Il Nerbiniano – Anno VIII, n. 4

NERB 08 04 C1

During a trip to Italy this summer, I met with an old friend from Trieste—Fabrizia had been an exchange student that stayed with my family when I was a senior in high school. What made the reunion sweeter was that she gave me a package containing 14 issues of the Italian comics publication Il NerbinianoAnother friend had generously purchased them for me and mailed them to Fabrizia in order to avoid expensive international shipping. Talk about overstimulation—being in Venice, and having a bella regazza hand over such a wonderful trove of my grandfather’s artwork!

Il Nerbiniano was published for at least ten years; the issues I received came from years IV through VIII (I’ll use Roman numerals per the publication’s style because “when in Rome…”) The number of issues per year varied from four to six. At some point, an Italian translation of KEVIN THE BOLD began running, but without a complete collection, it’s hard to say when—the comic strip’s storylines do not appear in their original sequence. The oldest copy I have seen (Anno III, n. 1) has a sequence from mid-1951, whereas KEVIN’s introductory chapter ran in Il Nerbiniano a few years later (starting in Anno 6, n. 1). This issue was published in the last quarter of 1980.

First up was a profile on Roberto Diso, an artist who illustrated MISTER NO.

This was followed by some material I didn’t have any luck in translating/researching, I’m sorry to say.

For me, things got exciting at the mid-point of the book. The orientation of the artwork on the pages changes, with half of a KEVIN THE BOLD tabloid episode appearing before and after a four-page section geared toward subscriptions. Because the action picks up with the third and fourth tiers of the episode (January 28, 1951), there isn’t a KEVIN logo identifying the strip. Following the four subscription pages, another half-episode appears—the first and second tiers of the February 4, 1951 episode. It’s a shame they are arranged like this, otherwise each spread would feature a single tabloid version. It would have been an impressive layout due to Il Nerbiniano’s ample trim size—these reproductions are larger than the original tabloid versions.

Issues of Il Nerbiniano generally included two to four KEVIN episodes, but on this occasion, it ran the equivalent of eight episodes—meaning KEVIN occupied more than half of the issue’s pages. As the issue’s featured comic strip, it ran in two colors.

Halfway through the pages featuring Collins’ artwork, The “Count de Falcon” chapter ends and the action transitions to the next sequence,“The Search for Sadea.”

The conclusion of the “Sadea” chapter would appear in Il Nerbiniano’s future issues (assuming there were any). As the final issue of 1980, the back cover was dedicated to a New Year’s greeting (“Best wishes to all readers”).

By splitting the tabloid comics in half and running them on two separate pages, they are printed about 12-3/4″ wide, larger than the original Sunday versions. ’ve heard of half-page comics turned into tabloids, but vice-versa? Interesting. By running landscape-oriented versions, they appear twice as large as they would otherwise, but only half as many comics fit in the six pages allotted to Kevin. Either way, there wouldn’t be enough room for the entire sequence, so it’s nice to see them enlarged like this, it must be a sign that Il Nerbiniano’s editors appreciated the quality and detail of Kreigh Collins’ comics. Perhaps this sequence continued in the next issue of Il Nebiniano?


For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Pistols at Dawn

During his run in the funny papers, Kevin has been challenged numerous times and with different weapons, but this is the first time I recall pistols being employed. Is he as proficient with firearms as he is with a lance or rapier?

We will have to wait to find out the answer to that question! While Kevin is out of danger, the same cannot be said for Pierre.

I just noticed that whomever was responsible for the color plates neglected to fill in the “D” in “BOLD” with red in Kevin’s logo.

As is his way, Kevin takes this opportunity to save Pierre, and thus reuniting lovely Marie with Pierre.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Trahison

Note: In trying to come up with a clever title for this week’s installment, I looked up how to say “double-cross” in French. Talk about serendipity!

Marie finds herself in a terrible position.

Quelle horreur!

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

The Traitor Stalls for Time

Now where have I seen this before?

Ah yes—Day 8 of the January 6 hearings, where a treacherous man ignored advisors and refused to take action to stop a bloody assault.

With an Irish wolfhound by his side, Kevin likes his chances, but can he hold on until the troops arrive?

Barely surviving the attack of a half dozen would-be assassins, Kevin’s outlook improves with the arrival of Pierre and Marie.

To be continued…

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Deviltry from a Mob of “Patriots”

While Kevin does some reconnaissance work, Count Noir plots against him.

The trap is set on an unsuspecting Kevin.

Choosing a malleable, simple-minded sergeant to be his captain of the guard, Count Noir has confidence in his nefarious scheme to ambush Kevin.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Seeing Doublet

The story continues, but in a slightly confusing manner.

In Collins’ rendering of the wounded Pierre van Arden, the fallen man bears a strong resemblance to Kevin. Re-reading the previous episode helped me, but in it I noticed that the color of van Arden’s top (I believe this garment is called a “doublet”) changed from blue to purple.

