Mario Capaldi

Mario Capaldi (1935-2004) is an odd case of a key Jinty artist. He had a uniquely visible position as a long-term cover artist during not just one but two time periods, strongly setting the visual identity of the comic. Like fellow British artist Phil Townsend, Mario Capaldi had a very solid style, strongly grounded in the day to day world around him; his covers nevertheless show that he was well able to draw a wide range of sports that will have required research and imagination. However, when you come to tot up the comics stories that he did over that time, it is not as substantial a body of work as you might have thought. Despite that, he is clearly one of the key artists of this title.

Jinty cover 17Jinty cover 14Jinty 13 September 1975

He started off his time at Jinty drawing “The Jinx From St Jonah’s“, which from issue 4 occupied a prominent position on the cover almost every week. The cover page was nominally a page of comics in that it showed a sequence of two or three panels, but the big focus was on the splash image, a very dynamic drawing of Katie Jinks typically in the middle of some pratfall or other. This continued until the time of the Jinty & Lindy merger in November 1975. Mario Capaldi continued drawing the story for a while longer but by the middle of 1976 this too had come to an end.

That wasn’t the end of Capaldi’s work in Jinty, but he didn’t appear again regularly for some years. 1976 saw him start a stand-alone story (“Champion In Hiding”) but without finishing it: it was completed by another artist. (“Jinx” had also had episodes continued by other artists, but this is not as surprising for an ongoing humour strip with no fixed end point as it is for a story that will typically not last for much longer than four months or so in any case.) 1977 saw him start and complete another stand-alone story, “Cursed To Be A Coward!”; not one of my top picks, but handily proving he could pull off creepy just as well as zany.

He must have been in the mood for creepy work, because he did a lot of work for sister publication Misty over the two years that it ran. (I assume he did not leave Jinty purely in order to work for Misty, because that was first published in February 1978, some considerable time after the last episode of “Jinx” ran; and even if the first batch of stories for a new comic are likely to be written and drawn some time in advance, that would still mean Capaldi potentially drawing “The Sentinels” for Misty at a similar time as when “Cursed To Be A Coward!” was running in Jinty.)

His return to the pages of Jinty does follow quite nicely on the heels of Misty‘s merger with Tammy, so I could well imagine that’s not a coincidence.  He then drew a couple of key stories for Jinty – one of Mistyfan’s favourites, “Dracula’s Daughter“, and one of my favourites, “Life’s A Ball For Nadine”. It is his cover images, though, that will be a particular part of many Jinty readers’ iconic memories of the title.

His daughter, Vanda Capaldi, has more information his life and artistic development. She also wrote an article specifically for the Misty fansite (currently down, hopefully will return shortly).

[Edited in Jan 2015 to add the following]

It seems sensible to also include a list of the stories that Mario Capaldi is known to have worked on in other titles or publications:

  • The Sentinels (Misty)
  • The Button Box (Tammy)
  • Daughter of The Regiment (Tammy)
  • Wee Sue (Tammy)
  • Winner Loses All (Misty)

53 thoughts on “Mario Capaldi

  1. One of my favourite girl’s comics artists. He was equally brilliant at drawing historical strips (Daughter of The Regiment in Tammy), humour strips such as The JInx Of St Jonah’s and Wee Sue and the creepy such as Winner Loses All and The Sentinels in Misty.

    1. Oh lovely! Many thanks for that link. I have a feeling Capaldi may perhaps have illustrated other Ladybird fairytales, as the style he uses there does look familiar.

  2. Anyone remember Capaldi’s illustrations of the Devil himself in all his inglory on page 1 of the second episode of Winner Loses All from Misty? That is one Capaldi page to knock your socks off!

  3. I once called Mario about some possible work. “You’re the bloke that sent all my artwork back to me,” he said. “What am I supposed to do with it all?” Considering the artwork returned reflected much of his prestigious output while working for Marvel UK and filled half his garage, he had my sympathy!

  4. Reblogged this on downthetubes.net and commented:
    A great profile of the legendary Mario Capaldi, an artist who could turn his hand to almost anything – and did while working for Marvel UK.

  5. Mario Capaldi also illustrated Bev’s Button box series in Tammy which I wrote-I know this as we were credited as writer and artist at the time…. great artist indeed.

    1. Yes indeed! I think I ought to edit this post to list at least some of the stories or books he drew elsewhere, so that we have it in a structured form.

  6. Mario Capaldi might be my favorite comics artist. His work was so beautiful. And as a plus: the stories he got offered were most of the time of the “unussual” kind.
    I don’t know the English title of these stories, but my favourites are a serial about a girl and some geese which are in fact witches, and a shorter serial about four girls who get trapped inside a jig saw puzzle. The latter I must have read a dozen times.

    1. The former is “The Sea Witches” from Tammy and Misty. The latter is “The Mystery of the Unfinished Jigsaw” from
      Girl series 2.

      1. Do you know in which year “The mystery of the unfinished jigsaw” was published? I’ve been looking for “Girl” on Ebay in “Books and Comics”, but then you get several thousand results. Perhaps if I have the year, search results will be more limited. I would love to read this great story in the original language.

