A simple question. Out of the thousands of titles that have been released, from the most obscure fanzine to a periodical that has been going for decades, from a Carl Barks library to a German newspaper, which do you think is the best?
I like Egmont's Norwegian Carl Barks Samling (Complete Collected Disney Works), because it has slightly better added extra features than the Danish one. It beats the US Fantagraphics series by several kilometers. I would like to have seen a Dutch or US one of similar quality. I also like the Danish and German series, as I was a contributor.
I think the best one has been Fantagraphics’ Floyd Gottfredson Library. True, it isn’t the entire Gottfredson run, but it does cover all of the serialized stories along with commentary, the history of the strip, and examples of Gottfredson’s influence on other Disney artists.
As the editor of the Floyd Gottfredson Library, I must first say—thanks! I never expected to see our series chosen as the best Disney comics publication EVER!
But I ought to argue that in terms of both quality and sheer importance, the original Another Rainbow Carl Barks Library is the single best and most important Disney comics series.
Its launch signified the moment when comics historiography turned from "just" a nerdy hobby into an active, beneficial sister industry to the production of comic stories themselves. Scholarly research led to the first full accounting of Barks' works, and the depth of the extras and supplementary materials in the books made the project "the one to beat." The CBL is arguably still unmatched in terms of both depth and variety. As for the Barks stories themselves, the loving presentation wasn't just close to flawless, but historically important in and of itself: in the course of making the books, Another Rainbow and Disney effectively preserved 95% of the proofs to Western Publishing's Barks stories in English. No other publisher had ever tried to assemble them in one place. Had Another Rainbow not done so before Western shut down—destroying almost all of their own printing materials to everything—we'd be unbelievably poorer off.
Yes, the AR CBL had some censorship in later volumes, though mandated by forces they couldn't control. Yes, they included a couple of traced stories when they couldn't locate proofs (luckily, most of those have surfaced today). But those minor issues pale before the colossal achievements of getting so many great stories, and so much great scholarship, all together, more or less for posterity.
And yes: the CBL wasn't the first Disney comics historiographical book. The Celestial Arts and earlier AR books preceded it. So did the "big white books" of Italy and northern Europe. But the "white books" were badly compromised, and the earlier ARs were not what the CBL was: a series, and an amazing, comprehensive series! When the slipcases first came out, the achievement seemed unreal.
You know, I'm not dissing the FGL for a second, or the contributions of Tom Andrae, Leonardo Gori and Frank Stajano and the rest of my team! The FGL had its special features; it included some different types of extra material than the CBL (e. g. publicity art Gottfredson's team made for Disney books and magazines), since Gottfredson led a somewhat different kind of career.
But at the end of the day, the FGL was still what it was *because* the CBL existed to serve as a template. The CBL changed the art form. The FGL, as immensely honored as I was to work on it, and as much as I love it as a lifelong Gottfredson fan, wasn't quite as much of a game changer.
Ah yes, a "simple question," if we weren't comparing apples to oranges to bananas to pineapples to prunes! I really have no grounds on which to compare the various libraries, especially since I Don't Care About the Mouse. I am personally super-happy with the Gladstone Carl Barks Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge Adventures in Color album series (love the coloring and the size, happy to find my supplemental materials elsewhere) and with the Fantagraphics Don Rosa library.
As for "floppies" (to use fredj's category): for selection, presentation, quality of paper/printing, and occasional backup material: the prestige Gladstone/Gemstone WDC, edging out the prestige U$ by a little
for selection, among current publications: Micky Maus Comics (that's not the comic titled Micky Maus, it's the publication confusingly titled Micky Maus Comics)
for cover art: the Gemstone and prelapsarian IDW versions of WDC and U$, the Finnish Aku Ankka, the Icelandic Andres Ond and the Dutch Donald Duck are probably the top competition for cleanest covers, showing off the art without added clutter
I'm not so sure myself. In terms of sheer production quality, few efforts effort that of the Another Rainbow Carl Barks Library. I'm a bit too young to appreciate its historical significance the way David puts it, but when I got one of the sets, it turned my fan-being upside down! We never had background information in Dutch issues, let alone full essays!
In terms of volume and consistency of quality of a loooong period of time, I would nominate the Italian Topolino, which, never been a dull moment. Props for most of it being domestic production, too. I would nominate the Dutch weekly in terms of presentation, but I'm a bit too familiar with its 'dark ages', and they've coasted a lot on Egmont and Western.