By Pericle Luigi Giovannetti (Macmillan)
Pericle Luigi Giovanetti was a huge star in the cartoon firmament in the years following World War II, and a prolific one who appealed to fans of all ages. Born in 1916 in Basel, he launched his most beloved character Max in Punch in April 1953. Max was a small, round furry creature like a hamster, whose wordless pantomimes were cute, 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.
So imagine how such a graphic talent would flower when he turned his dry, laconic eye upon Man’s Best Friend? Luckily you don’t have to as in 1958 this fabulous collection of 52 pooches, drawn in a variety of styles and even captioned in two separate languages (French and English), and thanks to contemporary wits Mark Laurence and Richard Maury, three separate comedic styles, is available as your pedigree guide!
Giovanetti was a master of the pen, with a sparse and economical line, and completely au fait with all brush techniques from dry-point to tonal wash painting. The sheer variety he exhibits in this book would make any would-be illustrator weep with jealousy if they weren’t already splitting their sides with mirth.
To my knowledge there were six other Giovannetti books and collections between 1954 and 1961: Max, Max Presents, Nothing But Max, the Penguin Max, Birds Without Words and Hamid of Aleppo – and not one of these gems is currently in print! The sheer artistic virtuosity of Giovanetti is astounding to see. That his work should be forgotten is a crime. If you ever, ever find a collection of his work don’t hesitate!
© 1958 P. L. Giovannetti. All Rights Reserved.