A few years ago I remember getting quite a few queries about the fate of Massimo Belardinelli. There was a persistent rumour that he had died but it turned out he was alive and living near Rome. I'm pretty sure the rumours began with Belardinelli's disappearance from British comics in the early 1990s following the death of his agent, Alberto Giolitti, on 15 April 1993.
Subsequently, Belardinelli sightings have been rare, although the fact that he was still alive has been reported a few times in various 2000AD Message Board threads (see, for instance, here) and Belardinelli fan Rob Cox posted (5 September 2005) a letter and illustration he had received from the artist in which he confessed he was suffering from ill health ("a naughty heart") which had caused him to reduce his production of comic strips.
I'm pleased to see that Belardinelli is still around and still active: issue 39 (June 2006) of the Italian fanzine Ink has an interview with him, conducted by Romano Felmang (who is a very popular artist himself, best known for his work on 'The Phantom'). As my knowledge of Italian is pretty limited (good enough to recognise that "intervista di" means "interviewed by" but that's about it), it's not a magazine I subscribe to but I thought it might be worth aiming a link at for Belardinelli fans.
And it gives me an excuse to add the following little pic which I believe is one of Belardinelli's first jobs in the UK. Belardinelli was an inker for an outfit called Studio Rosi back in the mid-1960s and I'm pretty sure his first appearance was inking episodes of 'The Steel Claw' for Fleetway's Stupendous Super Library. This frame is from issue 9, 'Forbidden Territory'.
Belardinelli also inked Giorgio Cambiotti on a Claw story for Valiant before working on various stories for Lion, drawing backgrounds for Giolitti's Gold Key titles Turok Son of Stone and Star Trek, and subsequently taking Britain by storm with 'Spinball' in Action and 'Dan Dare' in early issues of 2000AD. I always thought it was a shame that Belardinelli's style fell out of favour on 2000AD in the mid-1980s as he was always a more than capable artist and built up a solid fan base with his work on 'Inferno', 'Flesh II', 'The Angry Planet' (in Tornado), 'Blackhawk', 'Meltdown Man', 'Ace Trucking Co' and the early episodes of 'Slaine'.
(* All this just so I can stick in a picture of the Steel Claw!)