Comic books as fictional media in Europe always had a rich tradition, and the likes of Peanuts, Popeye, and Smurfs took over the world in “a heartbeat.” Of course, others were popular “only” in the European continent, but some gained a cult following in most unexpected places. One is Alan Ford, an Italian comic book created by Max Bunker and Magnus (Luciano Secchi and Roberto Raviola) and first released in 1969. This Italian comic book became quite popular in its home country of Italy, but releases in Denmark, France, and Brazil did not maintain the same success.
However, Alan Ford gained a massive following in the least expected place – SFR Yugoslavia. The comic book became a cultural phenomenon when it first came out in 1972. To this day, Alan Ford still has a huge presence in the now separated and independent republics of former Yugoslavia. The comic book series follows chaotic and misfit secret agents of Group TNT, with Alan Ford as the main character. They’re operating from their flower shop in New York, their secret headquarters, and the place where they cause chaos. The comic book series has over two hundred issues, and we will bring you the list of the ten best Alan Ford comics every fan must read.
10. Sogno di una notte di mezzo inverno / A Midwinter Night’s Dream – Alan Ford no. 23
We start this list with Alan Ford issue 23, where two robbers decide to rob one New York bank. The robbery is successful, and the perpetrators are ready to flee the crime scene. However, the famous agent spoils criminals’ day, and one robber even asks Alan Ford for an autograph.
The adventures of two robbers and members of Group TNT don’t stop here – Grunf transports the criminals to jail, but Alan Ford faces the happenings of a parallel universe.
This episode of Alan Ford is one of the smartest, and wittiest Max Bunker ever wrote. The writer managed to represent Ford as a comic book version of James Bond and created his own version of Homer’s Iliad. Great episode with many cultural references of that time and adventures of our esteemed Group TNT that are talked about even today.
9. Ladri Barbuti / Bearded Robbers– Alan Ford no. 30
After the successful operation known as “Circus,” members of Group TNT went back to New York in style – by horse carriage. Of course, the gang has another stop before returning to Big Apple and visiting Charlton City.
The group of masked bandits terrorizes innocent residents of the city, and while they are at it, the members of Group TNT get robbed as well. The gang sculps a plan to get revenge on the rude criminals with the help of one of the most notable literary works, The Tragedy of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare.
The Group TNT presents one of the most notable scenes in the comic book series by recreating the Hamlet play and using it to catch criminals. This scene is one of the many cult scenes Max Bunker bestowed on us and only proved how cool these comic book series were.
8. Una Rosa per Bob / Pink Shirt For Bob – Alan Ford no. 179
The eighth entry on the list is reserved for the 179th episode of Alan Ford, and this time follows one of the biggest sports events in Italy, Giro d’Italia. Group TNT investigates a famous annual bicycle race for suspicion of drug trafficking and the heroin that will eventually end up illegally in the United States.
Of course, Number One assembles a four-man team that includes Alan Ford, Bob Rock, Sir Oliver, and Grunf. The bicycle team that will represent the United States of America in the famous bicycle Italian competition is named The Devils. However, the team is surprisingly dominating the competition, specifically Bob Rock, who uses special, suspicious pills called ching-ching that make him a great cyclist.
This episode is one of the issues that came much later, and most of the Alan Ford fans would agree that anything after the seventy-fifth episode is not as good. Pink Shirt For Bob is an extremely entertaining and great issue that most “hardcore” Alan Ford fans remember fondly.
7. Incontro al cimitero / Funeral Party – Alan Ford no. 101
We continue this list with Alan Ford issue 101, where Group TNT is sent by Number One to a local New York cemetery where only poor people are resting.
Of course, the resident troublemaker Bob Rock destroys the cemetery and now needs to deal with paranormal beings and events transpiring in the mysterious cemetery. Alan Ford is also in big trouble with Bob Rock, and once again, they need to find out what Number One meant by them acting as cemetery workers.
Things get even more complicated when a rich member of society comes and decides to bury her sister in a cemetery for low-class for positive publicity. Once again, Alan Ford mocks the wealthy society of the high class of the Western society of that time in its own hilarious way.
6. I tre di Yuma / Circus! – Alan Ford no. 29
From the 101st issue, we return to the beginnings of Alan Ford, an issue called Circus. Group TNT is again sent on an adventure where they must catch the criminals and save the day.
Just like in the 30th issue of the comic book, Alan Ford and the rest of the gang need to disguise themselves and act as performers of really hard acrobatic acts, which are chaotic and hilarious. Suppose you thought the crew was funny during Hamlet’s play. In that case, you should definitely check out Group TNT disguised as circus performers and simultaneously try to get their hands on important documents.
