What Every Collector Should Have On Their Shelf: 'The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck'

By Michael R. Murray,

I have recently taken on the idea to submit ten essays, one per week, taking an in depth look at what I think are some of the finest examples and collections of comic book stories around.  By no means have I read everything ever printed and don’t claim to know it all.  I have read and own everything on this list as well as a large amount more.  This is an eclectic collection that I, personally, think would please not just hardcore collectors but casual fans as well.  And that’s the most important criteria in forming this list; I looked at complete stories, easily accessible, without too much history to learn.  Something that a casual fan, or even non comic fan can pick up and possibly enjoy.  Last week featured J. Michael Straczynski and Gary Frank’s Supreme Power.

Number Nine: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.  Written and Drawn by Don Rosa.  This is not to be confused with Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times.   This book has been collected in several editions and volumes at different prices.

Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck paperback

Don Rosa is the modern day Duck Master.  His fanboy love of Carl Barks’ work is clear in this beautiful 12 chapter story that fills in the gaps of Scrooge McDucks life.  Rosa relentlessly hunts down every reference Barks ever made about Scrooge’s past life and meticulously fits them into workable timeline that spans from 1877 through 1947.  Not only does Rosa do justice to what Barks originally created, but he also shares little bits of true history in where applicable, and in my opinion that makes this whole story even more fascinating.   We get to see Scrooge as a penniless young lad before he ever immigrated to Ducksburg.  Along the way we get to meet his family and inspirations.  The meetings with his enemies that have been continuously confounded over the years.. It’s a grand adventure that Dr. Indiana Jones would be jealous of as Scrooge travels to every corner of the globe and gets into more predicaments than he may currently have coins.  The art is beautifully rendered and offers up not only the colorful characters we love from the popular television show Duck Tales, but also has a real world realism and grittiness that’s not dirty or dark, but just evident of the talent on hand.

I sure wish that Americans loved the Ducks as much as the Europeans do, because this collection deserves more praise than it’s gotten, and it’s received plenty.  This story won the Eisner Award in 1995 for “Best Serialized Story” as well as being a top vote getter in 1997 by Comic Buyers Guide for fan favorite reprint graphic novel or album.  Constant demand is why it’s been published several times from Gladstone to Boom Studios.

In my collection I have the original Gemstone Limited Edition hardcover and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Don a number of times.  Once he drew a steaming mad Scrooge right into the book for me, so it’s a more personal piece in my collection but doesn’t change how I feel about it.  It’s a straight up collection of the twelve chapters that make up this story and I read this to both of my children when they were too young to read it on their own.   We had a great time with it.  Subsequent printings included expanded chapters from the originals offering up small changes and more adventure and there is also a Companion volume in which new chapters were created.

 

Michael R. Murray read his first comic and has been buying and collecting for over 35 years.  At one point his collection included two copies of Amazing Spider-man #1, and one copy each of Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #2, Avengers #4, Showcase #22, and dozens more high grade and key issues.  The collection has grown to include original art pages, as well as statues and busts, with the current emphasis on collecting original drawings from appropriate artists on the inside of his hard covers.  His personal collection of graphic novels consists of over 2,000 hardcovers and trade paperbacks.   He has attended all of the Boston and New York Comic Cons and experienced Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego.  He has championed comic books in the local schools and was very proud that both of his children read at least three years above their grade levels, due nearly exclusively to comics.  He’s quick to point out that none of this makes him an expert, but that his love of comics is most enjoyable when he can share it.  Follow on Twitter at mycomicstore001 or like his Facebook to further share...

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