History of the publishing house

History of the publishing house
  • 1974

    I protagonisti

    This splendid collection of large-sized publications was prompted by the desire of Sergio Bonellli and the script-writer-cum-illustrator Rino Albertarelli to "round out" some of the characters of the epic stories of the West who, in the comic strip albums, were often treated with a certain insouciance as compared to the true historical course of events, because the albums necessarily gave priority to the theme of adventure. The outcome of this new undertaking, which offered veritable biographies of the characters, was a series of some of the finest comics ever published in Italy. Albertarelli conducted in-depth documentary research (and each album listed an exhaustive bibliography of the works consulted to write the book) and succeeded in transferring the real feel and historical background of the Frontier onto his pages. He freed "legendary" characters such as General Custer or the Apache chief, Geronimo, from the aura of the fantastic they had acquired in popular imagination, he restored them to their rightful setting in History and provided a reliable interpretation of their lives, which is still considered valid today. So we find Billy the Kid, Sitting Bull, Wyatt Earp and many many others coming to life through the splendid cartoon pages of the great illustrator, in drawings rich in detail and amazingly realistic, inspired as they were by the testimony of the (rare) period photographs. It is here that we finally become acquainted with the real face of those who, for better or for worse, created the myth of the Far West. After Albertarelli passed away, the ambitious project, which was too closely linked to his personality and his graphic style, was abandoned, and the series closed with album number 10, dedicated to Hermann Lehmann, the white man who lived among the Indians and refused ever to renounce his Indian nationality. Albertarelli had managed to provide illustrations for only forty-three pages of this story, so the album was completed by Sergio Toppi, who wished thereby to offer his own magnificent graphic talent as a tribute to his great late lamented colleague.
       

  • 1975

    Mister No

    Jerry Drake, a former American military pilot who earned himself the nickname of Mister No during the Second World War on account of his rebellious nature, decides to abandon his own country, the ideals of which he no longer shares, and to go to ground in Brazil, amid the shanty-town hovels of Manaus, a city that retains only a few buildings testifying to its ancient splendor. A drifter in our "civilized" world, in Amazonia Mister No finds a lifestyle that suits him, and happily "changes his spots" by becoming a sort of "tourist operator" who hires out his dilapidated old plane, a Piper, as well as his own skills as a pilot, to tourists or anyone else who might need him. Our hero lives from day to day, trying to keep out of trouble (but the latter regularly ferrets him out), running after some skirt or other or spending his evenings over a good few glasses of cachaça with his friends, one of the most important of these being the German Kruger, known as EsseEsse. While Jerry Drake's adventures maintain a rigidly realistic structure, they have ranged over virtually all the genres of popular fiction, from pure action to detective stories, touching on science fiction and high comedy, at times dragging the character out of his "natural" environment and propelling him as far as Italy, Africa and the United States. But there is also no lack of episodes about the character's past, from his youth in the Thirties up to the war, and then also during his subsequent years as a drifter wandering all over the world, up to his definitive stopping point in Manaus, in the nineteen-fifties). The character Mister No is the work of Guido Nolitta, alias Sergio Bonelli, to whom this series offered an opportunity to convey his immense love for an environment that is perhaps the last remaining place where one can plausibly have a real present-day adventure. In this respect, Nolitta was vastly ahead of his time, prefiguring some of the ecological themes that are widely felt today. Provided with initial sketches by Bonelli's various co-workers, the character was then defined by the elegant hand of Roberto Diso, whose lively and attractive illustrations succeeded magnificently in depicting the natural scenery that forms the back-cloth to this unconventional pilot's adventures.

  • 1976

    Akim

    A character created in 1950 by the script-writer Roberto Renzi, with artwork by Augusto Pedrazza, Akim is a "tarzanid" who, for years, was the mainstay of the publications of the Tomasin press. After surviving a shipwreck that causes the death of his father (Count Rank, the British consul in Calcutta), little Jim finds himself alone with his mother, lost in an unknown land. His mother is then killed by a panther, while the little child is rescued by a gorilla, who brings him up as if he were its own offspring. After this decidedly "Burroughsian" beginning, Akim grows up but is still faithfully accompanied by the gorilla Kar and the little monkey Zig. He then faces all sorts of adventures and has to contend with mad scientists, ruthless hunters, monstrous and terrible spies. The characterizing element of this story is the fact that the animals in the comic "talk" just like humans (although Akim is the only one who can understand them). This series was quite successful abroad (in particular in France), and was continued in Italy in 1976 by the Altamira publishing house (which later merged with Sergio Bonelli Editore). The same creative team was maintained unchanged, and was joined by Pini Segna, who contributed a special freshness of graphic design. In this renewed series, Akim's origins were modified, representing our hero as the sole survivor of an air crash; this marked the beginning of a "historic" character of Italian comics, who is still remembered affectionately by many eager fans. The new series came to an end in 1980, after forty-eight issues, at which point the character was ceded to the Quadrifoglio press, which continued the series up to issue number 84.

