AKA Twenty One Avenue
by Sherif Awad
I’m Riccardo aka Twenty_one Avenue. I’m an Italian cartoonist and illustrator. I’m born in Urbino, city of the renaissance and home of the painter Raffaello Sanzio. My family is a mix of cultures, my mom born in Belgium and my father in Italy, they both have artistic sensibilities. My father is a restorer and my mom went to art school. Since I was a child, the drawing has always been my main life partner. I still have a secret diary from when I was in fourth grade where I wrote “when I grow up, I will become a cartoonist”.
I grew up submerged by the pop culture of the 80s / 90s: Spielberg, video games, Japanese animation and crazy TV series. Basically, a classic 20th century boy. But the real shock was caused by the world of comics. Rumiko Takahashi’s manga were the first comics that I read with enthusiasm. I became addicted to comics and then I stated to read American comics, bandes dessinées and Italian comics. My first love was Corto Maltese created by Hugo Pratt, a fundamental author for my education, especially for my passion for watercolors (I suggest you look at the Pratt’s watercolors). After him, I think I have become a little more adult as a comic artist
-I studied at one of the most important Italian art schools that first held courses in animation cinema, comics and illustration: the Urbino book school. In addition to my education, the thing that most contaminated my style and contributed to my training as a cartoonist was undoubtedly literature and cinema but above all the stories. Understanding how a story is told with images is the first step to becoming an author. That’s why after finishing my art studies I studied screenwriting, film and television. What I learned at the Luchino Visconti film school in Milan is still fundamental to my creative process.
My first approach to the world of professional comics was a story that I published in the almanac of the architect Renzo Piano for Expo 2015. Subsequently I began my collaboration with a German publishing house, Ostfalia-Verlag, with which I still collaborate today. historical comics. One of the most particular experiences I have faced is undoubtedly the Cosmonaut’s Construct a sci-fi interactive comic, a videogame produced by Game Chuck.
-Fortunately, in the last ten years the Italian comic book publishing market has experienced a big surge in sales and consensus. Many readers who had never approached comics have started buying graphic novels and I think this is mainly due to some comics born on the web like those of Zerocalcare which are having great success. Another author who has counted a lot on the Italian scene and also in my growth as an author is Gipi, a great storyteller.
I am never satisfied with what I draw, I often tend to hate what I do once a project is completed. So I believe that there are very few projects I have collaborated on that I could define as excellent results. Right now I’m working on three comic books, two of which are written by two different screenwriters and one, the one I care about most, which I’m working on as a sole author. I think we will soon know if one of these works or all three will be my greatest achievement.
-For newcomers, I quote a great master I would say: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.
-As I have already said I am working on three comics projects, one of which is a story that tells a very particular thing that happened in my family, it will tell the journey of a teenager through Europe to deliver a very important package. I have been working on it for years and now I care about it like my son. I hope to find a publisher soon.