Comics
Comic-book artists like Venice too, for a variety of reasons. Foremost amongst these is probably the fact that it's a city that's easily recognisable, even in the most slap-dash and inauthentic rendering of water-filled streets and too-tall bridges.

This time I'm going all chronological, with new discoveries just added at the bottom.



 

  Milo Manara is Italian, which may explain why Venice crops up more than once in his oeuvre. His work is pretty pornographic, on the whole, but his ability to conjure up a certain sort of pseudo-Helmut Newton full-on female allure with a pen is not to be sneered at. The colour panel is from a graphic novel called Hidden Camera, the black and white ones are from Perchance to dream.  

 


 

Though not Venetian-born, as is often reported, Hugo Pratt did spend his childhood in Venice. His Jewish grandmother took him on trips into the Venice Ghetto, and from these visits he retained a fascination with Jewish symbols, and the whole Eastern influx/trading hub thing, which all play a part in Fable of Venice featuring his hero Corto Maltese. This is much more the classic adventure - with far more Venice and far less pubes - than the Manara tales above. Pratt died in 1995. He is commemorated by having a public library named after him on the lido, housed in what was his home.

And in February 2011
the House of Corto Maltese opened, being a small museum dedicated to Hugo Pratt. There's some art to look at, a mocked-up room in the British-Empire-inspired style of the comics, and the opportunity to dress up and create stuff and write messages to our hero. And there's some merch, like the fridge magnet below.

Strange translation fact - the English versions of Pratt's works are said to have been translated from the French translations from the original Italian.




 

 





 

  In the 90s  there were lots of those shiny post-X-Men team-ups with their impossibly long legs and very big chests. Some of the largest chests belonged to Scott Lobdell's Wildcats, or Wildc.a.t.s as they were also known. In 1999 they took their covert ops mayhem to a somewhat generic Venice, arriving by scuba naturally. Later the baddies roll out a tank, and how did they get that into Venice?







 

The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) are a post-Buffy team - created by Mike Mignola, the man responsible for Hellboy - out to combat supernatural nastiness wherever it surfaces. So when Venice's canals start getting extra foul and stinky they're called in. From a graphic novel called The Soul of Venice and other stories.








 

Seaguy, written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Cameron Stewart, came out in 2004. In issue #1 our hero and his pal Chubby, a free-floating cigar-chewing tuna, get into a spat with Death, dressed as a gondolier, over a game of chess. 














 

Well, this was more than a bit disappointing. Having seen some scans of Les Voyages d'Anna by Emmanuel Lepage on another website  I decided to give it a go despite it being in French, so appealing were the drawings. My disappointment was caused by the above fine site's scans turning out to have been nearly all of the finished Venetian content. The story's voyage takes our heroine away from and back to Venice, so there's much much less interesting stuff in the middle. And the artist chooses to provide us with pages of sketches for the finished art, which is either an aesthetically interesting choice or a case of getting the most pages out of the least work, according to your point of view.

 





 

  The new lion on the block in late 2007 was Capitan Venezia.
He seems to only speak Italian, in print and on the
Venezia Comix website, but Venezia ha un nuovo supereroe indeed.



In late 2008 an e-mail from Feder Tamas in Hungary introduced me to Aria by Kozue Amano. This is a Japanese manga series which was
also made into an animated TV series. It's set on Mars, where a new Venice, called Neo-Venezia, has been built to replace the real one which has been submerged in an eco-disaster back on Earth. It features the adventures of Akari and her fellow trainee female gondolier/tour guides, called undines here, working for a company called Aria. There are also cats, who are as intelligent as humans but cannot talk. This is a series aimed more at girls and so contains less action and more relationship stuff and character development.










 

This is another Japanese manga - one which I spotted in a (closed) bookshop's window in Venice. Forget-me-not by Kenji Tsuruta features a heroine who is a private detective working in Venice.  This one is a bit more for grown-ups than Aria, with more nudity. The Venetian locations are authentic, though, and amazingly mostly recognisable.

 

     



 


Les suites vÚnitiennes
 is a series by
Eric Warnauts and Raives which comes in 9 volumes, in French. It's set in Venice in the 18th Century, where it appears it rained the whole time. It seems (to this man with his rusty French) to be a spooky and sexy globe-spanning tale of murder and masks, and to take great pains to get Venice right. The locations are authentic and the attention to contemporary details, like the fašade of the church of La PietÓ being unfinished, and the Piazza still containing the (later demolished) church of San Geminiano (see below) is impressive.


