One of the best artists around has shut down critics of his past works with his latest–and possibly most enduring–project yet. The artist is the celebrated Italian painter Milo Manara. Known as much for his brilliant depictions of women as superheroines–sometimes idealized, often powerful, and in countless fantasy scenarios–Manara from time to time is the target of naysayers maligning him for his talent (even labeling him sexist), specifically with respect to his depictions of beautiful women. In many ways Manara’s latest project is more of the same, only his superheroines with capes have been replaced with real-life masked superheroines, further demonstrating why he is the real deal.
On his social media Manara has shared these stunning paintings as an homage along with notes of thanks for those countlesspeople who have created a broad, worldwide new “front lines” superteam in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In so doing Manara joins artists like Bill Sienkiewicz as one of the 21st century iconic artists who takes a break from the business craft from time to time to picture for his fans and followers the beauty and truth that lies around us in places both familiar and unfamiliar.
Beginning March 15 and continuing into this weekend, Manara has depicted essential, indispensable, risk-taking women on the job in his native Italy, one of the most ravaged of nations by the virus, including a truck driver, an emergency response technician, a grocery store clerk, a delivery service worker, cleaning workers, a police officer, security/traffic guard, and a doctor confronting the virus head-on in a multimedia video (all viewable on his Facebook page here). He added to his collection this weekend with the image of a postal carrier. The biggest surprise that many haven’t noticed? A fascinating response to his paintings can be found on Facebook, where people have been tagging his artwork with the names of their own real-life friends and family reflected in the drawings. His own comments on his works include simple thanks in many ways, including, “Thank you to those who work putting themselves in danger for our safety,” “Thanks to the invisible, hoping we’ll remember them even later,” and “These days, if Italy keeps working, it’s also thanks to them. — Milo.”
Manara will be familiar to fans of science fiction and superhero comics for work on series including Heavy Metal and Sandman, as well as his run of X-Men.
A winner of the major comics industry awards, the 74-year-old writer/artist had his first comics work published 50 years ago in 1969, later working on writing projects with the likes of film director and screenwriter Federico Fellini.
Follow Milo Manara on Facebook and Instagram to see more works in this new collection and for further additions to his project. Forthcoming depictions include a pharmacist and fruit and vegetable workers.