        1. Thank you. Now I know at least when it was published, so it will make it hopefully easier to find it.

  7. I found some strories he did for Suzy at DC Thompson. Unfortunately I only have the Dutch translations, so I do not know what the original titles were:
    – Hannah vecht voor geluk (literal translation: Hannah fights for happiness) Published in the UK in Suzy in 1983, in the Netherlands in Peggy in 1987
    – Lucy’s lange reis (literal translation: Lucy’s long journey) Published in Suzy in 1984, in the Netherlands in Debbie in 1986.
    And then there was a great story about girls who were slaves (yes, there they are again!) of a blind, evil wigmaker. In the Dutch Tina it was called ‘Pruiken van Parkins’ (1983) (Wigs by Parkins). I do not know what the original title was or where and when it was originally published.

    1. The Wigmaker story was “Waifs of the Wigmaker” from Tammy. I can’t place the others. Can you describe their contents, please?

      1. It must have been ten or fifteen years ago I read these. I’ve been having a look at them, and the stories are not bad at all. Usually I’m not a big fan of the DC Thomson comics. Often there was the creation of a situation in episode 1, and every episode after that was just a seperate adventure concerning the situation, which was finally resolved in the final episode. So most of the time you could just read the first and last episode and know the story. Unlike, for instance, Jinty or Misty, in which most episodes ended in a cliffhanger. That what’s I prefer, these cliffhangers, so you *had* to read the next episode, and the one after that, etc.

        But to get back to the stories:

        – Hannah vecht voor geluk (Hannah fights for happiness) Published in the UK in Suzy, issues 26-39 (1983)
        A girl lives with her mother and brother. When her mother dies, the weak brother marries a bad, selfish woman. She makes sure the girl quits school and has to work, to earn money for her frivolities. One day the girl befriends an impoverished elderly lady. As a token of friendship the lady gives a vase to the girl, a vase her late husband brought back from one of his journeys abraod. In the end it turns out the vase is worth a lot of money. The girl gives the money to the lady, so she can buy a house, and the girl moves in with her.

        – Lucy’s lange reis (Lucy’s long journey) Published in the UK in Suzy, issues 89-98 (1984)
        It’s WWII. Lucy lives at an orphanage. One happy day mr. and mrs. Longdon decide to adopt her. Unfortunately, that night the orphanage is bombed. Nobody survived, except for Lucy and her dog. She survived because the dog was in the dormitory, and she had to take him downstairs. Mr. and mrs. Longdon presume Lucy has died with the others, and in bitter tears set off to Schotland. Lucy doesn’t know the adress, but mr. Langdon gave her a photograph of the house the day they told her they were going to adopt her. And so starts a long, hazardous 10-episode journey for the girl and the dog. And guess what? In the end she finds mr. and mrs. Longdon!

        1. That sort of long journey to happiness was played out in a number of stories, wasn’t it? Jinty’s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” has similarities, with the children seeking a home based on a photo from a newspaper article.

  8. Yes, there are several stories with that theme. There also the one about a dog that’s going blind, and with the help of a blackbird he has to find his way back to his, also blind, boss. And there must be many more. “For Peter’s sake” comes to mind. There was one, I do not remember the title, that just lasted too long. After a while you began to think: how much more misery will follow before they finally reach their destination? 🙂 Perhaps it was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, because I see now in one of your previous posts it ran for 36 weeks. My! But sometimes the size of a story doesn’t matter. I loved every one of the 29 episodes of “Always together…”, which is also more or less about the same theme. Less traveling, but a lot of suffering before happines finally takes a peek.
    I now remember a rather sad one, again I don’t remember the title, but the artist was Dudley Wynne, in which the heroine, after 13 episodes of suffering, dies. I think it was in one of the DC Thomsom comics. But even though it’s sad, and for a girls comic rather unussual for the *heroine* to die, it fits with the story.

    1. Blind dog and the rook story: “The Darkening Journey” from Jinty
      “Somewhere over the Rainbow” is correct. It ran in Jinty, and was written by Alison Christie and drawn by Phil Townsend.

      I can’t quite place the Dudley Wynne story. “Hard Hearted Harriet” and “Angel” are Dudley Wynne stories in Mandy where the heroine did die in the end. But “Angel” ran for far longer than 13 episodes, so that’s probably not it.

      1. I looked it up. I do not know the English title, but it was published in the first 13 issues of Tracy in 1979. It was one of the first girls comics I ever read, way back in 1983. In Dutch it’s called ‘Dappere Helen’ (Brave Helen).

        1. SLeuth from Catawiki has sent me an index of stories from JInty that were published in Dutch. I am doing a post about this and will try to get this finished soon so that you have that as reference too 🙂

          1. I’ve just started a kind of similar project, just to see from which magazine comes which story, to see which magazines had the most interesting stories, and might be worthwile to collect. I’ve started with the DC Thomson comics, because they are easiest to do, since they almost always had the date of publication plus an abbreviation of the name of the magazine on the bottom, which was not removed in many Dutch translations. So far my conclusion is that DC had indeed some good stories, but in general their magazines had a lot of, what I would call, filler stories. Nothing like Jinty, Misty and Tammy, whose stories were, in my opinion, in general of a higher level. Same goes for the artists. There was of course a cross over, but some of the regulars at DC fortunately never seem to have worked for IPC. On the other hand, there are a few whose work I *would* have liked to see in one of the IPC titles.

