Lost comics

Comic artist William Van Hown grew up with Barks’s comics since his early childhood and he has several things in common with the legendary duck man. Like Barks, Van Horn worked in animation studios before he became a Disney comic artist, and they both were already over 40 years old when their first works were published in the American Disney comic books. And unlike most other Disney artists they use resp. used to write their stories themselves.

panel from OJ2D

Another interesting parallel between the two Americans are their lost Disney comics. A small number of Barks’s stories was rejected by his then editors because of their violence. Decades later they were finally published. Unfortunately, some pages of those shelved Barks stories are still lost, among them two complete Donald Duck ten-pagers. In one of these, originally planned for Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories no. 144, Daisy did not act very ladylike. In the other one, scheduled for Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories no. 196, a bobsled race between Donald and his nephews probably took a too drastic course for the editors’ tastes.

There are lost stories by William Van Horn, too. The reason for this, however, is not censorship, but the fact that these comics were produced for advertising purposes and not for the Disney comic books.

In 1991 Van Horn had illustrated his first advertising gag with Donald Duck for an orange juice manufacturer based on a text by Mike Royer (OJ1). Three years later he drew five more Donald Duck one-pagers written by former Disney editor Bob Foster for the same company (OJ2A, OJ2B, OJ2C, OJ2D, OJ2E). These comics were printed directly on the orange juice cartons. This is also the reason for the unusually narrow page layout. The original drawings could not be found anymore. Bill either gave them to fans or had them auctioned off.

Fortunately the nice Californian had photocopied the five juice pages he drew in 1994 for his own archive and sent them to Peter Kowalewski. These stories were printed in Germany in Donald Duck Sonderheft Spezial no. 5 and Donald Duck Sonderheft no. 231.

panel from OJ2C

However, Van Horn made a little mistake when preparing the “Straining Sportswear” story (OJ2C). He forgot to letter the balloon in the second panel – the only time this happened in his over 1400 published Disney pages. The page was sent back to him to make up for this lapse. Van Horn added the missing text, but in the hurry he did not think of photocopying the page again.

For a long time the very first orange juice comic from 1991 was presumed lost. Bill did not keep a photocopy of his original artwork. Thanks to Dr. Chris Barat, however, we now have a black-and-white copy of this gag.

Unfortunately, this copy is not really suited for reprinting. But who knows, some day an orange juice carton with this one-pager might turn up in the dusty attic of an American suburban house and the finder might even know how to value his trove …

We would be most grateful for any cues which might help us track down the lost page.

Illustrations Disney.
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