When the Page is a Stage: the Shakespearean Graphic Novels of Gianni De Luca

  • Matteo Rima Università di Verona
Keywords: Gianni de Luca, Graphic novel, William Shakespeare, La tempesta, Amleto, Romeo e Giulietta


The paper aims to examine the career of Gianni De Luca (1927-1991), a very talented illustrator who was able to deeply innovate the language of comics. It is particularly focused on his most original piece of work, the so-called “Shekespearean trilogy”, that is to say the graphic novel adaptations of three of Shakespeare’s plays – The TempestHamletRomeo and Juliet – that were published in the catholic magazine Il Giornalino in 1975 and 1976. To draw the “trilogy” De Luca resorted to a simple yet revolutionary storytelling in which the customary fragmentation of the page in panels and tiers progressively disappeared. The last of the three adaptations, Romeo and Juliet, is entirely composed of double splash pages, large panels that occupy both the pages that the reader has in front of his eyes. On this wide horizontal page the characters are drawn several times, in a series of poses meant to convey the idea of their motion in contrast with the stillness of the scenery. In order to precisely “decode” the page, the reader must simply follow their movements around: an unconventional yet effective use of the visual language of comics.

In addition to the “Shakespearean trilogy”, the paper will also focus on Il commissario Spada, a successful comics series finely written by Gianluigi Gonano and beautifully drawn by De Luca that was published in Il Giornalino from 1970 to 1982.


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Author Biography

Matteo Rima, Università di Verona

Matteo Rima has been teaching Comparative Literature for the Literature degree of the Cultures and Civilisations Department of the University of Verona since 2015. In 2015 he also obtained a research grant for his project about the relationship between comics and national identity. His research interests are in the area of global literature, graphic novel, narrative genres (especially mystery and science fiction), testamentary novel, sociology of comics, with a particular focus on transmediality.

He partecipated in various academic conferences (at The University of Cagliari, of Napoli ‘L’Orientale’, of Pennsylvania) and he was the co-organizer of the 2017 Compalit convention, that was held in Verona.

Publications: Il romanzo-testamento (2015), Parole e nuvole. Holmes, Marlowe e Maigret dal romanzo al fumetto (2009), “Il fumetto e l’identità nazionale italiana” (2016), “Writing on the Border: the Testament Novel” (2013), “A History of Violence. Dal fumetto al film” (2012).

E-mail: matteo.rima@univr.it.


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How to Cite
Rima, M. (2018). When the Page is a Stage: the Shakespearean Graphic Novels of Gianni De Luca. Between, 8(15). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/3245