No. Fumetti is not a pasta - although, fumetti with scallops and red sauce does sound quite good. Fumetti is just the Italian word for "comic" ("fumetti" literally means "puff of smoke" which resembles the speech balloons found in comics).
But I'm not here to talk about Italian Aquaman comic books - I'm here to talk about the brand of 70s - 80s Italian fumetti that can best be described as "twisted and depraved to an incomprehensible extent". These are comic books that would make Caligula feel uncomfortable. Even the Marquis de Sade would feel guilty and ashamed after reading these things. Alistair Crowley would say they are "just wrong"..... do you get my point?
And yet, your old pal, Gilligan, loves these sick little bastards from Italy. Truth be told, they were actually rather popular, and have a fairly large cult following to this day. Sure, the stories and illustrations were perverted and debased, but there's something worthwhile in this "trash" if you give it the benefit of the doubt.
Allow me to sidetrack for a moment, and mention that I am by no means an expert on the subject. The undisputed headquarters on the interweb for this sort of fumetti is The Groovy Age of Horror. They've been posting on the subject for the past seven years. My knowledge and experience with these things pales in comparison to the true collectors.
What I can say about them is that their covers are incredible - rivaling the much revered pulp covers of the early part of the twentieth century. The combination of great artistry with insanely lurid, demented and provocative subject matter is nothing short of having nightmares come to life..... or in the case of the erotic fumetti - wet dreams come to life. (Sorry, but there's simply no other way to put it.)
What sets these apart from EERIE, Vampirella and CREEPY (their US counterparts) is the line of good taste that they cross.... and then continue to cross until you almost can't believe what you're reading. Indeed, the black & white panels between the covers never failed to live up to the debauchery and horror portrayed on the cover. More often than not, they surpassed your most craven expecations.
Of course, when you take a step on the Dark Side, you start to run into taboos - subjects that make people feel extremely uncomfortable. In the world of Italian fumetti, there is no such thing as a taboo - there is such a high degree of sex and violence in these pages, that taboos are laughably passe.
Before I begin the first gallery, I guess I should just get to my point. Life is sometimes extremely graphic in its gore and violence- ask anyone who's been to war, or your local homicide investigators. Life is sometimes explicit in its sexual nature - ask anyone who's ever had sex before. Well, the fumetti of the 70s and 80s weren't afraid to exist at that level. Any horror movie you're likely to see will never dare to be as hardcore as real life can be - they will always take a few steps backward away from the horror that is inherent in reality. Not the fumetti. Indeed, the fumetti went there and, just for the hell of it, took a few more steps into the darkness.
So, you've read my polemic in support of the Italian fumetti. (More likely, you skipped to the pictures) Now, it's time for the first gallery. I couldn't begin to represent them all, so I decided to stick with one title, Oltretomba (Italian - "afterlife"). And more importantly, there are very few titles with cover art that is appropriate for Retrospace. As you know, I try to stay away from areolas and pubes to maintain that PG-13 rating. Oltretomba had quite a few that I could post to Retrospace without being flagged and shut down. Some of these slightly violate my rules.... but then, these are paintings, so give me a break.
That being said, the content is still pretty adult. So, you kiddies go play in your room. This is just for us adults. Enjoy.
click covers to enlarge
To Be Continued....