So I just spent the past three and a half months studying abroad in Siena, Italy. Before I left, I knew that comics were a pretty big deal over there. There's only one comic store is Siena itself, and it's almost exclusively a manga store (called "Nuvole di China" or "Clouds of China," the China part is kind of weird to me) aside from a couple current Marvel titles. I did travel to a bunch of other cities in my time over there, but I was too busy nutting over shit like Titian and Brunelleschi to plan ventures to comic stores on my own. I did get a chance to snag a couple of bargain comics from the basement of a Barnes and Noble type Italian chain in Rome, and me and Sammy found this pretty cool comic/movie store in Venice. Like pretty much every store anywhere in Venice, that place had a rack of postcards, but oh man, were these actually worth paying a euro each for:
They had a whole series of these space Venice postcards by Moebius. One is dated '84, and I would have to assume they were all made at around the same time.
And then there's this dude:
I looked all over the place to try and find a Ranxerox book in Italian, but this was the only presence of him I could find. I can't offer any insight to who made this or anything, but dang, that's a sweet outfit.
On to some of the real comics I got:
This is five short stories Toriyama did for Shonen Jump from '86 to '89. They're all pretty standard stuff from him-- wacky dudes are actually crucial tough guys, some animal people show up, dudes go crazy for some hotties, that kind of stuff.
Sort of cool/sort of useless fact: Comics are called "fumetti," from fumare (to smoke) because the word balloons are like clouds of smoke coming out of the character's mouth.
For some reason What's Micheal is only called Micheal in Italian (I guess they already figured out what he is, even though the title is translated with the "what" in every other language I can find). One of the stories in here actually works better because it's not written in English. The man brings home Micheal because another man in his office has to go back to America and asks him to take care of it, but UH OH! Micheal doesn't speak Italian, he only understands English!
They try to call him in Italian to no avail. Even when they try in English, all he does is turn to look at them. The husband suggests that maybe they just aren't pronouncing it in a way he's used to, so they phonetically pronounce each word to try to sound more American. "Micheal, come on!" becomes "Mai-col, cam-on!" They both get real excited he understands them, and the wife takes him to see his new litter box. She tries to explain to him what it is, though he obviously doesn't understand/care. Moral of the story: "Whenever possible, it's best not to accept custody of animals belonging to foreigners."
It's pretty great how much reading comics helps in learning a new language. It's easier than just reading a plain text story because the images help give hints as to what's being said, and because of the humor or childishness of some of them aimed towards younger audiences, they help teach slangs or figures of speech as well. For example, "cazzo" means "fuck" (or actually it literally means "dick," but it's used as an general expletive), but since you're not going to find that in a kids comics, they use the word "cavolo," meaning "cabbage." It's like the equivalent of a cartoon character saying "oh, fudge" or something like that.
Sammy already kind of went into how he feels about Italian comics, but he brought back a pretty sweet haul as well. Stay tuned for that shit!