Milo Manara was born in Luson, a small mountain town near Bolzano, on September 12, 1945. Both his parents are workers, so Milo and his brothers start doing small jobs since their teenage years in order to be self-sufficient (when Milo was 12 he made decorative panels on commission). Following his natural inclinations, he graduates from a private art school. He moves to Verona where he starts working as an assistant to the famous Spanish sculptor Miguel Ortiz Berrocal and at the same time he applies for the Faculty of Architecture in Venice. The 1968 movement in Italy brings Manara and other artists, such as the painter Emilio Vedova, to strongly challenge La Biennale di Venezia. During this period Manara reflects on the social role of figurative art; by the coming of Pop Art in 1963 his artistic idea suddenly changes, shifting from the center to unpredictable and dematerialised directions. Between the Sixties and Seventies avant-garde artistic movements (Body Art, Minimal Art, Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, Kinetic Art, Land Art and Happenings) undermine the main structures of figurative art.
Manara, like his fellow artists, is not indifferent to the changes concerning his world, but he takes advantage of them to open his mind to new reflections. One day, thanks to Berrocal’s French wife, who brings from Paris the latest bandes dessinées released, such as Barbarella by Forest or The Adventures of Jodelle and Pravda by Guy Peellaert, Manara finds out about comics, that never interested him during his childhood and adolescence, partly because of his mother bans. What fascinates him is the production series of the medium, more similar to literature than to the uniqueness of a painting, considering also the comics affordable prices which allow more people to buy them. Manara sees comics as an opportunity to build his own role in the society, thanks to the wage standards in publishing that are more honest and closer to the economic reality that surrounds him than in the arts; so he decides to experiment this new language moving away from painting to embrace pop culture, closer to people (the painting where Manara himself is shown kicking a cow which stands for the figurative art, belongs to that period ).
In the late ‘60s he takes his first steps in comics publishing, he meets Mario Gomboli, already active in the arts field with Alfredo Castelli, who introduces him to the publisher Furio Viano, who will launch Manara as an author of erotic-cop stories belonging to the Genius series. Genius was in the first place a novel (the main character is a masked anti-hero inspired by Diabolik), then it turns into a comic book with the publication of Il morso della lupa, which will be released on newsstands on September 15, 1969 with art by Manara.
Later he will draw Jolanda de Almaviva, a famous sexy series. The pirate series of Jolanda will be on newsstands from 1970 to 1974, Manara will debut in issue 14 out on May 1971. Meanwhile, Manara drops out of college; thanks to the help of Castelli he starts his partnership with il Corriere dei Ragazzi, a weekly magazine of Corriere della Sera, where he draws comics written by Milo Milani, La parola alla giuria, concerning historical figures being prosecuted. In the same years he delivers Un fascio di bombe, a story based on the strategy of tension in Italy involving a series of covert attack on the population.
Right after that, Manara with Silverio Pisu, co-founder of the satirical magazine Telerompo, launches two important works for his career: The Ape and Alessio, which mark his debut as a comic book author. He works with the French publishing company Larousse, and creates some stories appeared in the collections L’Histoire de France en bandes dessinées, La decouverte du monde e L’Histoire de la Chine. During these years Manara finds his own style starting from the confrontation with a master of the Ninth Art: Jean Giraud/Moebius.
In 1978 he creates his first successful character and for the first time he is also credited as the writer of the story, published on the French magazine (A SUIVRE): HP and Giuseppe Bergman, where HP stands for his master and mentor Hugo Pratt, one of the main characters in the story; later he publishes some other stories dedicated to Giuseppe Bergman, who resembles both the author and Alain Delon (to whom Manara used to be compared to by some girls). These works will be published in Italy in 1980 on the first issue of Totem, a magazine published by Roberto Rocca.
Towards the end of the decade and the beginning of the 1980s he is one of the authors of Storia d’Italia a fumetti by Enzo Biagi and creates, for Playmen magazine, Click! a series of erotic Italian comics that gives him an unexpected worldwide success (a movie will be inspired by Click! with the beautiful Florence Guérin playing Claudia, based on the best-selling title known in France as Le Déclic that sales over one million copies). From now on Manara’s career fully focuses on erotic productions.
Also, from that period, is one of the two works based on the scripts by Hugo Pratt; he draws two key stories for his career and for Italian adventure comics: Indian Summer, serialized on the Corto Maltese magazine from 1983 to 1985, and El Gaucho published by Il Grifo from 1991 to 1995. The first one, set in New Canaan, recreates the colonial period with detailed historical references and tells about the difficult co-existence between the inhabitants of a village founded by English colonists and the Indian native tribe of Squando. On the other side El Gaucho is set in Argentina in the early 1800s while the English Navy tries to conquer Buenos Aires from the Spanish. Within this scenario the story of the English drummer Tom Brown will be intertwine with the one of the beautiful Irish fishmonger Molly Malone, forced to live in misery and work as a prostitute on the Encounter ship, a floating brothel.
