Scrooge McDuck stores. Starting way back in 1877 in Scotland, we meet not just a young Scrooge McDuck, but the entire clan McDuck. Scrooge moves to America to seek his fortune and runs into a veritable who’s who of the world between 1880 and 1947. This includes Teddy Roosevelt, a duck version of John D. Rockefeller, and dozens of minor Disney duckverse characters. While every chapter in this twelve part story is all stand-alone, they weave together to make one fantastic overall story of the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of Disney’s richest duck.
This collection is nothing short of a work of love, in all respects. The original stories themselves are wonderfully crafted from the ground up, in the art, writing, and how it comes together. The early chapters set up the history of Clan McDuck in what initially feels like a series of one-off jokes to establish that Scrooge comes from a long line of… frugal ducks. However, Rosa was able to weave these in as precursors for later chapters, and all to further the development of Scrooge from a wide-eyed idealist into the bitter old duck that Donald and the triplets of Huey, Dewey, and Louie discovered in 1947. Further, Don Rosa has taken the time to include not just the history of the McDucks, but also the Beagle Boys, the McDuck Money Bin, and even why Scrooge has that red coat.
It should be noted; however, this book does go into some dark places, with Scrooge taking actions the character would later regret. It’s not entirely family friendly, but showing Scrooge being purely in the wrong makes Scrooge a more fleshed out character overall. While the book remains altogether family friendly, some parents may wish to preview this content before reading it with their little ones.
Fantagraphics has done a great job with the quality of printing as well. While this review was drawn from the digital edition, even a simple panel is sharp and clear when zoomed in to the maximum. For those who desire to choose their comics digitally, this is fantastic and well worth the price tag. There is also a second collection that features additional (and more obscure) stories Don Rosa would create in later years to supplement the main 12 chapter story, which Fantagraphics has promised will come out in October.
If you’ve ever seen Ducktales in any form or wanted to know more about Disney’s most luxurious character, this is something that belongs on your shelf. Don Rosa’s masterpiece has been collected many times, but this is easily the best collection put out yet.