As shown in most Don Rosa indexes, there is a story-code connected to every story. The code makes it easy to tell which publisher the story was originally written for, and often also when the story or script was made. The story codes are therefore often used to index the stories.
Don Rosa is a pretty loyal kind of guy and would most probably have stuck with Gladstone, his first publisher in his Disney-comics career, throughout his entire career. However, the fact that he has now worked for seven distinct publishers has more to do with circumstances beyond his control than with artistic shopping around.
The following presentation is based upon the Inducks Story Codes at the I.N.D.U.C.K.S. pages and Byron Erickson's The publisher go-round article written for the second Don Rosa book in the Walt Disney's Hall of Fame book-series (based on a suggestion by the Norwegian Olaf Solstrand), and intends to explain the different codes that are connected to Don Rosa's stories.
Gladstone Comics, USA, 1987-1990
AR 102 - AR 145 (18 stories)
In 1986, after several years, Disney comics returned in the USA, published by Gladstone Comics - a small company in Arizona. Gladstone began to produce their own comic work, starting with covers (mostly by Daan Jippes). From 1987 on they also had their own stories produced, mostly by Don Rosa and William Van Horn.
Don Rosa would have preferred to remain with Gladstone, despite their low page rates, but in 1989 the Walt Disney Company decided that Gladstone would no longer be allowed to return original artwork to the artists who drew it. Besides needing the extra income from selling his originals, Don Rosa felt (and feels) so strongly about this policy that he reluctantly quit.
Gladstone used the code 'AR' for their own stories. AR stands for Another Rainbow, the 'mother' company of Gladstone. For some reason, they started with AR 101. In Gladstone's second run (1992-1998), their own production started with AR 200.
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Oberon, The Netherlands, ca. 1988-1990
218 - H 89174 (6 stories)
Actually, Don Rosa's Oberon material can be divided into two categories: the first four stories drawn by Rosa from other writer's scripts, done because Gladstone could not employ him full-time; and the last two stories ("On a Silver Platter" and "The Pied Piper of Duckburg") originally written for Gladstone, but sold to and drawn for Oberon to get around Disney's artwork return policy (Oberon was willing to work from Photostats of the artwork, so Don Rosa never had to surrender possession of his originals). Actually "Treasury Under Glass" was also first planned to be published by Oberon so that the code H 89067 was reserved for it, but it was in stead published by Egmont, which gave Don Rosa a better pay for the work. Don Rosa considers these latter two stories as "odd jobs" and never thought he could make a career working, for the Dutch.
Since 1979 the Oberon-stories have been numbered by year only, e.g., "H 7934" (= story #34 from 1979). The stories are numbered with the year the script is made - the art may thus be made years later. Like the "Well-Educated Duck" story where the script was made by Jan Kruse in 1985, but wasn't drawn by Don Rosa until a few years later.
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Disney Comics, USA, 1990
KD 0190 (one story: The Money Pit)
In 1990, Disney Comics (note the capital C) took over the publishing of Disney comics in the US from Gladstone. Not long after that decision, they approached Don Rosa for a new story. Don Rosa responded with "The Money Pit", as he puts it, "as a goodwill gesture to prove that I was willing to work for them if they changed their art return policy." Disney eventually changed it a few years later.
They also started a big production right away, not only of "mainstream" characters (Ducks, Mice), but also of TV characters (DuckTales) and recent movie characters (like Roger Rabbit). For Don Rosa, Disney Comics was more of a pit stop on the road than a real employer, as he never promised nor envisioned doing anything beyond the one story he did for them.
Disney Comics had the habit to code all the stories, not only their own. So, Danish stories get a double code when published in a Disney Comic. The Disney codes start with a K or a J. All stories from fiscal year 1990 (October 1989) start with the letter K, while stories from fiscal year 1991 and after (October 1990) start with KJ. The K or KJ is followed by a letter that indicates the publication the story was meant for.
Example: KD 0190 means:
K = Disney Comics story
D = Donald Duck Adventures
0190 = the 1st script or rights purchased in fiscal year 1990.
Stories in one shot magazines are being assigned codes that have no real relationship to the story or the year of publication and are useful strictly for accounting purposes.
In the I.N.D.U.C.K.S., all codes start with a "K". If a printed code starts with a "J", the "K" is added in front of it (resulting into "KJ"). The extra "-1" is dropped from the code: "KJD 059-1" becomes "KJD 059".
