History of the publishing house

History of the publishing house
  • 1950

    Red Carson

    Red Carson was the hero of an unusual , enthralling western imported from the United States. The author was Warren Tufts, whose style was extremely reminiscent of that of the great Alex Raymond. In fact, even the protagonist of the stories (whose original name was Casey Ruggles, and who was at first renamed Red Carson and, later, the Iron Sheriff) had more than a touch of similarity with Flash Gordon. The adventures had a number of atypical characteristics for a western comic strip, rich in humor and mystery as they were. Many of the original American stories did not follow the normal narrative mode, so that an episode might even end in suspense, without its logical conclusion, the latter being left to the reader's imagination. G. L. Bonelli noted this imperfection and intervened personally in the translation, reinventing the dialogues to ensure they were more suited to the tastes of Italian readers and inserting more traditional (and more coherent) linking episodes, illustrated by the very skillful hand of Mario Uggeri.

  • 1950

    l'uomo ombra

    In 1950, the sequence of Western themes was suddenly broken off by a most unexpected novelty: the four issues of the strip dedicated to "L'uomo ombra". Diabolik had not yet seen the light (and indeed would not be on sale at news-stands until twelve years later) when France was thrown into turmoil by the heinous crimes of a scientist, a genius for disguises: a ruthless criminal prepared to go to any lengths in order to continue his experiments. His adversaries, cleverly depicted by Lino Jeva, are detective Barlier and the journalist Sanders, who put an end to the machinations plotted by the Uomo Ombra and his assistant Otto Schwartz, arresting them in India after a series of hair-raising chases, great escapes and dramatic turnarounds. What awaits the Uomo Ombra, upon his return to France, is the guillotine. Rich in allusions to the Fantômas literary series, the album proved to be too far ahead of its time and achieved little success, despite the magnificent cover designs, which were the work of Aurelio Galleppini in sparkling form.

  • 1951

    Buffalo Bill

    This series (an American production) tells the tale of the famous scout of the West (crowned with a Davy Crocket beret), coming down rather heavily on the side of irony and surrounding the protagonist with beautiful women. Despite the fine illustrations by Fred Meagher (interspersed with close-ups of the hero designed by Galleppini) and G. L. Bonelli's personal modifications of the scripts, the Italian public (used to upstanding real good-guy heroes) did not receive the character favorably, and the strip never achieved the popularity that had been hoped for.

  • 1952

    Gordon Jim

    The plot of this series, set in the United States, unfolds against a background of the struggle between France and England for possession of the North American territories (and thus it takes place towards the end of the seventeenth century). The protagonist is Gordon Jim, a young Scotsman, belonging to the noble clan of the Argylls, the sworn enemy of the English family of the Sutherlands. Because of the deceitful behavior by a member of the latter family, Gordon Jim, wrongly accused of murder, is forced to abandon his homeland and seek shelter in America. Here he has a sequence of adventures in the company of a group of well characterized figures (as was customary for Roy d'Amy, the author of the series, whose ability to portray choral action had already been displayed in the "Mani in Alto!" series). And so we see the brawny Mac Hardy skillfully finding his way amid a thousand dangers, together with his grand-son (the stammering Semedimela), the likeable Dirty pan (constantly tormented by a shrewish battle-axe who wants to become his wife), the sweet Miss Arabel (in love with Gordon Jim), the little Tartufo with his faithful polecat Eulalia, and a multitude of other characters. The blend of historical events and imaginary situations gave our heroes' adventures "an extra gear" that made them extremely amusing (and attractive) to young readers of that period, to the point that once the story had come to an end, the series was reprinted several times. The characters themselves had an aura of enormous fascination, but what really left a lasting impression were the splendid illustrations by Roy d'Amy (in some cases with the collaboration of another great comic strip artist, Gino d'Antonio). The elegant military uniforms, the folkloristic head-dresses of the Indian tribes of the North-West, the dark brooding forests and the landscapes of lakes and water offered the author an opportunity to compose some of the finest pages that ever appeared in Italian adventure comics.
        
