Death and the Gambler
"Death and the Gambler" is one of my favorite short stories illustrated by Dino Battaglia, a giant of Italian comic art. It appeared in Corriere dei Piccoli in the late 1960s, and was the first of a series of short-story adaptations Battaglia illustrated. Battagtlia's unique style, with scratchboard textures cloaking his lovingly-detailed world in mist, perfectly complements Prosper Merimee's enjoyable fable set in a world in which the old pagan gods coexist with Catholic Christianity. I love the story as much as I do the art.
By the way, this series also offered Battaglia the opportunity to show his very personal and very effective color technique. I scanned these pages from tearsheets of the original CdP printing. After experimentation I decided not to attempt to "whiten the pages" because all my efforts spoiled Battaglia's color. So here it is yellowed pages and all.
Just in case you wonder as I did the first time I read the story, the bearded guy on the second page is Saint Peter.
What I like about the story is that Federigo, not a bad man at heart, manages to live both the good life and the good afterlife. He's one of those merry tricksters you read about in analyses of myths...not many people can con the Big Man himself!
I don't know if Merimee was first to use the Death-up-a-tree gimmick, but the idea's reappeared several times since. For example in the 1939 movie On Borrowed Time, Lionel Barrymore traps Death in the backyard apple tree using the same subterfuge Federigo uses.