Who is Mister No
Mister No's customers are always introduced as harmless tourists or travelers inspired by curiosity. They are often Europeans or Americans eager to spend an unusual holiday and taste the thrill of adventure. Sometimes they are persons who venture into the so-called "Green Hell" in connection with their work: dam or highway engineers, missionaries who bring the Gospel to the Indios, explorers who want to fill in the last empty spaces left in geographical maps. At other times they may be naturalists, anthropologists, archaeologists or scientists of any kind who hope to investigate the mysteries and marvels of the Amazon forest.
But these customers almost always turn out to be different from their benign appearance, and they eventually reveal their true - and extremely dangerous - intentions: the flighty young girl gives the impression of being a tourist, but she's actually tracking down her father who disappeared in the forest many years earlier; the false anthropologist actually wants to remove the Indios from an area rich in gold ore, the apparently inoffensive scientist is actually a dangerous criminal on the run,and so on. Mister No is always involved in a number of extremely risky adventures against his will and every time he is compelled to demonstrate his valor as a former soldier. The dense Amazon rain forest is the main scenario of Mister No's stories. The luxuriant and wild natural environment is reproduced with painstaking documentary exactness by the illustrators; it is not a "papier-mâché" jungle like that appearing in many of the comics strips or Hollywood movies made in the Fifties, but rather a real concrete place, with "real plants" and animals, so that readers can genuinely experience the dangers and marvels of one of the most fascinating areas of our planet. The various tribes of Indios living in the forest almost like "savages" - in the Fifties they were much less "civilized" than today - are presented and depicted with extreme anthropological precision. Mister No is a friend of the Indios and has even spent a period of his life with the Yanoama tribe, where he married a young Indio woman.
Amazonia and its inhabitants are constantly threatened by the advance of "civilized" men who build dams and highways, hunt for gold and diamonds, live as cattle breeders and timber traders, and constantly endanger the fragile ecosystem of the area through their greed for money. The clash between civilization and nature is the main theme of this "modern western". Mister No often defends nature and the native populations of the Amazon forest, but he's not an ecologist on principle: he understands the reasons driving a poor country like Brazil to exploit the immense resources of Amazonia, but he also fights against the cynical and cruel methods adopted by those who use violence to accumulate wealth. Mister No is a great traveler. With his Piper he has reached virtually every place in Brazil - from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador de Bahia, from the Sertão to the Pantanal, from the Iguazú Falls to the rising metropolis of Brasilia - and all the countries of the entire South American continent (Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina).
He has even traveled all the way from Mexico right down to the Tierra del Fuego, and from the Caribbean to Easter Island. With larger planes than his tourism Piper, and sometimes in other periods of his life, he also visited Burma and the Sunda Islands, Spain and Italy, icy Antarctica and the torrid African continent. Africa, in particular, has been the theatre of a long series of adventures, with a journey from the Ivory Coast up to Egypt, passing through Congo, the Kalahari, South Africa, Kenya, the Sahara desert and many other places. Asia and Europe have essentially formed the background of his war experiences, while North America is the country where Mister No started out, to which he often returns. All the places he visits are described with a documentary rigor that constitutes the distinctive feature of this series. In many cases the scripts and creators of the artwork have visited these places personally, so that the documentation provided by books and magazines is integrated with their personal memories.