Berardi's first artistic experiences date back to his college days. At first his interests seemed far removed from the world of comics. In fact he debuted as an author and actor in a student theatrical group, and ventured into pop music, singing and playing a guitar in a typical 60's group, Gli Scorpioni (The Scorpions).
1970| However his beginnings in comics weren't far off. In the early 70's, while still attending the university, along with artist Ivo Milazzo (already his classmate at the teacher's college and a man with whom he'd shared a strong artistic bond for many years), he wrote his first story, Il cieco, a short story published in Sansoni's magazine Horror. In this same period his strip Il palafita saw print in the pages of Sorry, an anthology book of the time, which had been born in the wake of the success of Giovanni Gandini's legendary Linus.
1970| Next he worked - anonymously, as was the practice then - on other comics series, spanning the genres from adventure to humor. In particular, through contacts in the Bierreci studio (made up of his countrymen Luciano Bottaro, Giorgio Rebuffi, and Carlo Chendi), he wrote scripts for Tarzan and Sylvester the Cat for Ceniso and for Mondadori's Topolino.
1971| Following these first tentative steps he spent a long time in the United States, where he had the opportunity to show some of his horror stories to John Romita, Sr. His work was appreciated to the point that he was offered jobs from Marvel, provided that he move to America. Berardi, who was barely twenty-two, turned them down and returned to his country, though not before he'd written a series of articles on comics for various specialty magazines.
1973| Upon his return to Italy he obtained his doctorate in Foreign Languages (presenting a thesis on "The Sociology of the Crime Novel") at Genoa Teachers' College and decided to dedicate himself entirely to comics.
1974| Together with Milazzo he created Ken Parker for the Editoriale Cepim (currently, Sergio Bonelli Editore), writing the first episode, which was originally produced to be part of the Collana Rodeo anthology series. The character was clearly inspired by Jeremiah Johnson, the character portrayed by Robert Redford in the 1972 Sydney Pollack film - especially considering the initial idea was to call him, with noteworthy assonance, Jedediah Baker, a name which was eventually judged too complicated. Even though this first appearance didn't fully illuminate the unique characteristics of Berardi's writing, the character pleased the publisher so much that it was decided to give him his own series. The first issue appeared on the stands only three years later, in June, 1977.
1975-76| Berardi's projects for the Collana Rodeo weren't limited to the one episode of Ken. At the same time he wrote two other stories with western settings: Wyatt Doyle, drawn by Gianni Forgiarini and Terra maledetta, drawn by Antonio Canale. They were published at almost the same time as Ken's debut (in issues 131, April 1978, and 121, June, 1977, respectively, of the Collana Rodeo).
1976| Again with Milazzo, in Edizione Paoline's magazine Giornalino, he published Tiki, a six-episode miniseries. The character was suggested to him by news reports of the genocide of the Amazon Indians, while he was writing an episode of Ken in which a similar thing happened to the American Indians. About this series Berardi said, "…perhaps we can say things with Tiki that we can't manage to say with Ken; I'd say the two series complement each other". But perhaps it was precisely those adult characteristics that annoyed the weekly's editors, for they requested a revamping. Berardi and Milazzo refused, preferring to wrap the series up abruptly in the last two episodes.
1977| The first issue of Ken Parker appeared. Though the format was the same as all the other Bonelli titles, the editorial arrangement, the series being edited by the authors themselves, was quite daring for the time. Albums complete in one issue, logo in a fixed position, and elegant wraparound covers in an almost impressionistic style. But different above all was the authors' approach to western themes and to the narrative. In this regard Berardi declared at the time that "No one has tried to interpret the west with today's mentality. It's a matter of making a very precise decision: to attempt to make the language as clear as possible and to point above all at the content. In my opinion, the fact that you make an "important" statement doesn't mean you must choose an "important" platform, like Alterlinus [the era's most famous so-called "auteur magazine" that published adventure comics] or something. The decision with Ken Parker is to make the discourse understandable to the majority of the public - it's a Populist idea, if you will - but at the same time sneak in some of the content that you might find in the magazines I just mentioned. It's not necessary to create an incomprehensible story to say important things. That's the point." Berardi and Milazo immersed themselves in the character almost completely, limiting the contributions of other collaborators. In the first series (59 issues), Berardi received story help from Alfredo Castelli and Tiziano Sclavi, who scripted a pair of issues, while the richest contribution came from then-newcomer Maurizio Mantero, co-author of some twenty issues. Artists were chosen with care, though the results were rather disappointing when put up against Milazzo's pages. Memorable were the efforts of Giorgio Trevisan and Renzo Calegari (who in fact continued to work with Berardi on other projects); acceptable were those of Giancarlo Alessandrini and Carlo Ambrosini (both still far from artistic maturity); while the efforts of Bruno Marraffa, Giovanni Cianti, Sergio Tarquinio, and Renato Polese were on a modest level.
