Friday, January 6, 2012

Saved By The Duck

 You see? Space monsters he can handle, but anything outside his own little clockwork's Ducks swimming in money, Ducks handling race cars, lasers, aeroplanes, Ducks chomping cigars and cavorting with fashion models, Ducks lurking in the shadows and shouting egocentric proclamations, machine gun-toting, trigger-happy Ducks hanging out with finheaded green policemen..."

- with sincere apologies to Lawrence Miles.

A fine introduction to a spot of this and that. Firstly, the passing of Victor Rios, aka, "Vicar", the Disney comic artist who drew a lot of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. On average, if you've read a Disney comic in the last 25 years or so, any issue would feature a story illustrated by Victor. The bulk of American Disney comics features stories and art produced overseas and reprinted here - to guarantee quality control, the material we saw was considered to be more consistent with the work of Carl Barks; we didn't get Duck Avenger, Brigitta MacBridge or Fethry because they were virtually unknown in the states, but they did arrive in  the search for something new. Another advantage for Victor was that he often illustrated stories written/scripted by English-speaking freelancers, like John Lustig, Janet Gilbert, Dave Angus, David Gerstein, Joe Torcivia, and one time, Mike Barrier, who didn't like how his story was drawn.

At what point do drawings become "Art"? Vicar's harshest critics (fans, of course), thought his work was simply drawings - good drawings, handsome and attractive drawings, but limited expression and variation. His strengths depended on the imagination of the script. He was very good at staging exotic locations and details (actually, just one or two steps away from becoming Don Rosa art) and some fans, if I recall correctly, found his work "less obtrusive" than Rosa. He could be upstaged by contemporaries like Daniel Branca, Marco Rota, Scalabroni and Ben Verhagen. His massive output can simply be described as the work of "A Very Good Duck Artist".


I rented a DVD titled "Donald's Fire Safety Hits", pairing two educational films shown in schools during the 80s and early-90s. The first film, "Donald's Fire Safety Plan", is a revised version of the last Donald Duck Cartoon produced by the Disney studio in its heyday, and while I have not seen the original, this version incorporated live-action footage of a family consisting of a human "Uncle Donald" and his three nephews, one of whom played by a pre-"Saved By The Bell" Mark-Paul Gossellar (!). Instead of teaching "Stop, Drop and Roll", we learn about Exit Drills In The Home (E.D.I.T.H.) and the use of collapsable ladders (very usefull for a second-story man - "Gee, dese folks dink of everythin' for a humble robba' to make wit da ezcape.") I remember seing this when I was 8 - now I know why Zack Morris looked so familiar. ;)

The second film "Donald's Fire Drill", was an all live-action game show set in a child's bedroom loaded with Disney merchandise, circa 1991. It features the costumed theme park Donald demonstrating various safety precautions and hazards (and taking a minute to read a copy of Donald Duck Adventures #8 - with stories by William Van Horn and ...Vicar, of course!) It's cute.

The box art showed a deleted scene from the original fire safety cartoon, with Donald demonstrating a Police/Fire Department call box. We still have those - ah, well.

UPDATE: Vicar's son, Victor Rodrigo Arrigada Schulz, is also a cartoonist as well -I just added a carttoon he had posted on his Facebook page - notice how he also uses the "Vicar" pen name; it's like a family surname! :)


  1. If it is at all possible to “get lost in a crowd” of Good Duck Artists, that is what happened to Vicar.

    We, in America, did not see him as “first” – or anything resembling “first” among the fine artist that were inspired by Barks. He was part of the crowd that included Branca, Jippes, Milton, Reiche, Rota, Scarpa, Rosa, Van Horn, Block and so many others that many of us took him for granted.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, just imagine if we’d gone directly from Bob Gregory and Kay Wright in one issue of Gold Key’s DONALD DUCK to Vicar in the next.

    I think he would have been hailed as “The Second Coming of Barks”!

    We were indeed spoiled from the mid ‘80s onward by many great artists on the Ducks. And, after what Gold Key and Whitman fed us from 1969-1984, I’d say we deserved it!

    I am proud and honored to have “worked with” Vicar – even in the very minor capacity that I did!

  2. I'd say Vicar's finest moment came when he illustrated "Go Slowly, Sands of Time," the prose story Barks wrote that was adapted into a script by Geoffrey Blum. It is as good as any of Barks or Rosa's stories that feature a fully-realized Scrooge. It was only reprinted one time in Uncle Scrooge #300 - that's quite an honor.