In Memoriam: 2000AD artist Massimo Belardinelli

Massimo Belardinelli. Image courtesy Valentina Belardinelli
Massimo Belardinelli. Image courtesy Valentina 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, and who co-created “Ace Trucking Company” 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.

An early "Ace Trucking Company" design sketch by Massimo Belardinelli. Via Valentina Belardinelli
An early “Ace Trucking Company” design sketch by Massimo Belardinelli. Via Valentina Belardinelli

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.

Surreal Art created by Massimo Belardinelli. Via Valentina Belardinelli
Surreal Art created by Massimo Belardinelli. Via Valentina Belardinelli
Art by Massimo Belardinelli, created after his time on 2000AD. Via Valentina Belardinelli
Art by Massimo Belardinelli, created after his time on 2000AD. Via Valentina Belardinelli

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 Robert Cox, revealing that he although not dead as some believed, he was in poor health.

“My heart is naughty,” he commented.

Massimo Belardinelli, born 5th June 1938 , died 31st March 2007, Italy

Massimo Bellardinelli
Massimo Bellardinelli

UPDATE: 2000AD co-creator Pat Mills has written a moving tribute to Massimo which appears on the downthetubes main site

WEB LINKS

• Massimo Belardinelli Appreciation Society – run by collector Robert Cox

2000AD art by Massimo Belardinelli

This tribute was updated in 2020 to add new links and some examples of Massimo’s work. Many more artworks, posted by Valentina Belardinelli, can be found on the Massimo Belardinelli Appreciation Society on Facebook

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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