8 Ekim 2012 Pazartesi



Red Carson was the hero of an unusual , enthralling western imported from the United States. The author was Warren Tufts, whose style was extremely reminiscent of that of the great Alex Raymond. In fact, even the protagonist of the stories (whose original name was Casey Ruggles, and who was at first renamed Red Carson and, later, the Iron Sheriff) had more than a touch of similarity with Flash Gordon. The adventures had a number of atypical characteristics for a western comic strip, rich in humor and mystery as they were. Many of the original American stories did not follow the normal narrative mode, so that an episode might even end in suspense, without its logical conclusion, the latter being left to the reader's imagination. G. L. Bonelli noted this imperfection and intervened personally in the translation, reinventing the dialogues to ensure they were more suited to the tastes of Italian readers and inserting more traditional (and more coherent) linking episodes, illustrated by the very skillful hand of Mario Uggeri.

In 1950, the sequence of Western themes was suddenly broken off by a most unexpected novelty: the four issues of the strip dedicated to "L'uomo ombra". Diabolik had not yet seen the light (and indeed would not be on sale at news-stands until twelve years later) when France was thrown into turmoil by the heinous crimes of a scientist, a genius for disguises: a ruthless criminal prepared to go to any lengths in order to continue his experiments. His adversaries, cleverly depicted by Lino Jeva, are detective Barlier and the journalist Sanders, who put an end to the machinations plotted by the Uomo Ombra and his assistant Otto Schwartz, arresting them in India after a series of hair-raising chases, great escapes and dramatic turnarounds. What awaits the Uomo Ombra, upon his return to France, is the guillotine. Rich in allusions to the Fantômas literary series, the album proved to be too far ahead of its time and achieved little success, despite the magnificent cover designs, which were the work of Aurelio Galleppini in sparkling form.

This series (an American production) tells the tale of the famous scout of the West (crowned with a Davy Crocket beret), coming down rather heavily on the side of irony and surrounding the protagonist with beautiful women. Despite the fine illustrations by Fred Meagher (interspersed with close-ups of the hero designed by Galleppini) and G. L. Bonelli's personal modifications of the scripts, the Italian public (used to upstanding real good-guy heroes) did not receive the character favorably, and the strip never achieved the popularity that had been hoped for.


The plot of this series, set in the United States, unfolds against a background of the struggle between France and England for possession of the North American territories (and thus it takes place towards the end of the seventeenth century). The protagonist is Gordon Jim, a young Scotsman, belonging to the noble clan of the Argylls, the sworn enemy of the English family of the Sutherlands. Because of the deceitful behavior by a member of the latter family, Gordon Jim, wrongly accused of murder, is forced to abandon his homeland and seek shelter in America. Here he has a sequence of adventures in the company of a group of well characterized figures (as was customary for Roy d'Amy, the author of the series, whose ability to portray choral action had already been displayed in the "Mani in Alto!" series). And so we see the brawny Mac Hardy skillfully finding his way amid a thousand dangers, together with his grand-son (the stammering Semedimela), the likeable Dirty pan (constantly tormented by a shrewish battle-axe who wants to become his wife), the sweet Miss Arabel (in love with Gordon Jim), the little Tartufo with his faithful polecat Eulalia, and a multitude of other characters. The blend of historical events and imaginary situations gave our heroes' adventures "an extra gear" that made them extremely amusing (and attractive) to young readers of that period, to the point that once the story had come to an end, the series was reprinted several times. The characters themselves had an aura of enormous fascination, but what really left a lasting impression were the splendid illustrations by Roy d'Amy (in some cases with the collaboration of another great comic strip artist, Gino d'Antonio). The elegant military uniforms, the folkloristic head-dresses of the Indian tribes of the North-West, the dark brooding forests and the landscapes of lakes and water offered the author an opportunity to compose some of the finest pages that ever appeared in Italian adventure comics.

I TRE BILL (1952)

After creating a long succession of lone heroes, for his new album G. L. Bonelli chose as protagonists a riotous trio of brothers, who were given the faces of the actors John Carradine, Victor McLaglen and Montgomery Cliff. The Bills (this was their surname, not a first name) were a terrible threesome of avengers, who, in deference to an oath sworn to their father upon his death-bed, only resorted to weapons in absolutely desperate circumstances and always tried to avoid killing. But on the other hand, they would smash the hand of anyone who dared take a shot at them, so that whoever it is never had a chance to do the same again! Always ready to get involved in fisticuffs, the threesome (Black, an uncommunicative sort of guy with a strange costume that gives him a rather somber air; Sam, an easy-going giant who is just as happy taking part in a lively round of drinks as in a Homeric mêlée, and finally Kid, the "little one" of the family, a puppy already equipped with a good set of teeth) are absolutely unstoppable. Their adventures come thick and fast like an avalanche and they experience all sorts of excitement, narrated with the customary panache by G. L. Bonelli, whose scripts have lost none of their freshness and still make excellent reading today. Kid, Black and Sam Bill were at first depicted graphically by Giovanni Benvenuti, who began by composing the drawings for comic strips and later became a consummate and renowned illustrator. His drawings, which were highly realistic, accentuated the already pronounced characterization of the protagonists. He worked in collaboration with Roy d'Amy, who later, in 1955 (when the series was resumed by virtue of the enormous popularity of the characters) took over the entire task of producing the drawings, with the aid of a few co-workers. "Il ritorno dei tre Bill" ('The Return of the Three Bills', as the second series was called) also achieved considerable success, thereby demonstrating the evocative power of these characters. There followed several reprints, and the characters made their last appearance in Italy in a few albums of the famous Rodano collection of publications.

