Tex was born around 1840, the second son of the rancher Kenneth "Ken" Willer, who owned a small ranch near the village of Bitter Springs (Texas) next to the springs of the Nueces river. We know nothing of his childhood and his mother - who died when he was very young - but some hints suggest that she was a native or half-blooded.
Tex's father handled the ranch with the help of his two sons - Sam and Tex - and a old hired hand called "Gunny", who had been a comrade in arms of Sam Houston during the Texas Revolution of 1836. Gunny was pretty much a second father to Tex, teaching him how to fire both pistols and rifles with speed and deadly accuracy.
After a group of desperadoes robbed the ranch and killer his father, Tex (around 15-16 years old at the time) decided to chase them to exact revenge. Along with Gunny, Tex tracked them down to a Mexican village and killed them all. Unfortunately, while they were riding back to the U.S. border a patrol of Rurales intercepted them, and Gunny was shot.
Coming back home, Tex decided to leave, and gave his share of the property to his brother. He packed up a few belongings and rode away, into a life of adventure.
Tex was created by writer Gian Luigi Bonelli and artist Aurelio Galleppini (better known by his nom-de-plum, Galep) in 1948.
Tex was created alongside another character called "Occhio Cupo" (Dark Eye), a dashing swordsman in the style of Alexandre Dumas. Originally Occhio Cupo was meant to be the main character and Tex was to have more of secondary role, but his incredible success changed the situation, and Occhio Cupo was abandoned after just a few issues.
Tex's publication has always been a sort of family affair. The first publisher was Tea Bonelli, Gianluigi's wife, and later their son Sergio took over the business.
Character Evolution & Major Story Arcs
Due to the fact that Tex's stories aren't in a precise chronological sequence it's quite difficult to define a precise continuity. More than that, some stories directly contradict each other. Still, many have tried to put together a comprehensive chronology.
King of the Rodeo
Shortly after leaving his father's ranch Tex arrived at Abilenne, there he was hired by the Corliss brothers, owners of a wandering rodeo show, as a rider of Brahman bulls. In this period Tex also tamed Dinamite (Dynamite) a foul-tempered but incredibly capable horse which remained his faithful mount for some years to come.
After a couple of years Tex heard that his brother Sam was killed in broad daylight by a local cattle baron - who wanted to claim Sam's land - right in front of the corrupt local sheriff, a man named Coffin. Enraged, Tex went down the path of revenge once more, he infiltrated the cattle baron's gang and destroyed it single-handed. Unfortunately, Coffin was able to avoid the massacre and was able to set things up so that Tex appeared to be a outlaw.
Even during this first adventure Tex already appeared as an accomplished character, his skill - especially his proverbial aim -, his sense of right and wrong, and his willingness to act outside the law to deliver justice are already part of him, if anything Tex looked more brash, sarcastic and impulsive than the man he will one day become.
Between Two Flags
[ATTENTION: the inclusion of this element here is highly speculative and partially contradicts the original chronology of the character.]
At the beginning of the Civil War Tex and two of his friends, Rod Stenton and "Damned" Dick, were selling the remains of a cow herd. While Rod was extremely eager to join the Southern Army, both Tex and Dick were unwilling to fight "for the sole interest of some dirty politicians", more than that Tex clearly stated that to him all people were equal, and because of that he supported the abolition of slavery. Scorned, Rod left his friend after taking his part of the herd.
Tex and Dick went North and sold their parts of the herd after an encounter with a Confederate patrol that attempted to steal the herd from them. On their way to St. Louis they met lieutenant Klinder, a scout from the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry and saved him. Klinder was later wounded and entrusted them with a message from his commanding officer, Captain Dark.
After meeting the two cowboys, Dark asked them to join the 3rd Kentucky as scouts, Tex and Dick accepted under the condition of remaining civilians and not having to answer to anyone but Dark about their actions. Their commitment lasted until the battle of Shiloh, in the aftermath of the battle they found a dying Rod among the fallen, they were able to exchange a few words and relight their friendship before Rod passed away, cursing the "stupid, goddamned war which separates friends". After that Tex and Dick continued to work for the government by escorting convoys of wounded and food.
Assuming this is the right chronology this marks the first time Tex openly voiced his strong anti-racist feelings. While these were already well established from his first adventure (see below).
Outlaw and Ranger
[ATTENTION: from here on the stories are pretty much in continuity]
Tex remained an outlaw for many years, during this period he roamed the frontier, helping people and dodging sheriffs. He made a reputation as meddlesome man and a dangerous gunfighter, he also befriended a lot of people throughout the frontier, particularly Tesha, a Navajo girl that he saved from the same Coffin that denounced him years before (during his first published adventure). Hearing of his reputation, Mr. Marshal, the head of a special government agency for the development of west territories, offered Tex a full pardon if he agreed to join the West Ranger Division, a federal agency dedicated to bringing law and order across the west. After joining, Tex was frequently paired with another older ranger called Kit Carson (not the historical figure).
As part of one of his first missions Tex was tasked to discover the facts behind the information tracking occurring between the U.S.A. and Mexico. During this mission he met Steve "Mefisto" Dickart for the first time. In the years to come Dickart would become a skilled warlock and necromancer, but at the time Tex first met him he was just a stage magician working as a spy with the help of his sister Lily.
After almost being discovered the two were able to frame Tex for murdering a lieutenant of the U.S. Cavalry and flee to Mexico where they bought a great hacienda. After breaking out of jail with the help of Carson, Tex followed Mefisto to Mexico. There he banded together with a good-hearted revolutionary called Montales, and together they arrested Mefisto and Lily and sent them back to the U.S.A. Tex, on the other hand, continued to fight alongside the revolutionaries.