  • 1976

    Un uomo un avventura

    This is a luxury series in color, based on a project of the publisher Sergio Bonelli (with Decio Canzio as editor) designed to demonstrate the narrative and graphic potential of a medium, namely comic strips, so often cold-shouldered by "high-brow" criticism. Each album, created by the greatest Italian illustrators and script-writers (with the occasional presence of foreign authors), addressed a different historical period, describing it through the adventures of a man who becomes the symbol of the era and place in which the given story is set. Starting out from this perspective, thirty albums were composed, clearly showing that when comics are supported by adequate resources, they constitute a medium that is not only capable of addressing extremely serious themes (as in the album "L'Uomo del Sud", devoted to brigandage, by Alarico Gattia, to mention just one), but can also broaden its horizons and look towards new graphic and narrative approaches, as was the case in "L'Uomo della Somalia" by Hugo Pratt, or in "L'Uomo di Canudos" by the Brazilian writer Jô Oliveira. Among other albums of great interest within this series, mention should certainly be made of those by Attilio Micheluzzi "L'Uomo del Tanganyka" and "L'Uomo del Khyber"), which gave an exceptionally precise reconstruction of the environment, and those by the great Sergio Toppi ("L'Uomo del Nilo", "L'Uomo del Messico", and "L'Uomo delle paludi"), whose "open" page allowed the mind to range beyond the confines of the illustrated page. Other significant contributions include the work of Giancarlo Berardi and Ivo Milazzo, who gave a fine portrayal of the revolt in the Philippines in 1902, and that of Bonvi, with a rather unusual chronicle of the battle of Tsushima between Russia and Japan in 1905. And one cannot fail to mention the work by Gino D'Antonio, sometimes as sole creator - for instance in "L'Uomo del Deserto" - and at times with the assistance of Ferdinando Tacconi ("L'Uomo del Deserto" and "L'Uomo di Rangoon"), with Guido Buzzelli ("L'Uomo del Bengala") or with Renato Polese ("L'Uomo di Pechino") were actually some of the best stories of those years. Other prestigious names appearing within the series are Aurelio Galleppini ("L'Uomo del Texas"), Guido Crepax ("L'Uomo di Pskov" and "L'Uomo di Harlem"), Milo Manara ("L'Uomo delle nevi"), Giancarlo Alessandrini ("L'Uomo di Chicago", Fernando Fernandez ("L'Uomo di Cuba"), Enric Siò ("L'Uomo delle Piramidi") and Robert Gigi ("L'Uomo del Giappone"). For the sake of completeness, it is appropriate also to mention the issues containing "L'Uomo del Klondike" (Gattia) and another three fascinating stories by Pratt: "L'Uomo del Sertão", "L'Uomo dei Caraibi", and "L'Uomo del Grande Nord". Finally, a mention of the two issues containing "L'Uomo della Legione" and "L'Uomo del New England", highly polished works by the unforgettable Dino Battaglia.

  • 1977

    Ken Parker

    Ken Parker appears before us on a rainy day towards the end of 1868. A character "in the process of becoming" created by the script-writer Giancarlo Berardi and the illustrator Ivo Milazzo, he is destined to lose his brother at the beginning of the story, and to end up among the Hunkpapa Indians after losing all memory of who he is. While living among the Indians he takes the gentle Tecumseh as his wife, only to see her die, after which he sends little Theba (the son he acquired through marriage) to Boston; not until some years later does Ken decide to join Theba in the big city - where he finds his son almost grown-up - but he soon has to leave again. While this story started out as a traditional Western, it soon turned out to be an acquired taste for connoisseurs, and became increasingly transformed into a testing-ground for creative experiments by the duo Berardi-Milazzo. The difficulty of regularly producing stories of an adequate qualitative level forced the authors to close the monthly album and to try other alternatives, for instance publication in various container-magazines, or, later, in large-size color albums; eventually, in 1989, Berardi and Milazzo set up their own do-it-yourself press, Parker Editore, with which they proceeded, first, to publish a complete reprint of the fifty-nine issues of Ken Parker (in the Collana Serie Oro), and later to launch their own journal , "Ken Parker Magazine" (1992), which was to be taken over by Sergio Bonelli Editore two years later. But we will provide further details about this phase of the story a little later on… In any case, Ken Parker marked a turning-point in the western comic genre (and not only in this genre), both as regards its progressive-minded themes and also its innovative language.
       

  • 1979

    Judas

    Judas, whose real name is Alan Scott, used to be a bandit, but after his girl-friend Vivien's death during a robbery in which he took part, he delivered himself and his cronies to justice (thereby earning himself the epithet of Judas). After serving his time in jail, he joins the Pinkerton agency to fight against delinquency. He longs to redeem himself and compensate for the wrongs he committed in the past, because he is sorely tormented by the memory of Vivien and is constantly plagued by the name he has been branded with, which forces him to life a life of loneliness and hatred in which even his colleagues shun him. This series aimed to offer a presentation in the by now classical "giant" format, reviving stylemes and themes already well tested in the popular weeklies of the preceding years, especially since the Italian western was enjoying a great vogue at that time. But despite the good scripts by Ennio Missaglia and the well-drawn illustrations by his brother Vladimiro and by the talented hand of Ivo Pavone, this series was not favorably received by the reading public, and closed after sixteen issues.