Carl Barks made several stories in which Negroes* took part. Usually, negroes from the African continent were portrayed in a special, stereotypical way used in those days, such as them wearing loincloths and golden rings, having fat lips and pointed teeth, and speaking either a gibberish-like language or a limited English. Barks followed the mainstream in his stories, but in later issues - when the views on stereotypical negroes changed - his negroes were often censored. On this page you will find examples from three stories, where you can compare Barks' initial, published versions with later, censored issues. The page concentrates on Barks' drawings and dialogues - the different colours used in the different versions are not a topic here.

* The term Negro as used here refers to black-skinned people of African descent and dates back to the middle of the 16th century. Since the late 1960s the term has been ousted and is often substituted with the term Black (Person). This website has no intention whatsoever to offend this vast group of people by using the term Negro in this page, although it may nowadays be conceived as somewhat derogatory. The sole reason for its use here is that the term was common at the time when Barks made his stories.






This is the first of three stories from the so-called dark Africa, and in it Barks drew several examples of negroes the way they were usually drawn at the time. Their stereotypical appearance included fat lips and golden earrings as can be seen in this 4-panel block. Notice how the bottom-right negro has even had his name changed since the first issue!



Another 4-panel block in the story received major surgery in several ways. The negroes still had fat lips and golden earrings, and they also have two additional, stereotypical traits - pointed teeth and bones sticking through the ears! Panel 3 is eliminated to remove the reference to cannibalism and panel 4 is redrawn and enlarged to cover the space. Even the 'innocent' rocks under Donald's feet were redrawn!!! Pay special attention to the texts in panel 2; the original narrative talked about 'Rough savages', while the dialogue talked about a fee of 'Two false teeth'.
The dialogue was changed several times like this in the story. Two examples: Barks mentioned the negroes as 'Cannibals' (later issues refer to them as 'Natives'), and later on the nephews are captured by the 'natives', whereupon the professor points down on the village and says to Donald: 'There are your nephews, and there is the stewpot' (in later issues he says 'There are your nephews, and there is the headman').




The all-dominant second character in this story is, of course, the totally oblivious (he can only hold one thought at a time!) zombie affectionately referred to as Bombie the Zombie by the nephews. When Barks tried to come up with a plausible appearance for Bombie he doodled the 5 faces seen here. For some reason Barks ended up dispensing the stereotypical fat lips, and the final result portrayed Bombie with blank eyeballs and no eyelids. When Barks had delivered the story to the publisher it was feared that children would be frightened by that appearance, and the publisher added pupils and half-closed eyelids to soften things up.



In later issues Bombie received two major alterations in his appearance; his big nose was made considerably smaller, and the ring in his nose was removed. The last alteration called for the quizmaster's dialogue to be changed...



This is an example of a 4-panel block containing several alterations. The big noses have been shortened, the fat lips and the pointed teeth have disappeared as would be expected, but the negro with the top hat has undergone some mysterious changes as well; in the new issues he is missing first his left and then his right earring! His dialogue was also slightly changed from Barks' 'Oh, Lawsy! Lawsy!' to the publisher's 'We are done for!'.
Bear in mind that the Disney Morals Code prohibited any direct mentioning of Death or Dying. Thus it becomes even stranger that the dialogue, when the diminutive professor meets Bombie, was altered from Barks' 'He's not done for!' to the publisher's 'He's not dead!'...



The medicine man was censored just like the other negroes in the story, but Barks offered a few close-ups of him making the alterations easier to spot. No surprises, though; gone are the fat lips, the big nose, and the pointed teeth. Notice, that the negro has been furnished with a wrinkled upper lip making him appear older.





In this 10-pager Barks only drew negroes in 4 panels. This is the first one. The tribe members (who are ducks, and therefore have no fat lips at all) have undergone a highly surprising transition; Barks drew them almost authentically (we are in 1961 and the tides are changing) with curly, black hair on their heads, but later issues depict them with punk-like hairdos and helmets!!! For what reason??? As mentioned initially, the colours are of no concern in this page, but it IS strange that the 'punkers' are portrayed with white duck legs, eh?



The last 3 negro panels. Barks drew the warrior chief with bones sticking out of his nostrils, but they were later deleted. As for dialogue Barks referred to 'Mau Maus' a couple of times throughout the story. This was changed to 'Duk Duks'. The reason is probably rather simple; the Mau Maus were, in real life, a Kenyan political organisation resorting to terrorism for a number of years, so the aforementioned Disney Morals Code was enforced - political issues and implied terrorism were not allowed, either...   Date 2011-02-04