Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Exploring an overlooked era of Italian history roiled by domestic terrorism, political assassination, and student protests, Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s shines a new light on what was a dark decade, but an unexpectedly prolific and innovative period among artists of comics intended for adults.
Blurring the lines between high art and popular consumption, artists of the Italian comics scene went beyond passively documenting history and began actively shaping it through the creation of fictional worlds where history, cultural data, and pop-realism interacted freely. Featuring brutal Stalinist supermen, gay space travelers, suburban juvenile delinquents, and student activists turned tech-savvy saboteurs, these comics ultimately revealed a volatile era more precisely than any mainstream press.
Italian comics developed a journalistic, ideology-free, and sardonic approach in representing the key events of their times. Drawn and Dangerous makes a case for the importance of the adult comics of the ’70s and ’80s. During those years comic production reached its peak in maturity, complexity, and wealth of cultural references. The comic artists’ analyses of the political and religious landscape reveal fresh perspectives on a transformative period in Italian history.
dissident intellectual), shoots the president and—in accordance with the law, takes his place. Compared to typical Italian adult comics of the time, “Un buon impiego” came out of nowhere and its uniqueness must have been immediately evident to readers. Alter was the sister magazine of the venerable Linus, the ﬁrst Italian comics magazine to publish stories geared to an adult readership. Until 1977 Alter had published reprints of celebrated American strips such as Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy,
in a thin disguise between author and character: Pompeo’s long bony nose masking an otherwise obvious self-portrait. Nonetheless, Pompeo still retains many of Pazienza’s traditional stylistic trademarks: the shifting of graphic stylization from realistic to caricatural, the open-panel organization of the page, and its author’s passion for quotes ranging from Daphne du Maurier, Alexander Blok, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Sergei Yesenin (the latter two, young suicides—just like the
Tanino. Ranxerox. The Rome of Ranxerox is an accelerated version of the real one: a city where time collapsed on itself. Note the Coliseum (a stratiﬁcation of metal, cement, and original parts), the new, but already worn by time, Coliseum Hotel, and in the background the post-war housing projects. Here artist Liberatore blends late-Renaissance painting and hyper-realism; Ranxerox’s hand in the foreground is an explicit Michelangeloesque quote. Tamburini’s work: the compression of time and space.
for a language that was not only fast, but also permeable, open as it was to urban slang and the elliptic quality of the rhetoric of mass media; on the other hand was a common appetite for cross-cultural references ranging from game shows to Shakespeare, from Stephen King to Giacomo Leopardi. So, with Brolli the circle seemed to close, from the debut of Tamburini’s Cannibale in 1977 to the translation of the same materials in a high cultural area with the Cannibali writers (although, truth be
science ﬁction author Michael Moorcock, Golden-Age American comics, Zen philosophy, French turn-of-the century popular culture), Moebius goes as far as quoting his own ’60s drawing style for the popular French character Blueberry by abruptly dropping his character in a western setting. An Italian artist who adopted Moebius’s eclectic strategies and made them his own was Andrea Pazienza—one of the leading artists of Italian new adult comics. 14. The title, the adventurist, sarcastically referred