Traces of graphite – Don Rosa

You might remember my blog post about Carl Barks, the creator of many fantastic Duckburg comics and characters [1]…like Scrooge McDuck, the Beagle Boys and many more.


Don Rosa is famous for his comics in the style and tradition of Carl Barks, but he’s also created his own characters and comic universes. It’s difficult to try to convey Don Rosa’s importance if you are not familiar with Donald Duck comics, so I’m not even trying to explain why he is the most famous Disney comic artist alive – you’ll just have to believe me.

Happy Birthday, Bleistift would be a fitting as this blog post has been published on Bleistift's birthday
“Happy Birthday, Bleistift” would have been fitting – this blog post has been published on Bleistift’s birthday (Image © Don Rosa / Disney)


Unfortunately for Don there’s not a lot of money to be made in this field though, despite the huge popularity of his comics in many parts of the world, including Continental Europe.  Luckily he’s a really nice guy, so he despite the lack of financial incentives he’s touring Europe regularly, patiently signing autographs for his fans. I wasn’t lucky enough to ever attend such an event, but I did manage to get a print signed by him sent over to England when he was in Würzburg, near my ‘old home town’.


Don Rosa’s pencils

As part of this blog post I want to tell you about Don Rosa’s answer to my question what pencils he is using to draw his comics. Just to put Don’s quote in context – his background is in civil engineering.


First of all, remember that asking me about art equipment or techniques is
idiotic because I have never had any training and never even read about how it SHOULD be done. I just kept using the same stuff I used when I was doing fanzine work 40 years ago, which is all wrong.
But I see other cartoonists who use “normal” pencils and that seems stupid
to me. I used a .07 mm lead mechanical pencil with hard lead. That way I
could get fine detail in the drawing and it would erase cleanly. But all
other cartoonists use soft blue pencils and they never bother to erase.
I don’t think I bought any special brand, but Pentel was always cheap and common.


If you want to read a book with his comics I would have suggested Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, but unfortunately it seems to be out of print, so the few sellers offering it charge a ridiculously high price [2]When I bought my copy it was maybe 1/10th of the current price..


As an alternative  way of finding out more about him: what about a tour of his house in Kentucky on YouTube?


I would like to thank Jano Rohleder for forwarding my question to Don Rosa.


1 …like Scrooge McDuck, the Beagle Boys and many more
2 When I bought my copy it was maybe 1/10th of the current price.

9 thoughts on “Traces of graphite – Don Rosa”

  1. Yes, happy anniversary bleistift. bleistift is a pleasure to read and I look forward to every new installment.

  2. …and many Happy Returns, for both you, and the blog!

    Interesting post too – as a dabbler, I’ve always found the line from mechanical pencils a bit lifeless, and prefer large diameter leadholders, or traditional pencils. (A soft 0.9mm will do in a pinch, mind 🙂 ) I can see that for a working artist, a predictable line is more important.

    Have you seen “The Tools Artists Use” blog?

  3. Sean and Michael, thank you very much!

    John, your comment about the predictable line sounds very plausible. I wonder whether other artists value a predictable line as much as him – maybe not, just because his background and style are so different to other artists who tend do draw in a much more “dynamic” way, e.g. Giorgio Cavazzano.
    I did plan to do the next “traces of graphite” about Massimo Fecchi (if I get a reply from him). I’ll try to find out whether a predictable line is important for him.
    Thanks for the link to ‘The Tools Artists use’ blog. I’ve seen it in the past when you mentioned it, but haven’t visited it for a while. I’ll go there again now 8^)

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