Monday, May 2, 2016

European Western Comic Books

Il Selvaggio West (The Story of the West) is an Italian comic book series created by Gino D'Antonio and Renzo Calegari, in June 1967 and published by Editions Herald (later Sergio Bonelli Editore ), within the 162 numbers of the Rodeo Series to a total of 73 books edited (the series was later expanded, until reaching the number of 75).  Among the designers who took turns at the realization of the comic book were, besides the creators D'Antonio and Calegari, Sergio Tarquinio and Giorgio Trevisan.  The original covers are all done by Gino D'Antonio.

 Unlike other comic book series, the West History does not have a main character, but a number of figures who alternate in the title role.  In any case they center around the adventures of the epic of the families of MacDonald and Adams, which run from the early nineteenth century, with the arrival in 1804 of the founder Brett MacDonald in the new world, until the eighteen-eighties.

Many of the protagonists in the episodes are historical figures, including Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, General Custer, and Wyatt Earp.  Even some famous Indian Chiefs are featured in the books, among them Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Cochise and Chief Joseph.

Originally a total of 73 volumes were published between 1967 and1980. Two more editions were added and the last of the revised stories were produced in 2013. 

Luigi ‘Gino’ D'Antonio was born in Milan, Italy on March 16, 1927 and was an Italian cartoonist.

D'Antonio made his debut in 1947 with the character of Jess Dakota, and he produced stories and drawings for the publisher Mario Oriali. His second professional experience began in 1948 with The Victorious, a prestigious weekly comic strip series.

In 1951 he joined the staff of the Pecos Bill designers, one of the most famous group of personalities of the time. After two years, however, he decided to return to The Victorious, for which he drew, among other things, the King Arthur's History with texts by Mario Leone. In this period he also took his first, embryonic, experience as screenwriter: without notifying the editor he rewrites part of the story on The fort sull'Huron written by Sandro D'Antonio Cassone and of which he was hired to to sketch the designs.

Also he worked occasionally with Edizioni Audace creating stories for El Kid (1954) and The Three Bills (1955) both with texts by Gian Luigi Bonelli.

His professional turning point came in 1956 when he began working for the prestigious studio D'Ami, creating stories for the British publisher Fleetway drawing for it many war stories and comic adaptations of great works of fiction, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Moby Dick. This collaboration lasted until the 1960s.

In 1967 he began working, for Cepim (today Bonelli), and it remains his most famous work: Il Selvaggio West. The main feature of this epic comic is the rigorous work of documentation written by D'Antonio to represent realistically the Far West. D'Antonio, in addition to the texts, he also created some of the designs, taking turns with other designers such as Renzo Calegari and Renato Polese.

Since 1971, D'Antonio began a long association with The Newspaper, which he is especially remembered for the soldier Cascella, written and drawn by him, and Uomini senza gloria (World War II), with the designs of Ferdinando Tacconi. But that does not interrupt his relations with Bonelli, for which he made both the texts that the designs of some volumes of the series Un uomo un'avventura: numero 2 entitled  L'uomo dello Zululand after both the texts and the drawings, for numero 5 entitled L'uomo del Deserto, the texts, the number 8 entitled L'uomo dei Pechino the texts, the number 16 entitled the man  L'uomo di Iwo Jima after that both the texts and the drawings, for numero 26 titled L'uomo del Bengala, the story for numero 30 titled L'uomo del Ragoon. He still continues to write Beautiful and Bronco, another western which was less successful, and Mac the Stranger for the magazine Orient Express.

In the last years of his career he relegated his activity to draftsman, he considered it more challenging than that of screenwriter. Of particular interest are his subject relief and screenplay for several episodes of Nick Raider and a History of Julia - The adventures of a criminologist.

He died on December 24 of 2006 in Milan.

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