On May 15th, Milo Manara announced a new portfolio of his recent drawings called Lockdown Heroes through Italian company Feltrinelli Comics. As Rich wrote previously, Manara has a reputation for drawing women in erotic positions and in very little clothing. Still, this latest line of watercolors shows women in making masks, cleaning, and in scrubs. It's a significant departure from what Manara usually draws, and the proceeds from this unique portfolio will be going to a good cause.
In a kinder light, these drawings highlight Manara's attention to rich detail in a realistic setting, the little watercolor discoloring in a blue jean jacket to simulate wrinkles, for example. The 32 Euro portfolio will include a Manara interview conducted by Tito Faraci.
Money from Lockdown Heroes will benefit the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, the University Hospital of Padua, and the Domenico Cotugno Hospital in Naples. It's unclear how large of a percentage will go to those hospitals, but Manara is apparently stamping and signing each copy sold to boost sales.
Manara talks extensively about the project, and through Google Translate, we can understand what he says.
"I can't say exactly how I started this series of small watercolors – Milo Manara says – surely there was no program: I simply found myself drawing the first image.
The dismay, the anguished and the disbelief for the catastrophe that was looming made it impossible for me to continue my routine work: impossible to concentrate, find the necessary attention and serenity. I know that the same thing happened a bit to everyone like, for example, to strong readers who proposed to use forced inactivity to read thousands of books, but who could not go beyond the first three pages of the first book.
I remember it was March 8, Women's Day, and I was trying to think of an image for the occasion, but the news that came overlapped any thoughts. Doctors and nurses who tried to cope with a virus they knew little or nothing about, often without adequate protection, with the wards filling up more and more with patients in serious conditions, with insufficient intensive care facilities and the feeling of not being able to, to be overwhelmed.
The first image was born so, spontaneously. Since it was an anesthesiologist doctor who was the first to diagnose the presence of the virus, it seemed logical to decline the female image, also because it was a duty for me to celebrate the courage, self-denial and strength of those exhausted women, little protected, but that in spite of everything they remain in their place, fulfilling their duty, while being perfectly aware of the risk they ran. There are about 160 doctors killed by the virus in Italy, 40 nurses, and 15 pharmacists.
I wondered how I could have been vaguely useful, as a draftsman, and how I could express gratitude and encouragement. After more than fifty years spent celebrating the beauty and seduction of women, it was quite natural to also celebrate their other virtues. Besides the health workers there were many other people who continued to do their job, in the interest of all, exposing themselves to the danger of contagion: cashier of supermarkets, cleaners in hospitals and outside, the police… I drew one by one, simply to thank them and, perhaps, even a little hoping that we will remember them when everything is over."
Lockdown Heroes will arrive in bookstores on July 30th.