Lines and Colors art blog

Alessandro Barbucci
& Barbara Canepa

A few years ago I was in Paris (sigh), gleefully digging through the bandes-dessinées shops in the area around the Sorbonne, when I chanced on a comic album called Sky-Doll. I knew nothing about it, I was just struck by the wonderful drawing and colors. I was unfamiliar with either the artist, Alessandro Barbucci, or the writer/colorist, Barbara Canepa, both from Genoa, Italy.

I managed to conjure up enough halting, clumsy French to convey to the proprietor that I was interested in any other comic albums he might have with art by Barbucci, but finally learned that this was the only volume so far and the artist was new.

The drawings were lively, fresh, slightly cartoony but highly rendered and with delightfully realized and very imaginative backgrounds and settings. I was immediately taken with the visual joie de vivre and went home happy with my discovery, but disappointed that I couldn’t carry home a stack of Barbucci albums with my Moebius, Beltran and Gillon.

I was able to pick the second volume of Sky-Doll a couple of years later (this time while rooting through fumetti shops in Rome), and learned that Barbucci had, in fact, been around for a while. He had previously worked on a comic series for Disney Italy, also written and colored by Canepa, called Witch, a charming and beautifully drawn childrens’ series (as opposed to the distinctly adult nature of Sky-Doll). The series is the basis for the current W.I.T.C.H. animated TV series, but I don’t think B&C have anything to do with it directly.

After the first two volumes of Sky-doll, Barbucci and Canepa returned to Disney to work on the first three (I think) stories for Monster Allergy, a delightful comic series about a kid whose allergies allow him to see invisible monsters in his house. The comic series continues to run under other artists and has been made into an animated TV show in Italy.

Sky-doll #3 is currently being serialized in Lanfeust (Google translation here), the French action-adventure comics anthology magazine, and should be released soon. Sky-doll 0: Doll’s Factory is a “making of” book on the series.

There is an official site for Sky-Doll, but it’s been unfinished and apparently abandoned for some time. It still has full pages that you can preview, though. In fact only the Book intro and Gallery page are active.

You can also find some art from B&C on (Google translation here). The page for Witch, has lots of small comics pages you can preview. There is also some Barbucci art here.

There is an unofficial site devoted to Barbucci and Canepa (annoying Lycos pop-up warning) with news and info as well as galleries of comics pages, covers and sketches. (Google translation here).

Americans can order some of the Sky-doll comic albums from Stuart NG Books or Mars Import. These are the French editions (there are no English translations that I’m aware of) and they come at a premium, but you can get them.

Note: Some of the sites linked here contain nudity and sexually suggestive images. Avoid them if you’re likely to be offended.



16 responses to “Alessandro Barbucci
& Barbara Canepa”

  1. Last year I found the first Skydoll at a bookfair and I was immediately impressed by the style of the drawings and the wonderfull coloring. I had never heard of Barbucci or Canepa, but now they’re among my favourite artists.
    Recently I found Skydoll 2 and I ordered “Skydoll’s Factory” wich is a making of, with beautiful sketches.
    (Great website by the way)

  2. Your site is great, I often post in my blog about news that you found first (giving credit of course) and I’m a little ashamed to write to underline a little error. The right name is: “Barbara Canepa”. Everything else here is perfect 😉

  3. Ray,
    Yes, Barbucci and Canepa are among my favorites now as well. It’s unfortunately not that easy for us to browse and find European comics here in the US. Thanks for the nice words about lines and colors.

  4. masayume,
    Thanks for the correction (in the original I had “Barbarra Canepa”).

    Thanks for your comments about the blog. I enjoy your blog, Masayume, as well, although the Google English translation link seems broken. Here is a Google translation of Masayume from the US Google server.

    I think it’s geat that you feature items from lines and colors on your blog, it is probably much better than the Google Italian translation for readers there, and I appreciate the links back to l&c.

  5. Jesper Svedberg Avatar
    Jesper Svedberg

    Very nice stuff. You should check out a BD called “Blacksad”, illustrated by a guy named Juanjo Guarnido. You can find an excerpt here. (At least one volume is available in an english edition as well and it might be worth checking out, since none of the scans really do the beautiful coloring justice.)

    Going through a french store selling bandes-dessinées can be quite a daunting experience. There are just so many excellent illustrators working on the european comic book scene that it would take a minor fortune to buy even a fraction of the BDs that look interesting.

