Milo Manara is one of the few comic artists who manages to make erotic comics and still succeed in keeping a reputation as a genuine artist. This is especially true of his serial, ‘Giuseppe Bergman’, which is a combination of experimental narrative and explicit sex. Manara is known to be interested in painting in general and the classical painters like Rafael in specific. As a boy, he even ran away from home to see an exhibition of the painter Giorgio di Chirico.
Born in Luson (Bolzano), Maurilio Manaro initially earned a living by assisting sculptors. He became interested in comix in the late sixties. His first work appeared in the ‘Genius’ pocket books by publisher Furio Vanio in 1969, and in magazines like Terror, Telerompo, and the French magazines Alter-Linus and Charlie Mensuel. Other early creations include the sexy pirate ‘Jolanda’ with scriptwriter Francesco Rubino for publisher Erregi (1971-73). For the children’s magazine Corriere dei Ragazzi, he adapted ‘Le Decameron’ and worked with Milo Milani on the series ‘La Parola alla Giura’.
In 1976 came ‘Lo Scimmiotto’, the first of his more ambitious projects. Manara illustrated five episodes of the collection ‘L’Histoire de France en Bandes Dessinées’ for the French publisher Larousse between 1976 and 1978. In later years, Manara continued to work on similar educational collections, such as ‘La Découverte du Monde en Bandes Dessinées’ (Larousse, 1979), ‘L’Histoire de la Chine’ (1980) and ‘La Storia d’Italia a Fumetti’ (Mondadori, 1978).
Also in 1978, he cooperated with Alfredo Castelli on ‘L’Uomo delle Nevi’ for Cepim and he started with the series ‘Giuseppe Bergman’. This was first serialized in the legendary author comics magazine À Suivre by Casterman and it later also appeared in Italy in books published by Nuova Frontiera. Other work by Manara from this period include a variety of short stories that were published in À Suivre and collected in albums like ‘Trompeuse Apparence’ (Kesselring, 1984).
Manara briefly ventured into westerns with ‘Quatre Doigts, L’Homme de Papier’ in Pilote (1982), before establishing himself as one of the grandmasters of erotic comics. Manara’s book ‘Déclic’ (‘Il Cioco’ or ‘Click’ in English, 1983) was notorious for its erotic subject – a woman transforms into a nymphomaniac when a button is pushed. Initially published in Playmen in Italy and L’Écho des Savanes in France, sequels followed in 1991, 1994 and 2001.
In the years that followed, Manara produced erotic works like ‘Le Parfum de l’Invisible’ (two volumes, 1986 and 1995), ‘Candide Camera’ (1988), ‘Kama Sutra’ (1997), ‘Le Piège’ (1998), ‘Révolution’ (2000) and ‘Piranèse, la Planète Prison’ (2002), and also new stories with ‘Giuseppe Bergman’.
However, Manara also kept on working in other genres. With Hugo Pratt, for whom Manara has great respect, he worked on ‘L’Été Indien’ (in Corto Maltese) and ‘El Gaucho’ (in Il Grifo). Manara also worked with one of his other heroes, Federico Fellini, on ‘Voyage à Tulum’ (Corriere della Serra, 1986) and ‘Le Voyage de G. Mastorna dit Fernet’ (Il Grifo, 1992). With Enzo Biagi he participated in Mondadori’s series about ‘Christophe Colomb’ in 1992.
In 1995, Manara made ‘Gulliveriana’ for Les Humanoïdes Associés, loosely based on the oeuvre of Jonathan Swift. He worked with Neil Gaiman on ‘The Sandman: Endless Nights’ for DC/Vertigo in 2003 and relaunched ‘Giuseppe Bergman’ in BoDoï in 2004. In 2004 Manara teamed up with Alejandro Jodorowsky for a new series about the 15th century Pope family Borgia. He did an ‘X-Men’ project for Marvel with Chris Claremont, called ‘X-Women’, in 2009, and worked with Vincenzo Cerami on ‘Gli Occhi di Pandora’ (‘Pandora’s Eyes’) in the same year. In 2013 he started to do variant covers for issues of Marvel comic books.
Besides comics, Manara has produced a great variety of portfolios and illustrations for collections like Glamour Books. He has also done character designs for the animated TV series ‘City Hunters’.