Fans of Alan Ford still remember this issue as one of the peak comedies of Max Bunker and Magnus and one of the funniest comic book issues of all time. Check it out; you won’t regret it.
5. Gruppo TNT / Group TNT – Alan Ford no. 1
The first comic book issues are usually at the top of most lists; however, the first issue by Alan Ford started it all but is not the best. The story starts with young Alan Ford, who works as an artist that draws advertisements for companies. Simply coincidental, Ford finds himself amongst the crew that calls themselves Group TNT.
From a regular job and the boring PR world, Alan Ford finds himself among secret agents, spies, and depths of the criminal world in New York. Alan Ford is immediately sent on a mission with his agents to find and return the microfilm and a precious emerald valued at two million dollars.
The issue, simply called Group TNT, presents us with foundations of what Max Bunker and Magnus were trying to offer to their readers – criticism of capitalism, high society, and struggles of “a small man.”
This theme is emphasized with the characters like Alan Ford, who is quite similar to the more popular British Agent James Bond, but Bunker’s version of the agents is far from cool and luxurious – they are the opposite.
4. Superciuk / Superciuk!– Alan Ford no. 26
As the list goes on, we are slowly but surely getting to the best Alan Ford issues ever released, and this entry definitely belongs in this group. One of the funniest issues to date, Superciuk is one of the most notorious enemies of Group TNT. He is far from a conventional supervillain – he works as a street cleaner, earns a minimum salary, and is an ordinary man. However, he becomes a villain with a cape and defeats his enemies with bad, alcohol-laden breath when he gets drunk.
Superciuk is a hilarious depiction of American mainstream superheroes of that era, and he instantly became one of the biggest antiheroes in Italian comic book history.
Superciuk steals from the poor. That’s right; he steals fridges, old children’s toys, and even dinner vouchers, but that isn’t enough for him, and he decides to “touch” things of Group TNT. In this episode, Alan Ford is devastated by the news that his sweetheart Linda left him for her writing teacher and decided to go overboard with alcohol. A top-notch issue that is full of unique Alan Ford humor and that gave us the coolest supervillain in the Alan Ford series.
3. Il dente cariato / Hollow Tooth – Alan Ford no. 2
The second issue by Alan Ford brings us to the third place on this list. The episode starts with the murder of Louis Randall, whose murder is investigated by our resident group of agents. The Group TNT even gets a new member known as Sir Oliver, an English aristocrat who needs to teach Alan Ford good manners and polite behavior.
Of course, nothing is normal when Alan Ford and his crew are around. The murder investigation becomes a microfilm extraction mission that contains seemingly important blueprints of companies’ products, and everything escalates tenfold. Group TNT now must solve a murder, find the blueprints and get the federal government off their backs.
This entertaining issue marks an episode that marks the beginning of a great comedy comic book series.
2. Così nacque il Gruppo TNT / This is how the TNT group was born – Alan Ford no. 50
An anniversary episode of Alan Ford came in the form of a 50th issue, and to this day is one of the best episodes of Alan Ford. This issue simply sees Group TNT go to their signature Flowershop that serves as their headquarters and start reminiscing about their lives before the group and how the famous crew of agents assembled.
What is interesting about this issue is that readers finally got their answers about their favorite characters, Alan Ford, Bob Rock, and others. One character stayed a mysterious figure, the founder and leader of the Group TNT, Number One. We don’t know how old he is or why did he establish the Group TNT, and it is still one of the most important episodes of Alan Ford.
Another critical point of this issue is the departure of Max Bunker’s partner, Magnus, who left the production of Alan Ford. Magnus and his departure greatly affected a great series, and number 50 of Alan Ford marks the times when the Italian duo wrote their characters and stories in the best possible way – full of passion and rapture.
1. Golf / Golf – Alan Ford no. 13
Finally, we have arguably the best episode of Alan Ford to date, simply named Golf. As the issue title suggests, our agents are in the golf club, where they need to find the missing golf clubs and balls.
Of course, these are not your usual golf equipment, and one golf ball contains suspicious microfilm that will help them in their investigation. However, when the group realizes that one golf ball is spinning differently than usual, Alan Ford, Bob Rock, and others throw themselves into planning how they will acquire their item.
One of the funniest and wittiest comic book issues of Alan Ford that will throw you away with its bluntness and silliness and simultaneously make you want more.
Alan Ford became a cultural phenomenon in Yugoslavia and is still popular in independent countries, whose population related to Alan Ford and Group TNT in an immeasurable way. A “small person” living in a big city like New York and trying to survive the obstacles of those times is a remarkable achievement. A whacky group of agents showed that the “little man” is still important to society, if not the most important aspect.
Alan Ford is available for reading in Croatian, Italian, and English, so definitely check out libraries online – Alan Ford is always present and will stay like that for a long time.