Sgt. Kirk (1953)

Texts by Héctor G. Oesterheld

Drawings by Hugo Pratt
(inking by Ivo Pavone in the years 1953-1954)

This lengthy series had many episodes and came out
 in the Argentine weekly “Misterix” from issue 225 
(January, 1953), alternating repeatedly with the sister magazine “SuperMisterix”, both of which were published by editorial Abril. It was subsequently published in “Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal” and then continued in the magazine “Frontera Extra”.

The comic series of Sgt. Kirk is undoubtedly innovative and was a forerunner in the western genre of a more correct historical research that would lead, many years later, to a more objective and realistic presentation of the relationship between American Indians and the so-called “civilization” of the whites. Public opinion was, for many years, stoked by the mannered and contemptuously biased movies of Hollywood which built up a false culture whereby the white man was always the “goodie” and the Indians were always the “baddies”. The approach of the US film industry only began to change in 1970 when three films came out that would begin to change opinions and perceptions: Soldier Blue by Ralph Nelson, Little Big Man by Arthur Penn and A Man Called Horse by Elliot Silverstein. If you consider that Sgt. Kirk was created in 1953 you can get an idea of just how significant this western cartoon is, introducing as it did from the earliest episodes this protagonist, a sergeant in the US Army Seventh Cavalry, who is weighed down by doubts and mixed feelings and is uncertain and confused between his duties as a soldier and his pity and thirst for justice for the Indians. After a painful and difficult internal battle he decides to desert the army and side with the red Indians. He thus becomes a “blood brother” of Maha, the young son of the Indian chief Tchatoga, and becomes part of the tribe. Other important characters in the series are Doctor Forbes, an anti-conformist physician, and “il Corto”, an ex-bandit with romantic reminiscences. The series is rich in dialogues that often express opposing ideological views and principles that prove the comic series to be “grown up” in all senses. Note: Sgt. Kirk was published in a wide range of publications in Italy, of which the most important was the comic magazine of the same name, “Sgt. Kirk” published by Florenzo Ivaldi, who brought out this strip in all the 62 issues of this magazine that came out between 1967 and 1997. It is currently available in elegant volumes published by Rizzoli-Lizard that strictly respect the chronological order.