Ipnos by Guido Da Passano

Andrea da Passano was a Russian-born designer, comic book artist and spiritualist, who worked for Italian comic books in the 1940s. To foreign audiences he is probably most notable for his Italian-language celebrity comics about Laurel & Hardy. 

Early life and career
He was born in 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia, as the son of marquis Eugenio da Passano and Elisabeth Saltykov, the daughter of Russian writer Mikhail Saltykov-Chtchedrine. However, in 1917 the Russian Revolution broke loose. The Communist regime limited the wealth and power of many families who previously enjoyed the luxury of nobility. Their financial losses were so severe that the family moved to Paris, France. Here Andrea da Passano (who was nicknamed Endré in France) developed his artistic skills. From age 16 on he designed costumes for shows at the famous Folies Bergères music hall revue at the Rue Richer in the 9th arrondissement. Da Passano also designed posters for the couturier Pascaud and for shows by French singer Mistinguett in the Moulin Rouge.

Illustration career
The decline of music hall after the arrival of sound films forced Da Passano into the field of illustration. He made drawings for the saucy magazine Le Sourire between 1926 and 1932, and also for a couple of books by the French novelist Félicien Champsaur and Éditions Ferenczi. In France, he is best known for his 1932 series 'Le gigolo à travers les âges'. Endré's work was often influenced by historical costume, erotica, fairy tales and mythology. Another economical crisis forced him to try his luck in London and the U.S.A., but he eventually settled in the Italian city of Genoa in 1938.

Lithograph by Endré da Passano
Lithograph from the 1920s by Endré da Passano.

Italian comics
Da Passano teamed up with philosopher Tullio Castellani to set up a spiritual centre in Milan. He also commenced his career as a comic artist, starting with the 1939 comic book about the "white Mickey Mouse" 'Codino', published in the collection Gli Albi dell'Allegria by Edital. A new version was published by Edital in the series Albo dei Bambini in 1949. Other creations for Edital include 'Barile e Sardella' and 'La Signora Coccodé'. After serving in the Italian Navy during World War II, he returned to civilian life in September 1943. Shortly afterwards he made the humorous filler feature 'Il Professor Distrattini' in Albo Audace by the publishing house Bonelli, and 'Isodoro, il bimbo che nacque da una fata' for Valsecchi (1944).

Criche e Croc by Guido Da Passano

Laurel & Hardy
By November 1946, Da Passano continued his collaboration with Casa Editrice Edital in Milan, and started to sign his work DaP. He became the main local artist for the publisher's 'Chriche e Croc' comic books, based on the famous Hollywood comedy duo Laurel & Hardy. Besides stories with the main characters in cooperation with scriptwriter Roberto Renzi (1946-48), he also created several back-up features for the comic book, such as 'La Signora Coccode' as well a revival of 'Il Professor Distrattini'.

1940s and 1950s comics
During this period, Da Passano created 'La vita nel bosco' (1946) and 'I Terribli Moschettieri' (1949). He and scriptwriter Gianluigi Bonelli were additionally responsible for the 'Ipnos' series in the Audace collection 'Gli albi del Mistero' between February and August 1947 (issues 15 through 32). He apparently headed his own DaP studio in Milan, which produced and published 'Roal, Il Tarzan del Mare' (1947-48), 'Rizza manina d'acciaio' (1948) and 'Biancaneve' (1948-49) from texts by Roberto Renzi. The booklets also featured Da Passano's back-up strip 'Il Professor Klop'. In 1948, Da Passano produced 'Bertoldino alla Corte del Gran Can', a large comic book for Edizioni E.S.A. in Milan. The artist spent the early 1950s drawing for Edital, Genio ('Zig e Zag') and Conte ('L'ABC dei Cuccioli') before heading for Mexico to work on an education program for UNESCO.

Roal by Guido da Passano

Move to Mexico
In Mexico, he also set up a cultural centre in Chapultepec, and also worked as a graphic designer for companies like Chocolatera Larin, Ford, Palmolive, Gillette, Chevrolet, General Motors, Fab and Pepsi Cola. For the advertisements of the latter, he designed the character of 'Pepe Pepsicolero'. Between 1961 and 1966 he also taught cultural sociology at the University of Guadalajara, while making illustrations for Editorial Novarro.

Move to the United States
Andrea da Passano settled in Texas in 1968, and then in Los Angeles in 1977, where he founded the Temple of Esoteric Science, devoted to sexuality and magic. Da Passano, who had been a Buddhist since the 1940s, developed a yoga course called 'The Way of the Magus' and made regular appearances as an expert on esoteric subjects on TV shows like 'Tomorrow with Tom Snyder' during the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1980s he returned to his pen name DaP for his illustrations for the books 'Bolitas, el Pececito Rojo' (1980) and 'Group training for dogs' (1983). In 1984 he wrote 'White light, a story of reincarnation', and in 1987 he was co-author of 'Inner Silence'. He passed away in 1993. 

Identity
For a long time, there was some mystery surrounding the "Italian" artist called Da Passano, especially about his first name and the initials DaP. Many sources listed him as Guido Da Passano, but the name Andrea also popped up. Research by Italian comic experts Luca Boschi and Marco Pugacioff confirmed that the correct name is Andrea da Passano. An article by Angelo Luerti for the Italian magazine Charta in 2013 provided disclosure about the full range of the wide and varied career of Andrea da Passano prior to and after his tenure as a comic book artist in Italy.

Criche e Croc by Guido Da Passano

Luca Boschi's blogs on Andrea Da Passano

Series and books by Andrea Da Passano in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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