Primaggio Mantovi is an Italian-born Brazilian comic artist, writer, editor and studio manager, who has been instrumental for Brazilian children's comics from the 1960s through the 1990s. As a production artist for Rio Gráfica Editora he made local stories with 'Rocky Lane' (1965-1968) and Mort Walker's 'Beetle Bailey' (1968-1971). He also created his own circus clown 'Sacarrolha' (1972) for this company, who appeared in comic and activity books, newspapers and his own merchandising line. From the 1970s through the 1990s Mantovi served in the production department of Editorial Abril. After a stint as an artist and writer of Disney comics, he became the manager of Abril's Disney story production, and eventually the company's entire children's comics line. Mantovi additionally created the newspaper comic 'Dr. Zôo, O Veterinário' (1976) about a veterinarian. 

Early life and career
Primaggio Mantovi was born in 1945 in San Vito dei Normanni, a town in the Italian province Brindisi. His first encounter with comics happened through the Italian Disney magazine Topolino. Unable to make ends meet in post-war Italy, father Mantovi was invited by a brother-in-law to settle in Brazil. On 9 August 1954 Mantovi's father and his family arrived in the port of Rio de Janeiro. Mantovi took a quick course in advertising, but ended up in Brazil's comic book industry instead. He ranked among his influences John Cullen Murphy, Alex Toth and Josè Luis Salinas for realistic art, and Carl Barks, Paul Murry, Floyd Gottfredson, Dik Browne, Mort Walker and Bill Watterson for caricatural work. Mantovi also admires the Italian artists Giorgio Cavazzano, Giovan Battista Carpi, Eleuteri Serpieri, Ivo Milazzo and Milo Manara.

Rio Gráfica Editora
In 1964, at age 19, the young self-taught artist found employment with the publishing house Rio Gráfica Editora (RGE). Along with fellow production artists like Walmir Amaral de Oliveira, Mantovi was initially tasked with retouching US comic pages to the format of RGE's comic books. The team also provided the books with original cover illustrations, and made illustrations for advertisements. Among the titles with Mantovi cover art are 'James Bond', 'Buffalo Bill', 'Águia Negra' ('Sir Falcon'), 'Don Chicote' ('Lash Larue'), 'Nick Holmes' ('Rip Kirby'), 'Capitão Marvel' ('Captain Marvel') and 'Príncipe Valente' ('Prince Valiant'). Mantovi eventually switched to full story art, starting with the comic book series based on US western actor Rocky Lane (1965-1968). Between 1968 and 1971 he wrote and drew about fifty original stories with Mort Walker's clumsy private 'Beetle Bailey', called 'Recruta Zero' in Brazil. Mantovi also drew stories with the Italian puppet character 'Topo Gigio' (1969-1971).

Rocky Lane - 'A Seita dos Vingadores'.

Work for other publishers
Mantovi additionally made 'Beetle Bailey' stories for Editora Saber, where Walker's creation appeared under the title 'Zé, o Soldado Raso'. For Saber he illustrated the sole locally produced story of 'The Captain and the Kids', the American newspaper comic created by Rudolph Dirks. Mantovi provided cover illustrations for horror publications by Editora Taika of São Paulo, and for a series of crime books in the collection 'Enigma'. He also developed a circus clown for one of Saber's magazines, but the project never went in production as Primaggio Mantovi was appointed head of the art department of Rio Gráfica Editora in 1970.

Beetle Bailey by Primaggio Mantovi

Sacarrolha (1)
By the early 1970s the Brazilian government urged publishing companies to invest in locally developed comics instead of licensed properties from abroad. RGE's editor Roberto Marinho organized a contest among his staff with the promise that the winning creation would star in its own comic book for a period of three years. Primaggio Mantovi won with his circus clown, which he named 'Sacarrolha', and whose comic book series was launched in January 1972 with a print run of 160,000 copies. The publisher even set up a campaign with animated advertisements for Brazilian television to promote the title. 36 issues appeared at RGE until December 1974, after which the character returned at Editorial Abril in its own comic book (four issues in 1975-1976) and in the anthology children's comic 'Diversões Juvenis'. Mantovi didn't take care of all the art chores. Some stories he wrote were illustrated by Fernando Bonini.

Mickey Mouse by Primaggio Mantovi
Mickey - 'Nomes Do Velho Oeste!' (Edicao Extra 55, 1973).

