Il Nerbiniano

Recently, I received a surprise in the mail — a large padded envelope. I tore it open before realizing who’d sent it, or where it had come from. Inside were two copies of the Italian comics publication Il Nerbiniano, sent to me by an overseas blogger with whom I’d recently connected with via email. We’d made plans to trade a couple issues of Il Nerbiniano for a book on “Kevin the Bold,” but it had slipped my mind. (I hastily placed an order).

I first became aware of Il Nerbiniano earlier this year. After some research, I began to get a handle on what it was, sort of an Italian Menomonee Falls Gazette. Because everything I saw online about it was written in Italian, it made sleuthing more difficult (so much for that one semester of the language at SUNY-Buffalo 30-some years ago!). Published in Florence, Il Nerbiniano existed from about 1973 until 1980. The editions varied in length but were usually ran 32–36 pages. Initially, there were six issues produced yearly, but by 1980 it seems to have become a quarterly.

The covers had a heavier paper stock, and the text pages were generally black and white, with occasional two- or four-color pages. Its trim size was quite large, about 9-3/4″ x 13-1/2″, nearly tabloid-sized.

Nerbiniano 08 01 C1 150

I grabbed the one with the more striking cover. I had seen an Australian comic book from the 1950s that utilized the same panel as its cover, but the art was heavily modified. Il Nerbiniano was truer to the original.

KTB Comicbook 24Lg

Nerbiniano 08 01 C2 150

This edition was the first issue from year eight. The table of contents listed page numbers for its features, but the book’s pages weren’t numbered. The front of the book consisted of a seven-page feature/interview with noted Disney artist Floyd Gottfredson, and was illustrated with some very nice artwork. The next page had a beautiful full-page Hal Foster illustration. Opposite this was what I was looking for — but what was going on?

Nerbiniano 08 01 09 150

Flipped 90° so it appeared with a landscape orientation was half of a “Kevin the Bold” tabloid comic, translated into Italian. It was the bottom portion of the comic that concluded the strip’s initial sequence. Here it served as a transition to the following sequence, highlighted by Kevin’s tournament showdown with Count de Falcon.

The balloons were redrawn, and the dialog changed, ever so slightly. Details in the original were smoothed over because of the truncated appearance of the comic, and to blur the ethnicity of the protagonist.

Ma prima, ditemi qual’e’il vostro cognome translates to “But first, tell me what your surname is,” while the original states “Kevin, you are no mere shepherd. What’s your full name, lad?” More tellingly, Ho Capito! Hai un segreto che non vuoi svelare. Allora per noi sarrai per sempre Kevin il Temerario! (“I get it! You have a secret that you do not want to reveal. Then for us you will always be Kevin the Bold!”) originally ran as, “Keep your secret, lad! But the Irishman who wields this sword shall be known as Kevin the Bold!”

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. However, because they are both oriented so that the tops of the comics align with the gutter, reading them requires a bit of book spinning. The next two pages consist of the first episode in the Count de Falcon sequence. It originally ran on December 17, 1950.

Nerbiniano 08 01 10 150

Nerbiniano 08 01 11 150

The December 25, 1950 episode follows on the next two pages.

Nerbiniano 08 01 12 150Nerbiniano 08 01 13 150

Page 14 consists of the top half of the December 31, 1950 comic, but readers are left hanging because a three pages of “Flash Gordon” material begins on the next page. Recapping, that’s two full “Kevin” tabloids and two partials.

Nerbiniano 08 01 14 150

“Collectors Corner” followed the “Flash Gordon” comics, and in turn was followed by four pages of Neil O’Keeffe and Max Trell’s “Dick’s Adventures” (running in two colors, black plus magenta). Three pages were devoted to an interview with some Italian comics collectors, and the remaining six pages consisted of five weeks of “Lone Ranger” dailies. I didn’t see any sign of the comics’ original publication dates.

The inside back cover featured “Tim Tyler’s Luck,” a half-page 1928 comic by Lyman Young, and the back cover listed a bunch of comics for sale (4.000 lira apiece).

I’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.

