Wednesday, February 16, 2011
His earliest traced appearance is in the pages of Top Spot, where he drew one-off strips in 1959. A year later he could be found in the pages of Girl, drawing the strip 'New Rider at Clearwater'. This was the start of a fairly long association with that paper, as Baker went on to illustrate '21 Newlands Park', a long-running text serial that ran between 1961 and 1964.
Baker remained within the pages of girls' comics for at least 15 years, contributing to Princess Tina ('Life with Tina'), June ('Call Me Cupid', 'Wedding in the Family') and providing illustrations for Pixie Annual 1974, some of which can be seen in this column.
These strips ran in Look and Learn between 1974 and 1978, some of them brief but others, like 'A Tale of Two Cities' more substantial, running for three months. All shared a wealth of detail and some, like his two-part adaptation of 'The Fall of the House of Usher', are little gems that deserve to be reprinted.
Examples of Baker's artwork for sale can be found here.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
After taking only one examination, he left school and moved to Milan, finding work with the publicity agency SPINTA where his workload included drawing movie posters featuring many of the actors in vogue at the time. Two years later, the company went bankrupt and Asteriti found himself in Milan without any work.
Not wishing to return to Venice in defeat, Asteriti hawked his portfolio around various publishers. His interest in comics had developed as a child and, whilst still in Venice, he had known Giorgio Trevisan and Leone Frollo, the latter a Venetian contemporary who introduced him to Giorgio Bellavitis, and other members of the Asso di Picche group, Faustinelli, Ongaro and Pratt.
He found work with Giuseppe Caregaro in 1955 and was one of a group of talented newcomers who began working for Caregaro's Edizioni Alpe around that era. Asteriti created the character 'Bingo Bongo', the comic adventures of a young black boy, for the weekly Cucciolo. Other strips from this period included 'Congolino' and 'Capitan Jolando', as well as covers for Voici d'Oltremare di Bianconi/Missionari Combboniani and contributions to La Vispa Teresa.
He continued to draw for the British market until the mid-1970s, also contributing to Bobo Bunny, and illustrations to Disneyland and Walt Disney's Now I Know.
His work also continued to appear in Italy where he worked illustrated romance novels for Rizzoli editore in the late 1950s and then revived the character 'Formichino' (created by Roberto Sgrilli) for Selezione dei Ragazzi. In the early 1960s he also drew 'Hayawatha' for Corriere dei Piccoli in collaboration with Antonio Lupatelli. Asteriti has alos illustrated fairy stories for AMZ, Boschi and Carroccio.
In 1963, Asteriti produced 'Pippo e la vacanza culturale', his first strip for the Italian Disney magazine Topolino. Over the next decade he contributed to Disney Italia with increasing regularity, drawing both Pippo (Goofy) and Topolino (Mickey Mouse). He quickly became recognised as one of the leading contributors, both as an artist and, since 1974, a scriptwriter (a task he occasionally shared with his older brother, Franco), and eventually dropped his other work in order to concentrate on Disney characters full time, especially Mickey Mouse. Asteriti has described Mickey as "the best friend of my childhood", a character with whom he grew up. "The only drawback is that I have grown older while he has remained the same, young and healthy, without ever catching a cold!"
"The public prefer Donald... Personally, what I like most about Mickey Mouse is that he is pure adventure, with situations that are not necessarily comic. [Mickey] can live in any age, in any circumstance, whether it's western, historical or science fiction. There are no limits of time or space for him. It's greatly satisfying and never boring... I love Mickey Mouse when I find the right balance between adventure poetry and humour. It's a difficult balance which involves a good dose of loving effort by both those who write it and whoever draws."
He was awarded Il Premio Papersera in 2008.
Examples of his artwork can be found for sale here.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
He lived at 16 Upper Tollington Park, London N.4, and died on 1 August 1978.
Artwork by G. W. Backhouse can be found for sale here.