Angelo Raffaele Todaro|
Born in the Province of Taranto (Italy) in 1945, I transferred to Rome at the beginning of the 1960s in order to attend the Artistic High School since Taranto at the time did not have such an establishment.
In 1964 I entered the world of cartooning, drawing for a local editor the plate panels of a new book entitled "Gordon Schott" that is along the same lines as the Italian comic strip "Diabolik" and then later "Alika", a satirical science fiction comic strip.
In 1967 I started collaborating with the "Fratelli Spada Editori", publisher in Ciampino near Rome. For this publishing house I drew primarily stories of "Mandrake" because in Italy there was not a sufficient number of editions to meet the demand for this hugely popular series. In the following two years therefore there were a large number of episodes of Mandrake printed as well as a few books of "L’Uomo Mascherato" ("The Phantom" in the USA) and a few episodes of "Rip Kirby", Alex Raymond’s character, (I signed these with the pseudonym Al Todd) always published by "Fratelli Spada Editori".
In these years I was contacted by Studio Giolitti, a Roman comic strip agency. Alberto Giolitti, a renowned artist, had started drawing important comic strips, first in South America and later in the U.S.A. these were edited also in Italy. He was well known in the field for his very original and decisive style. At the beginning of the 1960’s Giolitti returned to Rome and opened his agency thanks to the contacts he had made in the States.
Alberto first discovered me and then asked me to work with him. I remember that encounter very well for it changed my life. I met him in Via Cutigliano in Rome and to crown our future collaboration he offered me a shot of whiskey. That was the first whiskey of my life, I was very young.
I had been drawing American comics for several years and was inspired by the great Alex Raymond and Frank Robbins for different reasons. Alex was a pro at portraits and outlines and Frank a pro at chiaroscuro. During that period I purchased other American comic books on Via Veneto in Rome and also the Herald Tribune for its comic strips by John Prentice (Rip Kirby) as well as other artists. Among the books I bought were some that I particularly liked, but they were not signed, for example, "Turok, son of Stone". This character I particularly liked for it was drawn in a different and new way. The characters were beautifully and particularly detailed and the landscape had great detail as well. Imagine how surprised I was to learn that the artist was Alberto Giolitti himself.
Even after having met him, one day I happened upon Western Comics printed several years prior in a style very similar to the style found in "Turok". These were "Gunsmoke" and the other was called "Have gun, will travel". I immediately showed them to Alberto and asked if he had drawn them. He answered "Yes, they are mine, I drew them while in the States" and pulled out of his closet various comic books of various types all drawn by him while in the United States. It was in that precise moment that I understood exactly who Alberto Giolitti was.
The first work I did for Alberto was "Lasso" and "Buffalo Bill" for Bastei Verlag, located in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne, and the "FBI" comic book for Moewig Verlag in Munich, both in Germany. A few years later, Alberto offered me the job with Fleetway, and so I drew war stories, printed also in Italy with the name " Collana Eroica". For the same London publisher; but the series "Tiger", I drew in the following years stories with a sports theme, for example "Martin’s Marvelous Mini", a series about two young friends who run road races with a Mini Morris.
One day I was even more impressed with his when Alberto called me over to his studio and showed me some objects that had just arrived from the States, from Western Publishing: there was a box with a model space ship, the Enterprise, and other science fiction objects.
«Angelo, you have to help me – he said – you have to assemble this model…».
«What is it?».
«The Star Trek spaceship. Assemble it…». Alberto also knew my hobby was assembling models and how I loved it.
Alberto had been drawing the Star Trek comic books for years, which were the take off on the very popular television series in the States since 1966. He had been drawing these comics without having seen a single show, just with the pictures that the editor had sent him. Now, the models had arrived which in the States were in every toy store.
But Alberto said even more. He needed me to help him draw "Star Trek". He wanted me to draw it in pencil and he would have redone it in ink. I took pictures of the Enterprise model from every angle and went even further. From the pictures that Alberto had given me, I created the model of the inside of the circular command station so that I could take a picture from every angle to be drawn in order to cover all the action places.
Later Alberto asked me to do the pencil work of "Turok". So, for these two works I drew in pencil various albums that are later inked by Giolitti and other artists.
However, doing the pencil drawing of Star Trek and Turok game me the opportunity of getting to know Alberto better and to create a tighter friendship with him. I also starter to spend time at his house in EUR where he lived with Joan, his wife and two children, and then also in Santa Marinella, which is a beach resort near Rome, when he later went to live there with Nicole, whom he had married after Joan had passed away.
Ours was a long lasting and consolidated friendship that also gave me the possibility of traveling with him and also go sailing with him. He loved sailing.
Even after I moved to Taranto, in the south of Italy, and got married I returned often to Rome to see Alberto and his wife and would stay at his house. I continued to work for the Studio Giolitti until the end.
Contemporary to the foreign production, I produced for Italy a series of comic books for the Editors Ediperiodici, signing them with the pseudonym Paul Bennett. In the 1970s through 1990s I drew the stories of "Oltretomba", "Terror", "Terror Blu" and a series of other comics of this genera.
Currently, I draws strips for tourist magazines on themes concerning the environment, sports, history and fantasy.
I am also a writer of well researched historical non fiction having written such books as "Hitler, the Prelude"; "Total Weapon", journalistic narrative taken from documents only recently declassified, and from the testimonies of the protagonists of the story of the epic race for the atomic bomb from the beginning in 1938 to its conclusion in 1945 with the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; "Tobruk", "El Alamein", and "Rommel and the Italians in North Africa".
Presently I am engaged in writing and illustrating "Taras, the history of Taranto and Rome at the time of Magna Grecia", illustrated with many drawings, the birth and development of these two great cities of the past, one Greek and the other Latin. These two cities inevitably went to war over political and economic supremacy. Two wars, the first that if Pyhrus and then that of Hannibal brought about the decline of Taranto; until then the dominant power in Magna Grecia. Rome’s fortune was winning those wars for at that point Aphrodite’s magic started to work when the lance was broken and the helmet and shield were laid down. Here began the Hellinization of Rome in its customs and mores (many Tarantini and Greeks moved to Rome) and turned Rome into that great city of the Caesars that the whole world knows and admires.