POKER (1952)

This attractive magazine, which was launched amid great expectations of success, actually turned out to be very short-lived (no more than two issues). The reasons for such a dramatic failure? Perhaps the cover illustrations (and the pictures inside) were a little "ahead" of their time, with amusing 'pin-up girls ' designed by Albertarelli, Benvenuti and Donatelli. Or perhaps it was the fact that the albums contained a mixture of comic strips ("Rip Kirby", "Braccio di Ferro", the first cartoon pages of "Yuma Kid") and text stories as well as articles about cinema and the world of show business in general. Apparently this "mix" did not find favor among an appropriate group of readers, who may have been confused by the variety of elements contained in the magazine. Looking back on it from today's perspective, the concern it raised among habitual comic strip readers may give us cause to smile somewhat ironically, and perhaps (if one reflects on the multitude of analogous products on display at news-stands at the outset of the new Millennium) we may begin to feel nostalgic for a certain manner of writing and drawing, now regarded as thoroughly out-moded. One final curious observation. "Poker" was a more or less exceptional case in the history of our Publishing House in that its pages also hosted advertisements for commercial products.

YUMA KID (1953)

Young Yuma Kid, rescued by the Yuma Indians in the Gila desert during a sandstorm, grows up amongst them (they call him Wind of Death), and after hearing the prophecy of the old witch Wa-No-Tah who lives in a cave together with her cougars (a recurrent theme for G. L. Bonelli, the script-writer in this series), he returns to the world of white men; the whites immediately learn to respect him, partly because of the aura of mystery that surrounds his birth and his life with the Indians. Although this series lasted barely eighteen weekly albums, it was noted for the splendid and crystal-clear drawings by Mario Uggeri.


Under this title ('The Black Horseman' - which to tell the truth was not really justified either by the storyline or the psychology, or even by the attire of the character) there appeared the adventures of Frisco Smith, a police officer in one of the railroad companies of the West. Dressed in a vaguely Mexican fashion, the hero of this serial is an excellent marksman with a mentality decidedly oriented towards the most complete respect for the letter of the law. He therefore differs from his avenging colleagues (guys like Tex, in other words), but at the same time his legalitarian attitude leads him to be colder and less appealing than the other characters of that era. His comic supporting figure in these adventures is a young Indian called Piccolo Corvo. The scripts were by G. L. Bonelli, and the artwork by EsseGesse (Sinchetto, Guzzon and Sartoris, the creators of famous characters such as Il Grande Blek, Capitan Miki and, for our own press, Il Comandante Mark).

RIO KID (1953)

Rio Kid, better known as "Il Cavaliere del Texas", was the protagonist of a brief series arising from the joint work between G. L. Bonelli, the script-writer, and Roy d'Amy, creator of the subject and the artwork. A typical "righter of wrongs", accompanied by the cyclopic Whisky Bill (whose nickname is extremely illuminating of his love for alcoholic beverages), Rio Kid has his adventures in the arid regions of Texas and Mexico, where the action-packed stories (as was traditional for G. L. Bonelli's characters) frequently transcend the boundaries of the purely Western genre and encompass themes from the realm of the fantastic.

ZA LA MORT (1953)

This series (based on scripts by G. L. Bonelli and artwork by Pietro Gamba) borrowed its title, rather incongruously, from a series of silent films of the post-war era, the protagonist of which was a Parisian "Apache", a sort of Fantômas, as performed by the actor Emilio Guinone. In contrast, the protagonist of our series is a real Apache, of the Broncos tribe. Extremely deft at handling his Colt, he is flanked by Tom Jeffords, an army scout. The amazing adventures of this well-matched pair take place in the late nineteenth century, in the tumultuous years that marked the end of the Indian wars, during which Za La Mort stands out as a strenuous defender of his race.


This well-received series created by Roy d'Amy presents the adventures of an unlikely yet extremely lifelike Foreign Legion of the West, a special corps that has the task of keeping guard over the Frontier, in a Far West of the second half of the nineteenth century. As well as the likeable and very skillful York, who gives his name to the series, the characters at Fort Hope (the Legion's Base) come from all over the world: the Irishman Sean O'Donnel, the American Flinty, the Canadian Roseberry, the Pole Toplinsky, the Neapolitan Antonio Caruso, the Austrian violinist Oscar Strauss, the Cossack Vassili Ivan Petrovich Karakazoff Smolensky, the French captain Jean Leroux, the Scotsman Jolly Jock, the orphan Pretty Boy, the courageous Parnell and, finally, Colonel Hoover. But this motley array of figures gets an opportunity to show its operational efficiency in an interminable series of adventures of all types, all highly exciting and very well rendered by the author's artwork.

EL KID (1956)

Represented as taking place in a border region of northern Mexico, the album has as its protagonist a rather reckless young man who sets himself up as a defender of the poor and the oppressed. Through a lengthy series of adventures in which he comes up against Mexican rurales, Apache warriors and pistoleros, our hero uses his guns and his fists without every losing the ironic and lighthearted look on his face. This decidedly dynamic character, springing from the inexhaustible imagination of G. L. Bonelli, had his first adventures, with artwork by the already expert hand of Dino Battaglia, on the pages of Collana Rodeo, and later in TuttoWest. Subsequently, the series was also illustrated by Renzo Calegari and Gino D'Antonio, for a total of twenty-four albums.


After the success of "Mani in Alto!", the likeable Cherry Brandy, Teddy Star's "comic relief", was promoted to the role of protagonist of a series of albums (once again created by Roy d'Amy). His adventures, told by himself in first person, present him in the role of a cowboy, a detective, a gold-hunter and a hundred or so other professions, in the company of the little waif Sventola, now a cadet at West Point, and a pet Puma called Micione


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