Recreating the life of greedy Uncle Scrooge

Don Rosa tries to look happy. He gets up from the comfortable couch of the Athens hotel where he is staying and greets me politely. All the necessary introductions take place and his wife nods to me discreetly from an armchair across the room. Trying to establish some familiarity, I am ready to ask the most predictable question an American could expect at the aftermath of the United States elections. «You must have missed the elections in order to come to Greece,» I said carelessly. Rosa becomes serious and I get the feeling I said something improper. «I voted before I left; I would never miss the opportunity to do my duty.» «I tried to be happy and optimistic but I am very upset now,» he added. Rosa, however, did not come to Athens to pose as a political analyst. The much-loved cartoon Mickey Mouse comic book will celebrate 2,000 issues of continuous publication on Friday and Nea Aktina Publications is organizing a series of events, which included the invitation to Don Rosa, the most famous living cartoonist of Disney characters. The invitation coincided with the Greek translation of Rosa’s best-selling book about Scrooge McDuck, an original biography of the most avaricious uncle in the world. Rosa collected and classified all information about Scrooge’s past, bits of which he found in stories by Carl Barks, who first drew Scrooge 42 years ago. In essence, Rosa created an entire past for his character, starting from his difficult childhood in Glasgow and going up to Christmas 1947, when Scrooge is already a multimillionaire who seeks yet more money all over the world. The undertaking was not easy, not only because Rosa had to remain faithful to Barks’s tradition but also because in 1992, when the project was suggested to him, the cartoon was going through a hard time in the States. For an entire decade, from 1975 to 1986, no comic books with Disney characters were published. Television, video and later computer games made their presence felt. Three Disney fans from Arizona bought the rights and it was thanks to them that comic books about the famous ducks started being published once more. The unexpected success motivated Disney; the company showed a renewed interest, which led to Rosa’s biography. «The greatest challenge for me was to do my job right, meaning to connect the events properly and at the same time create a fun story,» said Rosa. The book was very successful in the United States. «I also play games on my computer, I enjoy them a lot,» he added in an attempt to explain people’s response to the book at a time when visual reality and computer games superheroes are omnipotent. «What is positive in America is that comic books have survived, because of specialized comic book stores that attract people. Before they were founded, about 200 issues would be released to the kiosks and only two would be sold. Production now is much more controlled and is aimed exclusively at collectors and friends of the cartoons, so it is financially viable.»