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TEX: THE LONESOME RIDER

Tex cover
Drawn by Joe Kubert and written by Claudio Nizzi
240 7x9-inch pages, b/w
2005 SAF Comics paperback
$15.95

Last winter Dark Horse published Tex: The Lonesome Rider in color, but I like this, the earlier edition: Kubert drew it with black ink on white paper, so this version is closer to the moment of conception. And this edition has front matter — an interview with Kubert and a history of the Italian “Tex” series, which has been appearing regularly for over 50 years, by Ervin Rustemagic, Kubert’s friend, who, trapped in Bosnia during the war there in the 1990s, inspired Kubert’s Fax from Sarajevo.

The story is a simple one: Tex goes to visit some old friends, but when he arrives at their ranch, he finds only their dead bodies. They’ve all been senselessly, brutally, killed by a roving quartet of outlaw thugs. Tex vows to find them and bring them all to justice. He does — one by one. The tale includes a roster of classic Western characters — bullying cattle baron, corrupt sheriff, sleazy saloon bums — plus stagecoach robbery and a one-on-one knife fight with a Native American champion. What elevates the narrative above this catalog of cliches is Kubert’s storytelling.

Kubert varies the visuals rigorously — camera angles shift, panel to panel; ditto distance, from long shots to tight close-ups. Many pages of the narrative are silent, full of visual atmosphere but no dialogue. He dramatically deploys solid blacks in shadows and silhouettes. No pyrotechnics; nothing showy or fancy. Just superb drawings and expert pacing.

Tex1

 

Throughout, Kubert’s laconic line prevails: even in tense action sequences, the figures seem at ease, relaxed. And there are numerous sequences with Tex riding through picturesque Western landscapes, lovingly limned.

 

Tex2

Whether you find the Dark Horse version in color — expertly applied, by the way — or this one in stark black and white, you’re in for a treat.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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