Monday, August 3, 2015

European Western Comics: Tex

Tex Willer is the main fictional character of the Italian comics series Tex, created by writer Gian Luigi Bonelli and illustrator Aurelio Galleppini, and first published in Italy in 1948. It is among the most popular characters of Italian comics, with translations to numerous languages all around the world. The fan base in Brazil is especially large, but it is very popular also in Finland, Norway, Turkey, Croatia, France, Tamil Nadu, Serbia and Spain.

The Tex Willer series is an Italian-made interpretation of the American Old West, inspired by the classical characters and stories of old American Western movies.

Tex is depicted as a tough guy with a strong personal sense of justice, who becomes a ranger and defends Native Americans and any other honest character from exaction and greed by bandits, unscrupulous merchants and corrupt politicians and tycoons. Native Americans are portrayed in a complex way, emphasizing positive and negative aspects of their culture. The same can be said of the American authorities, like the US Army, the politicians, the business-men, the sheriffs or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tex had a son, named Kit Willer (who would become a ranger too), with a Native American woman, named Lilyth, the daughter of a Navajo Chief (she would later die of smallpox). Later, Tex himself went on to become the Chief of the Navajo tribe.

Tex is not only featured in a monthly comic book series, but also in a special series called Tex Albo Speciale (sometimes called Texone, meaning big Tex, because of their bigger size). The Texone have around 240 pages and some artists known outside the Tex universe have been involved, like Jordi Bernet, Joe Kubert and Ivo Milazzo.

The first Tex Willer adventure appeared on September 20 1948, as a comic strip. The "first" Tex is an unwillingly outlawed man with a strong code of honor: to kill only for self-defense. Almost immediately, however, Tex becomes a ranger. Thanks to his marriage with the beautiful Navajo girl Lilyth, he becomes Chief of the Navajos, known as Eagle of the Night, and a defender of Native American rights. Tough, loyal, infallible with guns, enemy of prejudice and discrimination, Tex is very quick smart, and has a marked disregard for strict rules; on the other side, he has no pity for criminals, of any race, nor regard for their rights, if they do not immediately cooperate with the law.

Tex's closest friend in almost every adventure, since he became a ranger, is Kit Carson, loosely inspired to the historic figure of the same name. A main role has been held by Tex Willer's son, Kit Willer, and by the Navajo warrior Tiger Jack; though importance of last two has been diminishing in recent stories. Other recurring characters include El Morisco (a kind of warlock-scientist of Egyptian origin, living in the northeast of Mexico), the Mexican Montales (originally a bandido that fought against a corrupted government, and later a successful politician), the Canadian trapper Gros-Jean, the Irish boxer Pat Mac Ryan, the Mounties Colonel Jim Brandon, San Francisco Police Department Captain Tom Devlin, the Apache chief Cochise, and the Navajo wizard Red Cloud.

Tex Willer's nemesis is Mefisto, an evil magician and illusionist. Other enemies include Yama (Mefisto's son), The Black Tiger (a Malay prince who hates the white race and wants its annihilation in the U.S.A.), and Proteus (able to shapeshift his own face, and impersonate other people).

During the American Civil War Tex fought for the Union, although his home state Texas, sided with the Confederacy. He participated in the battle of Glorieta Pass and briefly served in the 7th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.

In 1985 Tex became a movie directed by Duccio Tessari: Tex e il signore degli abissi (Tex And The Lord Of The Deep). The story depicted in the movie is a transposition from the comic books n. 101-103 of the collection, written by Gian Luigi Bonelli.

The movie was meant to be the pilot of a TV Series but had very little success.

Still in print today above is pictured the latest adventure of Tex.

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