Abril's Disney studio
Mantovi left his staff position at RGE in mid 1972 and joined the São Paulo-based Editorial Abril to manage its "Disney school", even though he had to sit out his RGE contract for 'Sacarrolha' for the next two years. The Disney school trained young artists to participate in a local production of Disney comics, which not only focused on Mickey and Donald, but also on José Carioca, the Brazilian parrot from the Disney films 'Saludos Amigos' (1942) and 'The Three Caballeros' (1944). Among the talents who joined the team were the three brothers Moacir Rodrigues Soares, Irineu Soares Rodrigues and Verci Rodrigues De Mello, as well as Roberto Fukue, Luis Podavin, Euclides Miyaura, Eli Marcos M. Leon and Fernando Bonini. In 1978 the school was reorganized into the Estudio de Quadrinhos Disney. Together with art director Luis Podavin, Mantovi aimed to improve the overall quality of Brazilian Disney comics by making model sheets and a guidebook with character personalities.

'0.0. Duck' (00-ZÉro - A Torre Sinistra).

Disney comic artist
Mantovi's own artwork appeared regularly in the pages of both O Pato Donald and Zé Carioca between 1972 and 1978, working mostly from scripts by Ivan Saidenberg and Júlio de Andrade. He illustrated stories with 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Donald Duck', but also with the 'Beagle Brats', 'Supergoof', wacky cousin 'Fethry Duck' and the not-so-secret agent '0.0. Duck'. For his work with the latter, Mantovi tried to mimick the style of the character's original artist, Al Hubbard. Between 1973 and 1977 he scripted stories with Disney's live action hero 'Zorro', which were illustrated by Rodolfo Zalla. Between 1972 and 1975 he also drew several stories with 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Goofy' for the Studio Program of the Walt Disney Company in the USA. With Abil's new Disney studio operational in 1978, Mantovi limited himself to occasional scriptwork in the following years.

Mickey Mouse - 'A Good Night's Sleep' (Walt Disney Studio program, 1975).

Other productions in the 1970s
In addition to his regular work for Abril's Disney titles, Primaggio Mantovi wrote and drew stories for the 1970s story production with Friz Freleng's 'The Pink Panther' ('Pantera Cor-de-Rosa') for Diversões Juvenis and Hanna-Barbera's 'The Herculoids' ('Herculóides') for Heróis da TV. In 1976 he coordinated the comic books built around the Mauricio De Sousa characters 'Mônica' and 'Cebolinha', and created the characters 'Cafuné e Acácio' (1973) for Crás magazine. Outside of Abril, he wrote and drew his own newspaper comic strip about a veterinarian, called 'Dr. Zôo, O Veterinário' (1976). It was distributed to about 20 newspapers through Editora Carneiro Bastos (ECAB). The series was also published in Cuba, and ran in the Flemish magazine Zonneland.

Sacarrolha (2)
After serving out his contract with Rio Gráfica, Mantovi's clown Sacarrolha made his appearances in comic books published by Abril. His adventures were also printed in Folhinha and Hojinho, the Sunday supplements of the newspapers Folha de São Paulo and Jornal de Hoje, respectively. He reappeared in the children's activity magazine Funões do Sacarrolha by Editora D-Arte between 1983 until 1985, in joint productions by Mantovi and Rodolfo Zalla. In 1980 Mantovi established Pejota Produções Artísticas, a corporation devoted to merchandising related to the character.


Head of children's comics production
From 1984 onwards, Mantovi's responsibilities were expanded from Abril's Disney studio to all the company's children's comics. His involvement with the Disney titles ended in 1988, when he was appointed manager of the Children's Comics Division of Editora Abril Jovem, a job he held until 1997. During this period he oversaw productions with international franchises like 'Little Lulu' ('Luluzinha'), 'Tom & Jerry' and 'Bugs Bunny', as well as the toylines 'Strawberry Shortcake' ('Moranguinho') and 'He-Man'. His team also worked on original Brazilian properties like Waldyr Igayara's 'Palhaço Alegria' and celebrity comics about comedy group 'Os Trapalhões' and the TV stars Sérgio Mallandro and Gugu Liberato. A total production of about 300 comic pages per month. 'Os Trapalhões' won the HQ Mix Award for Best Children's Magazine in 1990 and 1991. In 1991 they produced 'Didi Volta Para O Futuro', the first Brazilian children's graphic novel, based on the 'Back to the Future' film series (script by Marcelo Cassaro, art by Watson Portela and Gustavo Machado).

'Dr. Zôo, O Veterinário'.

Other work of the 1980s
Mantovi however still found time to work on side projects. For the specialized medical magazine Vida Médica he created the character 'Dr. Sarakura' (1985). For Editora Noblet he set up the comics/ activity magazine Diversões do Gran Circo Kabum in 1986, which also featured his characters 'Sacarrolha' and 'O Veterinário'.

