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 Just to be sure, this is not to be published as a ‘letter to the editor’ ;-)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