'Bobo' (Bobo #8, 1977).

Sergio Cavina was an Italian comic artist and illustrator, best known for creating Bobo Bunny, mascot of the Dutch toddler magazine Bobo. Cavina drew the adventures of the blue bunny and his family and friends between 1968 and 1994, entertaining generations of children, both in the Netherlands and - through international editions - abroad.

Bobo Bunny
Introduced in Bobo's first issue on 6 January 1968, Bobo (Bobo Bunny, in English) is a playful blue bunny with a green quiff and red shirt with a big white B. His initial adventures took place in two or three-page picture stories with text captions, before moving to the back page in 1981. The other bunny characters are his parents, sister Krabbel (Scribbler), Tante Pieta Secuur (Auntie Justso), Oom Slokop (Uncle Muncher) and other kid characters like Lees-Voor (Read-to-me), Tsjoek-Tsjoek (Watch-the-trains) and Boemsi (Baby). Only in 1981 did Sergio Cavina and the story writers receive a credit byline. In the 1960s, the original concept and stories came from IPC editor Barbara Hayes. During the 1980s, the main writers of the feature were Corinne van Moorselaar and Ruud Straatman, who introduced the character Tjerk as Bobo's best friend.

Dutch (#7, 1969) and British (28 August 1970) version of Bobo.

Bobo magazine - publication history
Bobo magazine started out as an international co-production between IPC in the UK, Dami Editore in Italy and De Spaarnestad (part of the VNU group) in The Netherlands. IPC provided the concept and production, Piero Dami's team - including Sergio Cavina - did most of the artwork and De Spaarnestad printed all the international editions. First launched in 1968 as a weekly magazine in the Netherlands, Bobo contained illustrated stories, comic strips (usually in text comic format, with text underneath the images) and educational game and activity pages for toddlers. In 1975, it became a purely Dutch publication, but still with the Italian Sergio Cavina drawing the title feature. The magazine became a biweekly in September 1985, with 40 separate issues distributed annually to primary schools. Publication continued through De Spaarnestad's parent company VNU until 2001, when the magazine division was bought over by the Finnish publisher Sanoma. Since 2009, Bobo is published by Blink, publisher of educational children's magazines.

Shortly after the launch, the VNU group syndicated Bobo magazine to other countries. A British edition called Bobo Bunny appeared as a joint production by VNU and IPC between 1969 and 1973. Around the same period, the VNU's German partner Kauka Verlag published Bobo under the title Bobbi, but this version also only lasted a couple of years. More enduring was the Indonesian edition, also called Bobo, published by Grafmedia since 14 April 1973. In South Africa, Bobo appeared in English (as 'Bobo') and Afrikaans (as 'Bollie'). All these editions prominently featured Sergio Cavina's illustrations and picture stories, making him one of the most widely distributed Italian comic artists, although still largely unknown by the general public. On online message boards, Cavina's drawings are still fondly remembered by Indonesian readers.

'Bobo' backcover strip (Bobo #40, 1982).

Sergio Cavina - illustrator
Even though Cavina created one of the most enduring and recognizable characters for young children in the Netherlands and Indonesia, not much is known about his life and career. Between 1980 and 1982, he illustrated several of Aesop's Fables for the Dutch Donald Duck weekly, translated by Dutch children's book author Rindert Kromhout van der Meer. For Piero Dami Editore in Italy, he illustrated fairy tale collections and DIY books, including 'Tante Idee per Giocare' by Luca Zanini (1981).

Illustration for the Aesop fable 'The Frog and the Ox' (Donald Duck #24, 1980).

Bobo in the post-Cavina period
An unconfirmed rumor says that Sergio Cavina died several years before his official 1994 retirement from the 'Bobo' comic. His family members had another anonymous artist continue the feature without knowledge of the publisher, explaining the strong style differences in the final years of Cavina's run. After 1994, Cavina was officially succeeded by Valeria Turati, who drew Bobo throughout the remainder of the decade. After Turati came short stints by the Italian illustrators Anna Falcetti and Andrea Da Rold, as well as the Dutchman Edgar van der Kuip. Since the early 2000s, the Dutch Tekenteam studio is responsible for most Bobo's illustrations and character (re)designs. For many years, Euclides Miyaura and Silvio Spotti of the Brazilian Magic Eye Studio drew the back cover comic strip, until around 2012 Tekenteam's Mark Spruijt took over that production as well. By then, the comic's focus shifted to Bobo's dog Frommel. Writers of the 'Bobo' comic in the post-Cavina period have been Piet Zeeman, the duo Ron Schröder & Marianne Buster, Pascal Oost, Eric Hercules and Maya Frijn.

'Bobo' (Bobo #40, 1969).

Series and books by Sergio Cavina you can order today:


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