Hasslein Blog: GUEST BLOG FROM MARK MARTINEZ: Star Trek Comics Retrospective--Mario Caria, Cover Artist


Hasslein Blog

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

GUEST BLOG FROM MARK MARTINEZ: Star Trek Comics Retrospective--Mario Caria, Cover Artist

By Mark Martinez; Posted by Rich Handley
Mark Martinez, who maintains the amazing Star Trek Comics Checklist site, has submitted a guest blog that we're pleased to publish. Mark's article discusses Mario Caria, an artist who drew some distinctive covers for Star Trek comics reprinted in Europe. Enjoy!

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Star Trek Comics Retrospective: Mario Caria, Cover Artist
By Mark Martinez

Where we ask the Guardian of Forever to take us back in time for a brief visit with an Italian Star Trek comic artist who isn't very well known to Trekkies outside of Europe.

Comics were introduced to the Star Trek universe back in 1967 via the pencils and brushes of Italian artists. Penciling and inking the first three dozen Gold Key Star Trek comics from Western Publishing were Nevio Zeccara, Alberto GiolittiGiovanni Ticci, Massimo Belardinelli, Angelo Todaro, Giorgio Cambiotti and Mario Pedrazzi. If you follow the links underneath these names, you can learn more about the artists.

More than forty years later, Star Trek comics are experiencing an Italian renaissance thanks to IDW Publishing's stable of artists from Italy, like David Messina, Elena Casagrande, Giovanna Niro, Federica Manfredi, Ilaria Traversi, Arianna Florean, Sara Pichelli, Fabio Mantovani, Francesco FrancavillaEmanuela Lupacchino, Mario Alberti, Claudia Balboni, Chiara Cinabro, Andrea Priorini, Nicola Zanni, Gaetano Carlucci, Francesco Lo Storto, Davide Amici, and probably more that I've missed. Most of these talented artists have blogs, websites, or Facebook pages linked by their names, where you can learn more about them and their artwork. One Italian artist is missing from these two lists.

Mario Caria

Mario Caria was born in Rome in 1934, where he lived and worked nearly all his life, designing and illustrating covers for thrillers, detective stories and comics. Caria's preferred medium was pencils and tempera on cardboard. His book covers often featured beautiful women menaced by some hideous creature. Caria's covers appeared on comics published in several languages throughout Europe. His best known work was done for Italian publishing house Fratelli Spada, for whom he produced dozens of comic covers for The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, and other titles.

Fratelli Spada was also licensed to reprint Western Publishing's Gold Key Star Trek comics in Europe. In 1972 and 1973, Caria created uniquely distinctive covers for several individual issues and collections of Star Trek comics published in Italy and France. Caria's Kirk and Spock are both tough-as-nails armed adventurers. Spock has stiletto-like ears and exotically curved eyebrows. As was the odd custom in those early days of Star Trek comics, the Enterprise painted by Caria has flames shooting out of the nacelles. Several covers also feature large and menacing adversaries for our well-armed Starfleet heroes. Some of Caria's figures have a slightly cartoonish aspect to them, but his Kirk and Spock clearly mean business.

Star Trek comics readers in the United States may not be familiar with this talented Italian artist, but copies of comics with Caria's Star Trek covers can occasionally be found on eBay. Caria passed away in 2001 and, like most of the first generation of Italian Star Trek comic artists who are now gone, missed enjoying the next-generation work being done for IDW. Here, for your enjoyment, are his Star Trek comic covers (all that I'm aware of, but there could be more) and some of his other artwork. If he were alive today, he would probably be hard at work, since he was a prolific creator of covers for vampire fiction, so popular right now.

He might even have been hired by IDW for a hard-edged Star Trek cover or two.

Star Trek #7 (Italy), Star Trek #8 (Italy)

Star Trek #9 (Italy), Star Trek #10 (Italy)

Star Trek #5 (France), Star Trek Album #1 (France)

Superspada #6 (Italy)

Flash Gordon (left), The Phantom (right)

I Racconti di Dracula

Brief interview with Mario Caria, courtesy of YouTube

No Italian Star Trek artists were harmed during the writing of this article, unless I omitted someone. My apologies if I did. Let me know in the comments, and the oversight will be rectified.

1. Sergio Bissoli, I Racconti di Dracula

2. Catologo SF, Fantasy e Horror: Covers by Mario Caria

3. Catologo SF, Fantasy e Horror: Covers by Mario Caria

4. kit*walker's French Phantom cover collection

5. Mario Caria art at comicartfans

6. Gold Key Star Trek comics around the world

7. Mario Caria, by Giuseppe Pollicelli, Fumetti d'Italia, Numero 12, Agosto/Settembre 1994, pp 4-9.

Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist, for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.

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