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Lorenzo Mattotti, Grand Master of comics

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The prizes of Lucca Comics (Gran Guinigi and Yellow Kid), an event that ended on November 1st, are like those of certain film festivals or even the Nobel Prizes for Literature: however much you follow comics, of any kind, you it is always some prize-winner who raises the question “Who is this?”

Probably aware of the perplexities that sometimes their choices can cause, the organizers of the fair for some years have established the Maestro del Comics award given to an author of undisputed fame and value.

And so, in the midst of comics generally little known if not unknown (with the due exceptions as a masterpiece, albeit sui generis, such as “Rusty Brown” by Chris Ware edited by Coconino, awarded this year with the Yellow Kid ), the title of Master of Comics awarded to Lorenzo Mattotti stands out.

The cartoonist born in Brescia who has lived in Paris for years has received this sort of Oscar for his career, in the past given to authors of undisputed value, Italian or foreign, such as Leiji Matsumoto, Albert Uderzo, Alfredo Castelli, Gipi, Silver. Or like him.

Born in 1954, he is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator (even abroad, for example at the Comicon in San Diego), he has created very important works (graphic novels we would call them now) such as ‹‹Fuochi››. (1984), “The man in the window”. (1992, texts by Lilia Ambrosi), ‹‹Stigmata›› (1999), ‹● Jekyll & Hyde ››. (2002, text by Jerry Kramsky, friend and collaborator), ‹‹Ghirlanda››. (2017, again with Kramsky). He was the second master of Italian comics (after Milo Manara in a history of the world of Sandman) to collaborate with the well-known writer Neil Gaiman in his new version of Hansel and Gretel released in 2014.

For the occasion, as part of the collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, the Uffizi Gallery and Lucca Comics & Games, for the exhibition “Comics in museums – The self-portraits of the Uffizi” Florentine museum (which then, like the other fifty-two self-portraits that compose it, will expand the collection of the Uffizi Galleries).

Just before Lucca Comics, the volume ‹‹Periferica›› was released in bookstores (by Rizzoli Lizard), which collects his short stories released between 1974 and 1980, some based on screenplays by Antonio Tettamanti and Fabrizio Ostani (when he was still signed with his real name and not Jerry Kramsky).

It is the first style Mattotti who, influenced by American underground authors such as Roberto Crumb, tries to tell the Italian reality in comics, something that at the time almost nobody did, at least in realistic comics (you could see, in some ways, in Alan Ford, Jacovitti and in some Disney stories).

Shortly afterwards he would reach success with ‹‹Fuochi›› but, as he himself says in the introduction of the volume, «I was still very far from the style of” Fuochi “, yet, despite the many imperfections, how much energy, how much enthusiasm, how much naive unconsciousness in that language that for my generation was still to be discovered ››. In ‹‹Periferica›› there is a squalid reality told with great energy and spontaneity, without filters.

He had declared to La Stampa in an interview a few years ago: “” The man at the window “(published by Feltrinelli in 1992), was the first true Italian graphic novel, in the sense of a comic novel published by a publisher of varies. If you need to read more comics let’s call them graphic novels, drawn literature, the name matters little. In recent years, comics have been experiencing a fruitful period of development, as language opens up to new experiences, such as reportage (think for example of Joe Sacco’s works), experiences that were in the making when I started. This shows that comics are always a very lively language close to contemporaneity ››.

Words still valid now.

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