            This project will take a lot of time, because thousands of stories have been translated into Dutch. I know that Tina in the Netherlands used many stories from Jinty and Tammy. But it would be interesting to find out to what extent the other IPC titles were used. For instance, I don’t know anything about June, Penny, Sandie, etc. Were these as interesting as Jinty and Tammy, or were they aiming at a different kind of girl? By trying to trace the origin of the Dutch translation I might find out more. And also: what kind of stories were *not* purchased for publication, and why I think that is.

            Anyway, I just started this and it will take years to finish, because I have to devide my time between other things, too. Well, it good to know I won’t be bored with always something to do. 😉

            1. A time-consuming project indeed! of course this Jinty blog is a bit similar – especially as we keep thinking of more things to do (eg posts about the story themes or about annuals). Well worth it though.

              I also don’t know that much about June and other titles. Penny seems to have been aimed at a slightly younger audience than Jinty, from what Mistyfan has posted, or at least the covers were.

              1. There was Katy – or Katie- I can’t remember exactly, which reprinted stories from Tammy, Jinty and from the look of it, romance comics. This was not Dutch translation, just straight reprint, but in colour! Reprints included Creepy Crawley, Combing Her Golden Hair and The Upper Crust from Tammy.

  9. That’s interesting. I couldn’t find any information about Katie or Katy just now, but it would be interesting to find out if the stories were colorised for this magazine, or that they, to save money, used the Dutch colorized versions, and simply replaced the Dutch texts again with the original English.

    1. It was distributed in New Zealand at least.

      In New Zealand we were always three months behind Britain because the comics came out by ship. They used to be widespread in book and magazine shops, but as the decline set in, fewer shops sold them. You had to know where to go if you wanted a Bunty.

  10. Mistycomic.co.uk here just letting you know we are alive and kicking with the site online , as well as the “index” for EVERY Misty comic, special, annual and best of IN FULL!

    1. Great news! Thanks for letting us know. Have you made the Vanda Capaldi article available again on the site? I can’t immediately find it – can you link to it or re-upload it at all?

  11. Mario also drew a serial for boys´comic BATTLE in 1985. Called “The Nightmare”, written by myself, about a boy on the run from a Nazi assassin in the Blitz. I always felt it could have been a girls´story. Tremendous artwork by Mario.

    1. How interesting! Thank you for pointing “The Nightmare” out. Maybe we could do an entry on it.

    2. Now I have come into a few episodes of “The Nightmare” I can tell you it was drawn by Jesus Redondo, not Mario Capaldi.

      I don’t think we will be able to do an entry on “The Nightmare” because of its length (January 19th 1985 to October 11th 1986). Sorry to disappoint you. But thank you for pointing it out. In one of the episodes I have found, I see a very hilarious moment where our protagonist and his friends tie Hitler up! I think I’ll put it in the Jinty gallery.

      1. Brilliant work! It was a long-running serial and I can´t remember the Hitler incident. I was brought up to despise Hitler and Nazis, so I fitted in well as Editor of Battle comic. Pat Mills brought Hitler into “Charley´s War” after my suggestion. Mario Capaldi drew “The Nightmare” at first, then became bored or tired of it and it was then drawn by Jesus Redondo. Thanks for all you´ve done. I´ll be amused to see Hitler in the Jinty gallery!

        1. The scene where the boys tie Hitler up is now up at Jinty’s main panel gallery, and appears first on the page. I have seen a lot of panels where Nazis get tied up – but Dolfy himself? Wow! Absolutely priceless!

          1. I´ve seen it and thanks a lot for digging it out. Just the sort of thing Merry at Misery House would have done. When you think about it, the two stories are very similar.

            1. I have now included an addendum about “The Nightmare” on the Merry at Misery House page. The full episode where the boys tie Hitler up has been uploaded there.

              1. I remember writing the episode now and love it when Ian trips up the mighty Hitler. Interesting to see the link from Spartan School to Merry at Misery House to The Nightmare. My brother Clive lettered the episode.

                1. Very interesting about Clive. Thank you for that.

                  It was lucky that the episode was among the issues I acquired. Once I found it, I couldn’t pass up an episode where Hitler gets bound and gagged! Comixminx thinks it’s a great episode too.

                  1. Clive(Nigel Eaton)was a main letterer for IPC boys´comics. I always liked handlettering to machine – more artistic. I guess you know the names of the various letterers like John Aldrich etc.

  12. Barrie Tomlinson might be able to help with “The Nightmare”. Barrie created the story and wrote the first episode, handing it over to me for the continuation. Barrie knows Fleetway/IPC comic worlds inside out, the Group Editor of the boys´comics, particularly Tiger and Roy of the Rovers and superb author of stories like “The Hard Man” and many others. He knews Mavis Miller and the rest. He´s friendly and approachable, online and on Twitter!

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