Sergio Bonelli Editore
Original title: Zagar
Characters: Zagor, Cico, Diggin Bill, Bat Batterton, Tonka, Captain Fishleg, Ramath, Doc Lester, I Sullivans, Guitar Jim
Authors: Guido Nolitta, Gallieno Ferri
Publishers: Sergio Bonelli Editore
Year: 1961 mm
Gender: Western / Adventure comics
Recommended age: Teenagers aged 13 to 19
Zagar, made its debut on newsstands in 1961 thanks to the idea of the young screenwriter Guido Nolitta alias Sergio Bonelli and the drawings of the talented Gallienus Ferri.
Zagar, dopo Tex is therefore the longest-lived character of Sergio Bonelli Publisher. Although the western genre is no longer in fashion and this character is not depopulated, as it did in the 70s, Zagar remains a character who still manages to fascinate the new generations, as he cannot be cataloged in a well-defined genre. Zagor's stories they can range from western to science fiction, from classic adventure to detective thriller, from fantasy to horror and this is one of the secrets of its timeless success. The story of this character was masterfully told in numbers 55 and 56 (106-107 of the zenith series) "Zagor tells" is "The King of Darkwood ". It all happened when Zagar, during a storm, he decides to tell his life a Cico, his inseparable friend, who had found a painting of his parents while he was cleaning up their shelter. Little Zagor, who is actually called Patrick Wilding, lived with his family in a farmhouse in the middle of the woods, in the north-east of the United States, around the early 800th century. His father was a former army officer who retired to live the life of a pioneer in the woods. Patrick (Little Zagor) received his education to study from his mother, while his father and the Indians of those places taught him all the secrets of the forest. One day a sad event happened that radically changed the life of this happy family. They were attacked by a band of Abenaki Indians led by the reverend Solomon Kinsky, who set fire to their house and killed their parents, who, before dying, saved little Patrick by throwing him into the waters of the Clear Water, the river that flowed close to their shelter.
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Collected from Wandering Fitzy, a strange philosopher hunter who teaches him the secrets of the forest, of life and especially the use of the ax, the boy grew up with feelings of anger and revenge towards the killers of his father and mother. Although Wandering Fitzy tries to dissuade him from these intentions, Patrick sets out in search of Salomon Kinsky and the Abenaki tribe. Found the camp, he destroys it with fire arrows, making numerous innocent victims among the population, but when he comes face to face with the Reverend Kinsky
he discovers a terrible truth: his father was actually a ruthless army officer who had committed numerous crimes massacring entire populations of red Indians. This news he learns after reading the articles of several newspapers that the same Kinsky shows him.Patrick upset no longer thinks of Salomon who in turn tries to shoot him in the back, but is saved by Fitzy. Salomon, however, before being mortally reached by Fitzy's ax, manages to hit him, so Fitzy dies in Patrick's arms. From that day Patrick, after those tragic events, aware of having committed the same crimes as his father and also indirectly responsible for Fitzy's death, decided to radically change his life. He promised himself to devote himself to a work of peace throughout the territory, he would defend the rights of the weakest, whether white or Indian, this will be a very important step to understand the personality of Zagar. One day, he managed to save a family of acrobats and acrobats, "The Sullivans", from the aggression of a tribe of Indians. They understood Patrick's intentions and taught him some tricks to become a charismatic character, able to be heard above all by the very super-horny Indian population.
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They made his famous costume, a red tunic with fringed sleeves, a stylized eagle on the chest, blue trousers and fringed boots. Patrick himself renamed himself with the name of Za-gor-te-nay or, more briefly Zagar
which translated into Algonkin dialect means "The spirit with the ax", as his fights take place mainly with this weapon, which he uses with infallible skill. Taking advantage of the grand council of Primavera, the annual meeting that saw the meeting of all the tribal leaders of the area, Zagar decides to make his first appearance. Using some scenographic tricks (fireworks and metal sheets with thunder effect) he appeared on a hill like a spirit descended from the sky, inspiring fear among the Indians. Not everyone, however, in fact the evil Oga Ito he shot Zagor to show that in reality he was a man and moreover white. Zagar dodged the blows and went down among the Indians armed with ax, challenged Oga-Ito and won the duel, managing to assert his authority and declaring his principles of defense of the red people. Zagor left the scene with a bestial scream, able to freeze the blood in the veins of the stunned Indians, since then his current battle cry has remained: <AAHHYAAAAKKK!>.
