"The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear", edited and designed by Craig Yoe, is a pretty nice book, but my strongest reaction to it is the disappointment that it is not the book it should have been and probably will prevent the book it should have been from ever being published, unless, perhaps, hopefully, Yoe already has a second volume planned and is working on getting rights. But you should buy this book anyway if you like the work of Carl Barks.
What it is: A reprint of all 26 Barney Bear and Benny Burro stories published in Our Gang Comics #11-36, drawn and mostly written by Carl Barks; this is the majority of Barks' non-Disney comic book work. It is 8 1/2 by 11 sized in full color scanned from original comic books and it looks pretty good, certainly much better than the Jack Kirby reprint books from DC such as Boy Commandos, which I have also reviewed for Amazon. Printed slightly larger than the original comic books, it looks quite good, and makes a good argument that the DC scanned comics should be printed original size, not reduced by 15-20% as they are in the Archives and Kirby reprints. I do have all the original comics reprinted in this book (and the ones that were omitted but should have been included), and I compared some of the originals to the reprints. The reprint books are close to the originals in color but are also darker, which is not a major problem, though it does obscure Barks fine lines a little in places.
Oddly, the book lacks a table of contents, though it has an index, several essays, other examples of Barks' work, photos, reprints of posters for Barney Bear cartoons, and at least one blank page where a table of contents could have been put.
What it lacks: First off, it lacks the Benny Burro solo stories in Our Gang Comics #8, 9, and 10. Second, it lacks the Droopy stories (actually titled Happy Hound) in Our Gang Comics #9 and 11. Third, it lacks the three Droopy stories Barks wrote and Harvey Eisenburg drew for Tom and Jerry's Winter Carnival and Tom and Jerry's Summer Fun in the early 1950s. And all of this is MGM material, just like the Barney and Benny stories, and could and should have been licensed at the same time. So the book should have at least had all of the MGM material.
Fourth it lacks the Andy Panda story from New Funnies #76. And finally it lacks the Porky Pig story from Four Color Comics #48. A book containing these additional stories would have had to have been a little fatter and cost a little more. But surely, anyone willing to pay $35 for the Barney and Benny stories would have been even happier to pay $50 for the complete non-Disney stories of Carl Barks. And probably a significantly larger audience would have been there for such a volume, because it would contain ALL of Barks' non-Disney comic book work together in one fairly luxurious but still compact volume.
That volume will likely not be published in this generation because of this volume. And that is my complaint with this book. Now it is possible that since Andy Panda is a Walter Lantz property and Porky Pig is a Warner Brothers property, it would have been difficult or impossible to get rights to have all that in the same book, but then, at least all the MGM properties should have been published together.
But perhaps Yoe is working on a second volume of the material missing from this one. At only about 96 pages, it would be a slim volume. But I hope so. Still, this book, is well produced otherwise, a bargain, and well worth buying. But it is still a disappointment.
NOTE: The story from Our Gang #35, starting on page 201 of this book, was rewritten and reused as an Uncle Scrooge story in Uncle Scrooge #6, reprinted in Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge: "Only a Poor Old Man" (Vol. 1) (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library), which I have also reviewed, starting on page 205. Barks' duck work is generally better than his non-Disney work, and this is no exception.