A Garra Cinzenta, by Renato Silva (A Gazetinha, 1938)
A Garra Cinzenta (A Gazetinha, 1938)

Renato Silva was a Brazilian illustrator and drawing teacher, and the artist of 'A Garra Cinzenta', one of the first Brazilian comics to reach an international audience. He was born Renato de Azevedo Silva as the son of a journalist. He studied Fine Arts for five years before becoming an illustrator and cartoonist for magazines from Rio de Janeiro, including Vida Doméstica, Vida Nova, A Maçã and Shimmy.

By 1930, he left cartooning and turned to more serious illustration jobs for O Cruzeiro and O Journal. He also worked on illustrations for novels and serials that were printed in the magazines by the publishing group A Noite, such as Vamor Ler!. He made his first comic, starring 'Nick Carter', for Adolfo Aizen's Supplemento Juvenil, published by Grandes Consórcios de Suplementos Nacionais, in May 1937.

It was in that same year that he launched 'A Garra Cinzenta' with writer Francisco Armond in A Gazetinha, the supplement of the São Paulo paper A Gazetta. The 52 page story is about an evil masked chemist, who is assisted by a giant robot and a brainwashed secretary. It ran for exactly hundred episodes until 1939. 'A Garra Cinzenta' is considered a classic in Brazilian comics, and was also published in Mexico and Belgium. It was published as 'La Griffe Grise' in the Belgian weekly Le Moustique from October 1944 to January 1947.

A Garra Cinzenta, by Renato Silva (A Gazetinha, 1938)
A Garra Cinzenta (A Gazetinha, 1938)

Silva subsequently created two long serials for O Diário de Notícias: 'Histórias Que Ficaram Na História' and 'Histórias da História do Mundo'. In 1939, he released his 'Manual Prático de Desenho' with Tipografia Nilópolis, then the first instructional books on drawing in Brazil.

This book was followed by the series 'A Arte de Desenhar' in the 1940's and 1950's, which covered virtually all topics related to artistic drawing. The series was a valuable support to thousands of students throughout Brazil who did not have any access to art education. There are few Brazilian artists, still active, which don't owe a great part of their education to Renato Silva and his teaching method.

By the early 1980s, Renato Silva stayed away from the mainstream press, from which he had resigned some time ago. He spent his last years illustrating textbooks and giving drawing courses.

A Garra Cinzenta, by Renato Silva (A Gazetinha, 1938)
A Garra Cinzenta (A Gazetinha, 1938)

La Griffe Grise page on CoolFrenchComics.com

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