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Félix Molinari, 1930-2011
posted June 6, 2011

imageVarious French-language comics sites are reporting the death on February 9 of veteran artist Félix Molinari. He was 80 years old.

Molinari was born in Lyon in 1930. His family had fled to France from Italy, fearing Mussolini. Like many lifelong comics artists, Molinari drew well and copiously from an early age. As was the case with many career artists that came of age in the 1940s, Molinari was deeply inspired by the work of the newspaper strip cartoonist Milton Caniff. He briefly attended school at the Beaux-Arts de Lyon.

He began working in comics as a teenager. His adaptations of L'Aigle des Mers and La Caravane Héroique appeared in 1947. He created the World War II Pacific Theatre adventure comic serial Garry in 1948; that feature would run -- initially in 12-page bursts and with the scripting of Robert Baggage -- until 1986 and provide the content for over 20 books. A superhero strip named Super Boy started about ten years later and also lasted into the mid-1980s, while a run of strips about the Flying Tigers ran in the magazine Tora from 1972 to 1980, generating five albums.

By the time he began Super Boy, Molinari had established himself as one of the fields workhorse artists, and for the next three decades was an anchor for the pocket-book publisher Imperia. As an artist he may have been best known for a black and white technique that eschewed pen and/or pencil for brush right from the start. One estimate of his work load in his most prolific periods claimed 200 stories of 10-60 pages in length over the course of 23 years.

As his career progressed, Molinari found more time for advertisement work, while in comics his talents as an illustrator drove him into doing more cover work. Byt the late 1980s, some biographies have him leading comics altogether for a combination of commercial illustration and packaging design work. He would return to comics in 1992, and work through at least the middle of the last decade. Molinari worked on a variety of series with different writers in the 1990s, mostly for Soleil: Les Heritiers d'Orphee (with Philippe Aubert), Les Tigres Volants (Richard Nolane), Les Survivants de l'Atlantique (Jean-Yves Mitton) and what was his last major series, Le Dernier Kamikaze (again with Mitton).

A personal reminiscence here recalls a lively, gregarious man; he was apparently a favorite at various festivals.

Molinari suffered from vascular difficulties for about a month preceding his death. Although one report mentions in passing that Molinari was married, none of the pieces I've read talk about survivors.