On 14 July, The Times ran a piece by Melanie Reid entitled "Mystery of the Italian brothers in at the birth of The Beano" in which she discussed the launch of the Happy Birthday Beano! exhibition, which opened on 18 July (and runs to 20 September) at the Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee.
A curiosity about the early issues of The Beano inspired the title: "An exhibition to mark the landmark anniversary of the venerable magazine reveals that in 1938 the Dinelli brothers were responsible for a cartoon, The Adventures of Robert Robot, that they posted to the publisher's headquarters in Dundee from their home in Italy."
By an odd coincidence, this was something I had hoped to discuss during the anniversary week of The Beano but, since the cat's peeking out of the bag already, I thought I'd put my tuppence-worth in now.
Actually it's only about a penny's worth... the brothers were actually called Torelli rather than Dinelli. I believe they were almost certainly Tristano and Bubi Torelli but a dig around Google hasn't turned up much at all. The Torelli brothers were based in Milan and subsequently published under the imprint of editore Torelli (or possibly Albi di Torelli) a number of comic books, including Il Piccolo Sceriffo (1948-65), an adventure strip featuring a young boy called Kit who becomes the sheriff of Prairie Town following the murder of his father. which ran to some 480 issues in various series. Torelli also published Sciuscia (1949-65), a story of the Canadian Mounted Police, and Nat del Santa Cruz (dates unknown).
How, ten years before the creation of The Little Sheriff, they came to be working for D. C. Thomson I've no idea, but they were responsible for two strips: 'Brave Captain Kipper' and 'Tin-Can Tommy' (The Clockwork Boy). The former strip ran for just over a year, coming to an end in issue 57 (26 August 1939). The latter, originally called 'The Adventures of Robert Robot', was about a couple who had lost their child and were given a robot boy as a replacement. "The Futurist style was admired," says Melanie Reid, "but [their] grasp of a snappy title was not, and the Robert Robot strip was swiftly renamed 'Tin-Can Tommy' for British consumption."
The Torelli brothers supplied the strip each week until issue 69 (18 November 1939). They had last been heard from a few months earlier when they wrote to D. C. Thomson to say that they were in France to avoid the unrest and were hoping to return to Italy soon to continue drawing. "Don't worry, our countries will not go to war," they wrote. Unfortunately, a few days later war did break out and 'Tin-Can Tommy' was continued by another artist, Sam Fair. The Torelli brothers had no further contact with Thomsons, even after the war.