This contribution has been a joint venture between Disney comic book artists John Lustig (scripts) and William Van Horn (scripts and artwork), and their respective wives Shelagh and Elaine.
Also, see Van Horn's article on Garé Barks HERE.
It happens too often. Someone dies and then people begin singing their praises. And it's too late. That's the tragedy.
Garé Barks did receive recognition and some fame during her life. She was a successful landscape artist whose work graced the front of numerous greeting cards. In addition, it was well known that she lettered and assisted with the artwork for many of Carl's greatest stories.
Carl, of course, received most of the attention. And that's only right. But it seems a shame that Garé - who doubtlessly contributed so much to all those wonderful duck stories - never received more attention.
Almost two years ago we had the great pleasure of visiting the Barks'. Garé seemed genuinely surprised when we asked her to autograph some books along with Carl. The attention appeared to embarrass her. But she also seemed pleased.
By then Garé's health had already begun failing. And yet, she still came across as this incredibly feisty woman. Yes, she was gracious and friendly. But she wasn't someone to be pushed around. At least, not easily.
She spoke about a San Diego Comic Con she attended with Carl. This was many years ago before they fully realized how popular Carl had become. Suddenly a mob of fans stampeded towards Carl. Garé had to move aside to keep from being trampled. She was afraid. Not so much for herself, but for Carl. She couldn't get through the crowd to him.
In the following years she protected Carl from many over-zealous fans and overly-inquisitive reporters. She became the dragon at the door. The feisty little woman you had to get past in order to speak with the great man. Surely this was a thankless task. But love is a series of thankless tasks. And in the end it is its own reward.
So maybe it doesn't matter that Garé didn't receive massive amounts of media attention and wild public accolades. That probably would have embarrassed her. In fact, if Garé could read this right now, she'd probably be embarrassed. She'd undoubtedly be surprised. And hopefully she'd be pleased.
& Shelagh Lustig
William & Elaine Van Horn
Carl (holding Monty), Garé, Lustig, and Van Horn in 1991
Lustig, Van Horn, Garé, and Carl the same day
This contribution first appeared in the Comics Buyer's Guide 1993. The photos are the personal property of the authors and appear here for the first time. © John & Shelagh Lustig, William & Elaine Van Horn
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