Massimiliano Frezzato, (usually referred to, Elvis-style, as simply Frezzato) is a highly regarded Italian comics artist. Frezzato was born and lives in Torino, site of the current Winter Olympics. (how’s that for a topical tie-in?)
Although he has worked an a number of projects and short features he is best known as the artist of two major series, Margot, written by Jérôme Charyn, and in particular, Les Gardiens du Maser, written by Nikita Mandryka.
Frezzato seems to have been influenced by anime (occasionally his characters will exhibit the large doll-like eyes and head proportions seen in anime and manga), but his main influences are probably major European comics artists like Moebius and Enki Bilal.
Like Bilal, and to a lesser extent, Moebius, Frezzato’s work seems to be a mixed-media affair, combining pencils, inks, paint and colored pencils, crayons or chalks (image detail at left).
His work is at once realistic and cartoon-like, highly rendered and quickly gestured. His draughtsmanship can be restrained and straightforward and wildly exaggerated, often within the same story or even on the same page. (The image here shows him at his most restrained.)
There is a site devoted to the Maser series, with French and English versions, although the English version is offline as of this writing. It’s worth checking out, though; it contains some large (but watermarked) Frezzato images in the form of downloadable wallpapers, and the Albums section has thumbnail images that you can mouse-over to see small but beautiful previews of whole pages.
You can find the English translation versions of the Maser series in many U.S. comics shops and book stores. Here is an Amazon link to the first volume of the series: Second Moon (Keepers of the Maser Series, Volume 1).
There is also a Frezzato Sketchbook available, which I really enjoy. It contains preliminary drawings and penciled pages for his comics albums, as well as character drawings, random sketches and flights of fancy.
His work also occasionally appears in Heavy Metal, a comics magazine based on the French Metal Hurlant comics magazine.
Heavy Metal also publishes the U.S. versions of Frezzato’s comic albums.