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Artist's biography
Anthologic exhibition
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Sergio Toppi was born in Milan in 1932. He was only eight years old when he assisted to the tragic events of the Second World War and then to the conflicts among partisans and fascists. Toppi, an autodidactic illustrator, published his first works on the new edition of the Mondadori’s “Enciclopedia dei ragazzi” in 1954. After three years, he started working at the Pagot animation studios, where he gave his contribution on many animated advertisings. He started collaborating with “Corriere dei Piccoli” magazine in 1960, where he created Mago Zurlì, a character inspired by the television presenter Cino Tortorella. His turning point to historical themes is represented by the first comics scripted by Mino Milani, drawn by Toppi in a way not personalized yet but influenced by authors like Battaglia. Starting from 1960, Toppi’s style evolved. His vignettes became more and more filled of his thick, nervous and full of textures sign, leaving little space to white.
It was in Seventies, when he collaborated with Daim Press and Cepim, that the stylistic revolution that made Toppi’s works unmistakable happened. Two crucial episodes happened in 1974. First, Rino Albertarelli, the author of Herman Lehmann. L'indiano bianco died before his work was completed and so Bonelli editions gave Toppi the task to end the work. Toppi did it without imitating Albertarelli’s style. The second episode is the meeting with padre Giovanni Colasanti, director of “Messaggero dei ragazzi”, who gave Toppi the opportunity to express himself in an absolutely free way on his weekly magazine. Starting from this period, the white space in Toppi’s works is not an empty part of the page but has the value of sign, as the black colour. Then, the anxiety of the small squares that contain the cartoons breaks definitely and the figures are able to rise all over the table. So, the traditional frame disappears and it is replaced by the borders of the table. After the experience with “Messaggero dei ragazzi”, Toppi moved from historical novels to magic and dream state novels.
In 1975 he was awarded with the prestigious “Yellow Kid” prize for the best Italian cartoonist of the year at the International Comics Show of Lucca. Then, the author realized three stories for “Un uomo, un’avventura” (A man, an adventure), edited by Cepim: L'uomo del Nilo (1976), L'uomo del Messico (1977) and L'uomo delle paludi (1978). He even worked with “Orient Express” creating the adventures of Il Collezionista (The collector), one of the two serial characters that he created. The other character is the fascinating Sharaz-de in 1977. Then he drew some covers and some war stories for “Sgt. Kirk” magazine. What is more, he has been collaborating with “Il Giornalino” weekly magazine since 1976. In that period, Oreste del Buono wanted Toppi to collaborate with Edizioni Milano Libri. The author started to publish fantasy stories on “Alter Alter” magazine, such as Little Big Horn 1875 and Sacsahuaman. He also realized some episodes of Julia, Nick Raider e Martin Mystère with Sergio Bonelli Editore and some short stories published on “Ken Parker Magazine”.
Sergio Toppi is known in foreign countries thanks to some episodes drawn for L'histoire de France en bandes dessineès edited by Larousse and La dècouverte du monde en bandes dessineès. Some of his major fansare also foreigners: Frank Miller, Tom Palmer, Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, some of the most esteemed authors by critics and audiences.
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