Diabolik fumetto ‘Il Morto che Ritorna’, Italy, 1995

The Italians call comic books fumetti, meaning ‘little puffs of smoke’ in reference to the speech bubbles, though in English the word fumetti refers specifically to a subgenre that uses still photographs rather than drawings to depict the action.  I bought this Diabolik fumetto in a small shop in Reggio-Emilia, Italy in 2010, though it was published in 1995.  Viewed across the distance of time and language, it has a certain melodramatic kitsch appeal but it is perfect bound (that is, with a flat spine and glued pages rather than staples) so occupies a space somewhere between a traditional American comic book (the protagonist in this one has the un-Italian name Tony Parker), a graphic novel, and a Japanese manga.  Fumetti were wildly popular with Italian children until a generation ago — Mussolini was a fan, alas, and not above using them for their propaganda value — but all the fumetti shops I’ve been in have been dusty, listless affairs with shelves of comic titles going for 1€ a copy waiting for a Quentin Tarantino to make them cool again.

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