Review by Norman Boyd
Fleetway Picture Library Classics: WESTERNS featuring the art of Giovannini (Limited Edition)
Authors: Various; Diego Cordobo (introduction)
Artist: Ruggero Giovannini
Publisher: Book Palace Books, November 2020
Number of pages: 272
Format: Flexi Cover; Black & White illustrations
Size: 6″ x 8″ (165mm x 215mm)
The Book: All four of the stories in this collection were drawn by the great Ruggero Giovannini and were originally published in Thriller Picture Library issues 187, 270, 286 and 327 between 1957 and 1960. Today, Giovannini is mainly remembered in England for the many western, adventure and historical comic strips he drew in a realistic style, packed with plenty of action on each page.
His style, inspired by Milton Caniff and Will ‘Red Barry’ Gould, has a way of telling a story which is fast-paced, occasionally using heavy shadows, and accompanied with his quickly rendered, yet effective, inking. Equally at ease in any time period, from Ancient Rome to the Wild West, we are pleased to bring Giovannini’s dynamic artwork before a modern audience.
The Review: I loved this simple read, offering four stories all illustrated by Ruggero Giovannini between 1957-1960 for Thriller Picture Library comics. The introduction to Ruggero Giovannini by Diego Cordoba covers his life and works in brief and the four stories are wonderful.
I always expect ‘sameness’ in westerns – but this book proves how versatile the genre was and is!
Whip Bradon leads his wagon train to Fort Laramie where he meets the new Major Chard, a very precise rule keeper who does not get on with Whip and his comrades… until Bradon proves himself worthy of respect and having courage through his ignoring rules but doing the right thing in regards to the local Indian population whose tactics are to hold up all westward progress.
Caleb Trumbull is an older man who guided the settlers to the valley with its rich grass for cattle grazing and small friendly town. He is keen to vet any new arrivals wanting to avoid troublemakers joining the idyllic valley community. Todd and his father move in and build their homestead but winter comes and Trumbull does nothing to help the starving community. Todd’s father heads out but his food is refused by the stubborn leader. Todd’s Dad gets pneumonia and dies and Todd holds a grudge. Years later he leads a cattle rancher to the rich lands of the valley knowing he’ll confront Trumbull.
The Bounty Hunters
Mark Atkins, the young boy loses his parents after their stagecoach is attacked by Indians. He is adopted by a Mexican family, who one day have visitors who claim to be gathering scalps for the US Government. In fact they realise that Mexican scalps look the same as Indian scalps and slaughter Mark’s adopted family. Mark grows older and sets out to gain revenge on the three men. Along the way he kills one and learns revenge eats up the person dishing it out, He falls in love and fortunately has learned revenge is not a motive for killing a man, but saving his girlfriend from an evil man is.
Matt Clew decides to drive his 23 horses forty miles to the Colorado River in Texas but do it alone while his friend heads straight there and builds the necessary shelter. Unfortunately he will be crossing Indian territory. Along the way a young desperate man tries to steal a horse but ends up accompanying Matt and finally their party grows by one, a woman who also tags along. The adventures of the three on their journey are exciting and entail avoiding, confronting and finally killing White Bear who has pursued the party all the way!
Great artwork, great storytelling and another great addition to this series.