In this age of reprints for all, there are a bunch of holy grail comics that are returning to print or seeing print for the first time – from Miracleman to the lost Kamandi story….and now the cult comic Neil the Horse is finally coming back to print in a collected edition from Conundrum Press. And even more exciting, creator Katherine Collins will be a guest at TCAF in May to debut the book!
You have to be a fan of deep cut 80s comics to remember Neil the Horse, but it was part of the Aardvark Vanaheim (Dave Sim’s publishing company) expansion into creator owned comics in 1983, before moving to Renegade Press in 1985. At the time there was little like it on the stands – an ode to whimsical humor in the vein of early comic strips, mixed with tributes to musical theater – an all ages comic in a time when that was truly a dirty word to retailers. Neil was a happy-go-lucky creature, designed as an ode to the Felix the Cat/Mickey Mouse tradition of black and white characters. His companions included the cynical Soapy the Cat and the perpetually in love Mamselle Poupeé.
Neil ran until 1988 and then it pretty much faded from view as creator Collins moved on to different interests. But many people have asked for a reprint.
A few years ago Neil the Horse almost came back in an ill-founded edition from a different publisher that was crowdfunded – the publisher collected money but the book didn’t meet order minimums and never came out, disappointing fans such as myself who was sure that Neil would find more acceptance in age when more fanciful cartooning and general interest comics have a growing audience. That the project has found a home at Conundrum, a small press publisher that truly understands the indie market and the unique market for Canadian cartoonists (Collins is from Toronto) feel much more right than the previous attempt.
Plus, it’s high time that Collins, a very early and very brave pioneer in the trans comics community, finally got her due!
So finally! Neil the Horse! A comic so obscure that I can find only a handful of panels on the internet! You can order the book through Amazon (and my affiiliate link) here.
The info from Conundrum:
The Collected Neil the Horse
8×10 inches, 328 pages, b/w, softcover, $25
Introduction by Trina Robbins
May 2017: Canada / UK
Sept 2017: US
Neil the Horse ran 15 issues in the 1980s. With its tagline, “Making the World Safe for Musical Comedy” it is the world’s only musical comic book. It is a totally original hybrid influenced more by Carl Barks and Fred Astaire than by the underground comics of the time. Originally produced under the name Arn Saba, Neil’s creator transitioned to Katherine Collins after the last issue. Neil and his friends Soapy and Mam’selle Poupée are a struggling song-and-dance act. Neil is a happy-go-lucky horse with a mania for bananas. Mam’selle Poupée is a romantic and lovelorn living doll from France, whose wooden body is jointed with hinges. With red circles on her cheeks, curly blonde hair, and large bust, Poupée appears to be a cross between Raggedy Ann and Dolly Parton. Soapy is a street-wise and cynical (with a heart of gold) orange alley cat, a cigar smoker and a drinker, who serves as the brains of the operation. Their magical and absurd adventures take them to outer space, the past, and the future in a mix of slapstick, romance and show business. The book includes brand-new commentary by Collins, rare art, sheet music to accompany the stories, and reprints of early syndicated newspaper strips.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.