By Pericle Luigi Giovannetti (Macmillan)
Pericle Luigi Giovanetti was a huge star in the cartoon firmament in the years following World War II, and one look at his work will instantly show you why.
Born in 1916 in Basel, he launched his most famous character in Punch in April 1953. Max is a small, round furry creature most likened to a hamster, whose wordless pantomimes were both cute and whimsical and trenchantly self-deprecating. Don’t ask me how a beautifully rendered little puff-ball could stand for pride and pomposity punctured, but he did. It was also blissfully free of mawkish sentimentality, a funny animal for adults.
Max was syndicated across the world, (known as Mr. Makkusu-san in Japan) numbering such diverse luminaries as Jason Robards and Charles Schulz as fans and even lending its star to the British Navy and Swiss Air Force as mascot and figurehead. There were four collections between 1954 and 1961: Max, Max Presents, this volume (from 1959) and the Penguin Max. Like these, two other collections, Beware of the Dog and Birds without Words, are also criminally out of print.
The sheer artistic virtuosity of Giovanetti is astounding to see. That his work should be forgotten is a travesty. If you ever, ever see a collection of his work do yourself the biggest favour of your life and grab it with both hands!
© 1959 P. L. Giovannetti. All Rights Reserved.