Zanardi (comics)

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Zanardi (full name: Massimo Zanardi) is a comics character created by Andrea Pazienza, arguably his most famous creation.

Andrea Pazienza, was an Italian comics artist and painter.


He is the main actor in a series of graphic novels which appeared in installments on several Italian comics magazines during the early 1980s. Zanardi first appeared on Frigidaire magazine in 1981, in Giallo Scolastico ("High School Mystery"). The character quickly found an enthusiastic audience in the clique of young, artsy, new-waveish Italians who were disillusioned with the previous decade's political slant and were instantly hooked on the character's basic, hedonistic individualism and cynicism, tempered with cultural influences ranging from Joseph Conrad to Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Graphic novel book with primarily comics contents

A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term "comic book", which is generally used for comics periodicals.

New wave is a genre of rock music popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s with ties to mid-1970s punk rock. New wave moved away from blues and rock and roll sounds to create rock music or pop music (later) that incorporated disco, mod, and electronic music. Initially new wave was similar to punk rock, before becoming a distinct genre. It subsequently engendered subgenres and fusions, including synth-pop.

Joseph Conrad Polish-British writer

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The Zanardi graphic novels were reprinted several times in the decades following Pazienza's death, in original (black and white) and colored form. Pazienza's original drawings were mostly colored by his wife, Marina Comandini, but some episodes have been coloured by unknown students in Bologna's Art School, to which Pazienza gave the original drawings on a whim.

Bologna Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, at the heart of a metropolitan area of about one million people.

Character traits

Zanardi is a 21-year-old Italian high school student at the Liceo Scientifico Enrico Fermi in Bologna. He is a tall, blond, thin, well-dressed [1] son of a bourgeois family, and his distinctive physical feature is an exaggerated, prominent hooked nose. He is also a junkie, but his addiction never seems to impair his cool, confident public front. Behind that front, Zanardi is an utterly amoral schemer who is always looking for either drugs or revenge, and always gets both in the end, literally destroying other people's lives without the slightest trace of remorse.

Substance dependence, also known as drug dependence, is an adaptive state that develops from repeated drug administration, and which results in withdrawal upon cessation of drug use. A drug addiction, a distinct concept from substance dependence, is defined as compulsive, out-of-control drug use, despite negative consequences. An addictive drug is a drug which is both rewarding and reinforcing. ΔFosB, a gene transcription factor, is now known to be a critical component and common factor in the development of virtually all forms of behavioral addiction and drug addictions, but not dependence.

Zanardi is usually accompanied in his doings and wrongdoings by two schoolmates, Colasanti (full name: Roberto Colasanti) and Petrilli (full name: Sergio Petrilli, often in the endearing form Sergino, or "Little Sergio"), with which he has established a sort of Clockwork Orange partnership, and who provide help, counterpoint and occasional comic relief to Zanardi's archetypal amorality. It is worthy of notice that the three almost never address each other by name in conversation, resorting either to surnames (which automatically entails a sort of detachment in Italian) or to distortions of them, thus Zanardi becomes Zanna (fang); Colasanti becomes Colas; Petrilli becomes Pietra (literally stone or rock as a possible pun on drugs). It is also worthy of notice that although the three are almost always featured as spending a lot of their time together hanging out, they do not consider themselves as friends. [2]

<i>A Clockwork Orange</i> (novel) 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian satirical black comedy novel by English writer Anthony Burgess, published in 1962. It is set in a near-future English society that has a youth subculture of extreme violence. The teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates his violent exploits, and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him. The book is partially written in a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat", which takes its name from the Russian suffix that is equivalent to '-teen' in English. According to Burgess, it was a jeu d'esprit written in just three weeks.

The concept of an archetype appears in areas relating to behavior, historical psychological theory, and literary analysis. An archetype can be:

  1. a statement, pattern of behavior, or prototype (model) which other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy or emulate.
  2. a Platonic philosophical idea referring to pure forms which embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing in Platonism
  3. a collectively-inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., that is universally present, in individual psyches, as in Jungian psychology
  4. a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, or mythology. In various seemingly unrelated cases in classic storytelling, media, etc., characters or ideas sharing similar traits recur.