Zagor as a refuge finds an islet surrounded by a swamp full of quicksand, in the middle of the darkwood forest, here a hut is built giving it a ghostly appearance in order to dissuade some curious visitor, from approaching, in fact in the middle of the swamp, he planted poles with skulls, useful however, also to identify the path that can be traveled to avoid the sands furniture. This is the base station of our hero Zagor, who watches over the whole territory, who is called into question from time to time by some army general, by some trapper or by some Indian tribe, to solve some very difficult case. Generally Zagor is notified by post by a very nice Indian postman, scout of Fort Pitt, called "Druky Duck".
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The meeting of Zagar with his inseparable friend Cico
it happens in n.1 "The forest of ambushes", when "the spirit with the ax"save the pot-bellied Mexican from a gang of Delaware Indians led by the shady James regan. Soon Chico will return the favor by saving his life, after that Zagar he had been tied up and thrown into the water.
Cico, however, does not only represent Zagor's friend but a real alter ego diametrically opposite, both in terms of his physical aspect and his character. Cico, which is actually the diminutive of Don Cico Felipe Gayetano Lopez y Rodriguez y Martinez y Gonzales
etc ... he is a Mexican of short stature (about one and fifty-five), plump and greedy, so much so that the cooks of the various garrisons fear for their pantries, when Zagor and Chico are hosted by some General, as well as the Indians who they renamed "little big-bellied man". The drama of the stories of Zagar, is tempered by the hilarious gags of Cico, an expert in making trouble when he has to be able to get some food, especially when he tries to cheat some cook in the country, who punctually takes him to barrel and sends him out of the place. Cico, however, is also very generous and despite constantly complaining he does not give up accompanying his friend Zagar in his adventures, often and willingly making grueling walks and in some cases even managing to get him out of trouble.
But Zagor's universe is full of characteristic characters, all outlined by a very precise psychological profile. Zagor's most faithful Indian friend is undoubtedly Tonka, the chief of the Mohawk tribe. Tonka is linked to Zagor by a pact of blood, such that, according to Indian tradition, the two are like brothers. Tonka, brave, honest and very good warrior, has fought alongside the spirit with the ax in numerous episodes, facing dangerous enemies such as Iron Man, Hellingen and the Collector.
Another Indian friend of Zagor's is "Many Eyes" a sorcerer with glasses and an alarm clock around his neck who knows Zagor's secret, that is, it is not a spirit, as he would like us to believe, but of an ordinary white man. In spite of everything, sharing his good intentions, which go beyond the form, "Many Eyes" helped Zagor in several circumstances, just when it came to staging some spectacular staging capable of intimidating the Indians on duty.
Then there are all the trappers of Darkwood, friends of Zagor, among them we remember Doc Lester, a big man who as a dentist he was, preferred to devote himself to life in the woods, Pablo Rochas, a Basque with a powerful fist who enjoys challenging Zagor, during the spring rendezvous, in a fist contest; the winner is the one who manages to make his opponent fly farther. Needless to say, the race is always won by Zagor.
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The adventures of Zagor and Cico do not take place exclusively in the territory of Darkwood (North-East of the United States), but often and willingly, the two travel and tour half of America. They have been the protagonists of situations set in different territories: Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Alaska, Florida, even landing in the European lands of Scotland and also in Africa. Often the traveling companions of the adventures of Zagor and Chico are the sailors of the Golden Baby, led by Captain Fishleg, a typical sea dog with a wooden leg, intelligent and generous, but who does not disdain to give some grooming to his men, when these slack. The most suggestive sailor who helped Zagor in different situations is surely Ramhat the fakir, an Indian (from India) with paranormal powers, able to teleport his image many miles away from his body and to get in touch with the afterlife. Then there are Zarkoff the Russian, Tarawa the picturesque Melanesian, Orsovic the Albanian, Gaston the French cook and many other characters, from all over the world, to the point that the Golden Baby represents a small microcosm without distinction of races. These characters have been the protagonists of the most beautiful stories of Zagor, facing different enemies: the Vikings, the pirates of Captain Serpente, the Chinese underworld, etc ...
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In many episodes aboard the Golden Baby, there has been a printed character, Zagor's friend: Digging Bill, an eccentric treasure hunter very unfortunate, whose dream of his life is to be able to discover a treasure, not to get rich, but only for the pleasure of discovery. Also thanks to this character, Zagor has been the protagonist of very fascinating episodes, such as the one with Kandrax the magician and Captain Serpente.
