Margaret Wynnfred Barks - always affectionately referred to as Garé - was Carl Barks' third and last wife. She was a brilliant landscape painter, which gained her mention in the prestigious publications The International Bluebook and Dictionary of Notable American Women. She was also a valuable help to her husband in his comic book work. The contribution on this page constitutes the only published non-painting work from her hand.
I started working with Carl in 1952. The very first thing I did was the top half-page with the masthead on it (WDCS139 'The Racing Pigeon' - Editor's remark). It said DONALD DUCK in white outline, then had a black shadow around the outside. I was so tense about doing it right that I put it in the wrong place - I put the black on the inside of the letters and it all had to be erased!
Originally, I was working toward being a house-painting contractor and was well on my way, but the second time Carl and I went out together, we were in an automobile accident. My back was injured and I was laid up a number of weeks. It would have been a long time before I could have gone back to house painting. So Carl said that, in the meantime, I could do some work for him, and that was how it started.
For quite a while I just did some of the blacking. I remember one of the first stories I worked on was a Gyro Gearloose in which he caught some mammoth fish (the story was WDCS153 'The Trained Worms' and the one who actually did the fishing was Donald - Editor's remark). Carl left all the scales for me to put on! I was so nervous because I'd never done anything that thousands and thousands of people would look at. I kept having visions of people opening these books and looking at all these scales on the fish to see if they were in just the right places. The first few months I worked with Carl, I was almost as self-conscious as if I were up on a stage.
Before Carl sat down to do a story, he did lots of thinking and wrote odd bunches of notes. Once he was sure he had enough material to make a story, he began to do the actual work. He'd write a few pages of script, then draw for a while, then write at it again. When he got tired of writing, he would draw some more. He didn't like to do it all at once and would do anything to break it up. About half or two-thirds of the way through he would stop and finish the script completely to make sure that it came out at the right length. I didn't always read the scripts before they were drawn, but after he'd drawn a few pages of them, I wanted to read it as Carl wrote it. I'd get interested enough so that I wanted to know what was going to happen. Sometimes Carl himself didn't even know how it was going to come out.
Gradually I asked Carl, What is the worst part for you to do: What do you like least? He said, What I'd like to get rid of is the lettering. I didn't like to letter either, but I figured it would help him, so I started doing the lettering. He would rough it in with a blue pencil, and then I would letter so that it was spaced properly and in the right type of lettering.
Carl used to pull some marvelous faces when he was drawing the expressions on the different duck drawings. He was always trying out the same expression on his own face. He'd pull his eyebrows up and stare. If he was drawing the ducks wide-eyed, he'd open his eyes wider and wider, and suddenly he'd say, I've got the most awful headache! It was from pulling his face around.
During the night, Carl would often come up with a bright idea or a solution to something he was puzzled about, and it would wake him up. In the morning he'd get up and say he had the most wonderful idea in the night, but hadn't written it down. He couldn't for the life of him think of what it was. It was gone. Soon he got to keeping a pencil and paper by the bed. I'd hear his scribble, scribble, scribble in the dark, and I'd say, Turn the light on so you can see what you're doing!
think Carl ever missed a deadline. We were working together
before we were married and were trying to get far enough ahead so
we could take six weeks off for a long vacation. We were trying
to hurry, but the two stories that came up right at that time
were the story of the lemmings (U$09 The Lemming with the
Locket - Editor's remark) - all these lemmings
had to be drawn - and a story in which a bull went through a
china dishwear exhibit at a country fair (WDCS182 'Grandma's
Bull' - Editor's remark) - thousands of pieces
of smashed china were flying around in the air in a large splash
We had a neighbor that knew we were working to leave at a certain time and that we were working day and night. When we finally got the last darn lemming drawn, we just let out a Whoopee! and she came running to our door and asked, Are you finished? And we said, Yeah, we're finished! These two stories took about the most drawing, I think, of anything we ever did, and we happened to have them just when we wanted to go away.
About 1956 or '57 we lived in San Jacinto. We had a young newsboy about twelve years old who used to deliver the paper. One day I made the mistake of inviting him in to see what Carl was doing and let him watch Carl drawing on some of the duck pages. He was fascinated. The next day I went out to water the front yard, and there were about fifteen little neighborhood kids all lined up along the sidewalk outside, all buzzing and talking and pointing. I couldn't imagine what was the matter with them. I looked down to see if I had egg on me, or what it was they were looking at. I suddenly realized it was because this was the house in which Donald Duck was drawn. They all wanted to be invited in to watch Carl work. By that experience we learned to keep very quiet wherever we lived and not let the kids know what was being done in the house.
Carl at his desk
Garé at her desk
This contribution was written in 1981 for Uncle Scrooge McDuck His Life & Times © All rights reserved.