Original title: Ken Parker
Ken Parker, Dashiell Fox, Theba, Nanuk, Pat O'Shane, Fanny, Adah
Author: Giancarlo Berardi
Publishers: Sergio Bonelli Editore
Year: June 1977
Gender: Western comic
Recommended age: Teenagers aged 13 to 19
was released in Italian newsstands in June 1977, with the register entitled "Long rifle"(which is precisely the name that the Indians gave to Ken Parker because of the gun "Kentucky", very long barrel) Published by the publishing house DAIM PRESS (Now
Sergio Bonelli Editore), the series of Ken Parker it was discontinued in 1984 with the number 59 "The boys of Donovan"because the quality of the stories did not reconcile with the quantity of the monthly production.
Ken Parker born from the imagination of the talented and brilliant Giancarlo Berardi
and the artist's pencils Ivo Milazzo (which for the character's face is inspired by the actor Robert Redford). The two created books destined to enter the history of comics by right, as they gave way to a real narrative revolution of Italian popular comics. From the first numbers it is clear that this is a "western"atypical and original.Ken Parker he is a living trapper mainly in the regions of North America (Montana) and his stories are set around 1868, but his adventurous spirit and eternal wanderer also push him to the warm lands of Mexico and Texas or to the icy regions of Alaska and the North Pole . In number 1 "Long rifle", Ken Parker undergoes a tragic event, in fact his brother Bill, a boy of seventeen, is killed by shady arms traffickers who also caused a violent war against the Indians. From that day on, an incredible series of adventures began for Ken Parker that led him to carry out various jobs:
army scout, sheriff, Pickerton detective, writer, factory worker giving rise to stories that embrace the whole classic panorama of the Western epic, which is the background to very demanding and burning themes such as racism, homosexuality, prostitution, politics, poverty, ecology, the marginalized, respect for animals, etc. ..Ken Parker he is not the incarnation of the spotless and fearless hero typical of the classic adventure, but a character who often and willingly makes decisions and makes mistakes like an ordinary man, and that is why, for all those who have followed and read this character since 1977, Ken Parker represents a friend, a brother, who has accompanied several children and adults guiding them on the philosophy of everyday life. Ken Parker he taught values such as generosity, loyalty, friendship, consistency, doubt, civic courage, the contrary choice to think with one's own head, but also to fall and get up from one's mistakes. Each issue is a small masterpiece and it would be a problem to rank the best ones, as each of these contributes to nourish a little of our soul and our thoughts. Rarely Ken Parker is the absolute protagonist of the episodes, but gives ample space to the characters who appear from time to time in his stories and who represent the central theme of the story. In addition to the first issues "Lungo rifle" and "Mine Town", where he will meet his friend trapper Dashiell, include key adventures such as "Chemako, the one who does not remember" where Ken Parker joins a tribe of Hunkpapa Indians and marries the Indian squaw Tecumseh,
but she is killed in an assault by the American army.
"Pat O'Shane's ballad"where the protagonist is a very nice teenager who poses as an adult, as it has a great deal rush to grow up. Then there are the episodes where an unscrupulous enemy appears who responds to the name of Donald Welsh, called "The lucky one".The episodes of Ken Parker where this archenemy appears are: "Murder in Washington","Under the Mexican sky" is "Big shot in San Francisco". The register"A useless man"is about an old army sergeant, on the verge of retirement who is entrusted with a last assignment. This adventure makes us reflect on the theme of the elderly and shows some truly original scenes for a comic story of that period: the birth of a child . With "Lily and the hunter"Instead, you can breathe the adventure typical of Jack London's stories, in fact Ken Parker finding himself injured and immobilized in a forest, in the middle of the harsh North American winter, is saved by a clever
dog that defends him from wolves, cold and hunger, to report a very curious and dreamlike fantasy story he sees Ken Parker
dressed as a medieval knight in the court of King Arthur. "Home Sweet Home"deals with the theme of the family, education and American respectability, the protagonist is the rebellious and reckless son of a Protestant priest, who is dedicated to alcohol and the underworld, here we will also meet the elderly Ken Parker's parents.
On books such as "The Magnificent Gunman" and "The Legend of the General",
Ken Parker he will meet historical figures such as the gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok and General Custer, trying to bring out their most human and fragile aspect. A truly original issue not to be missed is "Dritto e rovescio" dove Ken Parker meets a homosexual dancer who directs Chan-Chan dancers. The funny peculiarity that Berardi has introduced in the various stories is that of making real and fictional characters appear such as Totò, Stanlio and Ollio, Marylin Monroe, the same Tex,
Zagar and other famous comic characters. The issue of prostitution is dealt with in the book "Some ladies of little virtue" and above all on what many readers consider a real comic masterpiece: "Adah". It is the story of a black girl forced to share the life of slaves from Africa and to work in the cotton plantations of subdisted colonists. It is a book that would be reductive and impossible to summarize in a few lines, but we will say that in this story Ken Parker it has a marginal but decisive role, as it makes Adah understand that in the world there are people who carry pure values such as generosity and loyalty. Finally, another cult book for fans of this character is worth mentioning: "Strike" recommended for all those who want to get an idea of the birth of communism and the industrial revolution. Here
Ken Parker does the job of a factory worker, where within
the first trade unions were born to defend the rights of workers, exploited and poorly paid, forced to do exhausting jobs inside the factories, with impossible hours. After the interruption of DAIM PRESS, Ken Parker was published in color on the "Orient Express" books, (Editions L'Isola Trovata always by Bonelli) where the unpublished "Un Principe per Norma" (inspired by Marylin Monroe) and "Cuccioli" are also published, the first of the four episodes "Il Respiro e il Sogno", where each story without balloons has as its theme a season of the year. The other stories of this cycle are published for the Comic Art edition, they are "Soleado", "The moon of the magnolias in bloom" and "Pallide Ombre". Unpublished stories are also published such as "A Breath of Ice", "Where the Titans Die", and the short story "Quack - Homage to Paperino". These issues are dated between 1984 and 1988. For PARKER EDITORE, (publishing house founded by the same Berardi and Milazzo) the series includes in 62 issues all the first 59 issues, plus the episodes released in the magazine and published in the meantime as specials of the West Series. It is then published on a real Magazine (Ken Parker Magazine) again by Sergio Bonelli Editore. On this magazine Ken Parker continued to give us other original and engaging stories such as "The savages", "Human adventure" and "In the arms of the night" where together with the authors Berardi and Milazzo, all the characters of cinema, literature and comics, from John Wayne to Rintintin, from Pinocchio to Totò, from Fellini to Felix the cat, etc ... But all readers are wondering if the series is permanently interrupted, or if there is the hope of other publications. Berardi is currently working on the criminologist's stories Julia. In addition to the aforementioned Berardi and Milazzo we also remember some valid collaborators of the series such as the designers Trevisan, Ambrosini, Alessandrini, Marraffa, Tarquinio and the screenwriters Castelli, Sclavie Mantero.
Ken Parker's character, names, images and registered trademarks are copyright Berardi & Milazzo and are used here for cognitive and informative purposes.