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THE EAGLE SOCIETY is dedicated to the memory of EAGLE - Britain's National Picture Strip Weekly - the leading Boy's magazine of the 1950s and 1960s. We publish a 56 page, A4, quarterly journal - the Eagle Times.

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

Giorgio Bellavitis (1926 - 2009)

Giorgio Bellavitis  (1926 - 2009) was born and died in Venice, though he spent a number of years in England. Starting out as a comic book artist, but changing career to architecture, his reputation in his later years was for his contribution as an architect to the restoration of Venice.

After being held prisoner together by the Nazis during the Second World War, Bellavitis and his friends Mario Faustinelli and Alberto Ongaro later set themselves up as publishers and gathered more artists and writers to form the Grupo Veneziano (Venetian Group). Their first magazine, called Albo Uragano (White Hurricane), was later renamed Asso di Picche, after its lead strip, which was pencilled by Hugo Pratt and inked by Bellavitis and Faustinelli. After drawing the first episode of ‘Junglemen’, Bellavitis then drew ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ under the pseudonym George Summers. After 1948, when Asso di Picche folded, and until 1954, when he moved to England, he worked mainly on Il Vittorioso (The Conqueror). His strips in this period included ‘I Cavalieri del Corvo’, ‘Acqua Cattiva’, ‘Il Palio di Siena’, and ‘Amburgo 1947’. 

In England, he was instrumental in introducing the Italian illustrator Rimaldo D’Ami (Roy Dami, founder of the Damy Agency) to Britain, and was the first of many Italian comic strip artists to be published in Britain via D'Ami's agency.

Bellavitis’ first English strip was ‘Paul English’ for Swift. He then drew ‘Mark, the Youngest Disciple’ to a script by Chad Varah, for Eagle. Bellavitis stood in for Richard Jennings on two complete ‘Storm Nelson’ adventures (which were was later reprinted in Italy as 'Kid Tempesta'), the first of which was set in his place of birth. He also drew for Eagle Annual and Swift Annual, including the illustrations for a text story ‘The Winged Devils - a tale of the Ancient Vikings’ in Swift Annual No 2. He worked for a short time on Express Weekly, drawing ‘Rodney Flood’, and he is known to have done some illustrations for the Sunday Pictorial Children’s Annual. In 1956 he helped out on Eagle’s ‘Jeff Arnold in Riders of the Range’. His work also appeared in Playhour and Treasure. In 1958, however, he returned to Italy to pursue a career in architecture.

For many years, and until his death, Professor Giorgio Bellavitis was actively involved in the conservation and restoration of Venice, advising UNESCO and other bodies. Giorgio Bellavitis' projects in Venice included the garden design and landscaping for Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and from 1997 to 2005 direction of the restoration of Ca’Foscari. Giorgio Bellavitis wrote and co-authored a number of books and articles, including ‘Venice: a City in the Sea of History’, which prefaces the Heritage Guide to Venice published by the Touring Club of Italy. His death was reported on 21 May 2009 in Venice, the city that inspired him.

A fuller obituary and bibliography can be read on Steve Holland's Bear Alley blog.

Previous posts on eagle-times:

Photo of Giorgio Bellavitis: Il Gazzettino

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