Giovanna Casotto: Naughty pin-ups and porn stars

Illustration: Giovanna Casotto

This is not so much a review as it is a love letter to one of the most remarkable comic book artists I know: Giovanna Casotto. The Italian, self-proclaimed ‘Bitch in heat’ draws herself, in a series of highly original and fetishistic graphic stories.

Ten years ago, I wrote the following e-mail to Penthouse Comix:

Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 6:26 PM
Subject: Female Italian illustrator

Good day! A question:

In a recent edition of Penthouse Comix I saw a story by a female Italian illustrator. I would love to see more of her work, but for the life of me I can’t remember her name.

What I DO recall is that she photographs every panel in the comic with herself posing as the protagonist, then copies these painstakingly in pencil. A defining trait of her comics is the abundance of hair on her female characters, no doubt after her own example :).

I hope you can tell me her name!

Cheers,
Marc

PS. Just to be sure, this is not to be published as a ‘letter to the editor’ ;-)

Within hours, the editor, Esther Gasseling, wrote back:

Dear Marc,
Your description is so clear I don’t have to think about this for even a second; I would have to be very much mistaken if you’re not talking about Giovanna Casotto.

Would you by any chance be interested in a Dutch edition of her album(s)? I’m asking because we’re in the process of starting a series of erotic comics, and it would be useful to know which authors are in demand.

Thanks in advance!

Illustration: Giovanna Casotto

Well, that Dutch issue never saw the light of day, at least, not that I know of. But I never forgot the name. Giovanna Casotto. And about once every two years I’d go on the internet and try to find out a bit more about her. But other than her semi-derelict website, I never got anywhere.

Until last week. At Januari 2014’s Kamasutra Fair, I walked past an art stand where an illustrator (Gerben den Heeten) was signing stuff next to a stack of comics. On a whim, I approached him.

‘You’re in luck!’ he said. ‘These just got in. Haven’t had anything by Casotto for a few years, but now I have two!’

I bought them on the spot. Two short story collections in mint condition, called (translated) Naughty Pin-ups and Porn Stars. And boy, they’re amazing.

Illustration: Giovanna CasottoNow, if you’re into erotic arts, (feminist) porn, or you’re just a plain old pervert, this shit is mandatory! The artwork is beyond gorgeous. Both albums contain short stories (usually 5-7 pages) which are often quite surreal, featuring elaborate fantasies, dreams and hallucinations.

For example, in one story, a woman keeps a female genie-in-a-bottle to pleasure her when her husband works late. In another, a woman thinks she’s visited by a porn star she’s obsessed with. An yet another story tells us about a sailor who smokes some magic weed that makes his fifties pin-up posters come to life.

Illustration: Giovanna Casotto

The stories are really entertaining and creative, and feature a broad palette of fetishes and taboos. Lesbian sex is a recurring theme, as is S&M power play. The women are almost always superior to the men, they’re all classic, Sophia Loren-style beauties… and all of ‘em completely unshaven. Casotto seems to relish in drawing luscious curlies peeking from every crevice. It’s amusing… and very titillating.

Illustration: Giovanna Casotto

If you have a chance to pick up some of her albums, do so! In the meantime, here’s an extensive online collection: http://zizki.com/comics/Giovanna+Casotto/

And here’s the story that caught my eye ten years ago. Let me know what you think of it!

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