Children’s illustrator Antonio Lupatelli – better known by the pseudonym Tony Wolf – has died at the age of 88-years-old.
Born in Busseto, Italy in 1930, Lupatelli passed away on May 18, in the city of Cremona where he had spent the majority of his life.
His extraordinary life and creativity was celebrated during a funeral service at the Church of San Michele.
Lupatelli was best known for his bringing Swiss-British claymation series Pingu to the page, illustrating books such as Pingu the Star, Pingu the Adventurer, Pingu and the Seal and Pingu the Sportsman.
— Emilio Pazos (@Emilio_Pazos) May 22, 2018
Pingu followed the adventures of a mischievous young penguin in his homeland of Antartica and was a special part of many people’s childhoods.
Lupatelli’s book adaptions proved to be very popular during the nineties, with the BAFTA winning TV series created by Swiss animator Otmar Gutmann having proved to be a worldwide phenomenon.
Viewers fell in love with the show’s gentle sense of humour and memorably adorable cast of characters. Pingu himself – with his curious and occasionally naughty nature – was a particular favourite of children and adults alike.
Remind yourself why Pingu remains so beloved with the following nostalgic trailer:
Many will fondly remember the sweet, invented language of Penguinise spoken by Pingu and his pals, which was way more complicated than you might think as David Sant revealed to The Guardian:
The language sounds random – ‘moot moot’ and the rest – but it’s actually quite precise.
Theatrically, it’s like Grammelot, a technique that has been used in theatre and commedia dell’arte for hundreds of years.
It’s designed to sound like a real language, and the audience can sort of guess what it means, but it’s basically gibberish.
We made up about 95% of the words on the day, though some would recur: ‘toy’ became something like ‘tellibelli’, I think, and ‘drink’ was ‘ciochilani’.
In the UK, Lupatelli will be perhaps most strongly associated with the loveable little penguin who could unfreeze even the coldest of hearts.
However, in his home country of Italy he was also well regarded for his watercolour fairytale-style plates in adaptions of classics including The Nutcracker Prince and Pinocchio.
Lupatelli designed many tarot decks during his lifetime, including ‘The Tarot of the Gnomes’ which is famously the smallest tarot deck ever to be published.
The illustrater of Pingu, Antonio Lupatelli died today, noot to pay your respects pic.twitter.com/6cEcMTf5i5
— E (@VonNoobmark) May 23, 2018
— christine_ck (@chkulam) May 25, 2018
Those who read his Pingu books as children have taken to social media to share their sadness over the great illustrator’s death.
One person tweeted:
Rest in peace Antonio Lupatelli, noot noot in heaven for us. Thank you for Pingu.
In honour of Tony Wolf Ive put the theme tune on in the pub. Me and the kids miss the days with Pingu and family and his mate the seal.
Rest in peace Antonio Lupatelli, noot noot in heaven for us. Thank you for Pingu ? pic.twitter.com/QlRIugqwKv
— ? Aldrin Rimong ? (@AldrinRimong) May 25, 2018
— Chely Gomez (@chelycoachella) May 22, 2018
We are deeply disheartened to hear about the loss of the famous illustrator, Tony Wolf, the man behind our favourite childhood cartoon, Pingu.
Thank you for bringing such happiness into our lives. You will truly be missed. #TonyWolf
— Scroll Mantra (@scrollmantra) May 25, 2018
I’ve stopped caring about everything else- #PINGU’s DEAAAAAAAAD ??????????? in honour of #TonyWolf Ive put the theme tune on in the pub ?? Me an the kids miss the days with Pingu and family and his mate the seal
— Jen (@DeltaDelaney) May 24, 2018
Until the end of June, the Nervi Museums of Genoa will dedicate a gallery to Lupatelli in a fitting tribute to his imaginative and endlessly endearing work.
Our thoughts are with the family of Antonio Lupatelli at this difficult time.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.