In 1981 Manara releases another important work for his career once again published in France by Pilote magazine: The Paper Man. The western story written by Manara will be released almost at the same time in Italy on Pilot magazine. Later, Manara illustrates The Snowman, based on a script by Castelli, for the Un uomo, un’avventura series issued by Cepim, now known as Sergio Bonelli Editore. Right after that he introduces Miele (Honey), probably his most famous female character, who appeared on the volumes Butterscotch and in the Hidden Camera series.
In 1987 he starts working with Federico Fellini, thanks to Vincenzo Mollica who introduces him to the director some time before. The great Maestro from Rimini, to whom Manara had dedicated a short story, Senza Titolo (Untitled), had been a big influence on him especially after he made 8 ½. After their meeting, Fellini asks Manara to illustrate a script he will later publish on Corriere della Sera. So Manara, with the director’s consent, turns Fellini script into an amazing comic book: Trip to Tulum, published on Corto Maltese. Their relationship consolidates: Fellini revisits one of his projects and together with Manara creates Il viaggio di G. Mastorna detto Fernet, published by Il Grifo magazine, directed by Vincenzo Mollica. Manara also creates the movie posters for Fellini’s La voce della luna and Intervista.
In the early 1990s he draws the panels for Enzo Biagi’s Cristoforo Colombo. During this period, he also does the artworks for Pedro Almodovar’s El fuego y las entrañas; he illustrates Fantasex, a collection of erotic and fantasy tales, followed by the comics transposition of three classics: Gulliveriana, Manara’s Kama Sutra and The Golden Ass. He later draws three stories on social matters: Fatal Rendezvous on the usury issue, Revolution, on the brutalisation caused by television and www. on the internet world. The decade ends with the return of Giuseppe Bergman involved in one of his most amazing stories, The Urban Adventures of Giuseppe Bergman a reflection on art at the beginning of the new millennium through the memory of three great deceased friends: Andrea Pazienza, Federico Fellini, Hugo Pratt.
After his French experience he tries to publish in USA; thanks to a collaboration with DC Comics, Manara illustrates for the its more adult brand Vertigo the story of Desire, appeared on the book Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman. A few years later he pencils an X-Men project written by Chris Claremont for Marvel Comics: X-Men and X-Women.
In the years to come he starts doing variant covers for Marvel comic books which feature the most important heroines of the Marvel universe, from Black Widow to Gamora to Thor’s female version and to the much talked about cover of Spider-Woman.
He creates 46, a comic book story between dream and reality on Valentino Rossi, whose title is inspired by the Italian champion’s motorbike number, published on Rolling Stones. He then publishes Pandora’s Eyes based on a script by Vincenzo Cerami on his debut as a comic book writer.
Since the beginning of the 2000s Manara works on a project called The Model, the history of women modelling whether for painters, sculptors or as muses to well-known artists and creators of all types.
From 2004 to 2010 he works on The Borgias, a four-part sweeping saga on the powerful and turbulent house, based on texts by the ingeniuos Chilean author Alejandro Jodorowsky.
The emerging multimedia communication brings Manara to diversify his production, so he does storyboards and provides advice for advertising products, such as Chanel for the spot directed by Luc Besson, for Sisley, Fastweb, Eminence, Permaflex, Yamamay and Lavazza. Also worthy of mention, is his support for the projects concerning the internet and computers, such as Gulliveriana, a story with an interactive Cd-rom, followed by the game Kamasutra.
We should mention his artwork for the poster for Cookie’s Fortune, a movie by Robert Altman, the long collaboration with Repubblica Auto, the covers and the drawings for L’Espresso and Panorama, the illustrations for Ciak magazine, the artworks for the albums of Lucio Dalla, Enzo Avitabile, Riccardo Cocciante, David Riondino, Grazia De Marchi and for the album Kufìa by Al Aqsa choir, the drawings for Costa Crociere based on Fellini movies, the posters for comics festivals and for theatre plays, such as Falstaff and Tristan and Isolde at San Carlo Theatre in Naples, the illustrations for Iris e lo sceicco by Lina Wertmüller, for The Art of Spanking by Jean-Pierre Enard, for Aphrodite by Pierre Louÿs, for The Sunbird by Wilbur Smith and for the anonymous epistolary novel Letters of a Portuguese Nun. He also works on Péntiti! in the famous Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy (Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro) based on texts by Rudolph Angermüller, issued during the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth and the illustrations that appear in the play Il Trombettiere by David Riondino.
In 2008 he signs for an exclusive partnership with COMICON for the curation and the management of his exhibitions in Italy and abroad; as a result, recently many events, exhibitions, festivals have been celebrating his art in Brazil, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Norway and South Korea.
After several international awards and achievements, on February 20, 2009 L’Accademia di Belle Arti in Macerata awards him with a Honoris Causa Degree. In 2015 he publishes his newest work Caravaggio Volume 1: The Palette and the Sword, chronicling the painter’s early years in Rome. The volume, presented for the first time during the 17th edition of COMICON, in Naples, is one of his most successful works. The master from Luson has spent a very long time exploring the figure of Caravaggio and the historical period in which he lived, and as a result, he has been able to create a truthful and accurate artwork for the book. The second volume will be released on 2018 and will be about the final adventures of the great Michelangelo Merisi.
Manara’s future is still a blank page but we are not how long it will stay like that…