       

  • 1952

    I tre Bill

    After creating a long succession of lone heroes, for his new album G. L. Bonelli chose as protagonists a riotous trio of brothers, who were given the faces of the actors John Carradine, Victor McLaglen and Montgomery Clift. The Bills (this was their surname, not a first name) were a terrible trio of avengers, who, in deference to an oath sworn to their father upon his death-bed, only resorted to weapons in absolutely desperate circumstances and always tried to avoid killing. But on the other hand, they would smash the hand of anyone who dared take a shot at them, so that whoever it is never had a chance to do the same again! Always ready to get involved in fisticuffs, the trio (Black, an uncommunicative sort of guy with a strange costume that gives him a rather somber air; Sam, an easy-going giant who is just as happy taking part in a lively round of drinks as in a Homeric mêlée, and finally Kid, the "little one" of the family, a puppy already equipped with a good set of teeth) are absolutely unstoppable. Their adventures come thick and fast like an avalanche and they experience all sorts of excitement, narrated with the customary panache by G. L. Bonelli, whose scripts have lost none of their freshness and still make excellent reading today. Kid, Black and Sam Bill were at first depicted graphically by Giovanni Benvenuti, who began by composing the drawings for comic strips and later became a consummate and renowned illustrator. His drawings, which were highly realistic, accentuated the already pronounced characterization of the protagonists. He worked in collaboration with Roy d'Amy, who later, in 1955 (when the series was resumed by virtue of the enormous popularity of the characters) took over the entire task of producing the drawings, with the aid of a few co-workers. "Il ritorno dei tre Bill" ('The Return of the Three Bills', as the second series was called) also achieved considerable success, thereby demonstrating the evocative power of these characters. There followed several reprints, and the characters made their last appearance in Italy in a few albums of the famous Collana Rodeo.

  • 1952

    Poker

    This attractive magazine, which was launched amid great expectations of success, actually turned out to be very short-lived (no more than two issues). The reasons for such a dramatic failure? Perhaps the Covers (and the pictures inside) were a little "ahead" of their time, with amusing 'pin-up girls ' designed by Albertarelli, Benvenuti and Donatelli. Or perhaps it was the fact that the albums contained a mixture of comic strips ("Rip Kirby", "Braccio di Ferro", the first cartoon pages of "Yuma Kid") and text stories as well as articles about cinema and the world of show business in general. Apparently this "mix" did not find favor among an appropriate group of readers, who may have been confused by the variety of elements contained in the magazine. Looking back on it from today's perspective, the concern it raised among habitual comic strip readers may give us cause to smile somewhat ironically, and perhaps (if one reflects on the multitude of analogous products on display at news-stands at the outset of the new Millennium) we may begin to feel nostalgic for a certain manner of writing and drawing, now regarded as thoroughly out-moded. One final curious observation. "Poker" was a more or less exceptional case in the history of our Publishing House in that its pages also hosted advertisements for commercial products.
        

  • 1953

    Yuma Kid

    Young Yuma Kid, rescued by the Yuma Indians in the Gila desert during a sandstorm, grows up amongst them (they call him Wind of Death), and after hearing the prophecy of the old witch Wa-No-Tah who lives in a cave together with her cougars (a recurrent theme for G. L. Bonelli, the script-writer in this series), he returns to the world of white men; the whites immediately learn to respect him, partly because of the aura of mystery that surrounds his birth and his life with the Indians. Although this series lasted barely eighteen weekly albums, it was noted for the splendid and crystal-clear drawings by Mario Uggeri.
       

