Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The First Ten Strips

Strip 11 (click on the image to enlarge)

Strip 12 (click on the image to enlarge)

…continued from the previous post.

Why a wolf?

This is the question I get asked the most. Well, because if I had picked a pelican, you would have asked, “Why a pelican?”

We expect there to be precise reasons behind each decision authors make; we think authors always make decisions lucidly and consciously – even the most irrelevant ones. It is not always so.

Creativity constantly places us at a crossroads. Choosing which way to go is an irrational process; it is based on instinct. In certain cases it can be rational, but in that case the artistic process is manufactured.

When I was twenty years old I had no idea what it meant to manufacture the artistic process and, to be honest, I still don’t. In order to manufacture something like that you need cross-sectional data from market research, you need skills that you can show off, and, most importantly, a dupe who will fall for it.

At twenty, I had none of that. I only had this stomach ache that just wouldn’t go, made up of bits of Peanuts, some Krazy Kat residue, Pogo crumbs, and an aroma of Wile E. Coyote. And suddenly all these contents were coming back up, up… Until I finally vomited them all out.

One of the many publishers who, at the time, used to make good money with comics, decided to launch a tabloid-size publication (we later discovered that the tabloid format is very unlucky for comics!). A few years before, a publication called Off-side had been launched using the same format, introducing authors like Crepax and Bonvi.

This new publication, which had yet to be filled with any sort of content, was to be called Undercomics, as tribute to the countercultural movements that were developing in those years. Bonvi, who was to be Undercomic’s backbone, told me, “Why don’t you try and do something yourself?”

“H-how long do I have?” I asked.

“As long as you want. Say, ten days.” Ten days.

Ten days.

Ten days to digest and give birth to a whole twenty-year-old baggage of dreams, ambitious projects, unsophisticated sketches hidden in drawers, ideas, notes, stylistic influences, afterthoughts, aborted attempts, and enthusiasm soaked with doubt…

I can still feel the devastating anxiety and can still see that first blank strip of thick white paper, staring up at me sardonically. What happened after that is all here: these first ten strips.

For reasons I ignore, Undercomics never made it to the press. I held on to those unpublished strips for quite some time. Until my very own ‘prince charming’, in the person of Giancarlo Francesconi, legendary director of the Corriere dei Ragazzi, happened to see my strips, fall in love with them, and take them back to him castle.

And they lived happily ever after.


Watch out for new posts every Tuesday and Friday.

For more information please write to info@lupoalberto.it or visit www.lupoalberto.it

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Ink Stain

Strip 9

Strip 10

…continued from the previous post.

Bonvi was a star and he behaved accordingly. Photo shoots, interviews, international awards, a passion for sports cars and beautiful women. Editors fought over the right to publish his popular comic, Sturmtruppen.

Always the forward-looking guy, he had an array of secondary characters that he developed alongside his main comic. Although these characters were less popular with comic connoisseurs, they allowed him to have a little fun. That’s what he put me in charge of when I started working for him.

One of those secondary characters was called Cattivik.

 Cattivik is one of Bonvi’s most brilliant creations – a parody of the negative heroes that were so popular back then. Originally created for a student publication where Bonvi let his exuberant nature run wild, mocking local customs and moral codes, he was able to subsequently resell it to the wider, national market, where it became a great success.

When people asked him, “What is Cattivik?” (a deformed human being? An animal? An alien?), Bonvi always replied, “Cattivik is an ink stain. The shape of the stain doesn’t matter, as long as it leaves a trail of dirt.”

Cattivik was born in 1964. Ask any Italian kid today who Cattivik is. They will know.


Watch out for new posts every Tuesday and Friday.

For more information please write to info@lupoalberto.it or visit www.lupoalberto.it

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Successful Author

Strip 7

Strip 8
…continued from the previous post

Was there anything, or anybody, that more than anything else helped you get to where you are?

Yes. When I was supposed to be in school for the last few months of my life as a high school pupil, I spent a lot of time at a bar by the train station instead, wasting away my chances of ever becoming a model student.

I remember that, around that time, the bar’s jukebox would constantly be playing the Beatles’ Let it Be, even though John, Paul, George, and Ringo had already gone their separate ways. Maybe it was listening to that posthumous album, or maybe it was realising that my chances of succeeding in school were fast disappearing. I don’t know what it was exactly, but something gave me the heart-wrenching feeling that it was the end of an era.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Rise of the Comic Strip

Strip 5
Strip 6

…continued from the previous post.

Silver, how did your passion for comic books evolve?

It was 1965.

A new monthly publication was released in April; a magazine that contained the very best of the world’s production of a comic style that to most people in Italy was as yet unknown: the comic strip. The name of this magazine was, and still is, linus (a tribute to the Peanuts’ Linus van Pelt.)

I’m sure that many enthusiasts – especially those who could speak a little English – already knew what a comic strip was. Despite having no knowledge of English whatsoever, I had also started to become familiar with comic strips, thanks to the fact that my parents read the newspaper Il Giorno, one of the few at the time to devote an entire page to comic strips on a daily basis.

The appeal of comic strips came not much from the characters themselves or the simple, essential graphics, as from their content. It was suddenly and unexpectedly revealed to me that comics could be more than just a form of entertainment for immature and intellectually lazy audiences: comics could help us look inside and outside of our selves, into politics, war, human behaviour, and society.

Most striking of all was the rhythm: strips were over in three or four sequences, supplemented by well-turned jokes, as fast as a ping pong game settled by a deadly smash.

All of a sudden my comic book collection looked like a sad pile of rumpled paper. The main characters – old friends who kept me company during endless lazy afternoons – stare up at me from the front covers, resigned to their fate. Amen.

Peanuts, B.C., The Wizard of Id, Bristow, and Krazy Kat were the stars that shone brightest in my new world. I wanted to draw like Johnny Hart, like Schulz, like Herriman, with those rough lines that appear almost lazy, but with not one millimetre of ink in excess, or one millimetre too little. I had to roll up my sleeves and uncover their secret. It was time I learned how to write, too.


The interview with Silver will continue in next Tuesday’s post.

Above, strips 5 and 6, introducing for the first time one of the McKenzie Farm’s main characters, a big, surly guy who takes his job very seriously: he is the guardian of the farm, Moses, a white Old English Sheepdog (yes, we know he looks like a large bear, but dogs come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful.)

Moses paces around the farm carrying his weapon of choice, a wooden bat, which he uses to protect himself and the residents of the farm. Although if you ask Albert he might tell you that it’s less for protection and more for oppression. Indeed, Moses cannot stand the fact that a wild wolf from the forest and a good, farm-bred chicken could be in love. In this respect, Moses is a dog with a simple, old-fashioned way of thinking: wolf eats chicken, guard dog must protect chicken, therefore guard dog must kill wolf.

Alberto has to constantly come up with new, ingenious ways to get to his beloved chicken Martha’s place. But, as with everything in life, there is more than one obstacle along the way, and, just like dogs, woes also comes in all shapes and sizes… But more on this in the next few strips!

Watch out for new posts every Tuesday and Friday.

For more information please write to info@lupoalberto.it or visit www.lupoalberto.it