“The idea that women can be submissive is totally contrary to my upbringing”

Figure of the ninth art, multiple artist particularly known in the field of erotic comics, author of Click (Albin Michel, 1983), Milo Manara published, on September 20, an adaptation of Name of the rose (Gret, 1982), the novel by Umberto Eco. At almost 78 years old, he has no plans to stop drawing.

I wouldn’t have gotten here if…

…If, in 1967, I had not discovered Barbarella, the comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest. I was then the istant of the Spanish sculptor Miguel Berrocal, who had his workshop in my village, near Verona. Berrocal’s wife was French and regularly received literary news from Paris. It was a revelation. A whole universe opened up to me. I immediately understood that comics would be my life.

Barbarella, this science fiction heroine who caused a scandal a few years earlier, because she was seen undressed. Eroticism, already…

Above all, it was one of the first comic strips to address adults through its content. We were just before 1968 and the world was changing radically: social relations, lifestyles… Culture participated in this movement through music, painting, literature, but also comics. Barbarella – which Roger Vadim later adapted for the cinema with Jane Fonda [en 1968] – was one of the first incarnations of liberation. Before reading this album, I had never thought about turning to comics, about which I knew almost nothing.

Didn’t you read them as a child?

No. My mother was a teacher and comics were almost banned in our home. Teachers considered it counter-educational on the grounds that it prevented children from learning to read. There were a lot of books at home, but no comics. My mother received a lot of books from publishing houses because she was responsible for purchasing them for her school. My father was a municipal secretary, he too was a good reader.

What readings will stand out?

The great clics: Captain Smashesthere Song of Roland, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Without a family… But what fascinated me and my brothers and sisters the most – there were six of us children – were “adult” books stored behind a locked door. There were D’Annunzio and Malaparte, as well as books on concentration camps which contained very shocking photos of prisoners reduced to skeletons. The Holocaust was a taboo subject until the 1960s in Italy. My parents were from Christian democracy and they had been anti-fascists, which explained the presence of these works in our home. One of my uncles, a partisan commander, had been deported.

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