by Paolo Ottolina
translation by Walter Aric˛
Who created him? Ken Parker was created to appear in a western anthological series ("Collana Rodeo"), but the publisher decided to give him an own series which begun in June 1977. Giancarlo Berardi, the writer and Ivo Milazzo, the draftsman signed almost all the episodes of the series, and now this couple is in the Italian comic strip history. Ken Parker (drawn with features of Robert Redford) gives an abrupt swerve to the popular comic strip: universal themes (violence, racism, exploitation, search of the ego) enter a scenery that has only a western appearence. Unfortunately, sometimes because of the authors' demands, sometimes because of the difficulty to conquer a large public, the first series has been stopped in 1984, with n.59. Afterwards, Ken has been published on anthological magazines, in the Ken Parker Magazine and in special numbers of 180 pages.
Who's he? Giancarlo Berardi, his creator: "Ken Parker is a contemporary man, with contemporary problems. He has no certainty, no safety, he lives day by day with the ideals he has built himself trying passionately, desperately, bravely and painfully to remain coherent." Long Rifle (his nickname, due to an archaic Kentucky rifle from which he is inseparable) is a trapper, a scout of the army, a sheriff, a detective, a writer: he makes thousand jobs in the old violent, wild western world (his adventures started in 1868, 29 December), without losing his own identity of practical man and at the same time idealist, positive, able to love and to be generous. The great quality of the episodes and the peculiarity of the character, so distant from classical heroes like Tex or Zagor) have let him to conquer a small, affectionate public and an enormous quantity of essays and critical interventions.
Who are his friends? The circumstances or the desire to move continuously have forced Ken to move incessantly all around the States: so he hasn't a fixed second leading actor. Adventure by adventure he had many companions: Dashiell the trapper, Pat O'Shane the aggressive little girl, Nanuk the Eskimo, Lily the little bitch. Ken has also been, for a certain period, a member of the Indian Hunkpapa tribe: in that time he married Tecumseh, a widow then killed during an American army assault. Theba, Tecumseh's child (born during the woman's previous marriage) now lives in Boston (his name is Teddy) and he considers Ken as his real father.
Who are his enemies? In the firts episodes, Ken faces a merciless murderer: Donald Welsh, called "The Lucky". After having killed Welsh, in n.8, Ken won't have recurrent adversaries. But, in each episode, he is forced to fight against whoever professes violence, against intolerance, ignorance and avarice. His biggest and, unfortunately, invincible enemy isn't a comic strip character but the scarce number of readers which forces his affectionate fans to hope that Ken will continue to ride.
Copyright (c) 1977-98
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