Another rather comic character is the private detective Bat Batterton, dressed in a cape and a cap like Sherlock Holmes, but with a decidedly poorer intuition. Together with Cico and Digging Bill he was the protagonist of numerous troubles. In the stories told by Nolitta, he is always unmasked by Zagor and Cico, by some of his improbable disguises, operated in order to follow the suspect on duty.
Other weird and funny characters that appear in Zagor's stories are Icaro La Plume, an inventor of flying machines, destined to crash, with him on board who always remains miraculously unharmed; the Count of Lapalette, a sort of Arsenio Lupine, an elegant gentleman thief, very skilled in stealing very precious jewels; Trampy, a tramp tramp, who together with Cico has given rise to an infinite number of companies all bankruptcy. The two find themselves punctually chased by an angry crowd, after having made some trouble.
Another friend of Zagor's deserves a separate discussion: Guitar Jim, the blond singer bandit. He is a wanderer who travels halfway through America, armed with a guitar and a gun that he hides inside the chest, despite initially being an enemy of Zagor due to his thefts (see the episode "The hand of Allah"), they will definitely become friends in the beautiful color episode of # 100 "My Friend Guitar Jim".
In the beautiful adventure with the Vikings (see "Challenge to the unknown") Zagor and Chico meet King Guthrum, the very nice drunk king of a Viking colony settled in North America.
While in the episodes "Seminole" and "Freedom or death" Zagor becomes friends with the proud leader of the Seminole Manetola and his faithful right arm Liberty Sam, protagonists of one of the most poignant pages of Zagor's stories.
Satko is instead a Cherokee (a tribe in some ways similar to the Seminole) who became a lawyer after having studied and integrated with the culture of the "white".
But if the world of Zagor's friends is so varied and picturesque, it is even more so that of his enemies, all extraordinary characters that define the adventurous genre of Zagor's stories.
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Zagor's number one enemy is surely the mad scientist Professor Hellingen, protagonist of some beautiful episodes such as, "In the footsteps of Titan" when he builds a giant robot, "Threat from space" when he threatens the earth with nuclear missiles and "Terror from sixth planet "when allying himself with the Akkronian extraterrestrials. The stories with Hellingen all have an adventurous-science fiction slant and demonstrate how Zagor's intuition and cunning can alone overwhelm Hellingen's grandiose and evil technology.
Another favorite genre of Nolitta is the horror first style, that of the films of the 40s and 50s and in fact, in the first hundred issues, we see Zagor struggling with all the typical characters of this genre: The Vampire, the Wolf Man, Molok (a sort of Frankistein), the monster of the Dark Canal, zombies etc ..., all stories perfectly scripted (Molok was written by Alfredo Castelli).
"Zagor against the Vampire" is now a cult for all Zagor fans. But the stories of Baron Rakosi still continue today and this character has found the verve of the past thanks to the screenplays by Mauro Boselli, see the beautiful episode "Vampyr" (n.397).
Kandrax the magician was also a character who regained his mysterious charm, thanks to Boselli. In numbers 129-133 (180-184 of the zenith series), Nolitta presents him as a Celtic druid who is locked up in a crystal case, charged with a gas capable of preserving his body after centuries. He is awakened by the clumsy Digging Bill, who breaks through the sarcophagus in an attempt to take the treasure, in this he is assisted by his aides Bat Batterton and Cico. Soon this magician with extraordinary powers, spreads terror at the Coleman house, kidnapping the beautiful Margie to sacrifice her to his gods.
Kandrax the magician
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In this story Zagor will show not only his extraordinary physical-athletic abilities, but above all his great willpower, capable of defeating the magician's hypnosis. In the story of Boselli, from the beautiful fantasy setting, the Celtic deities will be recalled by Kandrax to be able to reign over the whole earth.
But the story of Zagor that most of all represents the fantasy genre is the one against the Black Lord of numbers 194-196. In this episode Zagor and Chico are catapulted, through a magical book, into the land of Golnor located in another dimension. Here they participate in the defeat of the terrible Black Lord by the warrior Galad, the wizard Elchin and the Parvol people. This story, written by Tiziano Sclavi (the author of Dylan Dog) is clearly inspired by Tolkien's masterpiece, "The Lord of the Rings", the quintessential fantasy.
In some cases, Zagor's stories have also crossed the boundaries of black magic and the occult sciences.
