Monday, February 1, 2016

European Western Comic Books - Ken Parker

Ken Parker is a western anti-hero, graphically inspired by Robert Redford of Jeremiah Johnson. Like Johnson, he is a trapper who had decided to escape from the big cities of the United States. His stories are mainly set in Northwestern states or, after Parker was forced to flee after his participation in some strikes in Boston (initially as a Pinkerton agent), along the Canadian frontier.

The themes dealt by the series are unusual for a western, including homosexuality, ecology, ghettoization, justice, the destiny of Man, and his relationship with God. Ken Parker is not a typical cowboy, a monolithic character like Tex Willer or John Wayne's heroes: he grows older since his first story (set in 1868) he commits errors and changes his ideas and ideals. He maintained: "I don't like to kill... not even when it is necessary".

The Ken Parker series was created in 1974 by Giancarlo Berardi and Ivo Milazzo. He is a widely appreciated character in Italy and all over the former Yugoslavia.

First issue of the series, "Lungo fucile" (Long Rifle) was published by the Italian publisher CEPIM. Ken Parker, however, had been created three years earlier in a magazine by the same publisher. The series ran for 59 issues. New issues appeared in the following years, and are constantly under reprint in Italy.

Ken Parker regular publication ceased, but is still occasionally published by Sergio Bonelli Editore and Panini Comics.

Ivo Milazzo was born in Italy on June 20, 1947. He entered the comics field together with Giancarlo Berardi, who became his main scenarist. They started out making some 'Tarzan' stories for the French market in 1971, and then took on their first humorous series, 'Il Palafita', which appeared in Sorry magazine. Between 1972 and 1973, Milazzi cooperated with publisher Gino Sansoni, drawing stories for Horror and Supervip, as well as some episodes of 'Diabolik'. He joined the Bierreci studios, where he cooperated on Disney comics with Giorgio Rebuffi and Luciano Bottaro, as well as 'Tweety and Silvester' stories for the Italian and French market, again with texts by Berardi.

In the 1970s, Milazzo switched to drawing realistic comics. Milazzo and Berardi created the 'Ken Parker' series in 1974, and it was published by Bonelli from 1977. They also started the mini-series 'Tiki' in Il Giornalino, as well as 'Tom's Bar' in Skorpio. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Milazzo's work has appeared in magazines such as Skorpio, Orient-Express ('Marvin il Detective') and Comic Art ('Tommy Steele'). He continued his collaboration with Bonelli, illustrating 'L'Uomo delle Filippine' in the collection 'Un Uomo, un'Avventura', as well as new episodes of 'Ken Parker'. He also illustrated episodes of the Bonelli series 'Nick Raider' and 'Magico Vento'. Milazzo and Berardi founded Parker Editore, and launched Ken Parker Magazine in 1992, that appeared until 1996. From then on, Ken Parker's adventures have appeared in Ken Parker Speciale.

Giancarlo Berardi was born November 15, 1949 in Genoa, Italy. Even as a student he shows a passion for theater and music, singing and playing the guitar.

He began working as a comic book writer in the early seventies, paired with Ivo Milazzo, his classmate at college. He debuts with a short shot story The Blind, published by the magazine Fiction, edited by Gino Sansoni and directed by Pier Carpi and Alfredo Castelli.

In 1970, for the magazine Sorry publisher Ennio Ciscato, Berardi writes the strip The Palafita, designed by Milazzo. In the same year he collaborated with Bierreci (a studio that produces humorous comics composed of Luciano Bottaro, Giorgio Rebuffi, Carlo Chendi) writing some stories of Tarzan and Sylvester for Editrice Cenisio, as well as Mickey Mouse during Arnoldo Mondadori Editore.

In 1974, for the publisher Sergio Bonelli and always in tandem with Milazzo, creates Ken Parker, western comic inspired by the movie Jeremiah Johnson Sydney Pollack and maintaining the character of the protagonist Jeremiah Johnson, played by Robert Redford. The first issue comes out on newsstands since June 1977 when it begins also the association with Maurizio Mantero, co-author of 20 on 59 numbers of the first set.

For the innovative force of his scripts and the ability to touch the themes more varied and complex, it can be said that Berardi has won a place in the narrative of the Italian '900, giving the comic-class status.

Among the numerous awards, the Prix Anafi and that Oesterheld, Internacional de Barcelona Comics, the Haxtur 'award and the Yellow Kid of Lucca.

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