Lilith and the Black Rider
After coming back to the U.S.A. Tex embarked a couple of adventures before Mr. Marshal offered to let him rejoin the rangers. Tex accepted and was tasked with a mission regarding a ring of smugglers that were smuggling weapons into the Navajo Reservation.
While investigating, Tex was captured by a group of Navajo rebels led by chief Red Arrow, he was about to be killed when the chief's daughter, Lilith, stepped forward and asked her father to let Tex live as her husband. While reluctant, Red Arrow allowed the marriage to occur. When Tex asked why she did so, Lilith said that she was raised in a Christian mission and that she hated the idea of more bloodshed between her people and the white people.
From Red Arrow, Tex discovered that the heads of the smuggling ring were two businessmen from Gallup called Fred Brennan and John Teller. After a faux report made Marshal question him once again, Tex fashioned himself a black garb complete with a full mask to regain some freedom of movement. After his dark appearance the Navajos dubbed him Aquila della Notte (Night's Eagle).
With the help of Carson, Tex was able to destroy the organization and Brennan and Teller were arrested. Being a married man and feeling troubled by the more and more restrictive directives from Marshal, Tex resigned from the Rangers.
Little Hawk and the Path of Death
In a very short time what started as a marriage of convenience turned in a great story of love, and in couple of years Tex and Lilith had a son, Kit - named after Carson, who was his godfather - also called Little Hawk. But their happiness was short lived, Brennan and Teller were already free thanks to the efforts of a few corrupt politicians and planned to restart their smuggling routine. In order to do so they acquired a number of blankets tainted with smallpox from a military storage area and shipped them into the Reservation. These blankets killed Lilith, but Kit and Tex survived as they were away at the time.
Tex was back at the Reservation just a few hours after Lilith's death and over her fresh grave he swore an Oath of Death against her assassins:
"From now on, I'll know no peace until I have killed all those who cut the string that tied our lives together.
From now on, I'll be the revenge that unrelentingly follows the steps of our foes...
Hatred and terror will march at my side ...
and behind me I'll leave a trail of tears and blood."
In the months after Lilith's death Tex killed Teller, but Brennan was able to escape. Many years later Tex killed Brennan too after causing him to almost go insane.
Tiger Jack and the Education of Kit
After going back to the Reservation, Tex dedicated most of his time to raising his son. During this time he also befriended a young, brash Navajo warrior called Tiger Jack. When Tex met Tiger for the first time he was following the same path of revenge that Tex had followed some time before, a group of Utes raiders killed Tiger's wife and he was tracking them down. Tex helped him and in the end they became blood brothers.
When kit was around 14-15, he started following his father around. Tex was forced to deal with his impetuous child and bring him along on many of his missions. Around this time Tex decided to go back to the Rangers and Kit decided to take the oath as well.
Chief of the Navajo
The last element to create the figure of a full grown Tex was his role as chief of the Navajos, after the death of Red Arrow the council appointed Tex as the new chief of the tribe, since Red Arrow adopted him as his son after the death of Lilith. Also around this time Tex took upon himself the role of Indian agent of the Reservation. As chief of the Navajos, Tex reaffirmed or forged many alliances with other tribes, especially after he became the blood brother of the famed leader of the Apaches, Coshise.
His leadership was not without complications, many Navajos resented the idea of a chief with white skin, and many whites resented dealing with a renegade. The worst hour came when Lilith's half-brother, Sagua, after being prodded by his mother Zenda, united the tribes from the mountains against Tex. Sagua's warriors also captured Kit and everything was in place for a terrible war between the Navajos, but the death of Zenda shocked Sagua enough to stop his plans. Subsequently Tex handed leadership of the tribe to Sagua, who refused it, and in the end they decided to share the responsibility, with Tex as leader of the tribe of the plains and Sagua for the mountains.
Skills and Abilities
Tex's most notorious skill is his uncanny aim, over the years he has shown to be able to shot with extreme accuracy with both pistols and rifles. He's fully ambidextrous and capable of handling two pistols at once with ease. Among his most spectacular feats he was able to shot down six coins on the top six poles with riding at full speed.
Quite obviously Tex his also a incredibly skilled rider, having fully mastered the technique to drive a horse using only the legs and to remain attached while dangling from the side of the animal.
Also Tex is famous from his incredibly powerful punches, usually described as "like a mule's kick". This ability is frequently used as a interrogation tool, having Tex punching the suspect until he confess.
Another important skill of Tex is tracking, while not as good at it as his friend Tiger Jack, he's still a masterful tracker capable of following trail several days old. While he never had any from of formal education Tex has a extensive knowledge of the natural world, especially regarding the habits of animals, obtained through years of careful observation during his travels.
Tex is fluent in both Spanish and Navajo, he also speak at least one Apaches' dialect and possibly other native languages.
One final skill is that Tex has received some teachings from the medicine men of the Navajos, as such he knows a bit about their traditions and secrets. This ability is rarely shown since Tex seem very uncomfortable when dealing with the supernatural.
Tex use all the typical trappings of a man of his era. He usually pack two Colt revolvers and a lever-action rifle, first a Henry then a Winchester. He also make frequent use of a lasso. More rarely he use dynamite as a sort of equalizer when dealing with enemies in large numbers or a bowie knife.
One bit of special equipment are his boots, the heel of Tex's right boot can be removed and has a short blade attached, while this is too small for combat use, it help Tex escaping from bounds more than once.