Piero Mancini was an Italian illustrator/comic artist with an appealing minimalist style.
[For the following details I'm indebted to a biographical entry at the Fondazione Franco Fossati, a fabulous resource on Italian comics history.]
Piero Mancini was born in Adria in 1927. His family moved to Milan while he was still a child. It was there he studied art, at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts.
In the early 1950s Mancini moved to Padua to work in advertising and illustration. He began a collaboration with the Catholic kids' weekly Sant'Antonio e i fanciulli (St. Anthony and the Children), which was later retitled Il messaggero dei ragazzi (The Kids' Messenger). Though he mostly produced illustrations, Mancini also wrote and drew a police-themed story/quiz in comics form.
|One of a series of Bob Star (Red Barry) covers for Club Anni Trenta|
|Collection of Mino & Lia from Mera-Fumetti|
In 1977 Piero Mancini illustrated an adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank which appeared in Sgt Kirk. It was his last major project, for the artist passed away in 1979 at the age of 51.
Mancini's impressionistic style bears a certain resemblance to the work of Dino Battaglia. He went even further than Battaglia in experimenting with unusual textures. His toolkit included pen, brush, sponges, razor blades, and toothbrush splatter. The result was a very personal and attractive style which admittedly sometimes sacrificed detail for effect.
Following is one of Mancini's Mino and Lia adventures. Though only 9 pages long it was split across two issues of Il Messaggero. In fact I think it was originally intended to run in three parts. In the Italian original the last panel on page 3 seemed to set up a cliffhanger and the first row of panels on page 4 look like they were extended upward to cover a gap left for the series logo.
It's a very simple, very low-key story. A hallmark of the series was the way Mino and Lia spoke directly to the reader. Personally I find the schtick annoying, though it does help hurry the story along. To my eyes the coloring is also reminiscent of Battaglia. I have no idea whether Mancini did it himself.
All in all this is a nice job by a lesser-known star in the Italian comic universe.
English version by Ron Harris