THE COLLECTED NEIL THE HORSE by Arn Saba (Katherine Collins)
In the glorious (?) and anything-goes days of what is now called the “Black and White Explosion” of the 1980’s, dozens of obscure but hopeful comics made their way into the hallowed halls of the Direct Market. Most of these were poor quality knock-offs of popular work, but there were a number of extremely well-made and idiosyncratic titles to be found amid the chaff. One of the most original (still never duplicated!) of these was Neil the Horse Comics and Stories by Arn Saba. Drawing on classic Hollywood “musical comedy” as filtered through Carl Barks, the comic presented a ragamuffin crew of traveling entertainers — Neil (the Horse), the wooden doll Mam’selle Poupée, and the rough and tumble alley cat Soapy. Each issue was filled with their adventures, and actual songs — in the form of sheet music composed by the creator.
There were 15 issues of Neil the Horse produced… and then… they stopped. What happened? What happened was Arn Saba became one of the first openly transsexual cartoonists in North America, transitioning into her true self, Katherine Collins. Blacklisted by the comics industry afterwards, Collins gradually faded from view, and finally gave up on her comics career.
The Collected Neil the Horse gathers all fifteen issues of the comic, adding rare artwork, newspaper strips, sheet music, and a heartbreaking and honest afterword by Collins herself. This is a fun, weird, and important look at a long lost era of comics history. Highly recommended!
PS: I stole the “Comics and Stories” tag for King-Cat from Neil the Horse.
Massive 360 page softcover, 8″ x 11″, color covers and glorious black and white interiors. (Conundrum Press)