BOOK REVIEW: SEX AND HORROR – THE ART OF EMANUELE TAGLIETTI / AUTHOR: EMANUELE TAGLIETTI / PUBLISHER: KORERO PRESS / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 19TH
One of the key players, and perhaps the most important, of the Italian erotic comic movement was Emanuele Taglietti. A far cry from American strips, the pulp comics of the ‘70s were marked out by their beautiful, bold and often confrontational covers rather than the content inside. This vibrant and blindingly relevant collection gets at the fetish and energy, urgency and splendour of one of the medium’s lesser known players.
It opens with an impassioned foreword from collector and artist Mark Alfrey, who discusses how history is doing its best to forget Taglietti, with many of his works sadly credited to some of his contemporaries instead. Leading on to a revealing portrait of the artist, enabling those in the dark to familiarise themselves with his life and work; chronicling his journey as an artist, from working as an art director in the flourishing Italian film industry, most notably with Fellini, to working from home as a comic covers artist and, more recently, painting murals and landscapes.
The images offer a captivating look at Italy, particularly the paradigm shift from the ‘60s concerning sex and nudity, and how by the ‘70s everything was up for grabs. By the end of the decade, the risqué covers had descended into out-and-out pornography and ultimately came off second best up against home video. Rape, bestiality, necrophilia, hell even tentacles get a look in. The vamp-erotic images stand out, particularly Blayne, Vampire of Las Vegas. But it’s not all breasts and blood, with some very clever images too, especially Sex Demon which touches on the AIDs crisis. There’s also his bizarre, taboo-busting work on the Cimiteria series.
Inevitably, the ‘80s proved far more explicit and violent and the covers had to cater to the change in taste with more blood to hold consumer attention, one of the most startling examples in the collection being The True Story of Jack the Ripper from 1985. But the best in the book remains the 1978-‘86 run on Sukia, of which Taglietti drew all but one of 150-plus covers.
Viewing the pictures, you build up a textless history of changing tastes, of bouts of censorship and the battle to outdo what was available on commercial video. Taglietti’s work is a legacy worth preserving, and this spellbinding collection sets the record straight. It might be at odds with modern comic reading audiences, but then it never was for savoury tastes.
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