João Mottini was a prominent Brazilian comic book artist, known for his dynamic and expressive artwork. An important part of his career was spent in Argentina, where he had an association with Dante Quinterno and his magazine Patoruzito. It was the Golden Age of Argentinean comics, during which Mottini worked alongside fellow legends as Alberto Breccia, Hugo Pratt and José Luis Salinas. He was also affiliated with the Escuela Panamericana de Arte as a teacher.

João Batista Mottini was born in Livramento in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in 1923. He showed an early talent for drawing, and it especially his older brother who encouraged him to pursue his ambitions. He was 15 years old when he got his first job at Editorial Libraría do Globo, which was headed by the German Ernest Zoiner, in 1938. His first drawings were published in an encyclopedic book called 'Dicionário Enciclopédico Ilustrado da Livraria do Globo', and he subsequently illustrated classic works like 'Don Quixote de la Mancha' ('Don Quijote de la Mancha'), 'The Three Musketeers' ('Los 3 Mosqueteros') and 'Robin Hood' ('Robin Hodd'), and also several school books for the publishing house. He left the company when he turned 20. He settled in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he initially worked in advertisement and journalism.


Al Capone comic from Sucesos #4 (24 May 1950)

His early artistic works in Argentina were illustrations for Horacio Gutiérrez's Aventuras magazine. Another early client was the publishing house Abril, for which he made cover illustrations for the magazines Rayo Rojo and Cinemisterio, as well as romantic comic stories for Idilio, a magazine which mostly ran photo stories. In 1950 he made a comics biography in gouache of Al Capone, which appeared in the obscure comics magazine Sucesos. Mottini was one of the most prominent illustrators in this publication, which was edited by journalist Demetrio Zadán.

Also in 1950 he began his association with Editorial Dante Quinterno, for which he made his most memorable Argentinean work. In that same year, his comics serial 'El Monarca del Último Horizonte' ran in Quinterno's Patoruzito magazine. The story was inspired by the French adventurer and lawyer Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, who in 1860 assumed the title of King of Araucanía and Patagonia, a region in current Chile. Mottini's comic was eventually retitled to 'Aurelio el Audaz', and was followed by 'Moro y Turbión' (retitled to 'Turbión, el lobo') in 1953. For Patoruzito he furthermore created 'Historia de la Boca' (1956), about the characteristic Buenos Aires neighborhood, and 'Aventuras de Bordón' (1957). He additionally succeeded José Luis Salinas on the humorous comic strip 'Ellos' (1957), and developed the adventures of journalist-turned-detective 'Quintín Duval' (1958-1961) and the western 'Cara de Tigre'. He finally continued the feature 'Cruz Calaveras', when he original artist Luis Angel Domínguez moved to the USA. Between the mid 1950s and 1962 Mottini was most notably the main cover artist for Patoruzito magazine.

Patoruzito cover by Mottini

During his years in Argentina, Mottini was also associated with the Escuela Panamericana de Arte (Pan-American School of Art). He was one of the teachers of the "Curso de los 12 famosos artistas", a correspondence course in comics art and illustration overseen by 12 famous artists. The other eleven authors were Joaquin Albistur, Alberto Breccia, Rodolfo Claro, Luis Dominguez, Carlos Freixas, Adolfo Mazzone, Tito Menna, Pablo Pereyra, Hugo Pratt, Carlos Roume and Enrique Vieytes.

By the 1960s the Argentinean comics market was in steady decline, and Mottini had to look for other work possibilities. During this period, a comic presumably by Mottini called 'Guerilleros' (1965) appeared in Furia Blanca magazine, but it was probably originally produced for the British market. Like so many South-Americans, Mottini began doing agency work for British publishers as early as 1957, working through the Italian agency of Roy D'Ami. He most notably drew 'Buck Jones' and other western features for Fleetway's 'Cowboy Picture Library'. These strips were also published in pocket comic books in France.


Aba Larga

He also returned to his home country Brazil, where he took part in CETPA. This government-funded publishing unit from Porto Alegre was initiated by governor Leonel Brizola and headed by the artist Zé Geraldo. The group produced propaganda comics for the promotion of local history. The other associated artists were Flávio Colin, Renato Canini, Getúlio Delphim, Júlio Shimamoto and Luiz Saidenberg. Mottini was responsible for the illustrations of the syndicated newspaper comic strip 'Aba Larga' (1963-1964), about the Mounted Police Brigade of Rio Grande do Sul. Prior to this, Getúlio Delphim had made an 'Aba Larga' comic book through CETPA in 1962. The series was an attempt to promote regional Brazilian police forces. Ironically enough, the comic book borrowed heavily from the US franchise 'King of the Royal Mounted'. Mottini also succeeded Júlio Shimamoto on 'História do Rio Grande do Sul', a comic book about the history of the region. The 1964 military coup by the Brazilian Armed Forces, which established a new dicatorial regime under president Humberto Castelo Branco, put an end to all CETPA activities.


Ipirela

João Mottini then focused on illustration and painting, while also working as an art teacher. He did commercial artwork through the MPM Propaganda agency of Antônio Mafuz, Petrônio Corrêa and Luiz Macedo. His most notable work of the 1970s was drawing the sexy 'Ipirela', the mascot of the Ipiranga petrol stations. Her looks were based on Jane Fonda's portrayal of Barbarella in the eponymous movie adaptation of Jean-Claude Forest's comic strip (1968). His other commercial work included visualizations for companies like Samrig. In 1979 he illustrated Luiz Carlos Barbosa Lessa's poetry collection 'Serviços de campo'. Some of his paintings are in the collection of a large bank group from Rio Grande do Sul. One of his final known comic strips appeared in the first issue of the local magazine Brigada in 1989.

Mottini passed away in 1990, at the age of 66.


Painting for an Ipiranga calendar (1976)

João Mottini at tebeosfera.com

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