I've just heard that after a long and brave battle against ill health, the great Massimo Belardinelli, who drew Dan Dare for the early issues of 2000AD, died at the end of March in Rome.
Another comics giant has passed.
Pat Mills once told me Italian comics artist Bellardinelli landed the plum job of drawing Dan Dare after initially offering to draw it for free to prove he could do it, his vivid style and exaggeration of an established character proving somewhat controversial and leading to a transfer to the future sport strip Inferno.
His work for 2000AD also included work on Flesh, Meltdown Man, and Slaine: he will be most affectionately remembered for Ace Trucking Co., which he co-created after requesting that writers John Wagner and Alan Grant come up with a strip featuring many different types of alien.
Represented in the UK by Studio Giolitti, he ceased UK work when that agency folded.
His Wikipedia entry notes his work was notable for its delicate brushwork and imaginative depictions of the fantastic. Bellardinelli also hid numerous self-portraits in his strips. Many characters (and even some inanimate objects) bore a striking resemblance to their artist."
Several newsgroups carried the rumour that Belardinelli had died in the 1990s, a rumour subsequently scotched thanks to some detective work by fan David Brunt in 2003. The artist had also recently been in correspondence with long-term fan Robby Cox, revealing that he although not dead as some believed, he was in poor health. "My heart is naughty," he commented.
UPDATE: 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills has written a moving tribute to Massimo which appears on the downthetubes main site
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