Sunday, 29 December 2013

Spaghetti westerns

At the time the American westerns became non inventive and dull, the lively and naturalistic Italian westerns appeared. the beginnings were at first clumsy and naive, but the production became very professional in a very short time and the products surpassed their role models quite soon. The inclusion of American actors was essential.

At the time the artwork on the movie posters was at its peak.

Swords & Sandals

Late 50's and early 60's was the golden age of Italian fantasy film. One of the main stars was an American actor and a body builder Steve Reeves.The production of those movies were gradually replaced by the spaghetti westerns.

Western comics

Although there are some great American western comics, to me, there's no doubt, the best westerns came from the pen and brushes of Franco-Belgian authors.
Joseph Gillain, a Belgian artist, better known as Jijé created a comics series Jerry Spring in 1950.
It was originally published in Spirou magazine. Later, flooded with the amount of work Jijé was assisted by the young and talented Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, who eventually blossomed into a genius comics master also known by his aliases Moebius and Gir. His comic strip series Lt. Blueberry, written by  Jean-Michel Charlier became the best ever western comic strip/book.
Here are the images by Jijé (upper) and by Giraud:


I think the Americans have no idea how much influence their western movies left in the world. By the mid 60's, however, most of American westerns produced in those years became dry, boring and totally generic. Luckily for the fans of those movies, the Italian spaghetti westerns started their march, leaving us some of the best movies in that genre.
Here is a German poster version of the classic American western The hanging tree:

Time Machine

The next couple of films which I loved as a kid were the Time machine and Journey to the centre of the earth. No need to say that I love watching them from time to time.

Although, the special effects are today light years away from the ones used in this film, they still look believable and the fact that the story and good acting are much more important than the effects themselves is very obvious in this case.

Forbidden Planet

This is one movie that blew me off when I was 6. I still love watching it. This Sci Fi film was way ahead of its time (filmed in 1956) and I still consider it to be the best Sci Fi movie of the previous century. I still haven't decided which one is the best in this century.


Above is the page from Macherot's earliest comic strip Chlorophylle Contre Les Rats Noirs from the early 50's. 
Below is my unpublished cover for the Chlorophylle comic that I never produced. My plans were to ask Macherot and the publisher who held the copyrights for the consent, but at the time Macherot was old and of poor health.

Role models and inspiration

Actually, I started drawing my first comic strips and cartoons somtime around the age of six. I remember I enjoyed the process as much as reading the comics. My first strips were about the ants and they were packed with action and screaming. At the time I was mesmerised by the Disney's animated movies, as well as by the other similar cartoons like: Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Popeye, etc. My favourite feature films from the time were westerns, history movies, sci-fi films and Italian sword and sandals movies.
The comics I loved were of course Disney's, but some Franco-Belgian and British ones were on the top of my list.

Here are some pages from the British Dan Dare comic by Frank Hampson and his team and a greeting card I have produced.