My first meeting with Roberto Raviola

Summer 1976

I was walking at a brisk pace, with the folder full of my drawings, excited because soon I would have a meeting with a cartoonist, Roberto Raviola.
Since I was young and unaware, I did not know that he signed his stories under the pen name Magnus and that with that name he had become a myth in the history of comics and also my own.

My first meeting with Roberto Raviola

At that time I attended the State Art Institute, recommended by middle school professors for my limited commitment to study and for an inversely proportional aptitude for drawing.
Since I was a child I have been drawing tirelessly, copying all the comics I found in the house. My father read them in random order, without any apparent consistency – war comic books, my Mickey Mouse comics, Tex, Diabolik and Satanik.
That character, named Satanik, was designed by Magnus and that was my first encounter with him, even if the somewhat murky and horror stories were prohibited for a boy of my age: I was a boy in the 60s.
In fact, my father used to hid them because they were too daring for my young age. How could he think of curbing my curiosity by giving me only Mickey Mouse comic books?
In the following decade he discovered at the newsagent the release of a new comic, Alan Ford – it was love at first sight.
Falling in love that continued in the following years while I was attending Isab, to the point that a professor, tired of seeing my Magnus-style drawings, arranged a meeting for me, preparing a joke.

But you are Bob Rock!

My first meeting with Roberto Raviola

As I said, in 1976 I knew only the pen name, Magnus, but not his real name. For this reason, you can imagine my reaction when Roberto Raviola opened the door: amazement at first, then I opened my mouth wide as my only neuron recovered from the shock, focused on who I was in front of, until I exploded in a thunderous laugh and pointing at it with my finger I said : “But you are Bob Rock!”

Probably my professor, who was a friend of him, had informed Mr. Raviola of the sixteen-year-old, gifted in the design but slightly free-range boy. He looked at me with pity, motioned me to enter and as I passed in front of him, he said: “Come in … let’s start well!”

I thought: “Well done, I waste my first meeting with Roberto Raviola!”

An incredible home-studio, like him.

After the first embarrassment, always with my mouth open, I sat on the sofa as he invited me to do. The study house was full of his drawings and details that attracted me; in the center of the room stood a huge oil painting of one of his characters, the Unknown, while a grate was painted above a door from which came out a hairy arm of a monster trying to open the handle.

But the details that surprised me the most were the eyes painted above the knots in the wooden ceiling of the attic in which I was and that seemed to be staring at me!

La Compagnia della Forca

While Magnus was looking at my drawings, I was asking him questions, eager to know many curiosities I had about Alan Ford’s comic. Perfect timing, Roberto was now far from that adventure, the partnership with Bunker had broken and he was engaged in another project, realized with Giovanni Romanini [RIP] La compagnia della Forca He showed me a preview of the drawings and tables of the characters. The story spoke of an ironic medieval fantasy with dark hues, pure genius. I took my leave, with the promise to return to find him to bring him my other drawings, after putting into practice his precious advice.

 

To date, although many years have passed, I still have a beautiful memory of that meeting that allowed me to get to know a multifaceted artist much loved, but not as valued as he should be.


My first meeting with Roberto Raviola
A couple of Gallows Company characters I drew after the meeting.

Shaping his characters, a joy to the heart

Although the Company of the Gallows has not achieved great success, only nineteen albums have come out, I have remained a lover. So, when I have time, in the evening after work, I shape his characters with Zbrush: it is a way to keep the memory of those extraordinary stories alive.

Ser Crumb (Briciola) and Crusca

My first meeting with Roberto Raviola
Compagnia della Forca

A couple of videos


An incredible coincidence, with a bitter ending:

At the beginning of 2020, a customer asked me to make a Bob Rock vs Superciuk sculpture. He discovered that in addition to being a lover of Magnus‘ work and having many autographed plates, he was also a friend of Giovanni Romanini. I couldn’t miss that opportunity, so I told him about my meeting with Magnus of many years before and I asked him to meet Romanini.

The possibility came true one evening three months ago in a restaurant in the center of Bologna, together with other cartoonists and publishers. A single very intense and fun meeting, full of passion, stories and anecdotes.

Giovanni spoke to me at length about his relationship with Magnus and the adventure of that comic book which was born during a train journey.

We greeted with the idea of seeing each other again soon, but unfortunately Giovanni passed away a few weeks later

Of that evening, I jealously keep the autographed volume of the Company of the Gallows.


A final advice

If I have intrigued you and you have not read La Compagnia della Forca, buy it in this edition, two hardcover volumes, printed very well.

You can fill your gap by discovering a rare pearl.

Enjoy the reading!

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