Review: Pompeo by Andrea Pazienza

A desperate journey into tormented Pompeo’s soul, Andrea Pazienza’s alter ego

Andrea Pazienza (San Benedetto del Tronto, 23 May 1956 – Montepulciano, 16 June 1988) was an Italian cartoonist, draftsman, illustrator and painter. Pazienza is considered one of the most representative and innovative Italian comic artists.

Pazienza was born in San Benedetto del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno) on May 23, 1956. At twelve, Pazienza moved to study in Pescara, where he enrolled in the “Giuseppe Misticoni” Art School and formed a genuine friendship with the comic author Tanino Liberatore.

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pompeo andrea pazienza comic

In these years, he created his first comics, partly still unpublished, and made a series of paintings. In 1974 he enrolled in the degree course at DAMS, University of Bologna. He later dropped out of school two exams before graduation. He lived through the years of the protests linked to the 1977 Movement, which is the background to the comic Le Straordinarie Avventure di Pentothal (The extraordinary adventures of Pentothal), the first published work by Pazienza (Alter Alter, 1977).

In 1977, Pazienza joined the magazine Cannibale, an experimental comic magazine for adults of a humorous and satirical genre founded by Stefano Tamburini and Massimo Mattioli, to whom Tanino Liberatore would later join. From 1979 to 1981, he collaborated with the satire weekly Il Male. With the Cannibal group and Vincenzo Sparagna, in 1980 he founded the monthly Frigidaire, on whose pages Zanardi appeared. Zanardi is an imaginary comic book character created by Andrea Pazienza and protagonist of a series of comic stories made in the eighties.

Pompeo Andrea Pazienza
Pompeo, Andrea Pazienza

In the early 1980s, Pazienza made some film posters, including Federico Fellini‘s City of Women in 1980. In these years, Pazienza became a heroin addict. In this period, Pazienza collaborated with Corto Maltese, Linus, Tango (supplement of the newspaper L’Unità), Comic Art and Zut, and other magazines. In 1984 he moved to Montepulciano, apparently detoxified. In Montepulciano, he created his works inspired by a passion for poetry and history: Pompeo, Campofame based on a poem by Robinson Jeffers and Astarte.

On June 16, 1988, he died suddenly in Montepulciano, perhaps following a heroin overdose. The film Il Piccolo Diavolo (1988) by Roberto Benigni with Walter Matthau is dedicated to Andrea Pazienza.

Pompeo Andrea Pazienza 2
Pompeo, Andrea Pazienza

Pompey’s Last Days (1987)

Pompeo (Gli Ultimi Giorni di Pompeo) is a singular work in the panorama of Italian comics, which allows us to open a window on the Italy of the time, very active culturally but at the same time a tormented and anxious society. The comic tells the dramatic journey into the unconscious of Pompeo, the author’s alter ego. Pompeo is a powerful, cruel, and desperate work. Pazienza, through its experimental language, which combines slang, dialect forms, poetic research, and futurist echoes, tells of a metropolitan adventure that often leads to autobiography. Through the form of the diary, he develops his literary alter ego Pompeo and uses it as an instrument, a cathartic means. In the story told there is no salvation, there is no redemption. There is only time to apologize, although an apology is useless. But when death approaches, perhaps he can see things more clearly. Regrets, pains, vices, remorse, hypocrisy, and awareness lead the protagonist to sedate himself with heroine and slowly sink into a downward spiral.

Andrea Pazienza Pompeo 3
Andrea Pazienza Pompeo 3

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Last Updated on December 31, 2021 by retrofuturista

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