I’ve always found it slightly surreal, and more than a little infuriating, that Romano Scarpa has never, outside of Italy at least, been regarded with the reverence or idolised in the same way as his contemporaries are. While every single member of four colour fandom and a smattering of mainstream folks know who Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Frank Hampson are, I’ll happily bet that most of them have never heard of Scarpa. A fact that’s probably more indicative of the impact that rocket ships and super-powers, especially in comics, have had on the world than the raw creative ability of the artists and writers that brought them to life in a multitude of beautifully illustrated and authored stories.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the aforementioned comic pioneers, but I also adore Scarpa and because he chose to plough his energies into Disney characters and comics instead of caped crusaders and exotic alien worlds, he never seemed to reach the same dizzying heights of international fame as his peers did. If you love comics, you’ll love just about everything that Scarpa ever put his name too and if you also love Disney, it’s a no brainer double whammy that you’ll start to revere Scarpa and the multitude of stories that bore his name. And there’s no better place to start exploring Romano’s world than right here with Duck Avenger Strikes Again.
Scarpa was at the creative forefront of European Disney Comics, and is often called the godfather of the genre, and the eighth volume of Fantagraphics Disney Master series presents some of his finest, and funniest work. Whether it’s Donald Duck trying to convince Duckburg that he isn’t a superhero after his uncle launches another grand money making scheme, Ellsworth telling his old pal Mickey Mouse about his adventures in the Foreign Legion and how he became a father or Scrooge McDuck and his closest family rescuing his would-be fiancée from a strange land in a story that’s part The Prince and the Pauper and all Edgar Rice Burroughs, this trio of tales perfectly captures the zany, inventive art and wildly imaginative story-telling of the maestro of Italian Disney Comics and his most trusted, and respected creative colleagues. A master of visual, as well as literary, comedy Scarpa packed every panel of his chosen medium with humour, intrigue and detail and always made sure that his comics were, more than anything else, fun. And that’s exactly what Duck Avenger Strikes Again is. It’s sheer, unadulterated, laugh out loud fun. Meet Romano Scarpa, your new four colour hero… Tim Cundle