Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Foreign Favorites: IL Piccolo Ranger

Created by writer Andrea Lavezzolo and illustrated by Francesco Gamba, IL Piccolo Ranger (The Little Ranger) was produced by the  Audac  Publishing House with a first appearance on June 15, 1958. Kit Teller, our young hero of the series, is the son of Moses and Mary Worth Teller who emigrate from Wales to seek their fortune in the New World.  Arriving in the United States, the married couple end up in the wilds of the frontier in search for work as baby Kit arrives in 1861. When his mother suddenly dies and the baby falls ill, Moses seeks out the Indian tribe of Red Bison, which  nurse back to health the lad as the pioneers stay to learn the ways of the Native Americans. Moses eventually leave their new friends to become a Ranger and teaches Kit about being a soldier, until the fort adopts him as their youngest member. From this moment on, the Little Ranger lives out his adventures in the wilderness facing outlaws, savage Indians, fierce reptiles, uncanny extraterrestrials, and even medieval warriors who somehow landed in the States. With a strong supporting cast of colorful characters, there was always plenty of action and adventure that excited many a Italian reader with their Western teen hero.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Greatest Adventure: Beowulf

Based on the Anglo-Saxon mythic hero Beowulf, first depicted in the Nowell Codex, Beowulf: Dragon Slayer #1 debuted in May of 1975, written by Michael Uslan and drawn by artist Ricardo Villamonte. Riding on the popularity of the 1970s sword and sorcery craze the series starts out very close to the mythic Beowulf, but later veers wildly into the regions of science fiction and fantasy.  Only lasting six issues, it ran from May 1975 to March of 1976. Beowulf  begins in search of the monster Grendel, but take a detour into the Underworld where he rescues Nan-zee, a beautiful Swedish warrior from Demons who have been controlling her. Beowulf, Nan-Zee, and his fighting companions continue onwards towards Grendel but are again detoured, ending up in a bog where they now battle Swamp Men. More wild adventures follow as the warriors fall through a dimensional gateway where they eventually encounter many different adversaries across time and space. Dracula, a Lost Tribe of Israel, Ulysses, space aliens, and the Minotaur controlled by Satan were just a few villains wonderfully illustrated in Villamonte's lush style before the title unfortunately ended.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Allen Saunders

With 42 years of writing and drawing for the strips including Kerry Drake (which he never got credit for), Allen Saunders, was one of the most respected creators in the field. After getting feedback for a story idea from his artists, he isolated himself to map it out over 13 weeks of dailies and Sundays, with the play writing formula "First act, get your leading character up a tree; second act, throw rocks at him; third act, get him down". Then, in his work week, he allocated two days to each of  the three strips to create a week's worth, using his own cartooning skills to sketch roughs of the characters and dialog in each panel for his artists and letterers to follow. Saunders also served as chair of the Newspaper Comics Council, and a longtime member of the NCS...Born a Hoosier, March 24, 1899...Took the Landon Course and classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. I graduated from Wabash College and taught French there for seven years, free-lancing on the side. Sold cartoons, "pulp" detective stories and plays for amateurs. Acted one season with Chautauqua Company. Joined the News Bee in 1927 as Reporter-Cartoonist. Became dramatic editor a few years later. Teamed with Elmer Woggon in 1936 to write "Chief Wahoo", now "Steve Roper". Took over "Mary Worth" with Ken Ernst, in 1939 and, as publishers  syndicate story editor, helped launch "Rex Morgan", M.D." and other story strips. Served as chairman of newspaper council in 1958. Live with my wife Lois in Toledo, Ohio. We have two sons and two daughters. Hobbies are fishing, reading, and golf (which I play badly but hopefully), ambition is to break 90 both in strokes and in birthdays.