Lucca Comics: Part I

Dr. Archontis Pantsios apantsio at
Thu Nov 2 09:40:09 CET 2000

Fellow Quackeroos:

When my good friend Armando Botto invited me to visit him at his place near
Genova, he added as "bait" the comic-book convention in Lucca. I had never
visited Italy before and since I have become an "Italian" comics-wise in the
past 2-3 years teaching myself to understand Italian by reading comics (I
subscribe to TOPOLINO, the 2 "CLASSICI" titles, and ZIO PAPERONE, plus I
have found many back issues of TOPOLINO and other titles printing stories of
such greats as Scarpa, Carpi, Massimo De Vita, and Cavazzano), I thought
that it was a great chance to get a first real taste of this great country.

DAY 1: Thursday, October 26. I flew out of Thessaloniki to Milano last
Thursday, October 26, the very day I was celebrating my 39th birthday (it
was my wife's present to me! :-)). The train-ride from Malpensa airport to
downtown Milano was pleasant and while waiting for the Metro to take me to
the Central Train Station I quickly browsed thru the mass of comics piled up
at a kiosk. I nearly broke down and bought the most recent "Grandi Classici"
and "Topolino" but I decided that "patience is a virtue". I also glanced at
a few comics I used to read as a kid: Zagor and Blek!

Milano's Central Train Station was not that unfamiliar to me: I had seen it
in all its grandeur in Marco Rota's "Paperino Pendolare" and living its
buzzing, "chaotic" atmosphere was a real treat! I arrived just 10 minutes
prior to the train's departure to Savona and I quickly decided to buy a
ticket and board the train. That left me with no time to call Armando and
inform him of my arrival time, but as luck would have it, I managed to call
him from a cellular phone that a very kind young lady had the courtesy of
letting me use when we reached Genova. When I got off the train at Savona
half an hour later at 9:30 p.m., Armando was right there to greet me!

We got into his car and headed for Albisola and then to Stella where Armando
lives. His house is at a higher elevation that we reached after taking a
winding road. The view from there was magnificent as I were to discover the
following morning.

Armando's wife Michela was there and their 3-year old son Simone had fallen
asleep. That was not the first time I'd met them: Armando and Michela had
visited me last April in the U.S. After dinner we went upstairs and I had a
glimpse of Armando's comic collection--I promised to myself that I wouldn't
read anything because time was just too scarce. We discussed Italian comics
until we retited ~1:00 a.m.

DAY 2: Friday, October 27th. The next day, Friday, October 27th, was
reserved for sightseeing; Armando took the day off and after a brief stop at
Albisola for coffee and light breakfast, we decided to drive along the
Ligurian coast and trace the route of Uncle Scrooge, Donald and the kids in
Marco Rota's "La Notte del Saraceno" ("The Night of the Saracen"), one of my
all-time favorite stories. The weather was simply magnificent, spring-like.
Armed with a copy of ZP #81, re-printing the story, we drove thru the towns
of Vado Ligure, Sfotorno, Noli, Capo di Noli, and Varigotti. We made stops
at exactly the same spots along the highway immortalized in Rota's drawings
and took pictures. On our return we stopped in the summer resort town of
Varigotti and walked thru its narrow streets. It was in Varigotti's castle
that the great love story had taken place...

Around noon we decided to head for Genova. There we would have lunch first
and then walk thru the streets of downtown Genova sightseeing and looking
for...comics! We did lots of walking that afternoon; Armando took me thru
historic Genova and we made numerous stops at bookstores and street vendors
from where I made my first comics purchases: "Dollari e Pepiti", a
small-size Mondadori volume re-printing stories I was looking for by Scarpa,
Carpi, and Cavazzano, "Historia Paperia", a volume re-printing versions of
history as seen thru the eyes of the Ducks and the Mouse, "Topolino Noir", a
recent B&W volume re-printing stories scripted by Tito Faraci, and even
collections of Asterix and Sunday Snoopy stories. The street vendors gave me
a chance to find a number of back issues of "Classici" and "Grandi Classici"
re-printing stories by Scarpa, Carpi, Cavazzano, and M. De Vita that figured
prominently on my "wish-list". Stories like Scarpa's "Pippo-lupo", "L'acqua
quietante", "Le rane saltatrici", "Il richiamo della foresta", "Il recupero
del Paperic", "Il vandalo del plenilunio", Carpi's "Il revival dell'
Indipendenza", and "I Misteri dei Candelabri", and numerous Cavazzano
stories from the 70s and 80s. A stop by Mondadori's bookstore gave me a
chance to buy "Il Meglio di Zio Paperone", "Paperino", "Paper-Gol"
(re-printing in its entirety Scarpa's "Paperino ai Mondiali di Calcio"), and
"I Maestri Disney Oro" #20 dedicated to Cavazzano. I stopped buying only
when Armando's bag was chock-full of comics and couldn't hold any more!
After all, the "real" thing, the Lucca Comics Convention wasn't until the
next day!

It was early evening when we took the train to Albisola meeting with Michela
along the way. After a pasta dinner that also included fried mushrooms
freshly picked earlier by Armando's father-in-law, I went to bed to catch
some sleep, while Armando stayed up a bit longer to...index some of the
"Classici" issues I had bought earlier! 

The following day would be "Lucca Day"..............(to be continued)



Archontis L. Pantsios, Ph.D.
Assistant Academic Dean and Associate Professor
The American College of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, Greece
Phone: +30 31 398228

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