Colasanti is a very handsome, gym-sculpted cold boy who loves to hit on every girl he meets. But he is also an occasional rent boy who ruthlessly exploits his sexual power over men and women. In Giallo Scolastico, Colasanti helps Zanardi to blackmail a nerdy schoolmate who is a closet homosexual by sodomizing him while Zanardi photographs the act with a Polaroid stolen for the occasion, in order to force him to fetch compromising evidence from a teacher's house. Colasanti is usually Zanardi's helping hand in exacting revenge. At the same time, he suffers from his lack of culture and hipness and is prone to fits of rage every time his mates remind him he is "such an ignoramus".

Male prostitution act or practice of men providing sexual services to either men or women in return for payment

Male prostitution is the act or practice of men providing sexual services in return for payment. It is a form of sex work. Although clients can be any gender, the vast majority are male. Compared to female prostitutes, male prostitutes have been far less studied by researchers.

Blackmail is an act of coercion using the threat of revealing or publicizing either substantially true or false, and often damaging, information about a person, to the public, family members, or associates unless certain demands are met. It may involve using threats of physical, mental or emotional harm, or of criminal prosecution, against the victim or someone close to the victim. It is normally carried out for personal gain, most commonly of position, money, or property.

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

Petrilli, while being the group's best born and possibly best educated member, is the eternal loser. He is constantly abused and humiliated by Zanardi and Colasanti, is often in love with some nameless and personality-less girl at the same high school he attends with Zanardi and Colasanti only to see her succumb to the charms of his hateful but more attractive friends, and always gets the short end of the stick in the shady dope deals Zanardi sets up. In fact, Petrilli dies a horrible death in the last story of the Frigidaire canon, Notte di Carnevale (Carnival Night), being burned alive in a Zanardi-staged prank arson of an all-female religious college which runs amok. Except the whole story is only a dream, to which Petrilli wakes in terror to run outside in the street and get run over by a truck. The character's death, however, only appears to be temporary, as in later stories Petrilli is still alive and being taken advantage of by his mates.

Many concepts and stories from Zanardi, along with Pentothal and some isolated vignettes, were adapted into a motion picture by Renato de Maria, Paz! (2002), which is more of an overall tribute to the work of Andrea Pazienza than an actual comic strip tie-in.

Zanardi stories: Frigidaire canon (1981)

These stories originally appeared in black-and-white installments on Frigidaire magazine during 1981-1982. They were reprinted with colour by unknown Art School students in Zanardi, a collection published by Primo Carnera Editore in 1983, with a new black-and-white story tying the episodes together entitled La proprietà transitiva dell'uguaglianza (The Transitive Property of Equality). The volume was reprinted in 1998 by Baldini & Castoldi Editore as a "Critical Edition", with unreleased drawings and writings by Pazienza. The stories were re-coloured for the occasion by Marina Comandini. Giorno is considered as a prologue of sorts to Zanardi, in that it anticipates the storytelling conventions and some general themes, though neither Zanardi nor his mates appear in it.

Zanardi stories: major non-Frigidaire episodes (1984)

These stories appeared on Corto Maltese magazine and alter alter, and represent significant developments in the Zanardi "universe", though removed from the original series which gained Pazienza nationwide success as a comics artist.

Zanardi stories: scattered episodes (1983-1988)

These stories appeared in Frigidaire and Comic Arts magazines and various collections by Editori Del Grifo. They represent humorous, metaphysical or very crude extensions to the Zanardi character, which Pazienza continued to elaborate until his death in 1988.


  1. In Massimo Zanardi, L'Inesistente ("The Nonexistent") a young girl who is in the same class as Zanardi writes in her diary: "But he's so elegant, and he came to skool [sic] in a black tuksedoe [sic] today".
  2. During one scene in Giallo Scolastico where Zanardi is faced with being turned in to the police for having disemboweled and crucified his teacher's cat, the mates' dialogue is as follows:
    Petrilli: Zanna, stavolta ci finisci. (Zanna, you're doing time this time.)
    Colasanti: Ci finiamo. Stai parlando con Zanardi. (We are doing time. Remember you're talking to Zanardi.)
    Zanardi: Vedete, noi tre siamo fatti così. Se non sapeste che vi tirerei dentro, fareste finta di non conoscermi. Non siamo mica vecchi amici! (You see, that's what we three are like. If you didn't know I'd turn you in as well, you'd pretend you never met me. We're not old pals!)

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