It is the case of the episodes "Dharma the witch" and "The horrible magic", here the oriental atmosphere and Indian exoticism contribute to amplify the aura of mystery and drama that one breathes when reading this story. Zagor and Chico will have to contend with Wilfred Kellog, transformed into a monstrous man-tiger, by the witch Dharma, commissioned by rajah Kubal Singh. This was a direct consequence of Wilferd's craving for coveted trophies, who entered the territory of the rajah and killed the very rare and protected white tiger, the rajah to punish him decided to transform him from hunter into prey. But there have been episodes like "Voodoo" or "The Living Dead Lagoon" in which Zagor collided with the Voodoo magic and fought against zombies.
Perhaps, however, the enemy who most of all put our dear Zagor to the test, especially as regards the prestige and esteem that he has painstakingly won over all these years in the Darkwood territory is "Supermike" alias Mike Gordon. . A braggart, megalomaniac endowed with extraordinary qualities. It is enough for him to try any activity, which soon becomes the number one, the best: boxing, transverse flute, poker and even crochet. He is by no means modest in his qualities and therefore never misses an opportunity to put them on display, winning the antipathy of Zagor, who soon humiliates him by trimming them with loud waves, following the murder of a well-known gunslinger.
Supermike to take revenge on Zagor, turns into an anti-zagor. He wears a costume similar to his, but yellow in color and calls himself "The Yellow Spirit" by the Indians. He organizes various situations where, under the eyes of Zagor's friends, Indians, trappers and soldiers ridicule our hero, who remedies humiliating defeats. Zagor then decides to challenge Supermike in a sort of Olympics, with seven tests to overcome, the loser would have to abandon the entire territory of the Northeast forever. Zagor wins, but after an exciting race full of twists, in which Supermike in many circumstances demonstrates his superiority over the spirit with the ax.
But it would be absurd to summarize here the many characters that involved Zagor and Cico in breathtaking and exciting adventures, the most beautiful numbers in our opinion are certainly those of the "golden age", the golden age that goes from the numbers 30 up to number 182, almost all written by Guido Nolitta who gave us real comic masterpieces and drawn by a Gallieno Ferri in staggered form, helped in this work by an equally talented Franco Donatelli (his drawings of the beautiful episodes "Punitive Expedition" , "The Torture Stake" and "The Day of Justice").
Lately, the Boselli-Burattini management has relaunched and recovered this character, after Sergio Bonelli for editorial reasons had stopped writing for Zagor starting from n.182. From n.345 "The missing explorer" onwards, the duo has produced a whole series of beautiful adventures, where many Nolittian characters have been recovered and new ones have entered, we remember Andrew Cain, who kills monsters and sorcerers, reciting verses biblical, or the beautiful gambler Gambit, protagonist of a small flirt with Zagor or Marie Laveau, a beautiful voodoo witch with the physique of Naomi Cambell (beautifully designed by Mauro Laurenti) who has the ambition to rebuild the African empire in the Louisiana Territory.
But these are not the only female characters present in Zagor's stories, we remember the noble Frida Lang (recently appeared in the vampire story "Vampyr") is the first love of Zagor, a courageous and determined girl, protagonist of one of the masterpieces of Zagorian saga "The march of despair". We also remember the beautiful Virginia, grandson of Captain Fishleg (see "Crime on board", "The seal of the emperor" and "Kraken!") And the aforementioned Margie Coleman who after being saved, thanks Zagor with a very passionate.
Zagor is a character that in itself contains a perfect blend of all the fantastic-adventurous ingredients characteristic of comics and cinema of the '900. How Tarzan, It is agile, strong and crosses the forest passing from one vine (or branch) to another. Has the charisma ofMasked man, capable of being considered by the natives, as an elusive demi-god. He wears a costume that in some ways recalls Superman or the classic American supermen in tights, which were fashionable in those years. Not to mention the adventures, which, as mentioned, cross many literary and cinematographic genres. In short, in a nutshell, Zagor more than a western comic, is considered as an adventure comic, capable of thrilling even the new generations raised on Japanese bread and cartoons, it is enough to simply pay a little more attention to a character of our Italian comics still capable, after more than forty years, of giving us those emotions and that love for adventure, which many cinematic stereotypes are no longer able to convey to us.
The character of Zagor, the names, images and registered trademarks are copyright Sergio Bonelli Editore and are used here for cognitive and informative purposes.