1977| In the Giornalino, episodes of Tiki alternated with several short stories, among which Un uomo onesto with art by Alessandrini, and Quasi sempre, drawn by Milazzo, would be reworked to form the first episode of the future series Tom's Bar. That same year he wrote issues 167, 168, and 169 of Il piccolo Ranger (titled respectively La vedova nera, Infamia! and L'ultimo atto), which appeared from October to December with art by Lina Buffolente. Skorpio, sister weekly magazine to Lanciostory, published by Lancio, began the publication of the short stories of Welcome to Springville, realized graphically by both Milazzo and Calegari.
1978| Also with Calegari Berardi conceived and produced the calendar Immagini del West, which won a prize at the International Exhibition of Posters and Publicity in Lerici.
1980| From Bonelli - in the Un uomo un'avventura collection - came the volume L'uomo delle Filippine, with script by Berardi and drawings, colored in watercolors, by Milazzo.
1982| There appeared Orient Express, an anthology magazine published by Luigi Bernardi's Isola Trovata which was, at least at first, entirely dedicated to Italian creators. Berardi appeared starting with the second issue in a series of short stories, all illustrated by Milazzo (Una strana coppia in issue 2, Dov'è Laura in n. 3, Vecchio Frac in n. 14, Jane, sweet Jane in n. 21 e L'ultimo samurai in n. 22) and revived Welcome to Springville, writing a pair of episodes which were published in issues 5 and 9 with art by Calegari. A curiosity was the publication in issue 12 of a short story in color, I fondatori, adapted from an Isaac Asimov science-fiction story. Behind the author's mysterious pseudonym, M. M. Becami, we find in fact the signatures of Maurizio Mantero, Berardi, Calegari, and Milazzo.
1982| Again in Orient Express, and again with Milazzo, he created Marvin the detective, hero of a long adventure (Il caso di Marion Colman - 48 pages) published serially. The first part appeared in issue 6, the last in n. 13. In the prologue to the adventure is a delightful cameo by Ken Parker, playing the role of an unlikely villain in a silent movie.
1984| The last issue (n. 59) of the regular Ken Parker series appeared in May, 1984. Although Berardi had announced on more than one occasion that the saga would end with the hero's death, Ken survived to the end. In fact the creators' idea was to continue Ken's adventures in a magazine, without the pressure of constant deadlines imposed by the Bonelli books' monthly schedules (though the schedule wasn't followed too faithfully in the last few issues). Thus in issue 20 of Orient Express (which in the meantime had become Bonelli's property), released that same month, appeared the story Cuccioli, in color and without words. At almost the same time a paperback series (modeled after the French albums) was inaugurated, reprinting Ken's first adventures, reformatted and colored, rotating with reprints of the Welcome to Springville episodes and other western stories by Paolo Eleuteri-Serpieri. In issue 23 of OE appeared the first part of the long-awaited new Ken Parker adventure, Un principe per Norma, drawn not only by Milazzo but also by Trevisan. It ended in issue 29, after seven parts and 124 pages total.
1985| The crises of the prestige magazines began to take their first victims: Orient Express closed its doors with issue 30, and for Ken it was another period of moving about. Welcoming him (with open arms) was publisher Rinaldo Traini, who began publishing Ken in his magazine Comic Art. Comic art published the other three mute episodes (La luna delle magnolie in fiore, Soleado and Pallide Ombre) which together with Cuccioli were to form the volume Il respiro e il sogno, and two more long serialized adventures, Dove muoiono i titani e Un alito di ghiaccio.
1986| Berardi's work extended also to L'Eternauta, in the pages of which appeared adaptations of some Sherlock Holmes stories, with art by Trevisan. The ambience faithfully reflected Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, and the features of Holmes and Dr. Watson were admittedly inspired by actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, co-stars of numerous movies featuring the famous detective.
1989| Again for Comic Art, Berardi revived the character of Tommy Steele, protagonist of his old story published in the Giornalino, kicking off the miniseries Tom's Bar (which comprised all of four episodes) and created the series Giuli Bai & Co., which recounted in a light and amusing fashion the unusual adventures of some kids in Genoa at the end of the 1950's. The first three episodes were printed in Comic Art: Come quella volta del prosciutto in issue 59, Un ricco paio di stivaloni in n. 66, and A tutto gas in n. 67.
1989| Together with Milazzo, Berardi founded Parker Editore and paved the way for the reprinting of a the Ken episodes in their original format. The collection, called Serie Oro, ended in August, 1994, after 62 issues: the last three volumes reprised, in black-and-white and reduced size, the stories which had been serialized in the magazines.
