Sturmtruppen 50 anni

By Giorgia Ferro

In celebration of the Bolognese artist, Sturmtruppen 50 anni organized by Fondazione Carisbo and Genus Bononiae – Musei nella città in collaboration with the Bonvicini heirs, is running at Palazzo Fava until the 7th of April.

Sturmtruppen is an Italian satirical comic book, conceived and designed by Bonvi (Franco Bonvicini). First published in 1968 in the form of daily strips, it continued until 1995. It was set at the WWII front, as a satirical representation of the War from the point of view of German assault troops, often depicted in surreal and comical situations. The characters, almost all anonymous soldiers, speak an Italianized version of typically German suffixes and sounds. Extremely popular at the time, it was also recognized abroad and translated into eleven different languages.

The exhibition intends to explore not only the famous military troops that Bonvi invented, from the ‘sergenten’ to the ‘capitanen’, tragicomic symbols of the stupidity of war, from the ‘number one strip’ to the many unpublished ones, but also the whole artistic and personal excursion of Bonvi himself.

“Bonvi was a rock cartoonist. Or rather, a cartoon rock star. And the Sturmtruppen were his rock opera. Because of its extraordinary ability to have created a new and universal language …
And language creates identity, the way to engage with the imagination of everyone, without limits of age, social background or culture. Just like rock “. -VASCO ROSSI-

A delicate theme such as the atrocities of the War has been turned upside down, as “unpolitically correct” as can be, where the soldiers depicted irreverently, become humorous in character. Whilst one muses over the strips one almost finds oneself sympathizing with the soldiers who are fighting against an unseen enemy.

An itinerary of over 250 works, mostly unpublished, all coming from the Bonvicini archive and curated by the artist’s daughter Sofia and Claudio Varetto. Aside from the German series, their is also an insightful collection of an unprecedented series of works depicting the imprisonment of an anarchist, very striking for the mixture of solitude and political poignancy that they convey. This series was also to be part of the poster of the film, “Sturmtruppen” from 1976 with Renato Pozzetto.

To underline the local nature of this show, there is the reconstruction of the studio in the nearby via Rizzoli together with the strips of Cattivik and Nick Carter, the graphic novel ante litteram “The Man of Tsushima”, about the war between Russia and Japan. Also a symbol of the alternative scene in the Bologna of those years, are the memories of Bonvi’s time spent with artist’s such as Vasco Rossi, Ciccio Ingrassia or Guido De Maria.

A mixture of political satire, comic book genius, and cultural overlapping, this show is an immersion into the creative period of Bologna in the 70s and 80s, whilst also a must see for fans of the comic book genre.

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