Advertisements

Ending with a bang

Sorry, but… April Fools! The two Menomonee Falls Gazette comics from last week were fakes — they don’t exist. Here are the color half-pages for the final comics in this sequence.

ktb-051957-ha-cst-150-qcc

ktb-052657-hf-dn-150-qcc

ktb-060257-ha-cst-150-qcc

A crooked archer, Shark Donnelly wasn’t much better at swimming — posing as a sailor was a poor career choice. The fate he suffers is grim (and reminiscent of Captain Zinbad’s demise in Kevin’s first sequence).

ktb-060957-hf-150-qcc

All that’s left is Clarissa and Ben’s reunion. As the sequence ends, it transitions to the next storyline, again involving romance.

MFG Rarities

Most of the comic strips in my collection were given to me by Kreigh Collins’ son Kevin. My windfall covered about half of my grandfather’s NEA work, printed in one form or another. I received my first large batch from Uncle Kevin in 2008, with other packages arriving later. Between these deliveries, I purchased other comics to fill holes in my collection.

Initially, I bought anything I could afford that I didn’t already have. I soon learned to ignore one-third page comics and focus on half-pagers. Among the printed samples I received from Uncle Kevin were different types of black-and-white proofs, as well as other BW versions. I paid little attention to these; I was focused on the color halves from the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit News.

As I began working my way through my grandfather’s old tearsheets, I learned more about what I had, and a couple things I’d overlooked became more interesting. Included were a few late copies of the Menomonee Falls Gazette. Since I had half-page versions from the Trib of basically all of the comics that ran in the Gazette, I saw little value in these black-and-white tabloid versions. Only lately did I realize that a couple of the Gazettes I had must be extremely rare. Furthermore, they help complete the sequence featuring Benjamin Defoe, Clarissa and Shark Donnelly.

ktb-051957-mfg233-01-150

Following its customary two-month hiatus, issue #233 was dated June 4, 1978. The Gazette still had two sections, but they were now only 12 pages long. Kevin again appeared on the front page of the second section. The strip’s action picked up with Kevin and Clarissa in danger of being jumped by the bad guys while Ben DeFoe makes a desperate lunge aboard Heather. Hit by Shark Donnelly’s shot, Ben fails to get belowdecks but still manages to sew chaos.

Arriving another two months later, the comic in issue #234 was spectacular. Featuring a suspense-building device first proposed (but not used) by Collins for an old Mitzi McCoy comic, Donnelly and DeFoe are shown desperately swimming away from the tinderbox that is the Heather.

ktb-051957-mfg234-01-150

Now THAT’S more like it, a fitting end to this tabloid’s run. The crisp black lines of the Gazette highlight the drama of this final scene. Needless to say, this comic also looks spectacular as a color half-page.

The End?

Inspired by traditional Sunday papers’ funny pages, I usually post examples of Kreigh Collins’ colorful Sunday comics. In honor of the black and white versions that ran in Saturday editions, the current sequence has been posted on Saturdays.

MM082650 BW TH cc 100

One of Kreigh’s local dailies began running black and white one-third page versions of “Mitzi McCoy” near the end of the strip’ run…

KTB 111850 BW TH 150 cc

…and Collins’ work continued to appear in the Grand Rapids Press on Saturdays after the comic transformed into “Kevin the Bold.”

—  — • — —

 

mnf-cover-230

Waking from another hibernation (this time, three months), The Menomonee Falls Gazette rallied to publish issue #230. At this point, Kevin ran on the front page of the second section, and whomever was laying out the pages forgot to update the Volume/Number/Date line from the previous issue (#229).

ktb-042857-mfg230-01-150

Shark Donnelly has learned that Ben knows of his sordid past. Fearing the worst, Ben and Jonathan are summoned topside by the captain. Meanwhile, Clarissa tries to mend her broken heart by allowing Kevin to escort her on a hunting party.

ktb-050557-mfg231-01-150

Kreigh Collins treats us to some hunting lore, but soon Kevin and Clarissa become separated from the group. Back aboard Heather, Donnelly has coerced the powerless DeFoe to do his bidding.

Once again letting suspense build unreasonably, the next issue of the Menomonee Falls Gazette arrived months after its predecessor. Misidentified as #234 on its cover (didn’t they fire the layout guy yet?), issue #232 was dated March 3, 1978.

mnf-cover-232-234

ktb-051257-mfg232-01-150

In this final edition of the comics tabloid, Kevin’s sequence was as yet unresolved. With the action so close to a climax, it’s a shame the Gazette’s loyal readers were left hanging. Or were they? Check back for two explosive revelations!

