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Friday, 13 April 2007

RIP: Massimo Belardinelli

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

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Should Alan Moore be proud?

Online Digital Comics Woes

Just read this rather worrying note about poor customer service from digital comic store Direct2Drive on the Kung Fu Rodeo blog.

Sounds to me like a lesson in how not to run your business in an age when comments on poor service are quickly circulated and a worrying mis use of personal information...

KungFu Rodeo has run a few reviews on downloadable comics and compared and contrasted Pullbox and Direct2Drive a couple of weeks ago, with Pullbox winning hands down. That site does look good, offering downlaodable comics in both PDF and CBR formats for reasonable prices. Site navigation is clean and easy to understand and there's a wide selection of US titles including publications by IDW - although no Star Trek - Devil's Dure, Hyperwerks and others.

More Blair and Bush

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Create your own comics

ROK's new comics project, now in beta, is up and running - check out www.rokcomics.com -- and we've had some terrific and positive feedback from a wide variety of comics creators.

Delivery to mobile is still in progress but the embed and free comics creator is working just fine. Here's a couple of samples of strips people have done so far...







Monday, 9 April 2007

Johnny "BC" Hart Dies

BC


76-year-old Johnny Hart, award-winning creator of the popular B.C. comic series and co-creator of The Wizard of Id with Brant Parker, died this weekend. He apparently suffered a stroke while working at his drawing table at home in Nineveh, Broome County New York, according to his wife.

A funeral will be held Friday.

Hart won several awards for his work , including a public service award from NASA in 1972 for outstanding contributions.

Married for 55 years, the cartoonist had recently battled lymphoma but it was in remission, according to family and friends.

"He was a free spirit who loved everybody, and everything," said Jack Caprio, a childhood friend, collaborator and model for "Clumsy Carp" in the B.C. strip, according to news reports. "He was never embarrassed by doing silly things."

Hart's very occasionally controversial B.C. created in 1957 featuring prehistoric cavemen and dinosaurs has appeared in some 1,300 newspapers worldwide, and made its first national US appearance on 17 February 1958, after being rejected by no less than five syndicates before being accepted for newspaper syndication.

B.C. -- also an also an acronym for Hart's home of Broome County, New York -- is filled with puns and sly digs at modern society. One recent strip showed an ant teacher asking her class, "Who can tell me what secondhand smoke is?" One pupil raised his hand with an answer: "A political speech made by a vice presidential candidate."

B.C. character Thor, credited with inventing the wheel, enjoys life beyond the strip gracing Broome County Transit vehicles as part of their logo, "We Go Where You Go". The local library has also used B.C. imagery to promote its services, all donated freely by Hart, who according to many reports on his death, was an active and generous member of his local community, also designing a much sought afer local gold trophy and more during his long career as an artist.

BC


The Wizard of Id, drawn by Brant Parker, has been distributed since 9 November 1964 and for me is the more memorable strip, partly because it's one I grew up reading in British newspapers. But the sense of humour in both strips is bound up in the work of Hart, aided more recently by family members who have been helping produce the strips for years.

With the help of an extensive computer archive of Hart's drawings, it's some consolation to learn that both strips are to continue.

"As far back as I can remember, I drew funny pictures which got me in or out of trouble depending on the circumstances," the successful comic strip creator recalled for his online Creators Syndicate bio. "The comic strip field is an exciting one. It principally is made up of people who have refused to grow up and who offer marvelous fantasies to those who wish they hadn't."

My sympathies to friends and family. He was evidently a generous soul who in addition to bringing laughter to millions, clearly brought a warmth of spirit to his local community - an inspiration, surely, to us all.

He will be missed.

Johnny Hart, born 18 February 1931, Endicott, Broome County, New York. Died 7 April 2007, Nineveh, Broome County, New York. He is survived by his wife, Bobby and two daughters, Patti and Perri.

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