Review: Donald Duck - A Christmas for Shacktown

What a nice way to spend my holiday break: reading this new volume in Fantagraphics' ongoing re-publishing of the great Carl Barks' Donald  Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics.

The title story, of course, has a Christmas theme and a number of the other stories also feature a holiday and winter setting, making it perfect for this time of year.

But, then, anytime is perfect for Barks. He was the perfect cartoonist. He was so good at nearly everything: Humor, adventure, dialogue, visual storytelling, plot, lovely artwork, etc. He could do wonderfully funny one-page humor strips or 30-plus page adventure stories with equal aplomb.

This volume features some great stuff: The heartwarming title story, in which Donald and his nephews run themselves ragged trying to get cheap old Uncle Scrooge to donate a few bucks to the needy, the debut of Scrooge's money pit, and a couple of great adventure-quest stories: "The Golden Helmet" and "The Gilded Man."

This stuff is so much fun and stands up very well. My 9-year-old daughter had a great time breezing through it, too.

It's also the best value among the current treasure trove of comic and comic strip reprints. For under $20 (online), you get a lovingly designed hardcover featuring 200-some pages of Barks comics in fabulous color on durable, non-shiny pages. Plus, there's a nice overview of stories, placing them in historical context and a bio of Barks in the back. I love DC's Archives and Marvel's Omnibus volumes, but I wish their reprints were more like this.

Don't miss this opportunity to collect the Complete Barks!