Shark Donnelly

In existence since late 1971, the weekly Menomonee Falls Gazette was showing signs of strain by 1977. After hibernating for a couple of months, issue #227 finally shipped. Now released every two weeks, the action on its pages picked up where it left off in March. ktb-040757-mfg227-01-150

Unmindful of recent events — the wedding’s cancellation and the Lord Mayor’s illness, Kevin arrives. At least Clarissa’s mood brightens at the sight of Kevin. Benjamin DeFoe and his compatriot (Jonathan Clay) are still in dire straits.

ktb-041457-mfg228-01-150

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Ben and Jonathan have new problems. Sent to the brig by another cruel master, DeFoe realizes something is amiss. Back in Glassen, Kevin is brought up to speed.

ktb-042157-mfg229-01-150

Bejamin DeFoe, an erstwhile archer for the king, finally realizes where he’d seen Shark Donnelly previously, and now has another reason to despise him. Using “Frederick Stearns” as an alias and masquerading as a sailor, Stearns is Heather’s captain.

heathers-skippers2-n-c-july-1959

I’m sure the resemblance between these two men (both skippers of boats named Heather) is purely coincidental.

Left at the Altar

From March 1978 issues of the Menomonee Falls Gazette, this Kevin the Bold sequence was originally published sixty years ago (1957). Printed from the original films, the reproductions were excellent, and Kreigh Collins’ strength as an illustrator was evident.

Despite the absence of romance in Kevin’s life, storylines involving lovers periodically ran, as did their drama. As with Mitzi McCoy, Collins enjoyed the freedom of having any character take the lead. Here, a new set of characters is introduced. Kevin doesn’t appear — he isn’t even mentioned.

ktb-031757-mfg224-17-150

Benjamin DeFoe has been pressed into service, leaving his bride jilted at the altar — an interesting twist on the action seen in Mitzi McCoy’s debut comic.

ktb-032457-mfg225-17-150

After a week’s absence, Kevin is briefly introduced. (Originally, it wasn’t clear to me where this action took place — I must have been distracted by the fantastic illustrations.) Meanwhile, Ben finds himself in an ugly situation aboard a beautiful ship — whose namesake Collins himself skippered.

heather-bw

Heather, circa 1957

ktb-033157-mfg226-17-150

Things are bleak. Ben plans a desperate escape, Clarissa’s heart is broken, and her father, the Lord Mayor, has taken ill. The lone sign of hope is the appearance of Kevin in the comic’s final panel.

The Menomonee Falls Gazette

The Menomonee Falls Gazette was a weekly tabloid that reprinted newspaper comic strips from the US and the UK. Each page typically featured a week’s worth of a daily strip or a full-page Sunday tabloid comic. Generally, these comics fell into the adventure or soap opera categories. Issue No. 1 was published on December 11, 1972. In all, there were 232 issues; the final issue was dated March 3, 1978. 

mfg109-48-kevin-the-bold-crop-box

How comics found there way into the Menomonee Falls Gazette is unclear to me, but it appears a case of opportunism brought Kevin the Bold to the Gazette. A week after his 66th birthday, Collins died (January 8, 1974). Six days later, issue No. 109 featured a Kevin the Bold splash panel on the front cover and an episode of the comic from early 1957 on the back. Regardless of how he got there, Kevin anchored the back cover position for the next six months.

Issues of the Menomonee Falls Gazette featured as many as 50 comic strips and these strips took turns gracing its cover. Kevin the Bold earned the spot at least three other times (Nos. 150, 182 and 215). Essentially, all issues of the Gazette can be found online, where they can be viewed or downloaded.

Kevin the Bold continued to run in the MNF for as long as the tabloid was published. The only exception was No. 214, when the comic didn’t appear. This seems to have been a oversight, as  No. 213 ran a comic dated December 30, 1956 and No. 215 ran the January 6, 1957 strip. At this point, the Gazette must’ve been on its last legs: another glitch happened when the February 10, 1957 episode was skipped — Issue No. 220 jumped ahead to the February 17 comic. 

During the four years Kevin ran in the Gazette, twelve of Kevin’s adventures were retold. The final sequence is incomplete, which is a shame — it ends with a bang. For loyal readers of the Menomonee Falls Gazette wondering whatever happened to Captain Ben Defoe and Shark Donnelly, that sequence will run in its entirety starting next week.