Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Italians Who "Invented" the West

Anyone interested in western movies (or even just movies) knows about "A Fistful of Dollars", "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and other so-called spaghetti westerns made by Sergio Leone and other Italian directors in the 1960s.

But few outside Italy -- few Americans, at any rate -- know about the rich matrix of Italian Wild West comic books that preceded the movies, and in many cases persist to this day.

They "starred" and star characters such Ken Parker and, above all, Tex Willer. An exhibit just opened at the Comics Museum (Museo del Fumetto) in Lucca -- called "...When the West Arrived in Lucca" -- showcases some 740 original drawings for wild west-themed Italian comic books. Featuring the work of 10 artists, the show marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of Tex Willer, Italy's most enduring comic book Western hero.

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