In Memoriam: Italian comic creator Alfredo Castelli, creator of Martin Mystére

We’re sorry to report Italian comic creator Alfredo Castelli has died, aged 77. He’s best know as the creator of the series Martin Mystére, for Sergio Bonelli Editore in Italy, of which has been published in Italy since 1982.

Six stories were translated into English as Martin Mystery and published by Dark Horse in 1999. A special English variant of the first Martin Mystére collection was published last year, to mark Lucca Comics & Games 2023.

In a tribute, his publisher notes he was also author of a thousand other characters, stories, essays and “unforgettable initiatives, a real giant of comic book publishing.”

Italian comic creator Alfredo Castelli. Image: Sergio Bonelli Editore
Italian comic creator Alfredo Castelli. Image: Sergio Bonelli Editore

Born in Milan on 26th June 1947, Castelli entered the world of comics in 1965, writing and drawing the adventures of Scheletrino, published in Diabolik. Curious by nature, intellectually omnivorous, he had the ability to traverse the demands of writing for diverse genres and publications, his incredible versatility earning the respect of co-creators and fellow creators, making him one of the key figures in the history of Italian comics.

His numerous creations included Gli Aristocratici, L’Ombra, L’Omino Bufo, Zio Boris and Allan Quatermain, he latter serving as the basis for Martin Mystère – and he was also the instigator of the very first Italian comic fanzine, Comics Club 104, launched in 1966.

Martin Mystére 1 - English Variant (2023)

“He collaborated with our Publishing House uninterruptedly from 1971 until a few days ago, working as an editor and screenwriter,” notes Sergio Bonelli Editore in their tribute. “His first stories for what was not yet called Sergio Bonelli Editore were for Zagor and Mister No, characters he did not abandon even after Martin Mystère’s landed on newsstands. Later, he also wrote for Dylan Dog and Nathan Never (orchestrating crossovers between the characters mentioned, and Detective dell’Impossibile), for Ken Parker.”

A professional journalist, Alfredo published numerous essays on the history of comics and popular literature, deepening the knowledge of the origin of comics. He was also a writer for film, television and radio author and screenwriter. His more than fifty-year comic book career was recently summarised and told in an exhibition that debuted at Lucca Comics & Games in 2022, before travelling to Milan and Pordenone.

He won Yellow Kid awards in 1970 and 1996 at Lucca Comics & Games , the best Italian scriptwriter awards in 1998, 2001 and 2007, and the ‘Gran Guinigi Award’ for Maestro del fumetto in 2015. He was also an expert comics historian and researcher, from the early origins to overlooked aspects, including ‘Fumettisti d’invenzione’, a fascinating study of cartoonists and their comics invented for films, TV and other media.

“I met Alfredo several times, in Lucca, Napoli and other festivals,” comics archivist, promoter, writer and publisher Paul Gravett notes, “and he was always warm, charming and brimming with enthusiasm for the medium. He will be hugely missed by many.”

“Alfredo Castelli’s artistic and intellectual heritage is enormous, and for this reason naturally very heavy,” say the team at Sergio Bonelli Editore. “If those who have been lucky enough to be next to him remember his fabulous verve and his perennial good humor, the many readers who have known him only thanks to the printed pages are left with many comic book stories and countless essays and articles. And these will stay with us forever.”

Martin Mystére, the creation of Alfredo Castelli
Martin Mystére, the creation of Alfredo Castelli

Sergio Bonelli Editore: Adido ad Alfredo Castelli (article in Italian)

• Fumettologica, 7th February 2023: È morto Alfredo Castelli, sceneggiatore simbolo del fumetto popolare italiano (tribute in Italian)

• Fumettologica, 20th January 2020: Il fumetto di Alfredo Castelli fatto con le fotocopie delle mille lire (article in Italian)
A report on Alfredo’s two-page horror comic, ‘The Dream of the Old Musician’, which he devised by using a 1,000 lire Italian banknote for the images!

• Lambiek Profile: Alfredo Castelli

• bari-e: Ritorna “Il segreto di San Nicola”: il “fumetto cult” della Bonelli – Intervista all’autore Alfredo Castelli
An interview from 2021 marking the return of Martin Mystère in deluxe editons

Categories: Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

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