Firebug Artist

Gerstein, David DK - ECN DGE at
Fri Jun 13 15:38:58 CEST 2003

	Hey Rob (and Steve, and others interested),

>I've been looking over the Carl buettner WDC & S covers Nr. 124-129, plus 
>covers he drew for The Cheerios Giveaways.  I have a pretty good idea of

	Please correct me if I'm wrong, but you appear to be judging
Buettner's Duck style based solely on a handful of covers- most of them from
1951, years after his tenure as a regular Disney comics artist (1943-46).

>As he did not (to my knowledge, draw a whole story with the "Ducks", 
>this may be all we have to go on.

	But Carl Buettner *did* draw a whole story with Donald- WDC&S 50's
Three Caballeros story, which was published about a year and a half before
"The Firebug".

>I believe the 2 last [Firebug] panels were [by Buettner, but] drawn
>less in Buettner's style, to fit in more with Barks' drawing in the
>remainder of the story. The short beak IS typical of Buettner's 
>cover drawings.

	I don't know any other way to say this... please don't think of me
as being too harsh...
	It feels like you want to have it both ways. The short beak
indicates a Buettner duck for you, while you explain away any differences
from Buettner's usual style by saying that it's just because he's trying to
imitate Barks.
	It's almost like you're saying that if the duck looks like
Buettner's, that proves it's Buettner's, while if it doesn't look like
Buettner's, that also proves it's Buettner's.

	I strongly feel that "The Firebug" panels can't be Buettner's work,
whether or not he might have been trying to imitate Barks. Let me offer
observations on the following aspects.

	First, the duck design. Buettner's full-length Donald story, the
Caballeros in WDC&S 50, shows a rubbery, gangly Donald with fat, off-model
feet and big reflections in his eyes- a Donald who bears almost no
resemblance to the stiff, black-pupiled ducks with on-model feet in the two
"Firebug" panels. You could explain this by saying that in the "Firebug"
panels, Buettner is imitating Barks- except that the "Firebug" ducks don't
look a lot like Barks ducks either.
	Next, the lettering. As a Western Publishing editor, Buettner
relettered various Barks panels: for instance, in "Ghost of the Grotto" and
"Adventure Down Under". In these cases, Buettner made no effort to hide his
distinctive lettering style. Barks' lettering simply stops and very
different-looking Buettner lettering takes over.
	The lettering style in the "Firebug" panels does not look like
Buettner's at all. You could explain this by saying it's Buettner imitating
Barks- but why should he have imitated Barks' lettering here when he saw no
need to do it at other, similar occasions (like "Ghost of the Grotto")?
	Finally, the voice balloons. Buettner's wolf, bug, and duck stories
of 1944-46 use big, soft, bubbly voice balloons with giant margins and fat,
curved tails. By contrast, "The Firebug" has smoother-edged word balloons
with sharper, straighter, narrow tails. You could explain this by saying
that in the "Firebug" panels, it's Buettner imitating Barks- except that
Barks' voice balloons are generally bubbly with wider, often curved tails.

	My educated guess is that the "Firebug" panels were drawn by Dan
Noonan, whose work in NEW FUNNIES and ANIMAL COMICS I've been collecting for
a long time. Noonan was Walt Kelly's inker for some mid-1940s stories (such
as "Donald Duck and the Seven Dwarfs", 1944). Noonan was also sole artist of
some 1943 covers (WDC 39, reprinted on WDC 609) and stories ("Mickey's
Party" in the 1943 WDC&S Xmas giveaway).
	Noonan's ducks (sorta stiff, thick-legged with on-model feet, eye
pupils either black or pie-cut), lettering style, voice balloons (in
"Mickey's Party"), and even clouds of dust are very similar to those in the
final two "Firebug" panels. A few minor details in "Firebug" (the size and
spacing of the lettering and the tops of the balloon stems, most obviously)
suggest a token effort to make the job look a little Barkslike, but the
overall look is to me still Noonan.

	I've made a webpage where you can do a comparison of "The Firebug",
Buettner, and Noonan yourself. Please respectfully tell me what you think...

	Best, David

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