  • 1953

    Il Cavaliere Nero

    Under this title ('The Black Horseman' - which to tell the truth was not really justified either by the storyline or the psychology, or even by the attire of the character) there appeared the adventures of Frisco Smith, a police officer in one of the railroad companies of the West. Dressed in a vaguely Mexican fashion, the hero of this serial is an excellent marksman with a mentality decidedly oriented towards the most complete respect for the letter of the law. He therefore differs from his avenging colleagues (guys like Tex, in other words), but at the same time his legalitarian attitude leads him to be colder and less appealing than the other characters of that era. His comic supporting figure in these adventures is a young Indian called Piccolo Corvo. The scripts were by G. L. Bonelli, and the artwork by EsseGesse (Sinchetto, Guzzon and Sartoris, the creators of famous characters such as Il Grande Blek, Capitan Miki and, for our own press, Il Comandante Mark).

  • 1953

    Rio Kid

    Rio Kid, better known as "Il Cavaliere del Texas", was the protagonist of a brief series arising from the joint work between G. L. Bonelli, the script-writer, and Roy d'Amy, creator of the Plot and the artwork. A typical "righter of wrongs", accompanied by the cyclopic Whisky Bill (whose nickname is extremely illuminating of his love for alcoholic beverages), Rio Kid has his adventures in the arid regions of Texas and Mexico, where the action-packed stories (as was traditional for G. L. Bonelli's characters) frequently transcend the boundaries of the purely Western genre and encompass themes from the realm of the fantastic.

  • 1953

    Za La Mort

    This series (based on scripts by G. L. Bonelli and artwork by Pietro Gamba) borrowed its title, rather incongruously, from a series of silent films of the post-war era, the protagonist of which was a Parisian "Apache", a sort of Fantômas, as performed by the actor Emilio Guinone. In contrast, the protagonist of our series is a real Apache, of the Broncos tribe. Extremely deft at handling his Colt, he is flanked by Tom Jeffords, an army scout. The amazing adventures of this well-matched pair take place in the late nineteenth century, in the tumultuous years that marked the end of the Indian wars, during which Za La Mort stands out as a strenuous defender of his race.

  • 1954

    Il Sergente York

    This well-received series created by Roy d'Amy presents the adventures of an unlikely yet extremely lifelike Foreign Legion of the West, a special corps that has the task of keeping guard over the Frontier, in a Far West of the second half of the nineteenth century. As well as the likeable and very skillful York, who gives his name to the series, the characters at Fort Hope (the Legion's Base) come from all over the world: the Irishman Sean O'Donnel, the American Flinty, the Canadian Roseberry, the Pole Toplinsky, the Neapolitan Antonio Caruso, the Austrian violinist Oscar Strauss, the Cossack Vassili Ivan Petrovich Karakazoff Smolensky, the French captain Jean Leroux, the Scotsman Jolly Jock, the orphan Pretty Boy, the courageous Parnell and, finally, Colonel Hoover. But this motley array of figures gets an opportunity to show its operational efficiency in an interminable series of adventures of all types, all highly exciting and very well rendered by the author's artwork.

  • 1956

    El Kid

    Represented as taking place in a border region of northern Mexico, the album has as its protagonist a rather reckless young man who sets himself up as a defender of the poor and the oppressed. Through a lengthy series of adventures in which he comes up against Mexican rurales, Apache warriors and pistoleros, our hero uses his guns and his fists without every losing the ironic and lighthearted look on his face. This decidedly dynamic character, springing from the inexhaustible imagination of G. L. Bonelli, had his first adventures, with artwork by the already expert hand of Dino Battaglia, on the pages of Collana Rodeo, and later in TuttoWest. Subsequently, the series was also illustrated by Renzo Calegari and Gino D'Antonio, for a total of twenty-four albums.

  • 1956

    Cherry Brandy racconta

    After the success of "Mani in Alto!", the likeable Cherry Brandy, Teddy Star's "comic relief", was promoted to the role of protagonist of a series of albums (once again created by Roy d'Amy). His adventures, told by himself in first person, present him in the role of a cowboy, a detective, a gold-hunter and a hundred or so other professions, in the company of the little waif Sventola, now a cadet at West Point, and a pet Puma called Micione.

