Massimo Liorni was a multifaceted artist, writer and editor for several Italian children's comic books of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Piccolo Boy, Carioca and Bang!.. He worked mainly with publishers Gabriele Gioggi and Giuseppe Vita, before joining the staff of Fratelli Spada, where he oversaw collections with classic comic characters.

Early life and career
Born in Rome in 1935, Massimo Liorni began his career at age 19, working for the publishing imprints of Gabriele Gioggi, subsequently Adriana and Flaminia Nuova. At Adriana, he was initially appointed "editor-in-chief". It was a high-sounding title that concealed the duties of an artistic handyman. He wrote scripts, provided artwork and coordinated the work of the other artists and writers for Gioggi's titles. Many of his contributions were anonymous or made under pseudonyms such as Simo, Franco Carini, Lima, Limas and Max Liorn.

Work for Gabriele Gioggi
One of the early titles he edited was the sci-fi comic book 'Mondi Astrali' (four issues, 1955), with script by Jack Bolton and art by Guido Buzzelli. He created and composed a puzzle magazine for kids, called Lo Sai o Non lo Sai? ("You Know it or you Don't", 1956). In this magazine, in addition to writing and drawing, he carried out interviews with famous celebrities from show business. The magazine also contained comic strips by Annibale Casabianca.

'Puccio', funny animal story for 'Fantasia del Buonumore' (1955).

Liorni wrote the first three issues of the biographical comic book series 'I Grandi Esploratori' (1958), about famous explorers (art by V. Canevari), as well as issues #46 through #48 of 'Buffalo Bill' (art by Tullo Palasciano). He notably wrote and drew many features for the publishers children's publications. In the funny animal comic book Frugolino, he was present with 'Negretto Tom' (1955-1956) and 'Prosciuttino', both drawn by Raoul Buzzelli. He additionally contributed stand-alone stories with the artist Fernando Bonomini, who used the pen name F. Bines. Liorni and Bonomini also collaborated on the feature 'Il Tesoro della Zitella' ("The Spinster's Treasure"), which was serialized in Miciolino in 1959. Early funny animal artwork by Liorni appeared in the comic book 'Fantasia del Buonumore', published as a supplement to Gatto Felix ('Felix the Cat') in 1955.

Massimo Liorni oversaw the funny cowboy book Bang! (1959-1960) and the kids' comic Piccolo Boy (1959-1960), and provided their cover illustrations, as well as the feature 'Birimobo' (in Piccolo Boy). In 1959 or 1960, he wrote and drew the children's adventure comic book 'Lillo e Lallo nell'Isola Misteriosa' ("Lillo and Lallo on the Mysterious Island"), which also contained his comic strip 'Natalino' (made under the pseudonym Franco Carini). A second adventure called 'Vacanze allegre di Lillo e Lallo' (1960) was published by Mario Nerbini in the 'Avventure Americane' collection.

He drew the features 'Carioca', 'Bul e Leporottino' and 'Abracadabra' for Gioggi's funny animal title Carioca (1960), and served as cover artist for Lupettino, starring the character created by Lorenzo Castellari. Massimo Liorno was a scriptwriter for the Gioggi productions Piccolo Crockett ("Young Davy Crockett", 1959-1960), Frizzolo, Petronio, Pulcinella and the magazine for young girls Bambola, edited by Onofrio Bramante. One of his other comic features during this time period was 'Papotto'. Still working for Gabriele Gioggi, this time with Edizioni Flaminia Nuova, he established the Studio di Simo in 1962. It coordinated the scripts, artwork and editing of the magazines Lupettino, Puffi, Miciolino and Frugolino. It is however believed that Liorni did most of the work himself.

S.E.A.T. Edizioni
Also in the early 1960s, he teamed up with typographer Giuseppe Vita to create S.E.A.T. Edizioni. The company brought back comic books starring 'Braccio di Ferro' (Bud Sagendorf's 'Popeye') and 'Johnny Azzardo' (Frank Robbins' 'Johnny Hazzard') to the Italian newsstands. Again, Liorni provided much of the cover artwork, often traced from American originals. Liorni also operated as agent for several Spanish artists, including Jésus Blasco, whose work he translated and edited for the Italian and French markets. One of the Spanish comics published by S.E.A.T. was the western comic book 'Ringo' (1966), which also had cover artwork by Liorni.

Fratelli Spada
With such a productive background, he was asked by Fratelli Spada Editori in Rome to take the role of editor and coordinator, around the mid-1960s. Fratelli Spada was the publisher of Italian comic magazines starring 'The Phantom', 'Mandrake', 'Prince Valiant', 'Rip Kirby' and other US comics series. Liorni oversaw the launch of many publications (both comics and otherwise), among which a prestigious 'I Quaderni del Fumetto' collection (1973-1977), which alternated between books with classic Italian comic characters and ones with international heroes. For this series, he adapted Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick' to the comics format, drawn by Franco Caprioli (volume #20, 1976). Liorni is also believed to be the illustrator of 'Un'evasione nella Giungla' (1962), the 20th issue of the Italian 'Phantom' title ('L'Uomo Mascherato').

Final years
Massimo Liorni continued to work for Fratelli Spada until his retirement. In 2008, he self-published his autobiography under the title 'Etti di fumo in scatole cinesi' ("Hectares of Smoke in Chinese Boxes"). He passed away in Rome in early January 2014. His son is Italian radio and TV host/scriptwriter Marco Liorni (1965).

'Piccolo Boy'.

Luca Boschi about Massimo Liorni

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