Final years with Abril
In August 1993 Mantovi returned as chief editor for Abril's Disney titles. He also assumed editorial direction of other children's magazines, such as Pica-Pau (Walter Lantz' 'Woody Woodpecker'), TV Colosso (based on the Brazilian children's TV series of the same name) and Senninha e Sua Turma (a comic book by Rogério Martins and Ridaut Dias Jr., based on Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna). In 1995 he went to the USA to obtain a license to produce Brazilian stories with characters from new Disney films like 'The Hunchback of the Notre Dame' and 'Hercules'. Mantovi was also responsible for the launch of manga comic books based on the Japanese franchises 'Sailor Moon' (1996-1997) and 'Dragon Ball' (1997).

Part of the Abril Jovem team in the 1990s: Gustavo Machado, Noriatsu Yoshikawa, Primaggio Mantovi, Napoleão Figueiredo, Fernando Arcon.

Primaggio Grupo de Arte
By 1997 the Brazilian comic book market was at an all time low. The story production was heavily reduced, and Mantovi had to let most of his team go. He personally left Abril in September of that year, and in October he established his own Primaggio Grupo de Arte ("Primaggio Art Group", a.k.a. Studio Primaggio Mantovi), where he was joined by Luis Podavin. Through his friend Giovan Battista Carpi, the team had a short-lived collaboration with the Italian Disney magazines. They also continued to work for Abril Jovem until 2001, producing a give-away comic book with Disney's 'Mulan' for McDonald's and new stories with Disney's 'Tarzan' and 'José Carioca' for Abril's own books.

Tomcor assigned Mantovi and his co-workers to produce artwork for comic and activity books, merchandising and animated films with the mouse puppet 'Xaropinho' from the TV show 'Programa do Ratinho' (1998-2006). For Fractal Edições, they worked on the children's magazines 'Rugrats' ('Os Anjinhos') and 'Eu gosto de ler Batman e Super-Homem' ("I Like to Read Batman and Superman"). The group went on to illustrate evangelical magazines for Editora Cultura Cristã, produce comic books with Jim Davis' 'Garfield' for the US market and illustrate merchandising and CD covers for CID Entertainment Ltda. in Rio de Janeiro and textbooks for Editora Lago in Curitiba. For Editora Globo, they produced an activity book based on the children's TV show 'Sítio do Picapau Amarelo' (2001).

Primaggio Mantovi's association with Abril lasted well into the 2000s. At the turn of the century, he wrote new Disney scripts, and provided translations in Portuguese of Italian Disney stories. The Grupo also participated in the production of the comic 'A Turma do Parque' for the amusement park Parque do Gugu, starring characters created by Moacir Rodrigues.

TAMAR project
The Primaggio Art Group dissolved in the early 2000s, after which Mantovi resumed his translation work for for both Abril and Ópera Graphica Editora. In cooperation with the animation studio of Haroldo Guimarães Neto, Mantovi was personally involved in the development of characters, comics, activity pages and merchandising (2001) to promote the TAMAR Project, a non-profit organization for the protection of sea turtles at the Brazilian coastline. He continued to work with Guimarães Neto on storyboards and scripts for TAMAR commercials in the following years. He also wrote scripts with 'O Gato Bubba', the mascot of Bubbaloo bubblegum.

Mantovi established himself as an author with several books about western movies, such as '100 Anos de western' (Ópera Graphica Editora, 2003), 'Curiosidades do Western' (Ópera Graphica Editora, 2004) and 'O Centenário de John Wayne' (Mythos Editora, 2007). He also announced a book dedicated to the animation work of Walt Disney, but failed to obtain a license for the illustration material. He wrote the coming-of-age graphic novel 'Luciano' (2005) for Via Lettera, drawn by Fernando Bonini. In his book 'Roteiros e Criação de Personagens' (Editora Criativo, 2014), Mantovi provided practical and technical tips for a new generation of scriptwriters for comic books, film and television.

At the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Primaggio Mantovi's clown, Editorial Kalaco released the trade paperback 'Almanaque Sacarrolha - 40 Anos' (2012). It featured a compilation of older comic book and newspaper stories, as well as a facsimile reproduction of the first issue by Rio Gráfica. Fernando Ventura provided additional coloring for the book. 'Sacarrolha' also graced the 24th HQ Mix trophy, awarded at the Teatro SESC Pompeia in São Paulo on 30 June 2012. A fan collection of Mantovi's 'Rocky Lane' stories was released by CLUQ (Clube dos Quadrinhos) in 2012, while Editora Laços published a collection of Mantovi's work for RGE between 2013 and 2016. For Lácos, Mantovi also edited the western anthology collections 'Reis do Western' (2016-2017) and 'Cine Quadrinhos' (2017).

Primaggio Mantovi in the Guia dos Quadrinhos

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