The opening image of the new graphic novel by Marino Neri, The storm(Oblomov, March 2022, pp. 152) it is a dam immersed in a mountainous landscape with pink tints. It is a beautiful summer day and despite the high ground the heat is felt. The protagonist, an employee, has to go to the “Leon d’oro” hotel, outside the town, for a company training course. The bus on which he was traveling had a breakdown, so he preferred to continue on foot, take a walk in the countryside. The sun is high in the sky, it must be early afternoon … we soon discover his profile, which appears young, marked by a few barely hinted features, large eyes and a thick jet-black hair. His tufts sprout unruly under the red hat. The boy seems to appreciate the lake landscape he is crossing. It is beautiful, there is silence. He has a notebook with him. Arriving in the village, he stops at a ‘little bar’ overlooking the street for a beer: “the walk has given him back to the world” he says, “the contact with nature …” he just has time to deliver these considerations to his voice messages which he sends to his colleague, Gil, that a car abruptly stops on the road: the driver gets out to threaten a harmless passerby and pushes him to the ground. Then he leaves furious. The boy seems annoyed by this attitude and rushes to help the unfortunate. It helps him get up. The gentleman must have some form of mental retardation, his eyes are clouded and a little confused: he stammers a thank you and “very kind, she is very kind …”. A detail: he is struck by the boy’s hat and takes it away from him with a lightning-fast gesture. Ferdi, as the other patrons of the bar call him, in the meantime gathered around there. Another witness witnessed the scene, a man in a wheelchair who was dozing out there: “I saw everything,” he says, “it was the one who bought the villa on the lake.” Yes, the owner of that villa is a “kind of nervous guy” confirms the owner of the bar, “but I’d be nervous too … with a wife like that!” he adds him. Thus ends the first act of the story, which from here will develop intertwining the lives of the young man, the owner of the villa and Ferdi. But already from these first elements it is immediately clear the theme that Marino Neri – Carpi, born in 1979 -, already very much appreciated for the precedents Cosmo (Coconino Press Fandango, 2016) And The charm of the multi-storey car park (Oblomov, 2018), wants to face. As in the drawings, the author is quick and precise also in the narration.

We can set the question by trying to define the social inequality which is the background to the whole affair and the relationship it maintains with violence. We left our protagonist as he walks away after witnessing the sad assault. He himself appears disappointed and confesses to his colleague, Gil, that he has changed his mind about the opportunities of the place that previously seemed untouched: here too “the shit of the world” has arrived, he says. Maybe things shouldn’t be like this, this deep rift that separates the local inhabitants, people of labor, from the new owners of the villas with a lake view, should not occur. A dividing line that is only apparent and superficial. Wealth in itself does not mark anything (villa, big car), but produces profound consequences: if both the owner of the bar and the owner of the villa would be “nervous with a wife like that” – that is to say unable from live a full and satisfying life – so there is no differencethere is no alternative but to annihilate each other: the only difference possible is between who lives And who dies (violence seems to be the only way to succeed).

The era of the greatest social and economic inequalities does not produce differences (i.e. different ways of conceiving life and the values ​​that make it worth living): this is the great paradox of our time. Yet the there must be a differencebecause it is only by establishing a clear difference that the opportunity for an orientative choice is given, capable of distinguish what is right and what is wrong. The difference makes one recognizable alternative And the choice it must be able to identify the best alternative. Or rather, the choice must be there right choice. I believe that The storm has a profound connection with these ethical issues. And the stylistic and visual register used manages to synthesize the depth of the theme very well.

The parallel with Parasite is strong. The 2019 Oscar-winning film written and directed by Bong Joon-ho had masterfully represented the disaster of “Huge inequalities without difference”. Who is parasitic of whom? After all, the rich depend on the poor (for work and domestic organization) in the same way that the poor depend on the rich (to enjoy the luxury that is arbitrarily denied them), but both pursue the same goals, they are motivated by the same craving of wealth and exasperated by unhappiness itself. For this they kill each other. It is no coincidence that the theater of “Difference production” both in Parasite that in The storm it is similar: an extremely luxurious villa, characterized by large and modular spaces, floors that overlap one another and large windows that cross and intersect the various rooms. The glass is the symbolic material of the “inequality without difference “, an invisible barrier, often reflective, which by shamelessly declaring its opening towards the outside, in reality shields and closes more than ever. Those who live inside are constantly stressed by the fear of a raid, and feel the need to defend themselves (the reason why in the comic the owner of the villa had attacked Ferdi in the street is that he had surprised him several times near his property), those who remain outside it, on the other hand, are attracted by the treasures hidden inside. So our protagonist is dazzled by the sparkling infinity pool of the villa:

The sight of the woman bathing naked enchants him, like a mermaid. From that moment on, his destiny seems to have been sealed, in one way or another he will enter the villa: the palace of Atlas or the fortress of Bluebeard. But to get in there is a price to pay, you have to make a sacrifice – literally. The intended victim will be Ferdi, the poor madman of the town, who provides the boy with the pretext to ring the bell of the villa, while a terrible downpour is raging outside. In the presence of him the woman, Marta, appears, the boy we discover that his name is Manuel, and the owner of the villa (as well as Marta’s husband) is Demetrio. Inside, the rooms are still bare, a sign that the new tenants have recently moved. Demetrius was getting rid of some of the old owners’ belongings. Among these is a painting, a symbol of all history, which is repeated several times and from which Demetrius cannot take his eyes off. IS an image of an upside down turtle, at the mercy of a woman, who overlooks the poor animal and observes it absorbed: «I’ve been trying to understand all day» asks Demetrius, «… the girl in the painting … I mean … what is she doing? The turtle found it like this or… So what does this painting represent? A rescue scene? That of torture? “

In the presence of this ambiguous scene, in which there are no elements to evaluate the actions of the woman towards the turtle, two opposing scenarios arise at the same time. The dilemma arises when we find ourselves with no elements to evaluatewithout finding differences And without ethical criteria for order these differences. I stop here, why Marino Neri he is an excellent draftsman and arranges his images and his shots with elegance, without weighing down the story and dosing well the pauses and moments of breath. The scenes in the twilight of the storm are very beautiful, the volumes and the dimensions of the characters that stand out against the light surrounded by the architectural motifs of the villa or by the pattern of the hedges and by the themes of the landscape, which often stand out more than the human figures. The intensity of the atmosphere and the richness of the content make it The storm a successful, engaging and visually stimulating job. Each table is a jewel of composition and balance, where reading becomes vision and the visual becomes literary.

credits: tables from «La Tempesta», Marino Neri, Oblomov Edizioni, 2022

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