One of the most famous Italian cartoonists, Milo Manara, immerses himself in the work of one of the most widely read Italian novelists, Umberto Eco. The result is The name of the rose, a diptych of which Lumen is now publishing the first volume, with a translation by Ricardo Pochtar. It is a beautiful, wise and suggestive work, with which Manara adapts to the language of the cartoons the very famous novel by Eco, who published that book almost as a diversion at a time when he was known –and respected– as a professor of semiotics. What began almost as a game – and the novel has a lot to do with the reader – ended up being “the most influential historical thriller in the history of literature”.
With her adaptation, Manara faces a difficult challenge. She has to compete with the fascination emanating from the novel, with its aura of best-seller scholar who went to school, and with the also very popular film adaptation by Jean-Jacques Annaud in 1986, starring actor Sean Connery. Perhaps for this reason, one of the first surprises on the album is that Manara chooses the face of another actor, Marlon Brando, to draw the intelligent Franciscan friar Guillermo de Baskerville, in charge of clarifying the mysterious murders that take place in that nameless abbey. . It is, perhaps, his way of quickly distancing himself from the long shadow of the famous movie.
The protagonist’s face is a surprise, but not the only one. There will be those who are surprised that Milo Manara, famous for erotic comics such as the click either The perfume of the invisible, dare with the adaptation of this book that mixes detective story and cultured novel. There will even be those who are shocked – although at this point they should not – that the famous work is adapted in the form of a comic.
First of all, it should be remembered that Milo Manara is an extraordinary cartoonist, as evidenced by albums like HP and Giuseppe Bergmana Moebiusian tribute to Hugo Pratt – with whom he would later sign indian summer and The Gaucho– as well as his works with the filmmaker Federico Fellini: Trip to Tulum and The journey of G. Mastorna, called Fernet. Regarding the second, the relationship between Eco and the comic is well known, so the adaptation of The name of the rose in this language it is also a very pertinent homage to the author who wrote about the Milton Caniff and Charlie Brown cartoon in Apocalyptic and integrated. One of the quotes that opens this comic is from Eco himself and seems like a warning against the apocalyptic of the comic: “When I want to relax I read an essay by Engels, if instead I want to keep busy, I read Corto Maltese”.
Manara reveals to us something that is latent in the novel: the importance of the image
Milo Manara’s adaptation respects the structure of Eco’s novel, beginning with the introductory note in which he tells us that the book we are reading is a manuscript happily found by the author. That allows Umberto Eco to appear in the opening panels of this album before immersing us in the medieval atmosphere accompanied by the young and handsome Adso de Melk and the sharp and wise Guillermo de Baskerville. Manara accurately portrays both the cold snowy landscapes that surround the monastery and the rooms that are part of the abbey: the church, the cloister, the kitchen and, of course, the scriptorium.
In the portrait of the characters, Manara’s drawing stands out not only for its detail in the faces, clothing and gestures but, above all, for the carnality that they know how to convey. It is not at all unusual, being a cartoonist who has made drawing the human body one of his virtues, but the carnality of the graphics makes the characters acquire an authenticity and an almost palpable proximity. Drawing is also brilliant when he recalls old episodes in the form of flashback. Simona Manara’s color delicately contributes to the good result of the ensemble.
However, Milo Manara’s great discovery in adapting The name of the rose it is that he reveals to us something that is latent in the novel and that his comic explodes: the importance of the image, of the books illuminated by patient medieval miniaturists. A fascinating world of fantasy and of impossible creatures that Eco cites in his book but that he cannot show and that Manara puts before our eyes in cartoons where his drawing is paired with medieval art to make us relive that scenario that causes amazement and laughter to everyone. the time. And we must not forget that laughter is precisely one of the central issues in The name of the rose.
Milo Manara illuminates Umberto Eco’s novel with his drawing. Not only because of the moments in which he recreates the art of miniaturists, but also because thanks to his drawing, he allows us to show areas that previously remained in the dark.
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Comic Review – Milo Manara Takes Marlon Brando to the Abbey in ‘The Name of the Rose’