  • 1956

    Hondo

    Hondo was a character that proved extremely successful, and credit for his popularity is undoubtedly due to G. L. Bonelli's script, but also to the graphic ability of Franco Bignotti. The latter made his debut with this album, giving a very appealing characterization of this long-haired scout with a fringed jacket. The two authors succeeded in maintaining their readers' interest for no fewer than 117 albums (in the classical strip format). Even when the series was reprinted, in issues nr. 9-20 of Tutto West" (begun in 1988 and concluded in January 1989), the intrepid Hondo received a very affectionate welcome, which demonstrated the strength of this character and his ability to stand the test of time. Accompanied by the faithful Natanis, a cleverly rendered Apache figure, Hondo gradually took on the nature of a moderator between Indians and whites, a role that already characterized one of the most important figures created by G. L. Bonelli, namely Tex. His resolute will and his profound sense of justice made Hondo into one of the most-loved figures of the late 1950s, and although his adventures were interrupted in Italy in 1958, in France the long-haired hero lived on for several years after that, with artwork by Barbato. Some of these Transalpine adventures were presented to Italian readers in the now out-of-print issue number 11 of the historic Zenith Gigante collection (the same one that today hosts Zagor).

  • 1956

    Terry

    This amusing series was sparked off by a decidedly original idea of G. L. Bonelli's: two cowboys (handsome Terry and the brawny Bronco Bill), on holiday in Africa, are hired by a friend's father to defend the construction works involved in building a new railroad, which is being boycotted by unknown persons. The uproarious western twosome, whose exploits are set in a rather unusual framework, are caught up in a whole host of action-packed adventures in which the Western genre blends with the exotic. The artwork was created by Francesco Gamba, an illustrator belonging to the traditional school with clearly-depicted and attractive illustrations, that would later become the mainstay of "Il piccolo Ranger".

  • 1957

    Big Davy

    A short-lived but interesting series that presented the adventures of Davy Crockett, one of the legendary figures of American history, constantly accompanied by his faithful carbine "Betsy". The script was by G. L. Bonelli, with artwork by Renzo Calegari, the latter being still somewhat of a neophyte in this field but already very adept at rendering the atmosphere and feel of that epic world. One curiosity: the series bore the title "Big Davy" because, at that time, there was already another series on the market that featured the complete name of the legendary Crockett.

  • 1957

    Kociss

    This character was based on the figure (a true historical person) of the Chiricahua Apache chief, Cochise. G. L. Bonelli, with his usual skillfulness, built up a series of exciting adventures around this figure, freeing him from the grit of history (as he had already done with Kit Carson in Tex) and enabling him to live a life of his own full of action and unexpected developments, always determined to defend his own people against the overweening power of whites and any other enemy. Excellent artwork was provided for this series by Emilio Uberti, who was graphically inspired by the great Burne Hogarth, the illustrator of Tarzan. Uberti also designed the covers of the strip albums.

  • 1957

    La Pattuglia dei bufali

    To defend the buffalo and therefore also the rights of the Indians of the great prairies, Dix Leroy, a former cavalry officer, founded the "Buffalo Patrol". The proper translation of this title into Italian should have been 'La pattuglia dei bisonti', but perhaps to harmonise with the original title it became "La Pattuglia dei Bufali". Dix is accompanied by all sorts of individuals, in particular old Buddy Crock, a former army mate of Leroy's, brawny Big Max and the comical Tobias G. Tobias, called "Moschito", who is very deft at throwing the boomerang. The series was created by Roy d'Amy, once again valiantly assisted by his best pupils, especially Giovanni Ticci and Renzo Calegari. D'Amy himself, in 1975, designed the covers for the reprint of the series, after a prolonged period away from the world of comics. In fact, "La Pattuglia dei Bufali" was the last series to which D'Amy contributed, before turning from his work as an illustrious author into a publishing agent and then a publisher in his own right.

