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Drawn and Dangerous

Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Drawn and Dangerous
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-749-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    In October 1977 the magazineAlter, at that time the most prestigious publication of adult comics in Italy, featured a fourteen-page story by Filippo Scòzzari titled “Un buon impiego” (A Good Position). Set in a nottoo-distant future in and around the Italian city of Bologna, “Un buon impiego” told the story of Louigi (sic), an unemployed gay man who was preparing to kill the newly elected president and take his place.

    In Scozzari’s grotesque vision, Italy is a police state controlled by the Communist Party. On his way to the center of Bologna, Louigi passes several checkpoints, witnesses the killing...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Italian Adult Comics Before ’77
    (pp. 11-38)

    The Italian comics of the late ’70s and ’80s belong to a particular niche of the medium of sequential art we identify here as “adult comics.” The term “adult,” rather than referring exclusively to content (although content represents an important discriminating factor) or to an aesthetic and arbitrary cultural evaluation, is employed here simply in reference to the postulated age-group that these works target and, consequently, to the specific competence of their implied readership.

    It is true that a strict distinction between comics for young readers and those meant for adults is often problematic and indeed, many grey areas exist;...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Emergence of the Second Generation of Adult Comics in Its Political Context
    (pp. 39-77)

    The radical rewriting of codes the new adult comics were to enact on their medium—the intense dialogue between the high and low end of the cultural spectrum, their tendency towards intertextuality as well as cultural horizontality—are all tightly linked to the climate of social and political unrest that characterized the second half of the ’70s in Italy. Born in the midst of the ’77 student protest movement, the second generation of adult comics was deeply influenced by, and, in turn, influenced the concomitant explosion of new counterculture media: the independent press, free radio, and alternative music. The exchange...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Authors
    (pp. 78-132)

    Pazienza is without doubt the most renowned among the authors of the new Italian comics. Barely in his 20s, Pazienza had already been published in the era’s most important comic magazines includingCannibale,Il Male,Frigidaire,Linus,Alter,Corto Maltese, andComic Art. Unfortunately, as is often the case with artists, Pazienza’s widest audience and greatest critical acclaim arrived posthumously, following his premature death at 33. As a result, Pazienza is one of the few comic artists of the ’70s and ’80s whose work has been entirely reprinted and collected in books—even by prestigious literary publishers such as Einaudi...

  9. Conclusions
    (pp. 133-136)

    As the ’80s drew to a close, so did the Italian adult comics movement. This change was paralleled throughout the industry, particularly in France, but to a lesser degree in the American market. In addition to the premature departure of two of its leading figures, Tamburini and Pazienza, one contributing factor to the Italian adult comics’ decline was the dramatic increase in the cost of printing paper—which forced many publications out of the market.¹

    But on a deeper level, behind the crisis of the adult comics were the profound changes the generation of ’77, representing the readership of publications...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 137-144)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 145-148)
  12. Index
    (pp. 149-150)