The Don Rosa Papers Episode #1: An Introduction
This series of articles is meant to promote awareness of the Indiegogo campaign to independently print Don Rosa’s classic works, The Pertwillaby Papers and Captain Kentucky. For the first time, a truly complete collection of these comics will be available, helmed by Jano Rohleder (translator and editor of the German collection of Rosa’s Scrooge/Donald Duck comics) and overseen by Rosa himself. You can purchase the books here, along with a host of other rewards: www.indiegogo.com/donrosa
“Scrooge being my favorite character in comic history and Barks my favourite [sic] pure cartoonist, I’ll try not to get carried away too much.” – Don Rosa, An Index of Uncle Scrooge Comics
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Review or Die. For my inaugural articles, I have chosen to feature my favorite cartoonist, Don Rosa. He is currently holding a fundraiser to reprint The Pertwillaby Papers and Captain Kentucky, his first two professional comics, and the most impressive and complete collection of those works to date. I was even fortunate enough to be granted an interview with Mr. Rosa, which will be conducted and posted next week. In the meantime, I will post a series of articles reviewing his professional work and importance as a creative force in comics.
To say Don Rosa is an Eisner award winning writer/artist of Uncle Scrooge comics understates not only his popularity as an author, but the care which went in to every single frame in his body of work. Having grown up on Carl Barks’ classic work on Donald and Scrooge, it was his unspoken dream to write and draw an Uncle Scrooge story in that same vein. And when he finally got that opportunity in 1987 with “The Son of the Sun” he paid tribute to the stories of Unca Carl, a tradition which continued throughout his 19 year career as a cartoonist down to the very last panel he ever drew. With a sense of reverence for the characters, their history, and the comics themselves, his unique voice has made him the most popular living Duck comics author in the world.
Once I finished my first Rosa story, I was hooked. I devoured everything he had written or drawn with the Ducks, and his comics are without question some of my favorite stories in the medium. As a lifelong comics fan, with all that I’ve read, “Prisoner of White Agony Creek” (his final story) remains my favorite comic of all time. And perhaps I would have been left at that, adoring his work on the Ducks, if I hadn’t stumbled across this quote:
“So I started doing the “Son of the Sun” story; in other words, turning that old Pertwillaby Papers adventure back into the story it originally was in my head, starring $crooge, Donald, the nephews, and Flintheart Glomgold.” – Don Rosa
My curiosity was piqued. I had to know more.
The Pertwillaby Papers was Rosa’s first serialized comic, premiering in the University of Kentucky newspaper The Kentucky Kernel in 1971 as, of all things, a political cartoon similar to Doonesbury. Admittedly uninterested in politics at the time, he wrote and drew 65 episodic strips in the newspaper format, biding his time until he could unleash what the first sign of things to come: A comedy/adventure story titled “Lost in (an alternative section of) the Andes”.
An homage even in its title to the classic Carl Barks “Lost in the Andes”, the tale ran from Episode 66 to 127 before ending its run in The Kentucky Kernel, coinciding with Rosa’s graduation. But that wasn’t the end for The Pertwillaby Papers, and only the beginning for Rosa’s career. In 1976, The Pertwillaby Papers resumed in Rockets Blast Comicollector, which we will examine in the next installment.
You can purchase copies of The Pertwillaby Papers and Captain Kentucky from the fundraising campaign at www.indiegogo.com/donrosa