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This comic book is called See Venice... and it's the fifth in the Largo Winch series by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme to be translated from the original French. Six have been translated so far, out of a total of eighteen. The heroes of French bandes dessinees have a tendency to stupid names (Dylan Dog!) but Mr Winch at least has the excuse of being born Largo Winczlav. He was made the head of a business empire when his father was murdered and so is doomed to spend his time defending this empire from sundry threats and men with big guns. In See Venice... he does this in New York, Paris and Venice, with the help of several gorgeous women wearing scanty clothing. These women tend to get pushed and knocked around a lot, so you'd think that they might learn to wear more practical clothing, but being slapped around in dungarees is not so picturesque, maybe. I wasn't entirely smitten by the plotting, the slapping, or the 70s haircuts. Our hero, who looks like a bloke off a 70s Mills & Boon cover, is a bit Bruce Wayne and a lot James Bond, but without too much wit. The Venice scenes look generically, but authentically, Venetian without being anywhere identifiable, except San Zanipolo and San Marco, where the villains land a helicopter in order to attack and abduct our heroines. The small print on the back of the title page informs us that 'With the authors' consent and in order not to upset our more sensitive readers, certain illustrations have been modified...' This is intriguing, of course, but as there's as much blood and violence as one could wish for I can only assume that naughty nipples have been covered over*.

See Venice...  only contains half the story, as it concludes in the second volume, unsurprisingly titled ...And Die, which features a visit to San Michele, the cemetery island, including the characteristically tortuously wordy frame below right. Oh, and the arch villain's name is...well, see right.

*
Update How right I was - two nipples have been covered by a sheet, one by a closer-fastened blouse, one sideboob has been removed  and four statues' breasts are covered, two with sheets and two with their hair. Male nipples were not affected, although one male statue gets a fig leaf. Exhaustive research, eh?
 
 




 

A well-named series, Gore consists mostly of  messy disembowelments of large-chested female zombie/demon types. Also, just after a gondolier is eaten by a shark, there's a demon mermaid, who also gets disembowelled, or should that be filleted? Our hero, the disembowler, looses his busty female companion in the ensuing ruckus, but later teams up with her sister, who has also inherited the family chest, as it were. Not sure my stomach's up to a full reading of this series (of 4)  so I'll just provide you with some images, chosen for their prettiness and lack of floating body parts, although the page of images of a chopped-off foot serenely floating down a canal has a certain...OK, maybe not, but it does produce a newspaper headline Female Calf in a Canal. Polpaccia di donna being the Italian for female calf, it seems. A production of GG Studio.  


The work of Belgian writer Jean Defaux and artist Griffo, In the darkness of the shadow is the first volume in a series called Giacomo C. and was first published in French in 1988 as Le masque dans la bouche d'ombre. There are 14 more in French, the last appearing in 2005. The text is wordy, but very unevenly translated for us English-speakers, the art is very European-looking, with touches of Milo Manara about the numerous bosoms. The story sees Casanova helping solve some grisly murders of women, one in a confessional in San Giacomo dell'Orio. Later there's a chase across rooftops, as seems de rigueur now for Casanova stories in all media.






 

 


The frame above seems more than a little influenced by the Canaletto capriccio below.


 

A House in Venice, written by Giovanni Mattioli and drawn by Vanna Vinci, was made in Italy but looks like a Japanese manga. The house in question is the Palazzo Soranzo van Axel, at least from the outside. Rose, our heroine, goes to stay there and explore and have spooky experiences. She meets a black cat and a tall thin chap with lank white hair, haunted dark eyes and cold hands, who I'm guessing she only gets to meet at night.  

 

Die Perle des Ewigen Lebens - Band 1 - Der Weisse Drache
Which translates as The Pearl of Eternal Life - Volume 1 - The White Dragon, by Eric Puech. I can't confidently say what's going going on, my German being what it is, and what it is being non-existent. We seem to have a large-chested female ninja coming to Venice to...well, beat people up, it looks like, and get wet whilst wearing naught but a net curtain. It all looks very Venetian, without looking like anywhere in particular, but there's cats.

 


 
 

Louis La Guigne is a series written by Frank Giroud and Jean-Paul Dethorey. It's known as Louis Lerouge in German, but has been translated into English not at all, it seems. The fifth book begins in Venice. I could only get access to the German version. The artwork is handsome and stone-coloured and this looks like a comic I might like to read. It's all very Venetian (and authentic-looking) for the first 17 or so pages, and then flies off elsewhere in Italy, with Mussolini putting in an appearance getting attacked by a seaplane in Rome.

 


     

 



Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

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