Saturday, April 14, 2007

Massimo Belardinelli

Another legend slips away.

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of yet another comics legend, Massimo Belardinelli.

This last 12 months has seen the passing of Dave Cockrum, Marshall Rogers, Tim Hildebrandt, Jack “Jaxon” Jackson, Joe Gill, Martin Nodell, Patrick “Pat” Williams, Alex Toth, and Tom Frame.

Massimo Belardinelli began his career as a painter of backgrounds for animated cartoons in the Rosi Studio in Rome. The studios took over the artwork of the 'Steel Claw' comic in the British comic Valiant from J├ęsus Blasco, and Belardinelli was assigned as the background artist. This lasted for a year, when he was succeeded by Carlos Cruz.

Belardinelli then went on to ink 'Messalina' and 'Jacula', which the studios produced.

In 1968, together with Cambiotti, he moved to the Giolitti studios in Rome, where he remained until 1993. Here he drew war stories for the British comics company Fleetway and also provided the inks for the 'Phantom' strips for Flli Spada.

In 1977, 2000AD was born and Belardinelli was assigned to draw the newly revamped version of the classic hero 'Dan Dare'.

Belardinelli also illustrated, among other comics characters, 'ACE Trucking Co', 'Moonrunners', 'Blackhawk', 'The Dead', 'Flesh' and 'Inferno'. He also did some of the early 'Slaine' stories.

In the 1980s and early 1990s Belardinelli continued to work for Fleetway, but his main job was to work in another studio for an important project, which unfortunately failed after many years, which was worked on by several artists. The project was a kind of Disneyland out in Bangkok.

In the late 1990's, several newsgroups carried the reported that Belardinelli had died, a rumour that spread like wildfire through 2000AD fandom. However, in 2003 David Brunt established that he was still alive and living near Rome. Belardinelli in correspondence with long-term fan Robby Cox wrote in one letter to Cox, "Unfortunately I am in poor health: my heart is naughty", which may suggest that the rumours were based in fact rather than being spread maliciously.

Massimo Belardinelli spent his final years living outside Rome and painting watercolour landscapes.

I hope the images here will show the true gift of a wonderfully talented and respected comic creator. I never met the man himself, to express my thoughts regarding his skills, but I hope wherever he is now, he is looking down at all the accolades that my fellow comics creators and myself are heaping on him now.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…
April 14th 2007

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