A veritable legend. This is the only possible definition of Tex Willer. Tex stories have been published uninterruptedly for over sixty years, making him the longest-lived character of Italian comic strips and, together with Superman and Batman, one of the most enduring characters in comics worldwide.
As familiar in Italy as Ferraris and pizzas, he continues to have hundreds of thousands of readers and aficionados.
What's the secret of his success? The fascination of this character (a real tough guy, ironic, anti-racist and enemy of all kinds of injustice), the evocative environments (prairies, forests, deserts) and the powerful emotive attraction of his adversaries (outlaws and rebel Indians, but also voodoo witch doctors and secret sects). For the Navajo Indians he is Aquila della Notte, a wise white chief and brother of every Native American. For whites, he is the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent of the Navajo Reservation and a Ranger who never misses a shot. For outlaws who are unlucky enough to encounter him, he's their worst nightmare. Since 1948, the hero penned by Gian Luigi Bonelli and depicted in the artwork of Aurelio Galeppini (nom de plume Galep) has been riding the routes of the West and Adventure, from Arizona to the Great North, from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean. While setting wrong-doings right and ensuring that justice is done, Tex is not a lone ranger. He can count on the help of his pistols and his pards, the old sometimes brusque-mannered Kit Carson (another legendary figure of the West), the wild Navajo Tiger Jack, and his son Kit, who is the spitting image of his father. A poker of pistols in the service of the Law! Tex was once an outlaw himself (but only because of his anarchic and freedom-loving temperament), and he fought in the Civil War on the side of the North despite being from Texas, because he was proud to be against slavery. He took part in the struggle for the freedom of Mexico with his friend Montales. After getting to know Kit Carson, he became a Ranger, and became a leader of the Navajos (his Indian name is Aquila della Notte), and married Lilyth, the daughter of the chief Freccia Rossa.
It was Lilyth who bore him his son Kit. Lilyth is dead - she was killed by white criminals, and was avenged by Tex. Tex was deeply in love with his wife, and never became involved in a long-standing relationship with any other woman after her death. Powerfully built with an athletic physique, extremely accurate in firing shots, Tex fights against outlaws, unscrupulous landowners, corrupt politicians and wheeler-dealers, Indians in revolt. He's a defender of the weak and the oppressed, and he's always been staunchly anti-racist and a friend of the Indians, which is amazing for a character created in 1948! By marrying an Indian and throwing his lot in with the Native Americans, Tex prefigured the anti-racist themes of 1970s Westerns. And this is another demonstration of how great this serial is. Tex is not a vigilante.
Although he sometimes uses crude methods to combat criminals, Tex is essentially a Ranger, a man of the Law. He has often saved alleged criminals from being lynched by a furious crowd, and when he kills, he does so only out of legitimate defense. He hates bounty hunters. Although the character was 'born' in Italy, Tex is not a "spaghetti-western": the series is a classical western, and has nothing in common with the Clint Eastwood-type "nameless Avengers".
Tex's West is that of John Ford and Howard Hawks; the most suitable actor to play the role of Tex in movies would have been John Wayne or Charlton Heston. But even though the classical western is dead as a movie genre, it lives on in comic strips! Tex is a friend and protector of the Indians, but he fights injustice wherever it occurs. In the Tex series, Indians are not simply the "good guys": they are fully rounded characters (although it's made clear that "bad" Indians have every reason to be bad). Although he's a typically Western character, Tex has traveled throughout the States, and he also knows Canada and Mexico very well. He's visited Panama and even Melanesia. In Tex stories you can find the great prairies of the Mid-West, the deserts of the South-West, the forests of the Great North, the cities of the East, the rain forest, and mysterious Maya and Aztec ruins. Tex rides along all the roads to Adventure!
Tex is often dressed like a Navajo. He appreciates and respects Indian culture, and defends the Native Americans against those who want to destroy them: gun-runners and alcohol dealers, generals who think that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian". Tex has killed over two-thousand people (all out of legitimate defense, of course), he has escaped over three hundred ambushes, he has faced thirty or so duels, beaten up about five hundred people,and he himself is unbeatable at poker; he rides, shoots and climbs mountains like nobody else knows.
These figures give some idea of how exceptional Tex is: in sixty years of published life, he's lived through the most amazing experiences. Yet despite all this, Tex is a thoroughly human and appealing character, and he has absolutely nothing in common with monolithic heroes like Steven Seagal or Jean Claude Van Damme.
Porterete il ricordo di Tex Willer, nemico dei prepotenti e dei gradassi!