|Publisher||Sergio Bonelli Editore|
|First appearance||(vol. 1) #15 (September 1948)|
|Created by||Gian Luigi Bonelli |
|Notable aliases||Aquila della Notte (Eagle of the Night)|
Tex Willer is the main fictional character of the Italian comics series Tex, created by writer Gian Luigi Bonelli and illustrator Aurelio Galleppini, and first published in Italy on 30 September 1948. It is among the most popular characters of Italian comics, with translations to numerous languages all around the world. The fan base in Brazil is especially large, but it is very popular also in Finland, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, France, India, Serbia, Bosnia, Israel and Spain. Issues have also been published in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Tex Willer series is an Italian-made interpretation of the American Old West, inspired by the classical characters and stories of old American Western movies. The author took inspiration from Sardinia, where he grew up as a kid.
Tex is depicted as a tough guy with a strong personal sense of justice, who becomes a ranger (even if living in Arizona) and defends Native Americans and any other honest character from exaction and greed of bandits, unscrupulous merchants and corrupt politicians and tycoons.
Native Americans are portrayed in a complex way, emphasizing positive and negative aspects of their culture. The same can be said of the American authorities, like the U.S. Army, the politicians, the business-men, the sheriffs or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tex had a son, named Kit (who became a ranger too), with a Native American woman, named Lilyth, the daughter of a Navajo Chief (she later died of smallpox). Later, Tex himself went on to become the Chief of the Navajo tribe.
Tex is not only featured in a monthly comic book series, but also in a special series called Tex Albo Speciale (sometimes called Texone, meaning big Tex, because of their bigger size). The Texone have around 240 pages and some artists known outside the Tex universe have been involved, like Jordi Bernet, Joe Kubert and Ivo Milazzo.
Fictional character background
Tex Willer's first adventure appeared on 30 September 1948, as a comic strip. The "first" Tex is an unwillingly outlawed man with a strong code of honour: to kill only for self-defence. Almost immediately, however, Tex becomes a ranger. Thanks to the marriage with the beautiful Navajo girl Lilyth, he becomes Chief of the Navajos, known as Eagle of the Night, and a defender of Native American rights. Tough, loyal, infallible with guns, enemy of prejudice and discrimination, Tex is very quick and smart, and has a marked disregard for strict rules; on the other side, he has no pity for criminals, of every race and census, nor regard for their rights, if they do not immediately cooperate with the law.
Tex's closest friend in almost every adventure, since he became a ranger, is Kit Carson, loosely inspired by the historic figure of the same name. A main role has been held by Tex Willer's son, Kit Willer, and by the Navajo warrior Tiger Jack; though importance of last two has been diminishing in recent stories. Other recurring characters include El Morisco (a kind of warlock-scientist of Egyptian origin, living in the north-east of Mexico), the Mexican Montales (originally a bandido that fought against a corrupted government, and after a successful politician), the Canadian trapper Gros-Jean, the Irish boxer Pat Mac Ryan, the Mounties Colonel Jim Brandon, San Francisco Police Department Captain Tom Devlin, the Apache chief Cochise, and the Navajo wizard Red Cloud.
Tex Willer's nemesis is Mefisto, an evil magician and illusionist. Other enemies include Yama (Mefisto's son), The Black Tiger (a Malay prince who hates the white race and wants its annihilation in the United States), and Proteus (able to shapeshift his own face, and impersonate other people).
During the American Civil War Tex fought for the Union, although his home state, Texas, sided with the Confederacy. He participated in the battle of Glorieta Pass and briefly served in the 7th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry.
- Tex Willer, the protagonist, Texas ranger, chief of the Navajo tribe and also the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent of the Navajo Reservation (Tex Willer is modeled after actor Gary Cooper)
- Kit Carson, Tex's best friend and pard ranger (he is not the same historical Kit Carson)
- Kit Willer, Tex's son
- Tiger Jack, Navajo warrior
Recurring friends and allies
- Montales, former Mexican bandido and current governor of the state of Chihuahua and vice-president of Mexico
- El Morisco (Ahmed Jamal), a warlock, scientist, naturalist and doctor from Memphis, Egypt, who lives in Pilares, Mexico
- Gros-Jean, Canadian metis, former outlaw and current trapper working in Canada
- Jim Brandon, Colonel of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada
- Cochise, chief of the Apache Chiricahua tribe
- Tom Devlin, Police captain in San Francisco, California
- Pat MacRyan, an Irish boxer
- Lefty Potrero, owner of a gym and health club in San Francisco
- Nat MacKennet, sheriff in New Orleans
- Ely Parker, head of the Federal Commission on Indian Affairs from 1869 to 1871
- Ulysses S. Grant, General of the US Army and President of the United States from 1869 to 1877
- Red Cloud, Navajo shaman
- Mefisto (Steve Dickart), a powerful and evil warlock and illusionist, Tex's nemesis
- Yama (Blacky Dickart), a powerful warlock, son of Mefisto. Seen four times so far
- Proteus (Perry Drayton), a man who can camouflage himself and change appearance with ease
- El Muerto (Paco Ordoñez), a Mexican pistolero, one of three brothers, who were killed by Tex
- The Black Tiger (Prince Sumankan), a Malay prince from Borneo. Killed by Tom Devlin
- The Master (Andrew Liddell), a mad scientist
In Argentina, Tex was published in the 1950s by Editorial Abril in his weekly magazine Rayo Rojo, with the name of Colt Miller.
