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Iginio Straffi (born May 30, 1965 in Gualdo (MC), Italy) is the founder of the Rainbow S.p.A. studio, which he co-owns with ViacomCBS (an American company that also owns Nickelodeon). He is the creator of the Winx Club series, its spin-offs, and Huntik, as well as the co-creator of Maya Fox. Straffi is also the producer of Club 57.
Straffi was born in Gualdo in the Italian region of Marche. He had an interest in illustrating comic books from a young age, and by age seven, he started drawing his own comic stories. When he was eight years old, Straffi moved to the nearby city of Macerata. In high school, he often drew comics in his classmates' notebooks and participated in art competitions, such as one held by the comic magazine Totem. While he continued to develop his art skills, Straffi studied modern languages and literatures at the University of Macerata. During his university years, he dated a foreign girl named Antonella who was raised in Italy by foster parents. Antonella told Straffi of her desire to meet her biological parents, which inspired Straffi to design a character with a similar backstory.
In 1992, Straffi left Bonelli Editore and moved to France for a storyboarding job at the Telcima animation studio. He was "bewildered" when he was offered the position, but in Straffi's words, it was "the turning point [he] was waiting for." Straffi worked on designs for the pilot episode of Valérian as well as a planned film adaptation of Roman de Renart. After becoming experienced with each stage of the animation production process, Straffi returned to Italy. With the financial assistance of Lamberto Pigini and Giuseppe Casali, Straffi founded the Rainbow studio in 1995 with 10,000 euros. The money was mainly used to purchase computers and software for digital design.
Rainbow initially provided creative services for larger companies. Among the studio's first commissions were three minutes of animation in the film La freccia azzurra and the pilot for Les Armateurs' cartoon Belphégor. Rainbow eventually secured enough funds to produce its first original project, the Tommy e Oscar series of CD-ROMs and animations. In 2004, Straffi's creation Winx Club premiered on Italy's Rai 2 channel. It became one of the network's highest-rated programs, with an average audience share of 17%. Straffi originally wrote the Winx Club plot to last no more than 78 episodes (three seasons). He decided to extend the series for an additional season in 2008, citing the show's increasing popularity.
Working with Viacom
Around this time, the international success of Winx Club attracted the attention of the American media company Viacom, owner of Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures. In February 2011, Viacom became a co-owner of Rainbow, purchasing 30% of the company and leaving the remaining 70% to Iginio Straffi. Viacom's entry into the company followed a "long courtship," and the terms of the US$83 million purchase were decided earlier in 2010. Viacom provides Straffi access to financial and studio resources that, according to L'espresso, "ensure the future of the Winx fairies, and of Straffi himself." L'espresso called the transaction "Straffi's most important agreement," as it led to the worldwide distribution of Rainbow's shows through Viacom's network of subsidiaries. Viacom's Nickelodeon studios have co-produced various projects with Rainbow, including additional seasons of Winx Club and Club 57 in 2019.
When asked in a 2011 interview if he was "tired of" working on Winx Club, Iginio Straffi responded, "Let's just say I've moved onto other projects." These other projects include Maya Fox, a series of horror comics co-created and designed by Straffi. In 2009, another show created, directed, and produced by Straffi premiered: Huntik. In 2012, Iginio Straffi directed and produced the animated film Gladiators of Rome, which opened in Italy in October 2012.
In 2019, Straffi stated that he intended to shift his focus to live action over animation; he felt "the move into live action completes [his] experience professionally." This followed Straffi's announcement that Winx Club would be adapted into a live-action series (Fate: The Winx Saga) geared towards the show's older fans, while the animated series would be completely redesigned for a much younger audience. As of 2019, Straffi serves as executive producer for Fate and as a producer for Nickelodeon's Club 57. The same year, Straffi commented in an interview on his near-decade of continued work with Nickelodeon, saying that "the know-how of Rainbow and the know-how of Nickelodeon are very complementary; the sensibilities of the Americans, with our European touch."
Creations & Works
|Tommy and Oscar||Co-Creator/Director||2000|
|Huntik: Secrets & Seekers||Creator/Director||2009-2011|
|Gladiators of Rome||Director/Writer/Producer||2012|
|Maggie & Bianca: Fashion Friends||Creator/Director||2016-2017|
|World of Winx||Creator/Director||2016-2017|
|Fate: The Winx Saga||Creator/Executive Producer||2020-present|
- In an Interview, it was mentioned that Iginio's favorite Winx is Flora.