We’re sorry to report the passing of the award-winning Italian comics genius Massimo Mattioli, who died last Friday aged 75.
Many comic readers may know him best for the violent funny animal strip “Squeak the Mouse“, a tale of a psychotic animal that author Paul Gravett suggests was surely an influence on Matt Groening’s Itchy & Scratchy. It’s not hard to see why!
Massimo Mattioli began publishing in 1965 with strips on La Tribuna Illustrata and with the series “Il Gatto Califfo” on Il Vittorioso.
The following year, he had cartoons publishedin Il Nuovo Travaso, where he also developed the character, Brividik, and won a contest organised by Linus magazine with his “Ragnetti” strips.
After “Vermetto Sigh” appeared for the first time on the pages of the fortnightly Gulp, moving on to Dopodomani and, finally, Vitt ,in 1967, he moved to London, drawing for Mayfair and, later, in Paris, where he first drew the surreal M. Le Magicien, for the weekly Pif Gadget and “Lo Zoo Pazzo”, later published in the UK as “Animalisms”), created by Mario Gomboli, future director of Diabolik.
His adventures of the famous pink rabbit photojournalist “Pinky” began in 1973, published in the weekly Il Giornalino, which continued until 2014, with some strips collected, in two volumes, by the title’s editor, Mondadori, in 2006 and 2009. He also began another strip, “Pasquino” for the Rome-based newspaper Paese Sera, which ended in March 1975.
In May 1977, together with Stefano Tamburini, he founded the avant garde adult fumetti Cannibale, a title whose contributors also included Andrea Pazienza, Filippo Scozzari and Tanino Liberatore.
Another of his best known adult strips, “Joe Galaxy” strips first appeared in the magazine Il Male, then moving to Cannibale (in 1978), Frigidaire (1980), Comic Art (1988) and Lupo Alberto Magazine (1992).
He created the legendary, soundless, splatter series “Squeak the Mouse” for Frigidaire in 1980, which has been collected numerous times across Europe, a time when he was also giving bizarre live performances of his work.
He returned to London in 1989 to work with one of his fans, Robert Palmer, on an animated video based on his song “Change his Ways“. His work grew in popularity, with cartoons published in various magazines in Italy and abroad, as well as illustrations for Vogue, Vanity Fair and for advertising.
French publisher L’Association began publishing collections of his work after he contributed to their anthology project Comix 2000. His work has been widely exhibited in Europe.
During his long and influential career, he received numerous awards, including the French Prix Phénix (“Prix de la recherche et de ORIGINAL”) in 1971, a Yellow Kid in 1975 at Lucca Comics, the Romics d ‘ Oro in 2009 and, in 2010 and 2012, the Micheluzzi Award for “Pinku”.
Parallel to his activity of comic book author and illustrator, he devoted himself to writing short stories and screenplays for cinema and television.
Bazooly Gazooly, a bumper collection of his strips and illustrations for Cannibale and Frigidaire, was published in Italy earlier this year.
“I loved his surreal M. Le Magicien (not M for Mandrake the Magician!), which ran in Pif Gadget in French and was collected by L’Association,” commented author Paul Gravett in a tribute on Facebook.
“What never made it into English, as far as I know, was his long-running kids’ series (since 1973!) starring photojournalist bunny Pinky, who runs up against his elephantine editor Perry (perhaps a nod to The Daily Planet’s Perry White?).
“I always enjoyed meeting him, first of all in Lucca in the mid-1980s.”
• Official web site: www.massimomattioli.com – be aware Massimo’s comics include adult material
• Massimo Mattioli was the most post-punk among Italian cartoonists, so – assuming you are also connoisseurs of music – listen to his post-punk band Here on Spotify – and find out more about the band here on Facebook