With Further Ado #161: Jes’ Who Is This Hombre Called Tex?

Any longtime comic fan is called upon, now and again, to explain “comic stuff” to regular folk. Comic fans often get asked to provide the back story about a particular character who’s made it onto the Silver Screen, or for some insider insights on a guy like Stan Lee or Jack Kirby.  And if that fan is anything like me, it’s hard not to pontificate and go on for hours about all the trivia and historical knowledge that’s rumbling inside my fanboy brain, looking for the opportunity to get out, and to show off.

And then, all too often, the regular folk’s eyes will glaze over, they’ll be hopelessly lost and try wrestle the information to the ground and force fit it into convenient soundbites.

“Oh, I get it. He’s the guy who drew the comic books, right?” Or “Now I see, he flies kinda like Batman, right?”

The tables were turned on me (imagine that) when I was reading the introductions to a glorious new book Tex: the Magnificent Outlaw.  I don’t know much about this character Tex or the men behind his creation, but there’s many people who do and there’s a lot to learn.

I kind of knew that Tex is a cowboy from Italian comics, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. Here’s a primer from the Kickstarter earlier this year for this impressive book:

Who are we and who is Tex?

You may know us (Epicenter Comics) from publishing American editions of works by legendary Italian publishing house Sergio Bonelli Editore, and series such as Zagor, Dylan Dog, Magic Wind, Dragonero and of course, Tex!

Tex Willer, the most legendary western comic book hero in the world, who first appeared on Italian news-stands in 1948 and has been published continually ever since, comes again in English in a breathtaking new story, in a beautiful, oversize, hard cover, 252-page deluxe edition courtesy of Epicenter Comics.

With a self-contained, all-ages story by the main Tex writer and editor, Mauro “The Bos(s)” Boselli (whom those familiar with Epicenter Comics had already chance to meet on pages of Zagor: Terror from the Sea, Zagor: Voodoo Vendetta and Tex: Patagonia), and stunning artwork by maestro Stefano Andreucci (Zagor: Terror from the Sea), TEX: THE MAGNIFICENT OUTLAW (Signature Edition) offers us a glimpse into Tex in his younger, pre-ranger days, or better, his (magnificent) outlaw days! As Tex is framed for the crime he did not commit, he will stop at nothing to clear his name, and in the process he will both, teach and learn some hard-won life lessons. This will be our second Tex book published, and third Tex book published in English ever.

I joined them because I’m trying to learn more about the nuances of Kickstarter, and support more Kickstarter Projects, and I’m so glad I did.

The art in Tex: The Magnificent Outlaw is fantastic. Stefano Andreucci is a master draftsman and a hell of an inker. Each page is a mashup of sorts, like watching a western in Panavision in a cinema and at the same taking a master art class at the Kubert School.

The story is fun. Magnificent Outlaw has a more leisurely feel than the typical American comic. Over the summer, I read the newest Ace Atkins Spenser mystery, and for some reason the urgent-yet-easy pacing of this  story reminded me of that detective story.

Here’s a little more background on Tex from Chris DiMatteo’s site: CDIMATTEO.com.  I need to learn more about Tex and Italian comics in general. And I promise not to roll my eyes when some expert on Italian comics gets me up to speed.

Tex was first published in 1948 and is still one of the most popular Italian comic book characters of all time. He is an archetypal good guy cowboy, a strong man who fights for justice, a straight shooter, a good poker player, and so on. Tex has all of the personal characteristics of a follower of Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code, even as he is the creation of writers and artists based in Italy’s creative capital of Milan. Tex was created by Gianluigi Bonelli and drawn by Aurelio Galleppini, who signed his designs “Galep.” They flourished in the second half of the 20th century and they are both gone now. The Bonelli family still runs the business and several of the best artists in Italy have drawn Tex. The publishing house of Bonelli was built into one of Italy’s largest on the strength of Tex Willer sales.