colleague Enzo Carretti was producing strip cartoons for IPC Amalgamated
Press, London, through their Milan agent, Studio Creazioni D'Ami. I
got in touch with Studio D'Ami and in July 1960 I left Florence, and
my family, to seek better opportunities in Milan.
In the period between the two world wars Florence was the main publishing
centre, and indeed the literary capital of Italy; after WW2 publishing
in Florence had shrunk down to a handful of ailing literary houses,
and Florence was gradually acquiring the character of a little provincial
The day I arrived in Milan I was invited to work as "studio assistant"
with Studio Creazioni D'Ami, by Rinaldo and Piero Dami. Rinaldo Dami,
a comic-strip artist, known as Roy D'Ami, had spent some years in London
working for Amalgamated Press. Piero was a financier and an entrepreneur.
Studio Creazioni D'Ami was undoubtedly the top editorial, art and design
agency in Italy at the time. I found appropriate lodging and stayed
Studio D'Ami I found familiar things, not only I found stacks of those
magazines that I had collected at Rimaggio, but also a collection of
issues of the National Geographic Magazine and one
of the British comic's magazine Eagle.
All those English words beside the pictures, hitherto mysterious to
me, began to speak...through my mentor's words.
began with adapting French comic strip cartoons which appeared in the
Corriere dei Piccoli, the weekly children's magazine
of the house.
1961, I was assigned my own page in the Corriere dei Piccoli,
then the most popular children's weekly in Italy. The job was given
to me by the editor, himself an artist, Giovanni Mosca, and when journalist
Gulgielmo Zucconi replaced Mosca, my job was confirmed.
I reluctantly started with a full page on football -a sport I've always
disliked-, then I went on to what I really liked: a page on nature,
where I illustrated and described briefly animals and their environment.
remember Guglielmo Zucconi saying to his aids "Give that page to
Caselli, who better than a peasant would know about animals!"
I also worked for the competition. I went on a trip to Rome, on D'Ami's
advise and got some work from author Mario Faustinelli, then the director
of a short-lived weekly children's magazine Bimbo e Bimba,
styled upon the British Jack and Jill.
Alas, these jobs did not last for very long. Times were changing and
such weeklies as the Corriere dei Piccoli were undergoing
an image crisis. Belgian and French comic -strip publishers were influencing
the taste with heroes such as Lucky Luke, the Stroumpfs
and Tipitì, not in the style required by existing
Italian magazines. Meanwhile I was preparing illustrations in view of
producing a nature book with D'Ami.
Illustrated informative books were becoming more and more popular, and
with Roy D'Ami, my mentor and my boss, we decided to drop the much loved
cartoon world, and turn to illustrated informative books.
illustrations in The Epic of Man, 1961, made a great
impact upon my taste as an illustrator. Rinaldo D'Ami, hitherto ignorant
on the subject of nature, pushed aside his great passion for "militaria",
and took up the study of natural history, then my main interest.
personal reference library was growing all the time, and from 1960 to
1964 I worked as editor, art director and illustrator, with Studio Creazioni
D'Ami, mostly for the production of the encyclopaedic work called "Cosa
fanno gli Animali" (What animals do).
This was to be a work in 12 volumes, it was edited by no less than Sir
Maurice Burton, then Director of the Natural History Museum of London
, whom D'Ami and I hired on the spot during our trip there.
This work was financed by Alberto Peruzzo "Publisher-cum-Ferrari",
and was eventually published in numerous editions in several languages
The editorial board of the encyclopaedia was made up of an array of
Anglo-American students and tourists passing through Milan, and whom
D'Ami easily recruited for a small fee.
The artists who contributed to this 'historical' encyclopaedia were:
Battaglia, Sandro Biffignandi, Gian
Battista Bertelli, Sergio Borella, Genni Buccheri, Ottavio Cencig,
Svetozar Domic, Bruno Faganello, Natale Fedeli, Ivo Gattin, Ezio Giglioli,
Cristina Greppi, Aldo Marcuzzi, Don J. Makela, Bruno Pennisi, Amedeo
Petralia, Pham-Tang, Rudolph Sablic, Giorgio Scarato, Alberto Trincia,
Emilio Uberti, Giancarlo Zucconelli, and several others.
In 1963 I experienced my first business trips to the Frankfurt Bookfair
and to the city of London. Only later I realized that I had been a pioneer
in this kind of thing.
D'Ami brothers took me first to Frankfurt in a Mercedes stuffed to capacity
with folders full of original artwork. Incidentally, we had trouble
in explaining to the Italian customs police what boxes marked as "mustelidae"
Roy D'Ami took me to London in November, where I experienced lobster
and caviar at the Cafe' Royal, Piccadilly, and went to a number of Christmas
parties in Fleet Street, while staying at the Regent Hotel.
It was November 12th 1963 - At Studio Creazioni D'Ami I had the opportunity
of meeting the most illustrious cartoon-strip artists that Italy has
ever produced, then practically all out of a job. I frequently met,
among many others, Gino D'Antonio, Antonio
Canale and Dino Battaglia.
shall never forget Dino Battaglia for his civilised manners, wit and
intelligence, and Antonio Canale for his civilised sense of humour.
Dino Battaglia's work in comic strip design was complex ART.
I catered for a famished and downtrodden Hugo Pratt,
on the verge of creating his Corto Maltese, and shared
laughs and plates of spaghetti with many others who then, during the
deepest crisis of comic-strip magazines, could no longer make ends meet.
Many of these artists and script-writers survived by occasionally joining
us and drawing a Himalayan squirrel or a Siberian fox for our encyclopaedia,
at 10.000 Lire a piece. Not a bad fee for a couple of day's work, considering
that a plate of spaghetti at the local Trattoria da Mario cost then
500 Lire. Hugo Pratt had Corto Maltese already in mind
at the time, an idea which was to give him the fame and fortune which
Whereas the studio environment in Milan was very exciting, stimulating,
and interesting, the best place to be for a career in the profession,
I missed the then green hills, the then good air, the fields and generally
the beauty of Florence.
The D'Ami experience was however beneficial to me, and probably to Studio
Creazioni D'Ami and to a great number of otherwise unemployed and unemployable
artists. After four years together all our lives were drastically changed.