Friday, 12 May 2017

Photonovel Trafficking

Strip 1:

Strip 2:    

The first ever Albert the Wolf comic strips were originally published in 1974 on the Corriere dei Ragazzi, an Italian daily newspaper aimed at the younger generations. The English-language version of the strips, above, was created in the ’90s and distributed by United Media with the aim of reaching an international – mainly US – audience.

A comical, and in its own way satirical and allegorical, farm set on the gently rolling hills of what could be the southern English countryside, but is really a realm inhabited by animals with human characteristics: a guard dog that looks like a big fluffy polar bear, a wolf in love with a chicken, an annoying middle-aged mole and an array of other characters that you will discover with us as we make our way, week after week, through the first 70 or so strips.

Featuring a wake-up call from the McKenzie Farm’s very own rooster, and the first scene between star-crossed lovers Albert and his girlfriend Martha, strips number 1 and 2 were young Silver’s first effort at introducing the imaginary world that, up to that point, had been brewing in his head as nothing more than an idea.

In the previous post, we promised some answers to the questions you may legitimately have at this point. For example, who is the author, Silver? We thought it best to allow him, post by post, to explain that himself by means of a short interview.

Silver, how do you go from being an Italian kid growing up in a small town in the 1950s, to being one of the most successful comic authors of your country?

Silver: “My main problem when I was a young boy was that I was no good at writing, nor was I any good at drawing – but I just loved story-telling in all its shapes and forms. It was a desperate situation. To add insult to injury, I stuttered. And I daydreamed. A lot.

The fact that I was also left-handed was never a problem – the school I attended simply proceeded to immediately ‘correct’ this perverse behaviour.

I was definitely not one of the cool kids. And since I was not talented enough to tell my own stories, I concentrated on hearing others’. At home, there weren’t that many books I could pick from. I come from a common family, one that, at the time, could have been described in no better way than ‘poor and ignorant’. Yes, the post-war economic boom was in full swing, but we didn’t feel it much back home, in that endless sea of small, interconnected towns on the northern Italian plain.

Thankfully, the – mainly female – residents of my apartment block were in the habit of ferociously trafficking what were known as ‘photonovels’, a form of literature very popular in those times of low literacy and little access to TV. My mother, a prominent figure in this market, spent what little free time she had devouring these magazines with titles such as Grand Hotel, Bolero, and Dream. Many photonovel actors were later to become very well known – if not some of the most famous people – in the world of Italian cinema and television..."

…to be continued.

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