Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Piero Mancini, Comics Artist

Mino, Lia, and Piero
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
Up until the mid-1960s Mancini created numerous illustrations for a series of literary adaptations. Among the most noteworthy were a dozen plates illustrating The Divine Comedy. In 1966 Mancini started drawing comics for the Messaggero, beginning with a story about Giotto. During the next decade he provided artwork for many comics features. His best-known work was on the series Mino e Lia, written by Claudio Nizzi. Mino and Lia were ordinary modern kids who stumbled into various adventures. The series ran from 1972 to 1975.
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



I love his work,would love to see more of it!...

Ted Blackman said...

Hi. I discovered your blog after reading your post about Jack Leynnwod. Apparently you were at art center about the same time I was. Your write up about Jack was spot on. I had him for a few classes and he was by far my favorite teacher. Also noted your post about Alfredo Alcala. I worked with him for a bout a year in '86, with Jack Kirby, Gil Kane and Doug Wildey.

What's your name, I wonder if I knew you at art center?

-Ted Blackman

Paul Karasik said...

Hi there,
Sorry to interrupt the discussion about Mancini ,but I am a cartoonist in need of help.

I am working on a textbook of the language of comics. "How To Read Nancy" deconstructs a single Nancy comic strip from 1959 to reveal the hidden lexicon of comics.

I am looking to comics collectors who might have HARD NEWSPRINT copies (NOT microfilm) of the following strips:

We finally found a hardcopy of Nancy's debut strip from 1933, but we are STILLL trying to locate:

FRITZI RITZ April 24, 1930,

FRITZI RITZ from Sunday MARCH 2, 1947 in two different formats:
1. 1/2 pg broadsheet format (with Fritzi Ritz topper)
2. Full page tabloid size

Really, the 1947 strip should not be so hard to locate, but it is!

many thanks,
-Paul Karasik

Pie Cat said...
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Pie Cat said...
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