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Welsh Publishing Group, USA, 1990
K DTM 90i (one story: Back in Time for a Dime!)
Welsh had a license to produce a DuckTales magazine (not a comic book) during the height of the TV show's popularity. Rosa's "Back in Time for a Dime!" was just a script drawn and pencilled by other artists in the Jaime Diaz Studios, a studio supposedly located somewhere in Latin-America.
From the late 70s on, the Jaime Diaz Studios drew most stories for the American market. Some of the series are: Disney's Goofy Classics (with Goofy as a famous historic character); A Goofy look at...; Mickey and the Sleuth and DuckTales which includes Don Rosa's "Back in Time for a Dime!". This story doesn't have an official code, however. The code (K DTM 90i) was actually created by the Dutch Harry Fluks, meant as a temporary code, to give this story a proper reference in the INDUCKS-system. The meaning of this code is as follows:
K = Disney Comics (they started everything with a K),
DTM = DuckTales Magazine,
90 = 1990,
i = spr(i)ng (The letter i was used because the s could also mean summer...!)
Egmont, Denmark and the world, 1990-present
D 90057 - D 20xx-xxx (56 stories so far)
Don Rosa's present publisher, for whom he since 1990 has produced 56 stories - and counting! In 1991 Don Rosa actually was responsible for bringing his first editor, Byron Erickson, over to Denmark.
During the first 8-10 years Don Rosa was given strict story length limits, but as Egmont weekly magazines have been enlarged the limits have been loosened.
The D-codes are coded D + 4 digits. Beginning in the year after they reached D 10000 (1988), the stories are coded per year, e.g. D 88020. Since 2000, the year is fully listed, and a '-' is added for clarity - for instance D2000-001. The covers and puzzle pages, etc. are still numbered in the "old" range.
The observant reader might have observed that "The Beagle Boys vs. The Money Bin" was given the code "D 2000-191" even though it wasn't finished before January 2001. Don Rosa explains that this way: "Egmont assign the code to a story NOT when it is completed, but when the script is accepted. A story might sit in the files for years, so even if it is completed (drawn) in 2001, the code will be "2000 - X" if the script was bought in 2000. This script was accepted in late 2000..., but I still would have thought Egmont accepted more than 191 scripts last year. You can see in the codes in the comics how many scripts they accepted by that second number... did they really accept so few in 2000?".
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Tempo Magazine, Germany, 1995
G TEM 9510 (one story: Gyro's Beagletrap)
In 1995 Don Rosa did one one-page gag-story especially for the German Tempo Magazine (released in #10 1995). A hole in the wall of the Money Bin in the last panel looks exactly like the logo of the "Tempo" magazine.
For the same reason as mentioned above Fluks has also created the (G TEM 9510) code for the "Gyro's Beagletrap" story. The meaning of this code is as follows:
G = German (however not the same G as used by the German publisher Ehapa),
TEM = Tempo Magazine,
95 = 1995,
10 = issue #10.
Disney-Hachette, France, 1999-2001
F PM 99001c - F PM 01201c (3 stories)
Don Rosa has been drawing pin-ups and illustrations for the French since the early 1990s, but also drew three stories for them from 1999 to 2001 after his editor at Egmont rejected an "out-of-the-ordinary" comedy ("The Coin") and an additional chapter of Lo$ staring a young Scrooge and Teddy Roosevelt ("The Sharpie of the Culebra Cut"). Finally, Don Rosa also wrote and drew another comedy ("Attaaaaaack!") for the French because they asked him for it. This shows the advantage for Don Rosa being a freelancer.
French codes have 4 parts: title of the magazine / year / story number / type of story.
E.g.: F PM 99001 c = / F PM / 99 / 001 / c /
The series of comics depends on the magazine title:
F JM (Journal de Mickey)
F PL (P'tit Loup)
F PM (Picsou Magazine)
The type of a story can be:
C = Complete Story
D = Divertissement (=Entertainment or activity
E = Episode of a Story
G = Gag
(Also various letters for "limited" series of gags like "P" for "Préhistoire". The "E" was used very few times.)
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Over the years Don Rosa has also drawn pin-ups, covers, etc. for many other publishers, both Egmont companies such as Aku Ankka (Finland) and Ehapa (Germany), and non-Egmont companies.