1958

Il Piccolo Ranger

Il Piccolo Ranger

Dual-authored by Andrea Lavezzolo in tandem with Francesco Gamba, Il Piccolo Ranger drew its inspiration, as its title suggested, from typical Western products already on the market at that time, but the finely crafted ability of the illustrator prevented it from becoming just another copy of a hackneyed subject. Instead, its creators fashioned a long-running saga that sometimes took on tragic overtones, at other times was enlivened by humorous touches, but always absolutely riveting. Also, one of the fundamental elements of this series was the wealth of characters and the great variety of human types. The latter include the young Kit Teller (i.e. the "Little Ranger" himself), the hook-nosed and amusing Frankie Bellevan, with his amazing moustache curling at the sides, Ibrahim, who is black, the friendly "brandy" Gim, who's always a bit tipsy, plump Rosa Morning, cute Claretta, the impudent "Denti" Bill and, finally, the most extraordinary figure of Annie Quattropistole, a lively (and armed) spinster who's always on the hunt for a husband. Indeed, these characters represented the real focus of the story, with their feelings, their "ticks" and their manias. Constantly supported by the very clear lines of Gamba's drawings (and those of other illustrators as well, including Franco Bignotti, Lina Buffolente, and the duo Montanari- Grassani), Lavezzolo treated his readers to nothing short of a real novel, bringing the characters "to life" through rounded description of their personality and highlighting the way they changed over time. This approach, whereby both the readers and the characters were able to develop and grow as the story unfolded, enabled the series to maintain its popularity on news-stands for no less than twenty-seven years. However, some of the credit for this astonishing longevity should also be given to those who carried on Lavezzolo's work. In this context, special mention must be made of Decio Canzio, who, while maintaining the spirit of the series intact, opted for a faster-moving succession of events, a mode of story-telling with a swifter pace, better suited to the new mood of the times. He thus also drew on the world of horror, science fiction and more generally, classical adventure literature. The other script-writers, such as Giorgio Pezzin and Marcello Toninelli, also followed his example. An interesting contribution was made by Guido Nolitta, who composed some of the stories and also the last adventure of our heroes (as well as some of the very early ones), wherein, after so many years of adventures, they became private citizens who owned a farm.