Monsieur Wens, by Rali
Dutch-language version of 'Ici, M. Wens', published in Bravo! magazine.

Rali was a Belgian comic artist and book illustrator. Part of the second wave of Belgian creators working for Bravo! magazine, he teamed up with the artist Tenas for the production of a great many comic serials, including the chivalry feature 'Morgana'. In 1950, Rali and Tenas became head of the official Belgian Disney studio, producing covers and story art for the licensed magazine Mickey Magazine.

Early life and career
Not much is known about Rali, particularly about his life prior to World War II. He was born in 1907 as Raoul Livain (although some sources say Raoul Livin). Besides a cartoonist, Rali was also a book illustrator, making decorated title-page and interior illustrations for translated editions of Jane Austen, Dostoevsky and William Makepeace Thackeray novels for the Brussels publisher Editions La Béotie (1945-1947).

Bravo! magazine
In 1942, Rali was hired by editor Jean Dratz to create new comics for the Belgian comic magazine Bravo!, when the American comics had to be replaced due to World War II. However, only one black-and-white page of his chivalry comic 'Morgana' saw print in issue #26 of 1942. After that, the project was seemingly shelved until issue #21 of 1944, when 'Morgana' was resumed, this time in full color. Rali also provided the magazine with 'Ici, Mr. Wens', a comic series based on the crime novels by Stanislas-André Steeman.

By 1946, Rali brought the young cartoonist Tenas (Louis Santels) to Bravo! magazine, and the two became an inseparable team in the following decades. For Bravo!, they created a great many many serials and illustrations, working in several genres and under several pseudonyms. Replacing Bravo!'s original core team of Jacques Laudy, Edgar P. Jacobs and Willy Vandersteen, they collaborated on Rali's 'Morgana' series, but also on new creations like 'Cyprien Bravo', 'Phil Blue-Eyes', 'Capitaine Hardell', 'Frigopolis', 'Ivanhoé' and an adaptation of the Paul Féval novel 'Le Bossu'. Joining them in their production were the young scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau and their art assistant Tibet, who later became longtime staples of Tintin magazine with their detective series 'Ric Hochet'. In 1948, the Tenas-Rali serials 'Capitaine Hardell' and 'Ivanhoé' also ran in the French Pierrot magazine.


Other Tenas-Rali productions
For the newspaper Le Peuple, Rali and Tenas created 'Pierre Azur, Pilote de Ligne' (6 April-22 July 1948), an aviation comic resembling Milton Caniff's 'Steve Canyon'. The main hero Pierre Azur, an ace pilot and World War II hero, and his friend Bob Toriac have to inaugurate a new air route to India for Condor Air Line, but are confronted with sabotage, attacks by hostile airplanes and kidnapping. In Spirou magazine, Rali and Tenas and their team created the piracy adventure serial 'Le Triangle de Feu' (1952). Using the collective pseudonym D. Aisin, the story was a joint production of the entire team, with Duchâteau writing the script, Tibet doing lay-outs and Tenas and Rali providing the finished artwork. Rali and Tenas additionally produced comic stories for Fernand Cheneval's Héroïc-Albums magazine, and they illustrated text serials in Story, a tabloid comic magazine of Éditions du Pont-Lévis, largely filled with American comic stories. Tenas and Rali were also members of La Mine Souriante, an association of humorous artists from several generations, founded in 1928 by the cartoonist and illustrator Marcel Antoine. The group was notable for its playful manifestations, which often made headlines in the press.

Le Triangle de Feu by D'Aisins
'Le Triangle de Feu' (Dutch edition from Robbedoes magazine, 1952).

Mickey Magazine
In 1950, Rali and Tenas joined Pont-Lévis publisher François Prête in the launch of Mickey Magazine, a Belgian Disney magazine published in both a Flemish and a French-language edition. The project was an initiative of Armand Bigle, a Belgian entrepeneur representing Walt Disney Productions in Europe. Appearing for the first time on 14 October 1950, the magazine mostly ran stories reprinted from Disney American comic books. For the production of cover drawings and additional illustrations, as well as the editing of the magazine, a local art studio was set up at 47, Rue du Houblon in Brussels, supervised by Tenas and Rali. In that respect, Tenas and Rali were the first Europeans with an official license to produce Disney art. A couple of decades later, the writing and drawing of Disney comic stories had become mainly an European effort, with the core of the production handled by publishers in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Already in the first issue of Mickey Magazine, Tenas and Rali's comic serial 'Les Mystères de la Tour Eiffel' (1950-1951) took off, a Paris-centered story in which Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto chase a gang of crooks who were trying to bomb the Eiffel Tower in order to buy it at the price of steel, rebuild it and then sell it to rich collectors. Written by the team's regular scriptwriter André-Paul Duchâteau, the story ran in the first 34 issues of the magazine. In Mickey Magazine's first three issues, Tenas and Rali also told Walt Disney's life story in the three-page comic 'L'Étonnante Histoire de Walt Disney' (1951). Many of the magazine's original covers and story headers were also designed by Tenas. Mickey Magazine remained in print until late 1959, when it merged with the popular Donald Duck weekly, published in the Netherlands since October 1952.

Donald Duck as goalkeeper, from Donald Duck #23, 1958, for a long time believed to be drawn by Lex Overeijnder, but presumably by a member of the Belgian Rali-Tenas studio (© Disney).

Mysterious Dutch Donald Duck stories
It is possible that the Rali-Tenas studio was also responsible for two original 'Donald Duck' stories published in the Dutch Donald Duck weekly. These were a story in which Donald becomes a school teacher, published in a give-away issue of 6 March 1954, and one in which Donald is goalkeeper during a soccer match between the Netherlands and Belgium, published in issue #23 of 1954. For a long time, these two stories were attributed to the Dutch artist Lex Overeijnder, who by then had also contributed a couple of cover illustrations to the magazine. However, these credits remained disputed; first of all because of the style differences, but also because the mysterious production code "S.B.W.D.R.T." It is however possible that this code could stand for "Studios Belges Walt Disney Rali-Tenas". Considering that the studio of Rali and Tenas was mentioned in Mickey Magazine as the "Studios Belges" and the fact that the Brussels team was the first in Europe with an official license to produce Disney material, it is possible that these two Dutch stories were indeed produced by Rali and Tenas or one of their co-workers. Their possible involvement with the Dutch weekly however ended already after these two stories, because after that, Endre Lukács began working more regularly on locally produced Dutch Disney comics.

Final years and death
It is unknown how long Rali's involvement with the Belgian Disney studio lasted, and if he also participated in the 1952 launch of Le Journal de Mickey in France. Most of the Belgian Disney art is attributed to Tenas alone, who worked for the French Disney publications until well into the 1970s. Raoul Livain was by then probably already retired. Regarding their joint productions, it seems likely that Rali took the lead in the realistically drawn serials, and that Tenas focused on the humorous material. It is also unknown when Raoul Livain died.

'L'Étonnante Histoire de Walt Disney' (Mickey Magazine #2, 1950). Disney characters by Tenas, the rest of the art is most likely by Rali.

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