In Brazil, Tex has been published uninterruptedly since 1971. Currently, it is being published by Mythos Editora.
In Finland, Tex Willer was published in 1953–1965. After a break of five years, Tex Willer has been published continuously since 1971. The series is still popular and 16 numbers are published a year.  
In Greece, Tex was published in the 1970s, 1980s and 2010s under three different titles.
In India, Tex was published in the 1980s by the South Indian Tamil Comics publisher, Lion comics. The series is regularly being published in Lion Comics, due to its wide popularity among the generations.
In Israel, Tex was published in the 1970s, reprinted several times since in limited editions, the latest one in 2007.
In Norway, Tex Willer has also run continuously since 1971, with from 11 to 17 numbers (each on 114 pages) issued a year.
In former Yugoslavia, Tex was published in the late 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, and was very popular among other Bonelli characters such as Zagor. In the 1990s after the break-up of Yugoslavia Tex Willer starts publishing in Croatia  Serbia and Slovenia.
In Turkey, Tex was published by a large number of publishers and it is still being published in irregular hardcover book formats. Ceylan Yayınları (1961 - 1969) (1978 - 1986), Zuhal Yayınları (1970 - 1978), Inter, Alfa Yayıncılık (1991), Galaksi Yayıncılık, Doğan/Egmont (AD, DE - 1996), Aksoy Yayınları (2000), Maceraperest (200? - ), Oğlak Yayınları are the numerous publishers who made Tex hundreds of thousands of fans in Turkish language.
In the United Kingdom, fourteen Tex Willer albums were published monthly since 1971 by Top Sellers Ltd.
In the United States, Tex Willer appeared in an original book called The Four Killers, later published as Tex: The Lonesome Rider, written by Claudio Nizzi and illustrated by American comic artist Joe Kubert; it was published by Dark Horse Comics and Strip Art Features. Additional issues were also published in the USA by Epicenter Comics, with the stories and graphic novels Tex: Patagonia in 2017, Tex: The Magnificent Outlaw, Tex: In the Land of the Seminoles and the Zagor crossover Tex & Zagor: Bandera in 2022, and Tex: Captain Jack in 2023.
Attempts had been made to adapt Tex into a film in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Italy. The film was eventually made in 1985 by director Duccio Tessari as Tex and the Lord of the Deep. The film was adapted from three Tex comics: El Morisco, Sierra Encantada and Il signore dell'abisso. The film was intended as a pilot for a television series, but poor critical and box office reception of the film led to no television series being produced.
In 1993 several Tex computer games (thirteen known ones) were released for the Amiga and IBM PC compatibles by Italian published Simulmondo. These games were only officially released in Italy and only had Italian text, which has made them quite rare and collectable by today.
- Morgan Kane
- For a non-exhaustive list of Italian authors, see List of comic creators
- For a non-exhaustive list of Italian comic books, see List of comic books
- "Casa Editrice / Licensing" (in Italian). Sergio Bonelli Editore. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Quadrinhos / Bonelli" (in Portuguese). Mythos Editora. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Villi Länsi" (in Finnish). Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Tex Willer-kirjat" (in Finnish). Egmont Kustannus. 2012. Archived from the original on 18 November 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Lion Comics". Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2023.
- "Tex" (in Croatian). Libellus. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Tex" (in Serbian). Veseli Cetvrtak. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
- "SAF Comics - Graphic Novels". Strip Art Features. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Tew Willer". Eurocomics in English.
- Epicenter comics website
- Curti 2016, p. 184.
- Curti 2016, p. 182.
- Curti 2016, p. 185.
- Curti 2016, p. 186.
- Curti 2016, p. 187.
- Curti, Roberto (2016). Diabolika: Supercriminals, Superheroes and the Comic Book Universe in Italian Cinema. Midnight Marquee Press. ISBN 978-1-936168-60-6.