L'Astronave Perduta, by Luigi Corteggi
'L'Astronave Perduta'.

Luigi Corteggi was an Italian comic artist, art director, painter and illustrator. Although he has worked as an artist on several comic book series himself, he is best remembered for his work "behind the scenes". Widely praised were his elegant header designs and cover illustrations for titles by Editoriale Corno and Sergio Bonelli Editore. The master art director oversaw production of many of Bonelli's leading comic books, including 'Ken Parker', 'Mister No', 'Martin Mystère' and 'Dylan Dog'. He is also known under the pen name "Cortez".

Kriminal cover by Luigi CorteggiSatanik cover by Luigi Corteggi

Early life and career
Born in 1933 in Milan, Luigi Corteggi attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. He subsequently worked as a commercial artist, running his own advertising studio for five years. He made his first artwork for the publishing industry in 1961, drawing the humorous back-up feature 'Banana e Penny' for Albi dell'Intrepido by Editrice Universo.

Editoriale Corno
By 1965 he began a fruitful collaboration with Editoriale Corno, mainly as a cover and logo designer. Besides Corno's original comic books, most of which created by Max Bunker, he also provided original artwork to their licensed superhero titles from Marvel Comics. After illustrating the final two episodes of Bunker's 'Maschera Nera' (#13 and #14 of the second series), Corteggi did his most notable work as a cover artist for the noir series 'Kriminal' and 'Satanik', both until 1974. He also inked and occasionally pencilled episodes for these series, mimicking the style of the original artist Magnus ('Kriminal' issues #32, #379, #381, #419 and 'Satanik' issues #51, #85, #97).

Kriminal by Luigi Corteggi
Kriminal #32 - 'Suspense oltre Cortina'.

Corteggi later pencilled and inked episodes of the space opera 'Gesebel' (#19, #21, #22, #23 in 1966-1967) and the humorous series 'Alan Ford' (inks in #65, #71, #76 in 1974), while he also illustrated the first ten covers of the latter series. His art furthermore graced the covers of mostly shorter lived titles such as 'I Classici del Suspense' (1964-1965), 'La Primula Verde' (1964-1965), 'Carovana' (1965), 'Guerra di Spie' (1965), 'Lex et Justitia' (1965-1968), 'Marines' (1966), 'D'Artagnan' (1969), 'El Gringo' (1965-1968), 'Servizio Segreto' (1966), 'I Racconti dell'Impossibile' (1967), 'I Supervalorosi' (1967) and 'Milord' (1968). He also illustrated the interiors of 'Lex et Justitia' issues #29 and #41, and he did the covers and graphic arts for the short-lived magazine SMACK! (a supplement of Eureka, 1968). In 1969 he also illustrated the adult-oriented western 'Thomas - L'Oro di Blackfork' for Editrice Augusta. A second issue was announced, but never published.

Gesebel cover by Luigi CorteggiAlan Ford cover by Luigi Corteggi

Sergio Bonelli
Corteggi left Corno in 1975 to become art director at Sergio Bonelli Editore, replacing Raffaele Cormio. In this capacity, he oversaw the entire graphical part of the production process, and was the main contact person for new talent. He also remained active as a graphic designer, providing the headers and title designs for most of the leading Bonelli books, such as 'Ken Parker', 'Mister No', 'Martin Mystère', 'Dylan Dog', 'Nick Raider' and 'Nathan Never'. Corteggi was also instrumental in the comics collections 'Un Uomo un'Avventura' and 'America', while replacing Franco Donatelli as the regular cover illustrator for 'Il Piccolo Ranger' from 1976 to 1979 (issues #146 through #185). In the 1980s he drew the comics story 'L'Astronave Perduta', the only science fiction installment in Bonelli's collection 'Collana Rodeo', from a script by Giorgio Pezzin. He continued his post as art director for over 20 years, often working in collaboration with Michele Pepe.

Cover for Il Piccolo Ranger 170 by Luigi CorteggiMeteor & Co by Luigi Corteggi

Later comics work
Corteggi additionally worked for the children's magazine Il Giornalino of Edizioni San Paolo (1976) and he made a celebrity comic strip starring Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni ('Roberto & C.', 1981) with writer Enrico Borgatti for the Italian listings weekly TV Sorrisi e Canzoni through Agenzia Borgatti. These strips were collected in the booklet 'Benigni a Strisce' (1981) by Play Press. He later drew the comic book about astronomy 'Meteor & Co' (2000) for Mercury Editoriale.

Illustration work
Outside of the comic industry, Corteggi made illustrations for humorous postcards and graphic arts for magazines, encyclopedias and scientific publications. In the 1980s he worked for some Milanese amusement arcades, designing video games and pinball machines. He was furthermore active as a painter, and regularly exhibited his work, often in the Libreria Mondadori on the Via Trotti in Alessandria. Even though he is mainly known for his comics work, the artist considered himself "a painter lent out to comics". His fondly remembered header and logo designs were honored in the books 'Luigi Corteggi - Un pittore prestato al fumetto' (Glamour International, 1994) and 'Cortez - La grafica di Corteggi dalla Corno alla Bonelli' (Edizioni IF, 2005)'.

Luigi Corteggi spent his final years in the small town of Frassinello Monferrato in the province of Alessandria, and passed away in Casorzo in July 2018 at the age of 85.

Cover of 'Cortez - La grafica di Corteggi dalla Corno alla Bonelli', with some samples of his header designs for Bonelli
Cover of 'Cortez - La grafica di Corteggi dalla Corno alla Bonelli', with some samples of his header designs for Bonelli.

Luigi Corteggi on comiccargoteam.blogspot.com

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