With good reason for his heavy conscience, the treacherous Count Noir nervously awaits his king’s return.

Below is a small image of the August 4, 1957 episode from La Patrie, a Montreal, Quebec tabloid.

To be continued…

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

She Said Yes!

Once again, beautiful Marie dominates the July 7 episode, which includes a very charming, barrier-breaking throwaway panel where she addresses the reader directly—visible only in the half-page format such as this. Meanwhile, the final panel introduces a character who has proven to be a scene-stealer in the past.

Where have I seen that snout before? Craigwood Molloc Druich bears a resemblance to a certain pup Collins had featured in MITZI McCOY nearly 20 years earlier—Stub Goodman’s dog, Tiny.

Tiny played a significant part in the metamorphosis of MITZI McCOY into KEVIN THE BOLD—but that’s another story.

To be continued…

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More Tiny?

The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins, the Complete Mitzi McCoy,” back in stock, features the entire run of Kreigh Collins’ first NEA feature, MITZI McCOY, and includes Tiny the Irish Wolfhound in one third of its episodes.

Mitzi McCoy Cover 150

MITZI McCOY ran from 1948 to 1950 and showcased Kreigh Collins’ skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume. The last story collected in “The Complete Mitzi McCoy” is the narrative bridge that set Collins and his characters off on a new journey, beautifully told for the next couple of decades in the much-lauded adventure strip Kevin the Bold.

The collection includes an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young, an afterword by Ithaca College’s Ed Catto, and previously unpublished artwork and photos. Longtime comics artist Butch Guice also provides a new pin-up of the character Mitzi McCoy.

The book’s price is $30. For domestic shipping, add $4; for international orders, add $25 for first class shipping. To place an order, leave a comment below or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com, and I will give you PayPal information.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Count Noir

This chapter, represented primarily by half-page comics from the Detroit News, features a scheming count and a playful young widow; it ran in Sunday comics sections 65 years ago.

The widow (Marie de Grasse) had made her situation clear in the transitional strip that preceded this one.

By the summer of 1957, the Chicago Tribune generally ran KEVIN in its loathed third-page format, and in the absence of half pages from the News, episodes will get the collage treatment—which is a shame because June 23 is a very nice example.

In stark contrast with Noir’s machinations, lovely Marie has her own methods to get what she wants.

To be continued…

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Rinaldo Senza Paura

Aware that KEVIN THE BOLD had been published as part of the 1970s Italian comic book “Il Nerbiniano,” I recently learned that Kevin was originally featured in his own line of comic books under the moniker RINALDO SENZA PAURA. It’s a great name for our hero, since Rinaldo means “wise power” or “ruler’s advisor,” and senza paura translates to “fearless.” (A huge grazie to my friend Davide for alerting me to these Italian editions!)

The comic books must be rare—the ones listed on ebay are quite expensive. According to the publishing information Davide sent, 14 editions were published by La Rosa dei Venti, based in Milano, dating from 1953–54. Printed in a horizontal format, the comic books were initially 24.5 cm x 17 cm (9.6″ x 6.7″) and 32 pages long; after four or five issues the trim size was reduced to 17 cm x 8 cm (9.6″ x 3.1″) and ran 96 pages. Here are some of the larger-format issues:

Above at left, the first RENALDO SENZA PAURA issue (53-7-30). The sample interior pages show it featured KEVIN THE BOLD’s debut “McCoy Family Legend” story arc, while the cover comes from the second story arc (“The Search for Sadea”). Above center (RSP issue 53-09-30) also has cover and interior pages from “The Search for Sadea;” above right (RSP issue 53-10-30) has cover and interior pages from KEVIN’s fourth “Baron Von Blunt” sequence. Below are some of the smaller-format issues. Perhaps these were designed to be pocket-sized—if you had deep enough pockets (if I had deeper pockets, I’d own one of these beauties!)

The cover for issue 54-04-15 features the ruthless Zameel, interior pages indicate that the issue also ran the Cave Bear sequence.

Kevin wasn’t the only character expanding into a new market—inside front covers often carried ads for other NEA titles.

While doing this research, an interesting hit led me to an old book. It contains a very old poem—and by old, I mean 13th century! A reprinted version of the book lists 1788 as its date of publication, though I’m not certain if the following images are from same edition. Below, its title page.

The book, nearly 300 pages long, consists of a single poem, written in over 2,000 eight-line stanzas. The first page of the book has a large woodcut illustration showing two armored men battling, helpfully including identifications of the combatants—one of whom is named Rinaldo.

Every few pages, one of the stanzas is replaced by a woodcut spot illustration; occasionally there are two of these illustrations on a single page. I asked a friend from Italy if she could provide some translations, but she said it was written in very old Italian and difficult to read.

The illustration on the left appears to show a dragon, an man in armor, and his horse.

