Gim Toro by Edgardo Dell'Acqua

Edgardo Dell'Acqua was one of the classic artists of Italian adventure serials, which came to blossom in comic magazines like L'Audace and Il Vittorioso in the 1930s and 1940s. He was at the top of his production with the action comic book 'Gim Toro' in the second half of the 1940s. As the market changed, he worked on small-format western comic books in the 1950s, and on adult-oriented erotic comic books in the 1960s and 1970s. He has mainly worked for publishing houses from his hometown Milan.

Dell'Acqua studied painting at art school, and was initially an assistant for painter Alberto Vassallo on the production of film posters. Dell'Acqua made his first comic story at the age of 20 under the guidance of Antonio Rubino. This story, 'Mario e Furio nell'Africa misteriosa' was published in I Tre Porcellini in 1936. Around the same period, he was one of the illustrators of the children's magazine II Cartoccino dei Piccoli. He also made several stories for the children's magazine Il Corriere dei Piccoli, such as 'Storia di Francesco Matteo Maciò', 'Fiamme sul Polo' and 'L'' Invasione di Milano'.

Il Re Del Mare, by Edgardo Dell'Acqua (1939)
'Il Re Del Mare' (adaptation of the Salgari novel, 1939).

He subsequently began his collaboration with the boys' magazine L'Audace, which appeared from 1934 to 1944 and had Rino AlbertarelliFederico PedrocchiWalter Molino and Carlo Cossio as main authors. Dell'Acqua illustrated the feature 'Capitan L'Audace' (1939) from scripts by Pedrocchi and Molino, and he later also drew the serials 'L'Aquila del Mare' (1940-1941) and 'Il Cavaliere dell'Aria' (script Giorgio Landi, 1940-1941). He also made realistic comics serials for the Mondadori Disney magazines Paperino and Topolino. In Paperino, he drew 'Diavolo' (script by Pedrocchi, 1939), and for Topolino, he made 'Il Bandito Dell'Amba Uork' (with Luigi Motta, 1937) and the Emilio Salgari adaptation 'Il Re Del Mare' (1938-1939). He succeeded Kurt Caesar on the serial 'Il Mozzo del Sommergibile' (1941) and subsequently drew the sequel 'La Grande Crociera' (1941-1942), both from a script by Pedrocchi.

For Il Vittorioso and its book collections, he drew 'Amazzonia Selvaggia' (story by A. Lanza, 1940), 'Le Belve del Circo' (with Piero Salvatico, 1942) and 'Il Gambero Nero' (story Gian Luigi Bonelli, late 1940s). Dell'Acqua's art also appeared in the monthly Giornale dei Viaggi e delle Avventure ('Banditi ed eroi', 1937) and in the collections of Edizioni Juventus ('La Torre Magnetica', 'Nelle Linee Nemiche', both in 1940). In the early days of World War II, Dell'Acqua also got a call to arms. He served in the army as an expert on goniometry. In 1942-1943 he also drew some wartime propaganda comics for Mondadori. The artist later recalled that the war period was a difficult time for comic artists, mainly because of provisions and limitations from above.

Gim Toro, by Edgardo Dell'Acqua
'Gim Toro'. 

After the war, Dell'Acqua created his best-known work with writer Andrea Lavezzolo, starring crime-fighter 'Gim Toro'. The original series was created for the publishers Agostino Della Casa and Gino Casarotti in 1946. The character was initially modelled after Clark Gable, but he gradually lost his moustache and obtained the looks of another popular actor of the time, Tyrone Power. The stories were set in San Francisco and portrayed the hero in his battles against a powerful international crime organization. The feature even gained popularity in other European countries (it is known as France as 'Jim Taureau'), and continued to be reprinted by Italian publishers like Edizioni Juventus (Collana Avventure e Mistero, 1946), Edizioni Mediolanum (1950) and Dardo (several series throughout the 1950s). Later stories in the series also featured artwork by Antonio Canale, Carlo Cossio, Giuseppe Cappadonia and Giuseppe Perego.

Besides 'Gim Toro', Dell'Acqua also drew for several landscape format-shaped western comic books by Dardo, such as 'I Tre Desperados' (7 issues in 1951), 'James Dyan' (a western hero with the looks of James Dean, 42 issues written by Renzo Barbieri, 1960-1961) and its follow-up 'Dick Cheyenne' (36 issues, 1961). He furthermore drew the 'Janko' feature in Capitan Miki (1960-1961) and covers for the western comic books Ardito (1952) and Kinowa. Although mainly an artist for boys' publications, he was also present in the girls' magazine Campi Elisi with the story 'Fatalità' in cooperation with Harry Lavratt (1948), and he made the feature 'Toni Pianna' with Vincenzo Baggioli for the sports magazine Sportivetto (1946).

I Tre Desperados

Dell'Acqua continued to work on adventure comics in the first half of the 1960s. Dell'Acqua drew over 20 installments in the collection Albi dell'Intrepido between 1962 and 1968. For Edizioni Bianconi, he drew the final issues of the western serial 'I Magnifici 4' (1964), as well as back-up stories in the comic book 'Joe Missouri' by Floriano Bozzi (Edizioni Bianconi, 1964). Between 1965 and 1966 he drew sixteen issues of the comic book series about masked master thief 'Diabolik' (a character created by Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962) for Edizioni Juventus.

From the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, the artist turned to more adult-oriented comic books with scantily clad ladies, mostly for the publishing imprints of Renzo Barbieri (Edifumetti, Ediperiodici, Geis). He drew the first nine issues of 'Messalina, dea dell'amore' (1966-1967), a pocket-sized comic book set in Ancient Rome. Later artists of the series were Athos Cozzi, Eros Kara, Studio Rosi (Gaspare De Fiore, Santo D'Amico), Studio Montanari, Armando Bonato and Studio Nicola Del Principe. In the 1970s, his art appeared in similar pulp publications by Barbieri like Lo Scheletro, Sexy Favole and Orror. He also drew many covers for the erotic comic book La Vergine Nera by La Terza Editrice around 1970. His art also appeared in the erotic comic books by Galassia, such as Black Virgin, Catherine and Emanuel.

Having lost much of his interest in the comics profession, he gradually dropped out of the scene in the mid-1970s. Edgardo Dell'Acqua passed away in 1986, nevertheless leaving behind him an impressive body of work.

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