Graphic Poetry: Dino Buzzati’s Poema a fumetti

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Julian Peters

Abstract

Although known primarily for his novels and short stories, the Italian author Dino Buzzati (1906-1972) alsohad a parallel artistic practice as a painter. In 1969, Buzzati would bring these two aspects of his artisticproduction together with the publication of Poema a fumetti (literally, «a poem in comics»), a 212-pagegraphic narrative which anticipates the advent of the graphic novel. The first section of this essay employsa close analysis of the content and structure of Poema a fumetti to argue that Buzzati saw the mechanics ofcomics as a means of creating a new form of poetry, in a manner that parallels a new interest in comics amongcertain avant-garde poets during the same period. The second half of this essay examines the connectionbetween Poema a fumetti and the fumetti neri, a popular 1960s genre of adult crime and horror comics, andmakes the case that the marginalized cultural position of the latter and their interlinked themes of eroticismand mortality were key factors in Buzzati’s attraction to the comics form.

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