The reason this interesting old book come up in my search results was due to a mention (in the seventh line of stanza 53) of the character illustrated on the title page, “Rinaldo senza paura.”

This old poem seems to be the inspiration for Kevin’s moniker in the Italian comic books. It’s an excellent choice, given the subject matter of the poem, and the fact that it dates (approximately) to the era in which KEVIN THE BOLD was set.

In all, the book contained about 25 different spot illustrations. In general, each one was repeated several times at various points in the book, leading me to surmise that they were decorative, and not specific to the action of the poem.

Many of the illustrations depict the type of scenes portrayed in KEVIN THE BOLD episodes. Above, in the first column, we see horsemen riding with banners flying, a ship being loaded with cargo, and a view of a walled city. The second column has three scenes featuring a king—on the battlefield, in the throne room surrounded by advisors, and watching two men in combat. The bottom illustration appears to show a soldier being led away as a prisoner. The third column has scenes of mounted soldiers preparing for or engaging in combat, with the bottom one featuring a centaur who seems to have killed one of the two soldiers he was facing. The fourth column features hand-to-hand combat; the bottom illustration appears to show a soldier carrying the severed head of his opponent.

While it is doubtful that Kreigh Collins ever saw this old book, he was known for thoroughly researching his subject matter, and many of KEVIN THE BOLD’S adventures were likely based on similar original sources.

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Ciao, Italia

Next week, I will be traveling to Italy. Along the way, I hope to find some comic book shops that have (affordably priced) copies of either Il Nerbiniano or Kevin Senza Paura. If anyone knows of any stores I should visit in Milano, Firenze, Venice, or Verona, please let me know! Leave a message below, or email me at BrianEdwardCollins1[at]gmail.com. Grazie!

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On Deck

Next week, a new story arc begins. It features the villain Count Noir, and ran in the funnies in the summer of 1957. The story arc picks up where the action in “Kevin the Bold: Sunday Adventures” leaves off. “Sunday Adventures” is a collection of nearly three years’ worth of episodes, presented in a black and white tabloid format, from original proofs (for all but a few episodes). Available here.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.

Mas El Diario

To commemorate today’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan, here are some more examples from El DIario. I don’t have much information about the newspaper (originally published in San Juan, Puerto Rico), but I learned its NYC edition originated in the late 1940s.

June 15, 1952

Based on the logo at the top of the page, this must be issue No. 126. I assume that El Diario was a daily, but if so, the “126” is confusing—June 15 is not the 126th day of the year, but the 152nd. “126” also doesn’t make sense if the paper was published six times a week—then it would be issue No. 141. in KEVIN EL AUDAZ, “–126–” is inscribed in the final panel, to the right of the usual NEA date identifier “6-15”. I don’t recall where I got this image, but I do have a hard copy of the 8-page comic section from El Diario No. 127, which follows. It is comprised of three NEA strips and five from United Features.

June 22, 1952

The action in KEVIN EL AUDAZ continues from the previous episode, and El Diario’s identification number is again inscribed in the final panel along with NEA’s “6-22”.

The second page has the United Features Syndicate’s title FERD’NAND (by Mik, AKA Henning Dahl Mikkelsen).

I don’t see a “–127–” label, but the final panel does have “7–13,” which seems to indicate a date (July 13, 1952 was a Sunday). Being unfamiliar with FERD’NAND, I wonder if this episode ran early?

Page 3 featured another United Features Syndicate title, DORITA, originally Ernie Bushmiller’s FRITZI RITZ.

DORITA is labelled with both a “127” and “July 13.” Next up, page 4 has NEA’s Spanish version of CHRIS WELKIN, PLANETEER (written by Russ Winterbotham and drawn by Art Sansom). CRISTOBAL TROTAMUNDOS DEL ESPACIO is labelled “6-22” and “–127–”.

VIC FLINT (Michal O’Malley and Dean Miller), on the fifth page, has the labels “6-29” (?) and “–127–”.

This is followed by the Spanish version of Raeburn Van Buren’s ABBIE AN’ SLATS (“7-13” and “–127–”).

That’s an interesting episode—I wish I could read Spanish! It is followed by EL CHIQUITO ABNER (Al Capp), also labelled “7-13” and “–127–”.

Running on the back page of the section was Warren Tufts’ CASEY RUGGLES, another United Features Syndicate title, also labelled “7-13” and “–127–”.

With all the 7-13 labels, I wonder if the section was actually from July, since only the NEA strips had June dates either 6-22 or 6-29). If any readers have better information on El DIario, please leave a comment. As I like to mention, I am no comics expert, and please accept my apologies for any mistakes I make.

While the publication dates are confusing, I think the publisher of El DIario clearly made the right call on which comic strip to feature on the front page of its comic section.

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For more information on the career of Kreigh Collins, visit his page on Facebook.