Drawn and Dangerous - Simone CastaldiA record of turbulent times in which the comics became the trusted platform to attack the status quo in Italy
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, 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 1970s and 1980s. 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.
Simone Castaldi, Brooklyn, New York, is assistant professor of Romance languages and cultures at Hofstra University. His work has been published in Word and Image, Italica, Italian Quarterly, and Italian Culture.
Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s