  • 1957

    yado

    Yado is the son of a Paiute witch doctor who, in order to prevent the sachem of his tribe from killing a white woman, decided to marry her and was then sent into exile together with her, where he brought Yado up in the native tradition. The young Yado thus grew to have immense magic powers, and shaped his life around the aim of seeking revenge for the hostile treatment meted out to his parents. The protagonist is always accompanied by the faithful Kerr, a coyote, and the stallion Hund, and thanks to his magic powers Yado is able to communicate with both of these animals as if they were human beings. Written by G. L. Bonelli and graphically rendered by Francesco Gamba, the story gives vent to Bonelli's never-ending love for magic and the esoteric, which he later sporadically transferred to Tex as well.

  • 1957

    Rocky Star

    A short western tale for which Andrea Lavezzoli wrote the scripts and Francesco Gamba created the artwork. Accused of a murder he did not commit, the likeable and free-and-easy Rocky confronts bandits and Indians but always with a smile on his lips and a friendly joke. He is constantly surrounded by beautiful girls, all of whose hopes for romance are, however, dashed as at the end of the story Rocky wins the hand of a blond school-teacher he met in the first episode.

  • 1957

    Silver Squik

    This comic series, which appeared as an appendix to Kociss, is set in America shortly after freedom from the English yoke had been won. It presents the adventures of a mixed bunch of characters, headed by the very young Silver Squik, and has a number of features that could be described as grotesque. Both the scripts and the artwork were created by Onofrio Bramante.

  • 1958

    un ragazzo nel far west

    Having lost his uncle, his last living relative, at the hand of Lucky Bear's bandits, Tim Carter decides to enroll in the army as a scout, where he soon finds an opportunity to settle the account with the murderers. Thus begins the long series of adventures whose protagonist is "A boy in the Far West" (this is in fact the title of the series), and which also marked the script-writing debut of Guido Nolitta, alias Sergio Bonelli. As compared to his more classical predecessors, the figure of Tim was enriched by a certain irreverent tone, that would later become a constant element of Nolitta's characters, from Zagor to Mister No. The inevitable "comic relief character" (and perhaps the true protagonist of the stories) is Dusty Ryan, a rather disheveled soldier, a bit of a lazy-bones, not terribly brave, keen on a good drink, often to be found strumming his banjo and singing completely out of tune. Nolitta, who was busy working on other projects, subsequently handed the character on to G. L. Bonelli, who accentuated the action component. The long saga - entirely illustrated with skill and precision by Franco Bignotti, assisted in the final period by Giovanni Ticci, who contributed the pencil drawings for several episodes - had its grand finale in 1975, at the hand of Decio Canzio, on the occasion of its reprinting in the Collana Rodeo collection. By this time, there was heightened civil and social awareness, so that in the last episode was the two companions of adventure begin to distance themselves from the army, whose positions on certain issues they no longer share.
        

  • 1958

    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.

  • 1959

    Giubba Rossa

    Of English origin, although almost all the illustrators were Italian, this series narrates the adventures of Sergeant Dick of the Canadian Mounties, or "Red Coats", as they were often called. The plots develop according to the classical adventure story, and some of the episodes were very carefully illustrated. Particularly interesting is the episode entitled "La rivolta dei Cherokee", splendidly drawn by Renzo Calegari, who had already reached the height of his powers. This story appeared separately from the series, as an appendix to the Piccolo Ranger strips. Once the English series finished, the adventures of the heroic sergeant were further described in Italy, where they were continued by G. L. Bonelli (scripts) and Sergio Tarquinio (artwork). Giubba Rossa thus acquired full title to entry into the Olympus of Italian comic strip characters.

  • 1959

    Joe Bretella

    This minimal stories, full of humor, which looked rather like a strip or a something on a back cover, appeared as an appendix to the fortnightly issue of Tex and bore the unmistakable strokes penned by Luciano Capitanio. Set in a rather nondescript Far West and based on the character of Joe Bretella, these simple gags had a fixed structure in which the protagonist teaches little Tom what life is really like. But Tom is a smart kid and he invariably ends up getting the better of the supposedly older and wiser Joe.