Here is a new series of fun characters invented by the great cartoonist Benito Jacovitti.
In order of appearance in this page, we have:
Cocco Bill, the famous cowboy who drinks chamomile tea and shoots like crazy. With him, the “spaghetti western” genre was born, invented by the Molise-born artist and not – as many believe – by Sergio Leone: indeed, Cocco Bill first appeared in 1956, a few years before the great director’s masterpieces came to the silver screen.
Cocco Bill’s horse is Trottalemme, who – as effectively summed up in Luca Boschi, Leonardo Gori and Andrea Sani’s biography of Jacovitti – “smokes, shoots, acts almost independently, and often gets his master and friend out of trouble” (translated from “Jacovitti. Il cartoonist e il mito in cinquant’anni di fumetto italiano”, Granata Press, Bologna, 1992).
Then there is Onorevole Tarzan, born in 1948, who is not “king” but the “prime minister” of a hilarious, republican forest. At his side, first lady Sora Gei is a parody of Jane Porter, Tarzan’s bride in the original books and film adaptations.
Another of Jacovitti’s fanciful parodies debuted in 1968 in “Corriere dei Piccoli”: Zorry Kid, the “masked horseman” who is a flamenco dancer and castanets player by day, under the name Kid Paloma. Sargent Martin Pelota is the heroic swordsman’s favorite victim, and always ends up with a big “Z” on his fat belly.
Next up, Battista the naive fascist was the leading man in a series of tragicomic episodes published between 1945 and 1946 on “Intervallo”. Through this innocently lazy character, Jacovitti gave his own interpretation of Italian history from the 1930s to the beginning of the Republic. Critic Gianni Brunoro saw “a pungent satire of human stupidity” in “this little man, who drifted from one political party to the next, easily hoodwinked with the most banal arguments each one offered.”
Flitt – named after a popular bug spray – is a surreal caricature of Hitler; it debuted in a story titled “Pippo and the Dictator”, published in “Intervallo” in 1945, which was Jacovitti’s reenactment of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator”.
The gallery continues with Mandrago, a poor man who comes to have magic powers and uses them to do good, receiving nothing but ingratitude in return; Oreste the killjoy, a dangerous, retired state worker who harasses the world; Microciccio Spaccavento, a science fiction-esque man from the future who lived in a “forty-six planet” galaxy oppressed by a cruel tyrant; and Giuseppe, the star of short cartoon strips with all the “features of an absurd-man, which fit in with the surreal world he lives in: a world where anything is possible and impossible at the same time” (Franco Bellacci).
The parade ends with Pinocchio, whom we’ve already talked about.
Welcome back into Jacovitti’s world.