Arne Anka is a Swedish comic strip drawn by Charlie Christensen under the pseudonym Alexander Barks from 1983 to 1995. The title character closely resembles Donald Duck (who is called Kalle Anka in Swedish). The likeness with Donald Duck is only feather deep, however; the comics often take place at a bar, Zeke's, where Arne gets drunk while he cynically thinks about and discusses life. This usually happens in the company of his friend, Krille Krokodil ("Krille Crocodile"). In other situations, Arne is found walking, with friends or alone, and occasionally he's found in a completely different setting (albeit with the same group of friends), like ancient Rome or 18th century Paris. Always, however, he comments on life and (especially Swedish) society with sharp wit.
Some distinct features about Arne Anka is deep love for Swedish poetry and literature, his miserable economy, his very high alcohol consumption and his enthusiasm towards women - even though he has very little luck with any such connections.
Charlie Christensen uses his friends as inspiration for the characters and story's in Arne Anka. One of his friends has said that you sometimes notice that Charlie Christensen gets a particular look and then a few weeks later you read what you just said in an Arne Anka strip.
In 1995, Arne Anka was produced as a play at Stockholms stadsteater. The play was written by Christensen himself, and it was called "Arne Anka - en afton på Zekes" ("Arne Anka - an evening at Zeke's"). Robert Gustafsson starred as Arne. Also, his memoirs have been published under the title "Bombad och sänkt" ("Bombed and Sunk") (Tago 1993).
In 1997, a few pages were translated to English in connection with an exhibition of Nordic comics in France, and the publication of an English-language anthology. In this translation, the character was given the name "Arnie the Duck".
The Disney threat
In the beginning of the 1990s, The Walt Disney Company threatened to sue the author, Charlie Christensen, due to Arne Anka's similarity with Donald Duck. As a response, Charlie Christensen drew a comic strip about Arne faking his own death, so that he could have plastic surgery done to his beak in secrecy. Arne then returned with a new, pointed beak, and the pseudonym Alexander Barks was changed to Alexander X. After a while though, Arne went to a novelty store to buy a fake beak, which looked exactly like his old one. This new beak was drawn showing a small rubber band holding it in place until the threat of being sued was withdrawn. In the meanwhile, however, Disney's threat of a lawsuit, which received very extensive publicity in Sweden, had turned Arne Anka into a Swedish independence hero and increased his popularity manyfold.
A total of eight Arne Anka comic albums have been published. In chronological order, they are:
- Arne Anka, Tago 1989
- Arne Anka, Part II, Tago 1991
- Arne Anka, Part III, Tago 1993
- Arne Anka, Part IV, Tago 1995
- Jag, Arne (collected comics 1983-1995), (hardcover), Tago, 1997
- Jag, Arne (collected comics 1983-1995), (softcover), Kartago, 2001
- Arne Anka, Part V: Återuppuppståndelsen, Kartago 2006
- Arne Anka, Part VI: Manöver i mörkret, Kartago 2007
- Arne Anka, Part VII: Ner med monarkin, Kartago 2008
- Arne Anka: Rapport från kriget, Kartago 2010
In December 2004, Arne made a comeback in Christensen's new comic series, Konrad K (now Arne Anka & Konrad K), and he has been the main character ever since. The series is published in the Swedish monthly newspaper Dagens Arbete. In his newest form, Arne is divorced, and has three children, but he's just as cynical and depressed as before, and his personal finances are even worse than in the original series.