  6. Jesper, Very cool. Thanks. I wasan’t familiar with Guarnido. You’re absolutely right about the “kid in a candy store” effect of bandes desinées shops. I often bemoan how difficult it is to find European comics albums in any quantity in shops in the U.S., but it’s probably a good thing financially. <g>

  7. Davor Konfic Avatar
    Davor Konfic

    First of all, GREAT SITE! It was quite a discovery for me. Second, Barbucci and Canepa are awesome. I first noticed them on the net some years back, and later in a comics shop in Zagreb (I’m from Croatia, btw). It was actualy a serbian translation, semi-softcover and reasonably cheap so I grabed it right away. Wasn’t disapointed:) The art is fantastic and I don’t think “slightly cartoony” is the right way to go describing it. It’s cartoony all the way.
    I usualy don’t pay much attention to who colored a comic, but I do pay attention to the coloring itself. It’s a very bad habbit which I hope to kick very soon. Canepa is donig her part of the job amazingly – they make a great team. Could you please write something about the technic she’s using. I’d realy like to learn more.
    Concerning the other topic – comic book shops around the world – usualy when I travel to other countries and cities, the first thing I look for is a comics shop. I was in Dublin a couple of years back and came across (it wasn’t very easy) two wonderful (although very unsimilar between the two of them) shops. The first one was a small and crowded shop filled from top to bottom with comics and graphic novels of every size and form, and most of all every age. I’m serious, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had found the first comic ever published in there. Unfortunatly, my time was very limited (it was half an hour before closing time) and most of the comics were tightly packed inside cardboard boxes – you could freely brosw them but it was a very delicate and slow proces. The only ones I could realy have a look at were the newest ones and they were placed on the shelves. The owner was a pretty decent guy (all Irish are like that actualy – very friendly) so he stayed another 15 or so minutes so I could enjoy the comics even though he knew I wasn’t going to buy anything. I can’t remeber the name of the place, I’m sorry.
    The other shop was a completly different story. It’s an enormous shop with a ground floor, which was mostly filled with various action figures and dolls from comics and movies (probably everything there is from Lord of the Rings), and a basement which was full of comics of all kinds, but neatly placed on shelves so I could browse more easily. I bought two SpiderMan comics by Humberto Ramos (recomendation – check him out!). The place is called “Forbidden Planet” and is located on the southern bank of the river Liffey (I think it’s spelled so). Can’t miss it. Happy hunting.
    Blacksad is also a fantastic graphic novel, and yes, there is a second book translated to english and a Making-of book as well.
    Once again – the site is incredible! Keep Going!

  8. Davor,

    Thanks for your comments and your experiences with comic shops in Dublin. I always enjoy hearing about shops in other places.

    I think the Forbidden Planet store you mention is part of a chain of UK shops by that name. There is also a large comics store in New York by that name (at Broadway and 13th), but I don’t know if there’s any connection.

  9. Davor Konfic Avatar
    Davor Konfic

    Thanks for the info on the Forbidden Planet. If I ever go to New York (oh God, pleeeeeease!) I’ll look it up.
    Better start saving, right? 🙂

  10. AJ barroso Avatar
    AJ barroso

    Um, hey, I picked up the Heavy metal with the sky doll series, and once again Heavy Metal pulls through with great stuff and sky doll was no exeption – it was realy cool. But am I missing something here? Is this all? Are there other issues? They have built up situations and charicters and alluded to the relationship between charicters here and it just ambiguouslessly ends. I just found my self asking what the hell are these people talking about throuhout the story. It was just like walking into a movie a half hour late and leaving a half hour late. I mean I know different cultures do things different ways. I guess that I’m just used to stories coming full circle. So if some one can tell me if there is more to this story or can they explain it to me – because apparently there are some subtleties i’m missing here. I’m just not geting it.

  11. Portia Avatar

    I baught the heavy metal with the sky doll series 2 days ago, that’s why i’m online looking for more. Are you sure there aren’t any more, cause it can’t just end with them running away…

  12. Portia,

    As far as I know that’s the story to date. You and I are not the only ones waiting for the next story. Hopefully, Barbucci and Canepa will not be too busy with their other projects to continue Sky-Doll soon. Sky-Doll 3 was recently serialized in Lanfeust and I just got a subscription to Lanfeust for my birthday this year, so you can bet I’ll have my eye out for any sign of Sky-Doll 4.

  13. Bloody hell! I love this new Sky Doll series to death. It has a very interesting plot and I will be truly peeved if the story doesn’t continue. Question,…could someone post it on this message board as soon as the new continuation is out? I’d be ever so grateful.

  14. Thanks so much for the compliments…^____^

    Here, for all who are who are interested, are my news updates and information on many new projects beyond Sky Doll:

    SKY DOLL will soon be published by Marvel in the USA, in spring 2008.
    If you want to keep yourselves up to date, here’s the Newsrama website.

  15. Thank you for the comment and the information, Barbara.

    We will be watching for the release of the Marvel Edition of Sky Doll, and I’ll try to mention it here when it’s published.

    I’ll also be watching for your other new projects, and I have added your new blog to the lines and colors blogroll.

  16. The 4th book is supposedly going to be called ‘Sudra.’ No word yet as to when it will be released.

    The wikipedia page is okay for the series.

    Thanks for writing about this. I too discovered the series in ‘Heavy Metal.’ I have Sky Doll 0, which is great. I’ll be happy when the next book comes out.