1989| They renewed their contacts with the Bonelli organization: both Berardi and Milazzo began to work, separately, on Nick Raider. Berardi wrote both outline and script for issue 18, Mosaico per un delitto, published in November with art by Bruno Ramella.
1991| The winds of change were blowing at Bonelli, and Berardi was quickly entrusted with a story featuring the celebrated Tex. The artwork for the 344 pages of Oklahoma! (this being the title of the script) went to veteran Guglielmo Letteri, but at the last moment decided not to put the story in the regular series. And so, as had already happened with Tex drawn by Buzzelli (who had inaugurated the special-series collection Texoni), a new supplement was launched which set the precedent for the future MaxiTex series.
1992| With number zero, released in March, 1992, Parker Editore presented the anthology Ken Parker Magazine, in a format (19.5 x 26 cm) halfway between the Bonelli format and that of the classic auteur magazines. The intention was to present new adventures of Ken along with articles related to the subject of the comic and, eventually, other stories, not exclusively tied to the names Berardi and Milazzo. For the text, Berardi again availed himself of the assistance of Maurizio Mantero and of a newcomer, Valerio Rontini; while for the drawings, Milazzo gathered a group of young collaborators (Giuseppe Barbati, Pasquale Frisenda, Massimo Bertolotti, Laura Zuccheri) united under the label Studio IM. Sporadically he turned to the faithful Trevisan and to the very young talent Goran Parlov for artistic help. In the Magazine, besides new Ken adventures and reprises of many Berardi characters (among them the final unpublished episode of Giuli Bai & Co., "La Spagnola sa amar cosi" in issue 4), were some old stories by Berardi's favorite artist, Alex Toth.
1993| Among the many recognitions he received, the ANAFI award for Best Scripter of the Year stands out, as it consecrated a place for Berardi in the Olympus of Italian comics.
1994| With the appearance of the double issue 19/20, Ken Parker Magazine was taken over by Sergio Bonelli Editore and Ken returned to the stable which gave him birth. The magazine's structure didn't change; on the contrary, it was enriched by the contributions of many of the Milanese publisher's other creators and characters. Renato Polese, Giovanni Fregheri, and Jose Ortiz lent a hand to the art team, while numerous non-series tales of Dylan Dog, Nick Raider, Nathan Never, Martin Mystery, Tex, and Mister No ran as back-up features.
1996| Ken's editorial problems never seemed to end: in January the final issue of the Magazine appeared. However, scarcely three months later a reprint series was launched, publishing the new adventures from Ken Parker Magazine in bimonthly single-character volumes in the classic Bonelli format, which followed the numbering of the defunct Gold Series. The series was dubbed the Ken Parker Collection. Alongside it ran several semi-annual specials, with new, unpublished adventures. The first of these was released that same July.
1998| The last Ken special, Faccia di rame, appeared in January, 1998. It seemed, for now at least, to put a definite end to the character's odyssey, leaving him suspended in the limbo of an unjust jail sentence, giving questioning readers no peace. By this time, in fact, Berardi had already been completely involved for a couple of years with his new character, Julia, the first issue of which came out that October, and which marked the interruption of the historic collaboration with his friend Milazzo. The design of the character was entrusted to the talented Luca Vannini, who also drew the first issue, while the following eleven episodes were illustrated, in order, by Corrado Roi, Gustavo Trigo, Piero Dall'Agnol, Laura Zuccheri, Marco Soldi, Luigi Siniscalchi, Giorgio Trevisan, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Valerio Piccioni, Sergio Toppi, and Federico Antinori. On this occasion, in his rare moments of relaxation, Berardi still picks up his old electric guitar.
"When Giancarlo Berardi and Ivo Milazzo pitched Ken to me - a blonde western character inspired in part by Robert Redford - I immediately recognized their talent. And, even though it was a bit difficult, I tried to avoid as much as possible imposing on them the classic Bonellian forms of expression which, especially in those days, had made such a success out of other books I'd published. Ken Parker is a title in which poetry must take precedence over action; the dialogue is more important than gunshots and punch-outs, and the montage and narrative style are constantly experimenting with new ideas and solutions."
"Good stories, as far as I'm concerned, are those with good characters". In this phrase (almost an aphorism) taken from an old interview, Giancarlo Berardi reveals the spirit of the entire production that has appeared under his byline during the past 25 years. Before the story comes the characters. If they're good, the stories will be. Almost an Aristotelian syllogism. An ipse dixit".
"I met my good friends Berardi and Milazzo in a far-off time when, at the beginning of their careers, they looked me up at my studio; and at that moment I knew they were more than well-versed in their subject, both literarily and graphically. A lot of time has passed since then, and both Ivo and Giancarlo have made giant strides, pressing ever forward, creating with their personal style a place for themselves amongst the greatest creators in comics and illustration."