I was bemused throughout my reading of this lengthy critical essay on erotic comic artist Milo Manara. In the end I suspect it may be true, as the essay-writer himself warns, that the essay reveals more about its author than about its subject. But it’s fun to read, and I think it may help explain why I’ve never really warmed to Manara’s work overall despite greatly enjoying many individual panels as works of erotic art:


His draftsmanship is beyond reproach, but to only study figuration is to value illustration over sequence, diminishing the function of comics art. Similarly, to only appreciate images of sexual acts is to insult the character of Erotica, which rightly encompasses the psychological textures of the sex act: the anticipation; the anxiety; the flight from one’s senses; afterglow.

By this tradition, il maestro luxuriates in the effect of rape. See how the above diptych appears on first glance to depict one continuous image, though on closer examination it instead shows, in panel one, Valeria gazing in abject horror at the weeping face of the man who betrayed her trust, worthless and weak, unable to meet her gaze, his hand laughable in hers, as panel two closes in, at dead center of the image, on the debutante instance of unwanted penetration, Valeria’s hindquarters enlarged and raised, beckoning to the accorded silent moment of a ritualized insertion.

In panel one she is not raped, and in panel two she has been raped, and will always thereafter have been raped. It is consummate comics.