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8 March 2014

Massimo Belardinelli

You might have noticed earlier this week that I declared the 2nd of March to be Massimo Belardinelli Day and started the hashtag #massimobelardinelli in honour of this great man. Missed it? Shame on you!

It all started here. Look at this impressive collection of 2000AD annuals I've amassed. As a youth I collected loads of the original comics and my Biker mum simply gave them all away when I wasn't looking! Can you believe it! All these (except for the 1982 annual) have been acquired since about Christmas time. There's more too that aren't pictured! Oh dear, oh dear! Ha ha. I have been having sooo much fun reading them, you wouldn't believe!

2000AD was a hotbed for British comic talent. Think of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Brian Bolland. All did stints with 2000AD learning their trade. It also had international names on the books. One absolute star was Massimo Belardinelli (1938-2007). He was there at the birth of 2000AD in 1977 reportedly working for free to get the gig. He went on to feature heavily throughout the next decade or so doing the artwork for a number of the lesser-known stories. He was destined to be on the periphery of the 2000AD bandwagon... That is until now! Now, we celebrate the great man and recognise his genius for what it is!

Here's a checklist taken from an interview with Massimo Belardinelli in the 1985 2000AD Annual. I reckon that 1985 is the best of all of the annuals that I've read so far. It's got a fantastic selection of famous faces: Joe Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Sláine, ABC Warriors, to name but a few.

Massimo cites fellow Italian Gustave Doré as being a huge influence on him in his youth. See Gustav's vision of Arachne below... yep crazy shit! ;-)

(photo courtesy of  LarryAvisBrown)

I reckon Massimo was in his element pushing the boundaries. See the above picture where he depicts Sláine doing his warp-thing. Legend has it that Alan Grant created Ace Trucking Co (a favourite of mine at the time) especially for Massimo to exploit his "fevered imagination".

I love this snippet of a Moonrunners story which sees Goethe having a psychotic episode. In my opinion, this is Massimo at his best.

Here's Massimo's attempt at a 2000AD cover. Check out G-B-H (top left)... Is this Massimo's take on a zombie? 

Burt: I've noticed that you often put your own likeness in a story you are drawing. Is this done when you are really enjoying an episode?

Massimo: No. I do it because I have a strong sense of the horrid.

What a brilliant answer! Ha ha. What do you reckon... is that Massimo in the final frame of this Sláine story, quill in hand? I'd bet my house on it!

Okay, I'd better close this off with a snatch of M.A.C.H.1... 2000AD's answer to the bionic man.

"The demons are coming to get me! I'm going mad!" 

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